Theistic rationalism

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Theistic rationalism is a hybrid of natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism, in which rationalism is the predominant element.[1] According to Thiessen, the concept of theistic rationalism first developed during the eighteenth century as a form of English and German Deism.[2] The term was used as early as 1856, in the English translation of a German work on recent religious history.[3] Some[who?]have argued that the term properly describes the beliefs of some the Founding Fathers of the United States, including George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, and Thomas Jefferson.[4][5]

Theistic rationalists believe natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism typically coexist compatibly, with rational thought balancing the conflicts between the first two aspects.[4] They often assert that the primary role of a person's religion should be to bolster morality, a fixture of daily life.[4]

Theistic rationalists believe that God plays an active role in human life, rendering prayer effective.[4][5] They accept parts of the Bible as divinely inspired, using reason as their criterion for what to accept or reject.[6] Their belief that God intervenes in human affairs and their approving attitude toward parts of the Bible distinguish theistic rationalists from Deists.[7]

Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, has been described as an early theistic rationalist.[8] According to Stanley Grean,

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  1. ^ "Founding Creed". The Claremont Institute. January 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  2. ^ Thiessen, Henry Clarence (December 1979). "The Possibility and Divisions of Theology". Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 17. ISBN 0-8028-3529-5. 
  3. ^ "C.F.A. Kannis, Internal History of German Protestantism Since the Middle of Last Century, trans. Theodore Meyer (1856), p. 146."". 
  4. ^ a b c d Smith, Gary (September 2006). "George Washington and Providential Agency". Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 25–26. ISBN 0-19-530060-2. 
  5. ^ a b Smith, Gary (December 2006). "Will the Real George Washington Please Stand Up?". Grove City College - The Center for Vision and Values. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  6. ^ Gregg L. Frazer, "The Political Theology of the American Founding" (Ph.D. dissertation), Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, 2004, pp. 11-12; also Frazer, The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, Revolution (University Press of Kansas, 2012)
  7. ^ Frazer, "The Political Theology of the American Founding" p. 6.
  8. ^ Frazer, "The Political Theology of the American Founding" pp. 243-47.
  9. ^ Stanley Grean, Shaftesbury's Philosophy of Religion and Ethics: A Study in Enthusiasm (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1967, pp. 61-62.

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