Thomas Jefferson a Mormon at heart
Jefferson was correct when he claimed Christianity had become corrupted, though he was incorrect in his conclusion as to why and how it had devolved. And Jefferson was correct that divine authority was needed in order to have a legitimate gospel. Lastly, this article demonstrates Jefferson did not abandon his Christianity, a counterargument against those who claim he had become strictly a deist.
While Jefferson was no atheist, he was no evangelical Christian either. He would only tolerate a religion that fit his conception of reasonableness. Jefferson nearly abandoned any appreciation for Christianity until he read Joseph Priestly's An History of the Corruptions of Christianity (1793). Through this work and Priestly's Socrates and Jesus Compared Jefferson no longer rejected Christianity, only what he believed were its "corruptions." He alleged that the core of Christianity had been obscured by Jesus' disciples, the apostle Paul being the first to conceal Jesus' "genuine precepts." By stripping away the corruptions, Jefferson contended, the true Christian would rediscover the "genuine precepts of Jesus himself."
With respect to the "genuine precepts of Jesus," Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Rush, "I am a real Christian . . . sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others."
…Jefferson's claim that "divine authority" was necessary to sanction a system of moral dogma…