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Thursday, August 22, 2013

John Adams: Deacon's son

President John Adams (Public Domain)
John Adams, the second U. S. president, was born on October 30, 1735 in what is now Quincy, Massachusetts.  His father was a direct descendant of the founding Puritans and honored this ancestry by serving as a Congregationalist deacon.

The Puritan influence, although already waning, was still somewhat strong at the time.  The Calvinist idea of predestined salvation and damnation (also known as "predestination") was alive and well.
Being referred to as an Arminian (one who "upheld the role of free will in heeding the call to salvation") could be tantamount to a societal curse.

Wikipedia explains that this type of ideological restrictiveness did not appeal to young John Adams.  Although his father had "expected him to become a minister," and he himself greatly valued his Puritan heritage – the president-to-be ultimately chose law over ministry because of the latter's relative freedom of belief and expression. reports that Adams later "always preferred Unitarian worship services."  As part of his famous correspondence with Thomas Jefferson (they died within hours of one another on July 4, 1826), Adams wrote these words:  I believe there is no individual totally depraved.  The most abandoned scoundrel that ever existed, never yet Wholly extinguished his Conscience, and while Conscience remains there is some religion.    


Copyright August 22, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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