Jefferson’s Secret Bible
Well, it’s not really a secret. I’ve known about it since I was a teenager and did some research on the faith of the founding fathers. But it’s interesting that Jefferson may have created it without sharing it with many others. What was it? A Bible created by cutting and pasting (literally) lines from the New Testament which he considered authentically from Jesus. He put them together into a sort of moral philosophy guide which he read many nights before retiring for bed. He was downright devotional about it.
It’s comforting to know that a founding father was a spiritual man. Better still, one interested in the bright side of moral philosophy. Even better that Jesus was a guide? Well, yes and no. A Jesus completely remastered. A Jesus pulled from the inspired pages which had delivered him to Jefferson. A Jesus diluted of full context. A Jesus in his own image.
But don’t get me wrong we all do this a lot. And like Jefferson we probably don’t tell anyone about it. Our own private Jesus to bring our burdens to and to confirm our own freshly-minted moral convictions. Our own private savior to comfort and affirm. Not quite the risen Savior who blows the lid off our comfortable reality yet offers us his raw self.
Ashes to Fire is a great time to get in the habit of spending personal moments with Jesus. Just make sure your heart is wide open. One day we will end our journey just like Jefferson did and our family and friends will pick up the Jesus we left behind. Will it be a Jesus in our own image? Will it be a cut and pasted and domesticated life chaplain? Or will it be Jesus: the One and only savior of the world? It’s so easy to let our faith slide into this. But let’s not do it. No secret bibles.
PRAYER—Lord, I ask that I may look for nothing, claim nothing, and expect nothing but you, and that I may go through all the scenes of life, not seeking my own glory, but looking wholly unto you, and acting wholly for you. Amen. JW*
*Beacon Hill Press (2011-09-01). Year B: Ashes to Fire: Daily Reflections from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost (Kindle Locations 461-463). Nazarene Publishing House. Kindle Edition.
Posted on February 29, 2012, in Spiritual Formation and tagged Bible, devotion, discipleship, founding fathers, history, journey, moral philosophy, religion, spiritual growth, spirituality, spiriutal formation, Thomas Jefferson. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.