In Defense of the Gospel:
A Response to the Expose Written by Dr. Catherine Millard concerning the documentary film, The Hidden Faith of the Founding Fathers
By Christian J. Pinto
Note: This is the first in a series of articles that Chris Pinto is writing in order to respond to the thirty-four page expose by Dr. Millard.
Since the release of our film, "The Hidden Faith of the Founding Fathers," there have been a number of challengers to the information we present, since we argue that the real faith of the American revolutionaries was hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In our film, our defense is for the Gospel and not Christian "principles." The difference between the two, in our opinion, is the difference between the Disciples of Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees followed certain principles of Mosaic Law, but they rejected the true Messiah. The same can be said of many Revolutionary Founders, who said some things in favor of the Bible or the Christian Religion, but openly rejected Jesus as the Son of God, and Savior of our souls.
Thank the Lord, we have been able to answer all concerns and prove that the objections against us are unfounded, since the writings of the Founders mostly speak for themselves. However, because their use of language during that time was often wordy and intellectual, with references to things that are not so well known today, the specific meaning of their letters can be confusing to the modern reader. With that, there is also the problem of counterfeit information that has been propagated over the years, with the apparently strange belief of some individuals, that by engineering false information about the Founding Fathers, and making it appear as if they were "Christians," a good influence will be accomplished on the Church and America. We strongly disagree with this sort of thinking, since the Lord has warned us that, a corrupt tree cannot bring forth "good fruit" (Matthew 7:18).
Now, with the Founding Fathers being used by the likes of Glenn Beck and David Barton to draw Christians into an Ecumenical movement, which seems aimed at creating a global religion that can only be called "anti-Christ" in nature, the danger of the Patriotic Faith is becoming more and more apparent. As we show in our film, to turn men like Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Paine and others into "Christians," a person must literally put sheep's clothing on a pack of wolves.
Enter Dr. Catherine Millard
A recent essay by Dr. Catherine Millard, author of the book, "The Rewriting of America's History" attempts to challenge some of what was said in the film. As such, I have written this response to clarify what we represented, and show those areas where we believe Dr. Millard's critique is in error.
Below is the alleged "Expose" written by Dr. Catherine Millard for "The Hidden Faith of the Founding Fathers." I have underlined places in her commentary that I wish to draw attention to. Otherwise, all the rest are the parts of her review. My comments, which will begin with "CJP response" -- are in blue.
Dr. Millard begins by saying:
Following is a word-for-word narration by the Producer/Narrator of this DVD production, with a response to each allegation, from original documents of American history, in context:
JOHN ADAMS Narrator: "In a letter to Thomas Jefferson dated June 28, 1813, John Adams states: 'In favour of these general principles in philosophy, religion and government, I could fill sheets of quotations from Frederick of Prussia, from Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, Rousseau and Voltaire...'"
Response: Adams' June 28, 1813 letter is taken out of context, changing his communication to Jefferson. The original letter, in context, reads:
"The general principles, on which the fathers achieved Independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young gentlemen could unite, and these principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity in which all these sects were united: and, the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all these young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.
Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane System. I could therefore safely say, consistently with all my then and present information, that I believed they would never make discoveries in contradiction of these general principles. In favour of these general principles in philosophy, religion and government, I could fill sheets of quotations from Frederick of Prussia, from Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, Rousseau and Voltaire, as well as Newton and Locke: not to mention thousands of Divines and philosophers of inferiour fame. (1)
CJP response: First, the quote she begins with is not word for word from the narration of our film, and she presents it out of the full context that it was given. Her implication seems to be that I omitted the fact that Adams made reference to "the general principles of Christianity." Yet, this was not the case. In fact, that particular quote was the whole point of my making reference to it.
Dr. Millard says that I changed the context and, therefore, the meaning of Adams' communication. Yet it is clear that I did not in any way change Adams' intended meaning. While she includes more of the words from Adams' letter, she in no way demonstrates that his original context was violated. Below is the exact context and dialogue as it appears in the film:
CHRISTIAN J. PINTO (speaking on-screen): "… there are a number of quotes where Adams talks about Christian principles and so on. And how he thinks it was Christian principles that brought about the United States."
NARRATION: "But Adams did not mean that the United States was founded on Christian principles alone; but rather, on a mix of Christian and Pagan philosophies. He said, 'These are what are called revolution principles. They are the principles of Aristotle and Plato … the principles of nature and eternal reason.'" (Source: John Adams, 'Novanglus & Massachusettensis,' or Political Essays, p. 12)
NARRATION (continued): "Adams wrote that: 'The general principles, on which the fathers achieved independence, were … the general principles of Christianity … In favour of these general principles in philosophy, religion and government, I could fill sheets of quotations from … Rousseau and Voltaire …" (Source: John Adams, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813)
Please Note: the cited quotes actually appear on the screen in the film, with the sources listed for the audience to see.
CJP response: The purpose of presenting these quotes was to show that when John Adams makes reference to the "general principles of Christianity," he is not necessarily promoting a Christian nation, as many patriots would have us believe. In reality, he believed that the general principles of Christianity were the same as the general principles of Aristotle, Plato, Rousseau and Voltaire. This is very significant, since Aristotle and Plato were Pagan philosophers, while Rousseau and Voltaire were notorious antichrists. As we show in the film, Voltaire, in particular, hoped for the ultimate destruction of Christianity.
For those who wish to read the full letter from Adams in its entirety, here is a link:
Dr. Millard moves to her next comment:
Narrator: "John Adams' December 25, 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson states: 'Where is to be found theology more orthodox or philosophy more profound, than in the introduction to the Shasta?...These doctrines, sublime, if ever there were any sublime, Phythagoras learned in India...'"
Response: Adams' December 25, 1813 letter is taken out of context, changing his communication to Thomas Jefferson, in which he exposes, counters and even ridicules the false theology of Joseph Priestley, concluding,
"...And how does this differ from the possessions of demons in Greece and Rome, from the demon of Socrates, from the worship of cows and crocodiles in Egypt and elsewhere. After migrating through various animals from elephants to serpents according to their behaviour, souls that at last behaved well went to heaven..."
Here, Dr. Millard has failed to pay careful attention to Adams' words and context. He is not condemning "the false theology of Joseph Priestley" as she asserts. Rather, he is commenting on the teachings of Pythagoras. As you read the lengthy quote from John Adams' letter below, notice how he repeatedly says, 'Priestly ought to …' and then goes on. In other words, he is writing about things that Joseph Priestly OUGHT TO HAVE SAID – not condemning things that he actually said. Below is the rest of the letter. She introduces it saying:
Adams begins his expose of Priestley's false teaching, comparing it with the Bible, thus:
"Priestley ought to have done impartial justice to philosophy and philosophers, philosophy which is the result of reason, is the first, the original Revelation of the Creator to his creature, man. When this Revelation is clear and certain, by intuition or necessary induction, no subsequent Revelation supported by prophecies or miracles can supercede it. Philosophy is not only the love of wisdom, but the science of the universe and its cause. There is, there was and there will be but one Master of philosophy in the universe. Portions of it, in different degrees are revealed to creatures. Philosophy looks with an impartial eye on all terrestrial religions. I have examined all, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means and my busy life would allow me; and the result is, that the Bible is the best book in the world. It contains more of my little philosophy than all the libraries I have seen...
Priestley ought to have given us a sketch of the religion and morals of Zoraster, of Sanchoniathon, of Confucius, and all the founders of religions before Christ, whose superiority would from such a comparison have appeared the more transcendent.
Priestley ought to have told us that Pythagoras passed twenty years, in his travels in India, in Egypt, in Chaldea, perhaps in Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon. He ought to have told us that in India he conversed with the Brahmans and read the Shasta, 5000 years old, written in the language of the sacred sanscrists with the elegance and sentiments of Plato. Where is to be found theology more orthodox or philosophy more profound that in the introduction to the Shasta? 'God is one, creator of all, universal sphere, without beginning, without end. God governs all the creation by a general providence, resulting from his eternal designs. - Search not the essence and the nature of the Eternal, who is one; your research will be vain and presumptuous. It is enough, that, day by day, and night by night, you adore his power, his wisdom and his goodness, in his works.' 'The Eternal willed, in the fullness of time, to communicate of his essence and of his Splendor, to beings capable of perceiving it. They as yet existed not. The Eternal willed, and they were. He created Birma, Vitsnow, and Sib.' These doctrines, sublime if ever there were any sublime, Pythagoras learned in India and taught them to Zalecus and
his other disciples.
At this point, notice that in the letter, the references to the Shasta (which is the first book of Brahmin Theology) are not "Priestley's false teaching" as she claims. Instead, they are writings that Pythagoras discovered while in India, which John Adams approves of. What Adams is saying is that Priestley ought to have included these Pagan ideas in his own writings. And so, it is John Adams himself who is commending the introduction to the Shasta, calling it "sublime" doctrine, just as it is presented in the film. (In "Hidden Faith" we include the underlined parts of the introduction to the Shasta.)
My purpose in presenting this quote was to show the audience where John Adams developed his own ideas about God. In a letter dated January 17, 1820, Adams wrote:
"When we say God is a spirit, we know what we mean … Let us be content, therefore, to believe him to be a spirit, that is, an essence that we know nothing of …"
If you examine again what Adams quotes from the Shasta, you can see where he developed his idea of God as "an essence." Furthermore, it is because of the warning from the Shasta that says, "Search not the essence and the nature of the Eternal …" that leads him to conclude that mankind can "know nothing of" God. This is completely contrary to the Gospel, which says that to know the "only true God and Jesus Christ" is eternal life (John 17:3).
In her review, Dr. Millard then quotes the rest of this letter from Adams:
He there learned also his Metempsychosis, but this never was popular, never made much progress in Greece or Italy, or any other country besides India and Tartary, the region of the grand immortal Lama: And how does this differ, from the possessions of demons in Greece and Rome, from the demon of Socrates, from the worship of cows and crocodiles in Egypt and elsewhere. After migrating through various animals from elephants to serpents according to their behaviour, souls that at last behaved well became men and women, and then if they were good, they went to heaven. All ended in heaven if they became virtuous. Who can wonder at the Widow of Malabar. Where is the Lady, who, if her faith were without doubt, that she should go to heaven with her husband on the one, or migrate into a toad or a waspe on the other, would not lay down on the pile and set fire to the fuel? Modifications and disguises of the Metempsychosis had crept into Egypt and Greece and Rome and other countries..." (2)
The word "Metempsychosis" has to do with the migration of the soul, or reincarnation. Adams' is referencing what Pythagoras learned in India (see the previous part of this quote above). He then goes on to say "how does this (i.e., reincarnation) differ, from the possessions of demons in Greece and Rome …"
It seems Adams is using the word "demon" in its Greco-Roman sense, as in the spirit guides that lead the souls of men to the next level of enlightenment. This is why he refers to the "demon of Socrates," which was not perceived to be evil. Once a person is enlightened, then they progress to the next stage of reincarnation, etc. The following article from Wikipedia explains how in ancient classical Greek religion, demons were seen as "good and benevolent."
While Dr. Millard insists that Adams is here speaking in condemnation of the teachings of Priestly, the truth is that the only reference to Joseph Priestley comes from Adams' assertion that: "Priestley ought to have told us …" about the things pertaining to Pythagoras.
All in all, the whole of Adams' dialogue does little to support the belief of Dr. Millard and others that Adams was a Christian man trying to set forth Christian principles in the founding of America. On the contrary, this letter proves that John Adams, while making some profession toward Christianity, was an intellectual Pagan in terms of his theology.
Next, Dr. Millard presents a lengthy quote from Adams, as if this reinforces her earlier point, which we have already shown to be false. Nevertheless, there is a line in Adams' dialogue below that I wish to draw attention to:
Adams' Feb[- March 3], 1814 letter to Thomas Jefferson, further elaborates upon the subject of Priestley's false doctrine, as follows:
"I will ask Priestly, when I see him, Do you believe those passages in Peter and Jude to be interpolations? If so, by whom made? And when? And where? And for what end? Was it to support, or found the doctrine of the Fall of Man, Original Sin, the universal corruption, depravation and guilt of human nature and mankind; and the subsequent incarnation of God to make Atonement and Redemption? Or do you think that Peter and Jude believed the Book of Enoch to have been written, by the 7th from Adam, and one of the sacred canonical Books of the Hebrew Prophets? Peter, Epistle 2, v. 4, says "For God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to HELL and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." Jude v. 6th says 'And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitations, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day. v. 14th.' 'And Enoch also, the 7th from Adam, prophesied of these saying, behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, etc.' Priestley says 'a wrong interpretation' has been given to these texts. I wish he had favoured us with his right interpretation of them.
In another place, p. 326, Priestley says 'There is no circumstance of which Mr. Dupuis avails himself so much, or repeats so often, both with respect to the Jewish and Christian religions, as the history of the Fall of Man, in the beginning of the Book of Genesis. I believe with him, and have maintained in my writings, that this history is either an allegory, or founded on uncertain tradition: that it is an hypothesis to account for the origin of evil, adopted by Moses, which by no means accounts for the facts.'
March 3rd. So far, was written almost a month ago: but sickness has prevented progress. I had much more to say about this work. I shall never be a disciple of Priestley. He is as absurd, inconsistent, credulous and incomprehensible as Athanasius. Read his Letter to the Jews in this Volume. Could a rational creature write it? Aye, such rational creatures as Rochefaucault and Condorsett and John Taylor in politics, and Towers' Juricus (Jurieu?) and French prophets in Theology." (3)
There is no doubt that Adams was not a fan of Joseph Priestley. But notice that he says that Priestley is "as absurd, inconsistent, credulous and incomprehensible as Athanasius." As we show in our film, Adams openly denied the Christian Trinity.
His reference here to "Athanasius" is further proof of this. Athanasius was famously known for his teachings on the Holy Trinity, which were later developed into what is called the Athanasian Creed. The famous creed read in part:
"… we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance; for there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost."
It was this confession, and the doctrines that accompany it, that Adams believed was "absurd" and "incomprehensible." In fact, Adams speaks against the Trinity in the letter to Thomas Jefferson that Dr. Millard is citing, but she omits those parts. Speaking of Priestley, he says:
"I wonder that Priestley has overlooked this, because it is the same philosophy
with Plato's, and would have shown that the Pythagorean, as well as the Platonic philosophers, probably concurred in the fabrication of the Christian Trinity."
The word "fabrication" means "a deliberately false or improbable account."
Dr. Millard's next criticism has to do with our documentation on the Treaty of Tripoli, which was drafted under George Washington's administration and ratified after John Adams was elected president. Quoting from our film, she says:
Narrator: "It was during the presidency of John Adams that the much-debated Treaty of Tripoli was signed. The Treaty of Tripoli bears perhaps the most contrary statement
against the idea of the United States as a Christian nation: 'That the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion. Treaty of Tripoli, June 7, 1797.' And the Treaty of Tripoli, I think, is the clearest declaration that the original founders of the United States of America did not believe that they were setting forth a Christian nation. Why? Because they specifically said so in this Treaty. And what you have are diehard patriots who will try to spin the Treaty of Tripoli to state that somehow it does not mean what it states."
Response: "The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli of Barbary" was signed at Tripoli, November 4, 1796 and at Algiers, January 3, 1797. According to the original U.S. Department of State and National Archives' records, Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli does not exist. We read under Article 11:
Article 11: "This translation from the Arabic by Joel Barlow, Consul General at Algiers, has been printed in all official and unofficial treaty collections since it first appeared in 1797 in the Session Laws of the Fifth Congress, first session. In a 'Note regarding the Barlow Translation:' '...Most extraordinary (and wholly unexplained) is the fact that Article 11 of the Barlow translation, with its famous phrase, - the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion – does not exist at all. There is no Article 11. The Arabic text which is between Articles 10 and 12 is in form a letter, crude and flamboyant and withal quite unimportant, from the Dey of Algiers to the Pasha of Tripoli. How that script came to be written and to be regarded, as in the Barlow translation, as Article 11 of the treaty as there written, is a mystery and seemingly must remain so. Nothing in the diplomatic correspondence of the time throws any light whatever on the point.''' (4)
CJP response: In her comment above, she says that: "Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli does not exist." This is not fully correct. What the U.S. Department of State acknowledges is that in the ARABIC version of the treaty (which was the original), there is no record of Article 11. However the "translation of the Arabic by Joel Barlow" (which is the English translation of the treaty) does contain Article 11. It was Barlow's English translation of the Treaty of Tripoli that was ratified under John Adams, and unanimously agreed upon in the U.S. Senate. Again, this translation included the controversial statement that the U.S. government was "is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."
The "mystery" as mentioned above, is over why Article 11 appears in the English, but not in the Arabic. This fact alone destroys the assertion of some patriots that the article was only included to appease the Muslims, since the Muslims were not given that article. Why then was it inserted? And who inserted it? As we show in our film, the only available evidence we have comes from 19th century historian, Moncure D. Conway. Conway documents how it was George Washington himself who drafted Article 11 and sent it to the Senate. He wrote:
"And President Washington, the first time that he ever came in treaty with a non-Christian people (Tripoli), sent to the Senate … a treaty which opened with the following: 'As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Mussulmans … There is the statement, 'As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion,' from the great Washington. It was unanimously ratified by the Senate." (Source: "Moncure D. Conway: addresses and reprints, 1850-1907" by Moncure Daniel Conway, p. 347)
The Treaty of Tripoli was apparently drafted under George Washington's administration, and then was ratified after John Adams was elected president. Here is a link to the book by Conway:
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Part 2 to A Response to the Expose Written by Dr. Catherine Millard
Is their a part two of this or is this the entire rebuttal to Millard's expose? thanks for great video!
|Posted On: 10/18/11 04:08:19 PM
||Age 0, WA
There Must Be Heresies . . .
Just a reminder, "There must be heresies among you so that you may know that which is approved." And if I may add, who is espousing that which is approved and who is not, i.e., by whom we should stand and not stand.
May God continue to bless you in your ministry of the Gospel of truth.
Mick in Atlanta
|Posted On: 06/15/11 08:13:15 PM
||Age 0, GA