A Revolutionary Act
"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." —Thomas Jefferson, 1787
To Jefferson, no tradition was so sacred as to escape reconsideration in the light of new discoveries and the progress of knowledge. Jefferson viewed the Gospels through the lens of the Enlightenment, a flowering of scientific experiment and rational enquiry in the 18th century.
Reworking parts of the New Testament was an extension of his revolutionary spirit. Jefferson had challenged the authority of the monarchy, questioned the sovereignty of Parliament, and opposed aristocratic privilege in American society. He had drafted the Declaration of Independence, taken part in revisiting the laws of Virginia, and helped establish new legal principles and education institutions. In religion as in politics, he imagined liberating contemporary minds from inherited misconceptions and superstitions.