Putting Away Jefferson’s “Bible”

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Thomas Jefferson’s leadership skills were incredible.

His “Bible” was not.

Several years after drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, which is today known as Jefferson’s Bible (c.1820) 

Jefferson famously used a razor blade to “edit” his Bible, carefully cutting out every miracle of Jesus, every act of supernaturalism, every reference to the Trinity, every reference to the deity of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. As one writer once wrote of Jefferson’s Bible: 

“Using his naturalistic and rationalistic grid, Jefferson’s Bible was his private declaration of independence from historic Christian theology”.

Jefferson’s Bible begins with the birth of Jesus (minus the mention of any angels) and it concludes with Jesus death and burial.

His “version” of Matthew 27:60 leaves the crucified Jesus dead and buried. “There laid they, Jesus. And rolled a great stone door of the sepulcher, and departed.” 

Thomas Jefferson’s “gospel” may be devoid of the resurrection but thankfully God’s Gospel is not. There is no good news without the resurrection.

The most important thing about a leader is what they believe about the resurrection.

There are essentially two types of leaders in the world. Those who lead from the reality of the resurrection and those who lead from a denial of it.

If Jesus has been raised from the dead our leadership matters. Eternally. The resurrection of Jesus is proof of God’s passion to “make all things new” and He has initiated this work in His Sinless Son. Our leadership and labor are now, not purposeless. The Holy Spirit empowered fruits of our labors in this life will not be withered by death but ultimately enhanced in the “resurrection-world” of the New Heaven and New Earth that is to come. Since the work of New Creation has begun in the resurrection, we can now lead and live on mission in the power and hope and glory of that present reality.

So live and lead and leverage it all to point people to a lasting hope of joy and meaning that death cannot extinguish.

And put away Jefferson’s Bible.


Chad Williams

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