Benjamin Franklin

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Benjamin Franklin

Image 2001 www.arttoday.com
Used with permission

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Was Benjamin Franklin a Unitarian?

The American Unitarian Association and the British Unitarian Association were both founded well after Franklin's death, so membership in a congregation associated with either Association cannot be the measure of whether he "belongs" or not.

Instead, as with other pre-1820s figures, we have to look at his theology and at which congregations he attended regularly during his lifetime. Such congregations included those led by Joseph Priestley and by Theophilus Lindsey.

Franklin's own words, in the last year of his life:

I believe in one God, creator of the Universe. That he governs it in his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we can render to Him is doing good to his other Children. That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever Sect I meet with them.

As to Jesus of Nazareth, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend that it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.

I shall only add, respecting myself, that, having experienced the Goodness of that Being in conducting me prosperously thro' a long life, I have no doubt of its Continuance in the next, though without the smallest Conceit of meriting such Goodness.

from Benjamin Franklin: Unitarian

On Franklin's association with Unitarianism:

bullet

Benjamin Franklin: Unitarian

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Sir Isaac Newton on the Bible - references in this article, especially at the end

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