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Franklin on Faith

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Within the writings and speeches of the founders, we can see the importance most of them placed in faith and religion; including Benjamin Franklin, who is not renowned for his religious practices or beliefs,

In a 1757 letter to an atheist, Franklin made some salient points regarding the origins of virtue when he stated, “And perhaps you are indebted to her originally that is to your Religious Education, for the Habits of Virtue upon which you now justly value yourself.”  Considering Franklin’s letter, it is difficult to deny the Christian, primarily Protestant Christian, origins of the American concepts and understanding of virtue.

Reinforcing the importance of Christian religion, Franklin submitted his personal creed in a letter to Ezra Stiles, the president of Yale College (1790) in which he expressed, among other things, the belief in one God and “That he ought to be worshipped.”  Additionally, Franklin noted his beliefs regarding Jesus Christ, even though Franklin doubted the divinity of Jesus; an Arian Christian concept (see Arian Heresy).

“As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see”

If Franklin’s letters can be read in the objective light of 18th century context, basic Judeo-Christian principles can be seen.  However, if read in the subjective context of 20th and 21st century historical point of view, Franklin can be branded as merely a deist.

 

 

You can read more of this in my book The Imprisonment of Self and be sure to follow me on any of my social media accounts Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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