Barton's books and videos are full of "embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims."

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WilliamD's picture

I remember the first time I heard Barton, it was on a CD from Charles Stanley's ministry. I was impressed with his vast knowledge of all things early American, but I also felt like I was being sold a bill of unrealistic goods about America's past. He made it sound so pristine and "Christianly utopian". He would quote religious things that Franklin and Jefferson would have said without any qualification as to their context. After studying more about the real beliefs of many of these men who were Free Masons, I found out that they used the word "Providence" instead of "Lord Jesus Christ" as a more general way to refer to the Deity as the Deists that many of them were. I'm not surprised that his book is being dismissed. When Christians try to revise history to make everyone who were in the colonies as Christians, we are just as guilty as the secularists who don't want to acknowledge the truth about the role of religion in America's founding. 

Darren Mc's picture

Right on, William.

Christians (and conservatives generally) pile on liberal historians when they put forth what is unfortunately called revisionist history. Revisionist history is actually looking at history from a different perspective than the traditional one, which is why many conservatives criticize it. There is no revision of the facts of history, at least not among respectable historians. There are plenty of good revisionist history books out there, and plenty more bad ones, and the worst ones are the textbooks used in high schools and freshman-sophomore level college classes. But historians like Barton are doing just as much a hatchet job with history as the liberals they (rightfully, in most cases) decry. And the sad part is, it is all unnecessary. How is my life impacted if Thomas Jefferson was or was not a believer? Most all of us as Americans marvel at the amazing men who did so much to found our country. Just tell that story, and leave it at that.

No wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel will prevail against the LORD. Proverbs 21:30

pvawter's picture

In an article that is critical of Barton's lack of legitimate factual support, his detractors offer very few verifiably incorrect statements from Barton's book. I haven't read it, so I can't offer an opinion on Barton's scholarship, but WORLD magazine didn't really offer anything other than personal opinion. This is editorializing, not journalism.

Pastor Shaun's picture

If Barton is in error, then let's see the evidence.  Reading WORLD's article raises more quesstions than answers.  Why not take David Barton up on his footnotes?  Is this not the easiest way in refuting him?

Instead we get, "he took him out of context" without any context in determining how Mr. Barton did it.  Let's just throw Barton into the pit and start throwing all these stones with all these highly evolved opinions and leave the facts at home.  

jimfrank's picture

Back in the mid 80s Os Guinness wrote the profound book The Gravedigger Files.   It is a book that quite resembles C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.  One memorable quote was about "creating a nostalgia for a world that never was" (quoting from memory).  Since reading Gravedigger I've observed a tendency for the American Christian subculture to look back at the Revolution and early America as a revival in faith as well as a political revolution.  Some Christian writers and speakers seem to equate the Great Awakening with the Revolution, as if they are one and the same thing.  One friend of mine frequently talks about the "covenant" that the Puritans made with God when they arrived on these shores and how God has to honor His part of the bargain.  Though I haven't read Barton's book, it seems to fall into these categories.

pvawter's picture

jimfrank The book is about Thomas Jefferson, not the Puritans or the great awakening. Barton's book may be filled with errors, but it would be downright scholarly of someone to catalog them rather than simply criticize it and Barton using generalities.

Rob Fall's picture

Tell that to Obediah Holmes and the other Baptists who suffered under Puritan rule.  I fear "loosing my sanctification" when I hear the Puritans put on a pedestal.

jimfrank wrote:

Back in the mid 80s Os Guinness wrote the profound book The Gravedigger Files.   It is a book that quite resembles C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.  One memorable quote was about "creating a nostalgia for a world that never was" (quoting from memory).  Since reading Gravedigger I've observed a tendency for the American Christian subculture to look back at the Revolution and early America as a revival in faith as well as a political revolution.  Some Christian writers and speakers seem to equate the Great Awakening with the Revolution, as if they are one and the same thing.  One friend of mine frequently talks about the "covenant" that the Puritans made with God when they arrived on these shores and how God has to honor His part of the bargain.  Though I haven't read Barton's book, it seems to fall into these categories.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Jim Racke's picture

In the same light as Barton what do you all think of the movie Monumental put together by Kirk Cameron? I was pretty impressed by what I saw but wondered what you all think? I have read some negative backlash on the internet and would love to hear your opinions...THANKS!

 

Jim Racke

Pastor Shaun's picture

Listen to Beck yesterday talk about his friend Barton.  Granted, Beck is Mormon and has a huge desire to be ecumneical in all things.  However, one thing outside his own religious choice is that Beck is at heart a researcher of historical facts.  Hearing that Barton was asked to drop a few thousand (28,000?) words, seems to be too much for Thomas Nelson to just drop him.  I finding it difficult to understand how ThomasNelson could so easily throw this man under the proverbial bus.  What is Christian about that?