A Conversation with Historian Thomas Kidd on the Religious Life of Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Kidd, distinguished professor of history and associate director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, has published a major new biography, Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2017).

I sat down with my co-blogger for TGC’s Evangelical History blog and picked his brain on Franklin, his evangelical sister, the type of Christian Deist he was, and whether there was a deathbed conversion. Below the video you’ll find a timestamp map to our half-hour conversation.

Justin Taylor Interviews Thomas Kidd on "Benjamin Franklin" from Crossway on Vimeo.

0:01-1:49 What is the process for writing a book like this?

1:50-3:59 What are some of the major events of Franklin’s life?`

4:00-5:54 What was Franklin’s religious upbringing like?

5:55-7:59 Who was Franklin’s sister Jane what was their relationship like?

8:00-9:24 Did Franklin ever meet Jonathan Edwards?

9:25-12:11 How did Franklin come to know George Whitefield?

12:10-14:39 Did Franklin often hear Whitefield preach?

14:40-18:08 What was the Enlightenment? What is Deism?

18:09-19:07 Did Franklin ever talk about the Trinity?

19:08-21:08 What was Franklin’s view of providence? As a Deist, did he believe God wound up the world and let it run?

21:09-24:27 Were there any rumors of a deathbed conversion?

24:28-24:43 What are your next writing projects?

24:44-25:55 Closing