Benjamin Franklin's Views on Religion
Benjamin Franklin is without a doubt one of the most influential and well-liked people in American history. His overall popularity can be due to his capacity to comprehend people and their wishes. He was also a well-known humanitarian with a strong desire to serve the interests of people both within and outside of America. His desire to abandon his desires and values in order to place other people's interests first was his most well-known characteristic.
Is his performance, however, in some way linked to God's worship? When it came to religion and the belief in the presence of a divine entity, God, Franklin was known to keep much of his feelings to himself. Some say it is because he feared that the public would find them undesirable and may lose trust in him and his leadership style. However, some of Franklin's writing reveal that he did critique the Orthodox and deistic teachings of Christianity that give an explanation of God.
Franklin's Transformation in Christianity
His journey in Christianity is that of a changing path where it is noted that for most of his commentary, he was deeply religious. Jerry Weinberger says that Benjamin Franklin transformed from agnostic and atheistic person to pragmatic morality. His writing as seen by Weinberger depict his argument against and for the belief of Christianity, especially where the intervention of God in human affairs was involved.
In his published work on the dissertation of Liberty and Necessity, Benjamin mocks the very deist belief held by Christians concerning the experience that we considered as evil to be just and planned because of the existence of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God. Franklin argues that if God is full of goodness, wisdom and powerful with no equal. He argues that if God is just then there is no way he can be all powerful. Benjamin in his Articles of Act of Religion is seen to purport his personal code when it comes to worship. He says because God is a supreme being, he is beyond the need to be worshiped by us. He mocks the idea of man worshipping an unseen being, a very powerful being that they call him God who they believe to be the creator of the world and all that is in it (Aldridge).
To prove his theory, Franklin used rationalist argument to disapprove certain providences of God in world's governance. Franklin is noted to critique Christianity and says that they perceive God to be ultimately good and just. He critiques Christians in their belief saying they want God's power to be tired by the strings of justice. By so doing Franklin always challenged the society that believed in the existence of an all-powerful and all just God yet the society faced so many challenges and problems and pain. Despite his belief that the original sin was an example of a bad fraud, he finds the evil of this world and the worship of Christianity in which God is at the to be an undeserving object of worship (Isaacson 77-93).
Emerson's Views on Religion
Emerson too was another respected historical figure who had hate for the religion. He viewed Christianity to be on the forefront in misconceiving him. In his writing, we see a struggling personality with matters concerning religion and Christianity. We see in his work that he is unable to set forth the symbolism of God that humans believe in. In fact, he was such trouble that he publicly acknowledged that whole his life his attempt to express his belief of religion to the world had by far much failed. Emerson questioned the authority of the church and furthermore its faith too. He writes that faith that stands with authority is not the true faith of God. He continues saying that the reliance on religion has the opposite effect on faith and depicts a decline in religion which is far much associated with the withdrawal of the soul.
Emerson opposed the Calvinists who claimed of sole authority and thought of them as selfish and said that they were only interested in their personal gain rather than their faith in the well-being of the church (Emerson 41-55). He writes down wishing for salvation, but he continues to say that he won't find that salvation that is still held in the Calvinist beliefs. He continues to write that God is in every human being. He says there is no possibility of having a unity of souls in the Over-soul but states that there can only one source of the soul, that is God himself. He continues to oppose the common belief held by Christian and states that nobody needs to find the source of authentic religious experience from outside, but we can find it within ourselves and discover the salvation revealed to us by God.
Their Disagreement on Set Principles
From his text, Benjamin Franklin spoke highly of Christianity but never always accepted all its teachings. We see that he was making clear that he was at loggerheads with some Christianity doctrines. We see Franklin believing in Jesus and appreciated the worship of Gd. However, he did not accept how the uncharitable and Orthodox priests were carrying themselves and the teaching they passed to the believers. Franklin writes saying that he is not happy with these priests concern of outward appearance and depiction of holiness while they were rotten on the inside. In response to his family who was concerned about his soul, he calls the Bible the "excellent Book" and states that religion is suffering when led with orthodoxy priests since they regard their outward appearance more than the Christian virtue. He continues to say that he believes the God judges people not from what they think but for what they did and recommends that we do good to each other. We see him accepting Christianity but despising how the church of God is being conducted and how those in religious position make certain conditions for their good and not to the glory of God.
Emerson writes about his ideas based on philosophical underlying with his conviction. We see him in disagreement with the local belief held by the Church. He is himself moved by his thought on the worship of God. Assisted by nature, he was able to strike emotional chords which he used to enable his readers to understand his works. His writing is noted to give direction, clarity and progressive flow of ideas despite the fact that he dealt with abstruse concepts.
In his writing we see him showing that various Christians failed to understand the true Christianity as they are misguided by those in religious positions. He mentioned that they mostly emphasized on the depravity of humankind and redemption via the blood of Jesus. We see him as a free thinker, with a free will and the love for learning. He notes the emphasis put on humans for possible collation when it came to denouncing of man's depravity.
His issue with the Calvinism was a wide fight as he was never aligned with their teaching. He is seen referring them to have swallowed up evil and had unconscious evil. He was concerned with the source of human weakness is not in depravity. He said it was in a belief of erroneous thinking that we can't fully be like Christ Jesus. This is because of the common belief that human is a sinful being. However, he noted that their thought presented what the Calvinist doctrines had taught them.
Being a free thinker, we see Emerson saying that the church is leading its beliefs in a disenchanted and unconscious evil. He denounced and compared evil with the likes of an independent force of theoretical problem. He further states that evil and good does exist independently however he explains that evil and good are only shown in human actions. He says that we are not direct inheritance of sin as the church believes but we can make our paths by leaving a good and holy life. By frequently using religious language, he redefines key terms that Christianity seems so much to care about and used they to explain the human divinity and capacity in an age that puts so much concern on individual progress in the Christian world. He notes that Christians influenced by Christianity have their ideas, and with regards to their religious beliefs and thoughts, they react and respond to them as they have been teaching for the Calvinist doctrines (Bloom 97-121).
These two are noted to uphold Christianity but question certain aspects of Christianity. With Benjamin Franklin, it is the belief of a just and all-powerful God, yet He allowed communities to suffer despite the fact that they worship and obey Him. He questions the aspect of God being all-powerful in contrast to the fact that he is also just. Emerson opposes the leadership present in the church as they are only concerned with the outward cleanness while leading Christians astray for their benefit. He strongly opposes Calvinist doctrines, giving a vivid example from teaching on his work giving life examples in his text that the people could read and understand.
Aldridge, Alfred Owen. Benjamin Franklin and Nature's God. Duke Univ Pr, 1967.
Bloom, Harold. "Emerson: The American Religion." Harold Bloom (1985): 97-121.
Emerson, Michael. "0. 1996. Through Tinted Glasses: Religion, Worldviews, and Abortion Attitudes." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 35.1: 41-55.
Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Simon and Schuster (2003) 77-93.