Names for God used by George Washington

The book entitled “George Washington, the Christian” From page

“The terms one uses in referring to the Deity are an indication of his religious thinking, and of his conception of God and his attributes. In the quotations found in this book, Washington uses no less than fifty-four designations. In the following list are twenty-six more, which are found in his writings, but not quoted in this volume.

The page on which the name first occurs is given.”

So. He found a total of 80 different terms for reffering to God., I found one more “Great spirit“. That brings the total up to 81. Now, some might think George Washington was deist. But the same terms used by deist can be used by Christians. Indeed, I have heard many of the same terms used by men I know to trust Christ as their savior. Some might think George Washington a universalist – that he used the terms more convenient to his listeners – but remember that God is spirit, so Great Spirit would be an accurate appelation for God.

I noticed that George Washington wrote this to the Hebrews congregations in Savannah GA, wrote the following (an additional source is here):

May the same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivered the Hebrews from their Egyptian oppressors, planted them in a promised land, whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent nation, still continue to water them with the dews of heaven and make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah.

Having said that, here is the list of names found by the author of  George Washington, the Christian” to be used by George Washington

Almighty.

Almighty Being, 161.
Almighty Father, 126.
Almighty God, 81.
Almighty Ruler of the Universe, 113.
All-Kind Providence.
Ail-Powerful Guide, 150.
All-Powerful Providence, 47.
All-Wise Dispenser of Events, 70.
All-Wise Disposer of Events, 70.
All-Wise and Powerful Being, 111.
Author of All Good, 114.
Author of Blessings, 216.

Being, 72.
Beloved Son, 127.

Beneficent Author of All Good, 173.

Beneficent Being.

Benign Parent of the Human Race, 162.

Bountiful Providence, 119.

Creator, 172.

Deity, 165.

Dispenser of Human Events, 150.

Divine Author of Life and Felicity, 225.

Divine Author of Our Blessed Religion, 141.

Divine Author of the Universe.

Divine Beneficence, 215.

Divine Blessing.

Divine Goodness, 113.

Divine Government, 133.

Divine Providence, 164.

Giver of Life, 227.
Giver of Victory, 81.
God, 39.

God of Armies, 144.
Good Providence, 172.
Gracious and Beneficent Being.
Gracious God.
Gracious Providence.
Grand Architect of the Universe.
Great Arbiter of the Universe.
Great Author of All the Care and Good, 114.
Great Director of Events.
Great Disposer of Events.
Great Father of the Universe.
Great and Glorious Being, 173.

Great and Good Being, 111

Great Governor of the Universe, 164.

Great Power.

Great Ruler of Events.

Great Ruler of Nations, 216.

Great Searcher of Human Hearts.

Heaven, 69.

Heavenly Preserver, 125.

Jehovah.

Kind Providence, 226.

Lord, 81.

Lord and Giver of All Victory, 77.

Lord of Hosts, 77.

Lord and Ruler of Nations, 174.

Maker.

Most Gracious Being, 158.

Omnipotent Being, 155.
Overruling Providence.

Parent of the Universe.

Power.

Providence, 39.

Revelation, Pure and Benign Light of, 140.
Ruler of the Universe, 220.

Source of Blessings.

Sovereign Arbiter of the United States, 221.

Superintending Providence.

Supreme Architect.

Supreme Author of All Good, 112.

Supreme Being, 82.

Supreme Dispenser of Every Good.

Supreme Ruler of Nations, 214.

Supreme Ruler of the Universe, 171.

Wise Disposer of Events.
Wonder-Working Deity.

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14 Responses

  1. wb,
    Nice post! And great quote about the Jewish Americans. I have read some critical-historical books about Washington. It seems Martha was very wealthy when he married her. And he perhaps was in love with his wifes best friend? But who really knows? He was a real man, like us all. And he owned slaves much of his life, but was a good master.

    Personally I feel he was a man of his time, and was perhaps a deist somewhat, but this does not negate his Christian belief.

    What to you think about his supposed vision at Valley Forge?

    • Based upon my reading, I think he was a man who at one point was most likely a Christian. I am uncertain if he ever believed in the deity of Christ. He DID make a suggestion to a group of Delaware Indians to follow the religion of Jesus Christ, but that could have been because of the morals taught by the religion.

      Personally, I think he was a theist. I doubt he was ever a deist.

      I dont think the vision at Valley Forge ever occurred.

  2. PS..I re-checked the one Wash. bio, that was one of his own friends wifes, Sally Fairfax. But he did marry of course Martha, she had two children from a previous marriage. They had no childern themselves, Wash. had small pox, and it may have left him sterile? Anyway not to caste him at all in any bad light. He was a human man, but called to greatness for America.

  3. wb,
    Yes interesting stuff, who can really know? It does seem that the deist view often affected the view of Christ, like Jefferson. It seems that some form of Unitarian ideas were there very early. I think theism and deism could mingle then, again it is hard to know. I have read a few of Washington’s prayers which seemed very theist. But he was certainly a great man, and his knowledge of the Word of God and names of God make for a good argument to his theism. Is there any American movies which portray this great man?

  4. I would say that it is possible for a man in ignorance to not understand the deity of Christ, but I would not think it probable that such would deny mentally Christ, and then still be a Christian. But in these areas, only God will be the judge. Today we see deliberate denial of Christ as the Son of God, the eternal of the Father. Again, how can Christ be divinity if he is but masked for a time as man, only to lose it and recede back into the Godhead? It cannot!

    • Let me say that, based upon my reading, I believe Washington had morning and evening devotions. I think he believed God interacted with mankind and performed miracles. I think he believed in what the Bible taught, especially concerning history and morality. But I am not sure he believed in the deity of Christ.

  5. wb,
    Yes, this is perhaps that old humanist and unitarian doctrine and teaching. Sadly was/is part of that which does not give Christ His all in every ontological and soteriological (salvation) place. Hopefully Washington was just ignorant, and was not in that place of personal diminishment of Christ. Silence does not always mean an attack, lets hope so for Washington. Surely without the deity and divinity of Christ, we cannot maintain our discipleship and Lordship of Christ! But it is also more than mere correct doctrinal proposition, (the letter)..but the heart turned fully toward and “in” Christ. Did not our Lord say, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kindgom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21)

    • well, humanists don’t necessarily believe in an active God, but I think Washington did. I’m not sure he was a unitarian.

      John Adams, on the other hand, was a definite unitarian who did not believe in the divinity of Christ.
      His son, John Quincy Adams (who attended a unitarian church), was agnostic about it.

  6. PS..I have moved to a position that includes both justification and santification in that place of “the obedience of faith” (Rom.1:5) Salvation is ever the “new man” in Christ, simply.

  7. i fixed the link for “great spirit” and added one for the quote to the Hebrew congregations of Savannah, GA – and fixed the quote.

  8. I think, if one was to consider two things objectively, we might notice a few things.

    1.) Many of the terms are Masonic/Deist as well as prevalent in the natural law theology of Locke and Hobbes which if we would spend time comparing to Newton’s unifying theory of religion, we find that while some didn’t privately deny Christ, many spoke in generic terms publicly so as not to offend the great many American sects.

    2.) During Washington’s era, character was considered something public. What the man kept private could feel volumes. We know assuredly that he was a great mind, militarily and politically. Indeed, his inauguration is a well designed mythos all to itself.

    I think we have to take these men in their context, for what they were, and what they did. They, with 1/3 of the American colonists defeated the most powerful nation on earth with little more than luck, or divine providence. With the things which happened on the battlefield, it came pretty close to miraculous.

    There lies Washington, in some grave, to be judge by God for his relationship with Christ. We know but a few tangible things. He believed in God; he believed in a democratic republic. He was a man of public character and private devotion, something we may not really say for Jefferson.

    • On a side note, an interesting thought is that natural law is God’s will.

      Since God created the rules which govern the universe, then that’s a true statement.

  9. There are different views and definitions of ‘natural law,’ Wb, but I believe that it is safe to say that the Founders would have followed Locke and Hobbes

  10. John Locke is always a good read…both his, An Essay concerning Human Understanding, and his last four letters on Toleration (the fourth unfinished at his death). Also an early essay on Toleration. He had turned away from Aristotle and the Schoolman toward experimental science and the philosophy of Descartes and Bacon. Later known as the father of English empiricism. (See also his, The Resonableness of Christianity).

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