David Barton: Was John Adams really an enemy of Christians? (Part 3)

3 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American

Heritage Series / David Barton

Evangelical leader Ken Ham rightly has noted, “Most of the founding fathers of this nation … built the worldview of this nation on the authority of the Word of God.” I strongly agree with this statement by Ham.

Dr. Michael Davis of California has asserted that he has no doubts that our President is a professing Christian, but his policies are those of a secular humanist. I share these same views. However, our founding fathers were anything but secular humanists in their views. John Adams actually wrote in a letter, “There is no authority, civil or religious – there can be no legitimate government – but that which is administered by this Holy Ghost.”

In June of 2011 David Barton of Wallbuilders wrote the article, “John Adams: Was He Really an Enemy of Christians?Addressing Modern Academic Shallowness,” and I wanted to share portions of that article with you.


 At WallBuilders, we are truly blessed by God, owning tens of thousands of original documents from the American Founding – documents clearly demonstrating the Christian and Biblical foundations both of America and of so many of her Founding Fathers and early statesmen. We frequently postoriginal documents on our website so that others may enjoy them and learn more about many important aspects of America’s rich moral, religious, and constitutional heritage that are widely unknown or misportrayed today.

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Minimalism is an unreasonable insistence on over-simplicity – on using simplistic platitudes to reduce everything to monolithic causes and linear effects. As an example, citizens today are regularly taught that America separated from Great Britain because of “taxation without representation,” yet that issue was only one of twenty-seven grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence – and it was actually one of the lesser complaints. While only one grievance in the Declaration addressed taxation without representation, eleven addressed the abuse of representative powers; seven the abuse of military powers; four the abuse of judicial powers; and two the stirring up of domestic insurrection. Taxation without representation was only grievance number seventeen out of the twenty-seven, listed alongside Great Britain’s suppression of immigration and her interference with our foreign trade. While the taxation issue was given little emphasis in the Declaration, Minimalism causes it to virtually be the only issue covered today, thus giving citizens a skewed view of the American Revolution and what caused it.

Minimalism is what Pinto practices in his analysis of Adams’ letter. Rather than delving into the complex areas of church history that Adams directly references several times in the letter, Pinto just dismisses them out of hand, rashly claiming that Adams was being irreverent.

Six key phrases Adams used in the letter unequivocally prove that he was not mocking the Holy Spirit or Christianity:

  • “monarch to monarch”
  • “the holy oil in the vial at Rheims”
  • “brought down from Heaven by a dove”
  • “that other phial which I have seen in the Tower of London”
  • “king craft”
  • “priest craft”

Each of these phrases is a direct reference to a particular period and a definite incident in church history – a history early set forth and ably expounded by the Rev. John Wise (1652-1725) of Massachusetts, considered by prominent historians as one of the six greatest intellectual leaders responsible for shaping American thinking. 14 Wise’s works and sermons were read and widely studied across early America, including by the leading patriots and Founding Fathers. Wise divided the general history of Christianity into three epochs, and all six of Adams’ phrases refer to specific occurrences in one of those periods.

Pinto’s preposterous analysis of Adams’ letter is based on the flawed practices of Modernism and Minimalism. Unfortunately, he repeats these same practices throughout his other videos, frequently taking deep multi-faceted issues, failing to recognize or acknowledge crucial references to historical events or practices, and presenting an especially negative view of history. It is for this reason that Pinto is also a Deconstructionist.

Deconstructionism (another of the five malpractices in the modern study of history) is an approach that “tends to deemphasize or even efface the subject” – that is, to malign or smear the subject by posing “a continuous critique” to “lay low what was once high.” 58 It is a steady flow of belittling and malicious portrayals of traditional heroes, beliefs, values, and institutions. Deconstructionists happily point out everything that can possibly be portrayed as a flaw, even if they have to distort information to do it; yet they remain ominously silent about the multitude of reasons to be proud of America, her many heroes, and her many successes. As a result of the work of Deconstructionists, most Americans today can recite more of what’s wrong with America and the Founding Fathers than what’s right.

It is time for Americans, and especially Christians, to become better informed about America’s remarkable moral, religious, and constitutional foundations and to reject the efforts of Deconstructionists who attempt to undermine so many positive aspects of America’s extraordinary heritage – a heritage that has provided unprecedented blessings, and a heritage for which we should be humbly grateful to Almighty God.

14. Clinton Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic: Origin of the American Tradition of Political Liberty (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1953), p. 2.(Return)

58. Jack M. Balkin, “Tradition, Betrayal, and the Politics of Deconstruction – Part II,” Yale University, 1998 (at:http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/jbalkin/articles/trad2.htm). (Return)

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