Passion is running high around a controversy involving American historian David Barton and his most recent book on Thomas Jefferson. And as typical but sad, in Christian circles, those discussions more often than not turn to speculations about motives and intentions. It's sad that the worst is assumed.
WORLD Magazine's editor wrote some comments concerning the controversy, and we look forward to hearing more from both sides as we work towards a resolution about our always important accuracy about American history. WORLD Magazine writes:
Left-wing historians for years have criticized Barton. We haven’t spotlighted those criticisms because we know the biases behind them. It’s different when Christian conservatives point out inaccuracies. The Bible tells us that “iron sharpens iron,” and that’s our goal in reporting this controversy. As the great Puritan poet John Milton wrote concerning Truth, “Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?”
... Accuracy is also crucial in American history. The most popular American history book at colleges, Howard Zinn’s leftist A People’s History of the United States, is full of inaccuracies, and folks on the left don’t seem to mind because they need fables to increase their faith. Folks on our side want to build up—but if we are inaccurate, we are not following the example set by the Bible, and we are giving America’s opponents opportunities to undermine the credibility of what is true.
David Barton should not be, nor does he want to be, defended as if he were inerrant: If his history writing does include some inaccuracies, I trust he’ll make corrections. The harder questions involve interpretation, and on that Christians may disagree. Here’s one hard question: What if through the reexamination currently underway we were to learn that some aspects of America’s past aren’t as great as we might want them to be? What if we learn that a leader like Thomas Jefferson had more faults than we would like?
Those questions are worth contemplation ... and consideration. We look forward to hearing David Barton's take on all this controversy at the Illinois Family Institute's 20th Anniversary Dinner September 7th. Tickets, IFI tells us, are all sold out.