Written by Peter Lillback president of Westminster Theological Seminary, and requiring more than 15 years to research and write, Lillback in George Washington's Sacred Fire directly challenges the claims of revisionist historians that George Washington was a dedicated deist.
Since the 1930's the belief that Washington was a dedicated Christian has been largely out of vogue among colonial era and presidential scholars. This was in large part the accomplishment of one book, a book that often failed to cite Washington's work were necessary, and patently ignored or lied about items in Washington's writings and correspondence indicating a deep belief in the Christian faith.
Lillback aims to set the record straight by providing a detailed examination of Washington's letters and writings, as well as Washington's historic milieu. Lillback shows that much of what has been used to justify the argument of Washington as deist is rooted in a poor understanding of his historical context, and what Washington himself did and wrote.
The argument is by no means simple, as Lillback often chides modern Christians who seem to want to make Washington a 21st Century Evangelical. But most of what Lillback has to say goes against secular scholars who want to make Washington in their own image. Lillback's book should shift the status quo, and allow Washington to be presented---accurately--as an 18th Century Anglican gentleman who tended often to his duties as a church going man---and in Lillback's view as an orthodox, Trinitarian Christian.
The argument is easier to make than one might first suppose, but it does require nuance especially in understanding Washington according to the way he understand himself, the differences between "hard" deism and "soft" deism, as well as trying to define just what makes someone "Christian".
At over 1200 pages, including over 500 pages of indices and footnotes, George Washington's Sacred Fire is obviously exhaustive. But evidence requires argumentation to understand it appropriately and Lillback does a masterful job of that here. Any student of history, not to mention American History should read this book.