Our second president, John Adams, was a man of great intellect and was a scholar, diplomat and statesman, Adams was born a New England Congregationalist but early developed a detestation for Calvinist orthodoxy. He didn’t like emotionalism in religion and didn’t like the negative "hell and brimstone" orientation of the Calvinist preachers. During his life he moved toward Unitarianism, although it must be remembered that the early Unitarians were much more conservative by today’s standards,. They would be much more like a liberal Methodist or Congregationalist today, Unitarians of that time regarded themselves as Christians and believed in the divinity of Jesus and were much more inclined to traditional Christianity.
Adams enjoyed the study of the scriptures. He indicated that he read and studied the scriptures Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings. The rest of the week he read Latin and English authors.
Adams was interested in religion in contrast to Washington. and was concerned with some of the central questions of the nature of man and God, He did not believe in the trinity but defined Christianity in this way, "The Christian religion, as I understand it, is the brightness of the glory and the express portrait of the eternal, self-existent, independent, benevolent, all-powerful and all— merciful Creator, Preserver, and Father of the Universe... it will last as long as the world. Neither savage nor civilized man could ever have discovered or invented it. Ask me not whether I am a Catholic or Protestant, Calvinist or Arminian. As far as they are Christians, I wish to be a fellow disciple of them all." On another occasion Adams wrote, ’'If I did not believe in a future state, I should believe in no God,"
Adams believed that religion was essential to society. He wrote, "Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company," He felt that Christianity was by far the world's best religion. In replying to Thomas Paine's criticism of Christianity, Adams affirmed, "The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of virtue, equity, and humanity..." Adams was unsympathetic to ecclesiastical establishments particularly those of hierarchical and well organized churches# In a letter to Jefferson he once questioned whether Roman Catholicism was ever compatible with Republican institutions; and yet Adams contributed to the building fund of the first Catholic church in Boston. Adams has been called one of our most devout Presidents and one of those most interested in religion# late in his life Adams wrote, "Knowing that ‘except the Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain,' with further supplications for his favor, to His overruling providence, I commit with humble and fearless confidence my own fate and the future destinies of my country."
Related albums • See other albumsPortraits by John Trumbull
Religion In The Lives Of The American Presidents
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