Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-4hhp2 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-12T10:41:51.241Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

3 - Thomas Jefferson, Nature’s God, and the Theological Foundations of Natural-Rights Republicanism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 December 2022

Kody W. Cooper
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Justin Buckley Dyer
Affiliation:
University of Texas, Austin
Get access

Summary

In this chapter, we argue that Thomas Jefferson affirmed the core of classical philosophical theology.Jefferson understood Nature’s God to be a creating, particularly providential, and moralistic being, whose existence and causal relation to the world was essential to the foundations of natural-rights republicanism.For Jefferson, belief in such a God was warranted on the basis of reason, and thus is akin to the propositions that Thomas Aquinas called the preambula fidei. Jefferson’s theology was essential to natural-rights republicanism in that God’s creation and ordering of man to happiness grounded the moral law, human moral equality, and the natural right of property.Jefferson did not adhere to the major tenets of orthodox Christianity as presented in the religion’s earliest creeds, but he nonetheless affirmed the existence of a God of Nature whose attributes included being a providential, moralistic creator. And while Jefferson can appear at times as a philosophical dilettante with scattered thoughts,Jefferson developed a natural theology that has surprising continuities, and some important discontinuities, with the classical natural-law tradition.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Classical and Christian Origins of American Politics
Political Theology, Natural Law, and the American Founding
, pp. 75 - 98
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×