“The General Principles of Christianity”

Context Leading to Adams’ June 28, 1813, Letter to Jefferson.


When writing to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813, John Adams discusses the fact that America achieved independence through the general principles of Christianity. The letter itself, however, was the culmination of events which began nearly fifteen years earlier.

Adams and Jefferson were friends for many years but fell out after the events of the presidential election of 1800. By the year 1813 Jefferson and Adams had resumed their friendship after the repeated urgings of Dr. Benjamin Rush.[i] This newly revived friendliness, however, was significantly tested when private letters written by Jefferson to Dr. Joseph Priestly were published in the biography of Rev. Theophilus Lindsey. One of the letters from 1801[ii] included apparent and harsh censures of Adams’ policies. Upon readings this book Adams wrote to Jefferson on May 29, 1813, saying, “I wish to know if you have seen this book. I have much to say on the subject.”[iii]

After waiting for twelve days without a response, Adams again took up his pen on June 10, 1813, and went through the 1801 Jefferson letter responding to the various claims made against him. Adams focused on the part where Jefferson had quoted him, writing: “The President himself declaring that we were never to expect to go beyond them in real science.”[iv] In the original letter to Rev. Priestly, Jefferson explains his disgust at this alleged statement by the then President Adams, exclaiming:

Those who live by mystery & charlantanerie, fearing you would render them useless by simplifying the Christian philosophy, – the most sublime & benevolent, but most perverted system that ever shone on man, – endeavored to crush your well-earnt & well-deserved fame.”[v]

Responding to these now twelve year old charges, Adams declared: more here

11 Comments on “The General Principles of Christianity”

  1. The politicians of today are moral and mental midgets when stacked up against the writings and thought processes of these two founding fathers (as well as most, if not all, of the other founders).

    While America may not have been explicitly created as a Christian nation, any honest assessment would recognize that the foundation and underpinnings of America as a concept were based on the principles of Christianity. The secular drift of our political and pundit class has resulted in attempts to deny this plain truth in our education systems, but the words of the founders that have been preserved puts the lie those claiming otherwise.

  2. If the Bible said to eat healthy food, lefties would tell you to eat junk food because to eat healthy food is imposing Christian values on everybody.

  3. How can we lose with Christianity?

    The world’s greatest religion was introduced by a common man, one of love, charity, peace, forgiveness.

    What this man did for ALL of us, suffered during the last week of his young life, and delivered while nailed to the cross and mocked as a loon, is the GREATEST opportunity ever offered for everyone, and America would do best to continue with that MIRACULOUS HOPE.

    What other hope is there?

  4. If John the Baptist could eat only locusts and honey, is that not good enough for leftists. Or would their hypocrisy of telling people to eat bugs which are supposedly good for ma gaia be challenged because John ate bugs.

  5. @Bubba’s Brother — Our nation was founded exactly on Christian doctrine. The laws of nature and nature’s God is the God of Christ Jesus (though not explicitly named for obvious reasons). The United States was not founded on Judaism, Islam, or any of the major Asian religions.

  6. Luke 13:1-5
    Matthew 7:1-5
    John 8:3-11

    For the driver in front of me sucked causing me to rend my clothing in the knowledge that my driving sucked harder than his.

  7. “The General Principles of Christianity” are fairly simple. Jesus said “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ ” ~ Matthew 22: 37-40 (NIV)

    one needs to ask TJ exactly how he squares this

  8. “After more than forty years of experience, I am prepared to say that I have never heard or read anything of a political nature, by a preacher, that was any good.
    When a man of God speaks as a prophet, his message is freighted with wisdom and power. When he speaks for a party, God withdraws His power and lets His servant speak without wisdom.
    As a prophet, he may call to judgment kings and presidents. Let him obey God and stay by his commission, and he will be God’s voice to all men and all parties.
    Let him seek to identify his prophetic office with politics, or place his power at the disposal of a party, and he violates his office and confuses his own face. Then he speaks as a discredited prophet, and not all his pretensions to omniscience can disguise the babel in his voice! Preachers have been known to go all-out for some newly-come politician because he spoke “respectfully of God. Later events made them wish they had kept the cover on their Corona and allowed their man to prove his piety before they fastened themselves on his coattail. Christ is not a member of any political party. He stands outside of and above every party. His kingdom was not of this world.”
    A.W. TOZER
    From “Tozer Speaks Volume 1”


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