Blog posts may be reprinted without permission,
provided a link to www.JeffersonLeadership.com is included.

Although I don’t talk about religion publicly, 3 of 5

To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to him every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other.
To Doctor Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803
Koch & Peden’s Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson
P. 519 – 522

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders need friends who can be trusted completely.
Although Jefferson would not talk about religion publicly, and urged the same upon Dr. Rush, he had no difficulty sharing his very personal religious views in this letter. Why? Because Rush was a trusted friend, a man he’d known for a quarter century, since the time both had signed the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson knew Rush would keep his confidence.
These two sentences contain the essence of Jefferson’s views on Christianity. He believed:
1. Himself a Christian by virtue of his devotion to Jesus’ teaching “in preference to all others”;
2. Jesus was a man of “every human excellence.” (“Human” is italicized in K&P’s transcription, probably meaning it was underlined for emphasis in the author’s original version.)
3. Jesus was not divine and did not claim that status;
4. Anything beyond Jesus’ words and teaching constituted “corruptions of Christianity,” which he opposed.

This post is part of a series of five, all taken from the same letter:
1. Why I don’t talk about religion publicly
2. Why you shouldn’t talk about religion publicly
3. Although I don’t talk about religion publicly
4. Jesus did talk about religion publicly
5. What made Jesus different

“… thank you for being so great to work with…so accommodating and flexible …
[you] then delivered above my expectations.”
Boone County National Bank
For a low-maintenance, high-delivery speaker for your audience,
call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739.
This entry was posted in Religion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Although I don’t talk about religion publicly, 3 of 5

  1. Ray says:

    I wonder how Jefferson, who apparently studied and accepted the teaching of Jesus as genuine, could possibly believe that He was only humanly excellent? He must have believed the recorded words of Jesus, but not the life–he must have rejected Jesus’ Virgin Birth, miracles, and Resurrection. How could anyone who studied the Bible and held Jesus in such esteem also reject most of it as false? THAT is a mystery to me. Jefferson’s idea that he was a Christian “in the only sense in which he [Jesus} wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others…” was clearly a concoction of his own mind–certainly not what Jesus said about Himself and what His followers would be and do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.