“Jefferson the morally upright sage; Jefferson the merciless slave-owner. Splendid Monticello; its sordid slave-quarters underground. One could literally see at this great American house the divide, the original sin, that has bedeviled our nation from its inception to the present day.” Bishop Robert Barron
Charlottesville and America's Original Sin | Word on Fire
Was Jefferson a hypocrite? Most likely blinded by the norms of the day. Yes. But isn’t that what hypocrisy is? We see others through a narrow lens and ourselves through the lenses of God’s magnanimous grace?
The Pharisees, the Jewish version of the Babylonian, Assyrian and Egyptian tool to thwart God’s grace, were the preeminent thinkers of their day. Jesus believed in their teaching. In Matthew 23, Jesus says as much:
“The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.”
The difference the Pharisees’ genius and Jefferson’s is not in gray matter. Both score off the charts. The difference is where they take their seat. Pharisees take their seat on the chair of Moses. Jefferson has no seat.
The authority of Jefferson is similar to those who believe in the Bible alone. They have no seat to sit on. All “Bible Alone” people have, are thousands of words left to the creative interpretation of the individual reader. Or as I have said elsewhere, “He who has the best Bible Study Notes wins.”
I’d rather believe in the seat of Peter than someone who believes by the seat of their own ideas.