Synopses & Reviews
Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers intended a strict separation of church and state, right? He would have been very upset to find out about a child praying in a public school or a government building used for religious purposes, correct? Actually, the history on this has been very distorted. While Jefferson may seem to be the Patron Saint of the ACLU, his words and actions showed that he would totally disagree with the idea of driving God out of the public square. Doubting Thomas documents that. . . * Jefferson said that our rights come from God. God-given rights are non-negotiables. * At the time that he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom---major contributions to human and religious rights--Jefferson served diligently as a vestryman (like an elder and a deacon rolled into one) for the Episcopal Church. * In 1777, he wrote up the charter for the Calvinistical Reformed Church in his town with an evangelical preacher, the Rev. Charles Clay--with whom he had a lifelong friendship. Jefferson was the biggest single contributor to this fledgling congregation. * Jefferson had nothing but the highest praise for Jesus' teaching, which he studied religiously (even in the original Greek), in order to pattern his life after that which he called "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man." * As president, he attended church on a regular basis at the US Capitol building, even sometimes recommending preachers to fill that pulpit. * He had many positive relationships with orthodox clergymen and active lay Christians. * He actively supported Christian causes, financially, in ways that would put the average Christian to shame. * He set out to create a non-denominational college that accommodated Christian groups of different stripes. And on it goes. Historical revisionism has distorted the religious views of Thomas Jefferson, making him far more skeptical than he was. But there is no doubt that by the end of his life, he seemed to privately embrace Unitarian views of the Christian faith, while outwardly supporting and attending his local Trinitarian church. Thus, a legacy of Jefferson's has been taken out of context and used to squelch religious freedom in America. Ironically, religious freedom was one of Jefferson's core beliefs and contributions. But this is being turned on its head. Chiseled in stone at the Jefferson Memorial are his famous words: "The God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?" Regardless of Jefferson's private religious views, he stood solidly against the state making theological decisions for its people. Therefore, he would stand solidly against the anti-Christian crusade being carried out in his name today. It's time to set the record straight.
"In this honest and thorough examination of Thomas Jefferson's public and private life, authors Beliles and Newcombe make a strong and persuasive case that in his critical younger years---when he drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia bill for religious freedom---Jefferson was a practicing orthodox Christian. Painstakingly researched and written, the authors refute those scholars who would superimpose Jefferson's later doubts about core Christian doctrines in support of their views that religion must be separated from politics. To the contrary, as Beliles and Newscombe ably contend, Jefferson's contribution to the Declaration and the Virginia statute for religious freedom evidences the work of a Christian statesman whatever his personal belief may have been about the redemptive work of Christ at the cross. Any one who wants to know Jefferson's real contribution to religious liberty ought to read this book." --- Herb Titus, Founding Dean, College of Law and Government, Regent University (1986-1993)
"The Bible's first book, Genesis, is devoted to recounting the lives of Israel's founding fathers. Any healthy nation and robust culture remembers its founders with fond admiration. Willfully corroding the history of its founders is a sign of a culture's impending extinction. To our enormous appreciation, Beliles and Newcombe compellingly correct our recollection of Thomas Jefferson. A grateful nation will thank them." --- Rabbi Daniel Lapin-American Alliance of Jews and Christians.
"Doubting Thomas is a must read book regarding one of the most frequently discussed and often misunderstood Founding Fathers of the American experiment. This book is a refreshing analysis of the faith journey of Thomas Jefferson, and the reader will find particularly helpful how the book puts Jefferson's evolving views of God and religion in historical context. A quote from the later years of Jefferson cannot be used to fully explain his views at earlier times and vice versa. What is critically important is the fact that at the time of Jefferson's life when he had the most direct impact on the founding of America and some of its organic documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, Jefferson was a faithful churchman in the Anglican Church. The Jefferson that groups like the ACLU often present is not the Jefferson of history. This book deals openly and honestly with one of America's key Founding Fathers. Doubting Thomas is no doubt be one of the most important books on the faith of Thomas Jefferson." --- Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel
"A must read regarding one of our most commonly misunderstood Founders: Thomas Jefferson. While Jefferson's life and writings are used to create the "wall of separation" between church and state, the historical truth is far more complicated. This book takes you on a fascinating journey into the mind and life of man whose ideas regarding government, faith, and liberty are still impacting our culture today. Thoroughly documented and well-written, I gladly endorse this fascinating examination of our Third President. An important book for our generation to better understand the Jeffersonian balance between God and government." --- Attorney David C. Gibbs III, President and General Counsel, National Center for Life and Liberty
"Dr. Mark Beliles and Dr. Jerry Newcombe are preeminent researchers who have uncovered priceless treasures of America's heritage long buried beneath generations of complacency and ideological drift. Newcombe and Beliles' classic work, Doubting Thomas, is destined to be THE authoritative treatise on Jefferson's many faceted beliefs. They honestly portray Jefferson's journey of faith though its ever-evolving nuances during a time when the world was going through unprecedented political changes. Jefferson was a brilliant leader who had profound influence on America at its most formative period. By understanding Jefferson and his faith, we gain a clearer understanding of the foundations of our freedoms, and possibly discover keys to preserving them. I highly applaud and wholeheartedly recommend every American read Dr. Mark Beliles and Dr. Jerry Newcombe's book, Doubting Thomas." --- William J. Federer, Bestselling Author and Speaker
"Fascinating, well researched, and wonderfully nuanced, Doubting Thomas pulls back the curtain and exposes the myths about this brilliant and controversial man of fascinating faith who helped birth America, write the Declaration of Independence, and shape the way Americans think about Church and State. This is a must read for anyone who wants the real story of Thomas Jefferson." --- Kirk Cameron, Actor, Host
"Christian values influenced our government for the first 160 years of our nation's history until a misreading of Thomas Jefferson on the subject of the separation of church and state. That's why I'm please to recommend this new book, Doubting Thomas? which helps set the record straight. Although Thomas Jefferson was no evangelical Christian, he was certainly far from the ACLU's version of Jefferson portrayed today as this book so aptly demonstrates." --- Dr Robert Jeffress, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Dallas
About the Author
Mark A. Beliles, historian and teacher of American religious culture, founded the Providence Foundation in 1983 through which he has organized several scholarly symposiums on Jefferson and religion held at the University of Virginia. He is the editor of The Selected Religious Letters and Papers of Thomas Jefferson (America Publications, 2013). He earned his PhD from Whitefield Theological Seminary with his dissertation entitled Churches and Politics in Jefferson's Virginia (America Publications, 2000). Other books co-authored by Beliles for popular audiences include