February 13, 1756
Major Greene this Evening fell into some conversation with me about the Divinity and Satisfaction of Jesus Christ.
All the Argument he advanced was, "that a mere creature, or finite Being, could not make Satisfaction to infinite justice, for any Crimes," and that "these things are very misterious."
Here we have a luminous thinker and future founding father privately recording his impression of Greene's argument in favor of the "Divinity and Satisfaction of Jesus Christ," that is, the Christian doctrines that Jesus was God (in some mysterious sense) and that Jesus died so as satisfy the "infinite justice" of God as to the many and various crimes of humankind. Greene's argument is one formulated originally by St. Anselm and which apologists use to this day.
What did Adams think of the idea that Jesus was in fact an incarnation of deity, sent to earth in order to vicariously satisfy God's "infinite justice" by sacrificing himself on the cross?
"...thus mystery is made a convenient cover for absurdity."
Absurdity, indeed! The idea that a supremely wise and benevolent deity finds himself incapable of forgiving his own creatures without first having the satisfaction of killing himself (in human form) in order to slake his own sense of honor/justice/blood-thirst buggers the mind and beggars all imagination. It is no great surprise, then, that the practitioners of preistcraft have tirelessly endeavored to cover up the absurdity of their position with the blanket claim that such things are so very mysterious as to be beyond our impoverished mortal ken.
Scholars of the Adamses have noted many positive comments on the Christian religion, and there can be no reasonable doubt that he and Abigail held a positive view of the virtues of public piety and the ability of religion to promote morality. That said, one should always be careful not to imply that he held to an orthodox and traditional view of Christian dogma.