Episode 169: Thomas Kidd, The Religious Life of Benjamin Franklin

We remember Benjamin Franklin as an accomplished printer, scientist, and statesman. Someone who came from humble beginnings and made his own way in the world. Rarely do we remember Franklin as a man of faith.

Benjamin Franklin spent more time grappling with questions of religion, faith, virtue, and morality in his writing than about any other topic.

Thomas S. Kidd, a Professor of History at Baylor University and author of Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father, leads us on a detailed exploration of the religious life of Benjamin Franklin.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

Thomas S. Kidd, a Professor of History at Baylor University and author of Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father, leads us on a detailed exploration of the religious life of Benjamin Franklin.

As we conduct our investigation, Thomas reveals details about deism and whether Benjamin Franklin was a deist; The impact Franklin’s upbringing in a devout Puritan household had on his life and ideas about faith and religion; And, information about how Franklin continually grappled with ideas about virtue, morality, and theology.

What You’ll Discover

  • Deism and whether Benjamin Franklin was a deist
  • Benjamin Franklin’s religious beliefs
  • Sources used to research Franklin’s religious faith
  • Franklin’s childhood and Puritan upbringing in Boston
  • Calvinist doctrine
  • Young Franklin’s reading habits
  • Why Ben Franklin ran away from Boston and moved to Philadelphia
  • Franklin the Calvinist in a Quaker City
  • Franklin’s first trip to London and its impact on his religious beliefs
  • Franklin’s quest to find a church-like experience through clubs
  • Jane Meacom and her role in Franklin’s religious life
  • Franklin’s relationship with George Whitefield
  • How Franklin the scientist reconciled his belief in science with his faith
  • Answers about Franklin’s faith

 

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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your  opinion, what might have happened if Benjamin Franklin had stayed in Boston and had somehow found a way to open his own print shop? How would his remaining in Boston have affected his career and the development of his faith and religious ideas?


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