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Journal Article

The Christian Deist Writings of Benjamin Franklin

Joseph Waligore
The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
Vol. 140, No. 1 (January 2016), pp. 7-29
DOI: 10.5215/pennmaghistbio.140.1.0007
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5215/pennmaghistbio.140.1.0007
Page Count: 23
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The Christian Deist Writings of Benjamin Franklin
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Abstract

The solution to characterizing Benjamin Franklin's religious beliefs is realizing there were English deists who labeled themselves “Christian deists.” Christian deists believed in miracles and thought Jesus was a deist: he taught only piety and morality. They claimed Jesus's message had been corrupted by priests who wanted money and power. By 1735, Franklin had given up his unorthodox deism and, in essays defending Reverend Samuel Hemphill, espoused Christian deist ideas. Franklin was possibly converted to Christian deism by James Pitt, a popular English writer whose essays Franklin frequently reprinted. Franklin also espoused Christian deist ideas at the end of his life.

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