Classical Deist' View of Religion and Its Application Today
As a classical Deist I don't have the hostility towards other religions as the modern internet Deists or the extremist' Deism of the French Enlightenment promotes. My interest is the history and origins of religion in particular those that influenced Western thought and culture. For that reason I often focus on the Bible.
I'll be upfront in saying I'm not a Christian and never have been thus I don't carry the emotional baggage many hostile ex-Christians carry. My rejection of what I call Paulism is based on my reading of the Bible alone: the Old Testament as written completely discredits the New Testament. The Jews were correct to reject Paul the primary author of the New Testament. See Apostle Paul.
I do not accept based on blind "faith" the authority of any religious organization or the authority of prophets, holy men, etc. based on visions, dreams, or guidance of invisible spirit guides or angels. Paul overthrew and reinterpreted Judaism based on visions and the authority of an invisible Holy Spirit that all the sudden had the authority of God. Not buying it.
Jesus is clearly a historical figure I believed actually lived in what is today Israel in the 1st. Century AD. (I don't use BCE but use BC and AD.) He is clearly not Zoroaster, Mithra, or Buddha as some try to claim. The Jews had been exposed to Greek and Zoroastrian ideas though their interactions with the people around them: Jews in Babylonia under Persian rule and later direct Greek and Roman rule.
These vast military empires for the most part didn't interfere in local religious matters but their rule permitted a greater exchange of ideas through freedom of movement within the empires and commerce. The conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great and the influence of Hellenism in Alexandria Egypt and Asia Minor presented Judaism with new ideas and a new threat. That was well illustrated in 1 and 2 Maccabees.
Jesus' apocalyptic sect was a fusion of Zoroastrian and post-Exile Jewish ideas blended with national politics-aspirations of the time: a military religious leader that would free the nation of pagan foreign rule and institute God's (Jewish) kingdom on earth. See Zeckeriah 9:10 - that figure was never supposed to die on some cross.
This Jesus has no relation the Christ Paul invented or saw in visions. The whole idea of the Trinity is clearly Gnostic-Platonist' in origin. Paul was a product of cultural Hellenism hostile to Jewish culture of that time in the same manner as modern Secular Humanism is hostile to traditional American culture. His concept of a risen man-god is a direct violation of the first three of the Ten Commandments.
The closest historical view we will get of Jesus I believe is the Gospel of Mark and parts of Acts. Jesus was human though perhaps inspired by God he did believe for whatever reason he was the "Messiah" in the Jewish sense of the word. He was dead wrong and by crossing the Romans He was crucified for sedition by the Romans.
The Temple was under the control of Roman appointed puppets often Sadducean (in the cultural sense like liberal Judaism and liberal Protestantism today - status quo statist types) who were hostile with the more fundamentalist' Jews (perhaps Evangelical Protestants today for example) such as the Pharisees. The Jesus of Matthew, Mark, and Luke was clearly a Pharisee. Paul (who was not a Pharisee but more a Gnostic) was a hired hit man of the Sadducean Temple and a loyal Roman citizen.
The Jesus of Paul and John was more Gnostic-Platonist. Gnosticism and the latter share common origins with Hellenistic religious syncretism and finally split for good in the 2nd Century. They both fought to sever the faith from Judaism (official Christianity wanted the authority of the Hebrew God, but not the God Himself) and the 2nd Century Church finally severed Christianity from Judaism officially.
So this swirling interaction of Hellenism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity are my main focus. I try to present multiple views designed to promote thinking and have zero interest in promoting any particular belief - belief or faith is a private matter and one should be free to follow their own path.
What I will not tolerate though is historical revisionism, propaganda, or those with political agendas either using religion as a means to power or using political power to suppress the beliefs and expressions of others. Thus I will stand opposed to religious fundamentalism and Secular Humanist' dogma.
We have a right to freedom of religion, but there is no "right" to freedom from religion just as one has no "right" not to be offended. The term "separation of church and state" doesn't exist in the Constitution nor is it implied as used today - the word is religion and the State is to remain neutral in these matters. Suppressing one side as "church" while giving free reign to another side as "secular" and allowing their pseudo-religious and political dogma to be shoved down the public's throat is a violation of that neutrality.
Thus removing forced prayer from public schools is good because children are a captive audience. But removing prayer from a school sports event or public meeting is nonsense. One isn't coerced into joining in and can just ignore it or keep silent. We need a middle ground and not extremes.
So the "creed" if one wants to call it that of classical Deism was stated by Ben Franklin a very religiously tolerant man and abolitionist;
Here is my creed. I believe in One God, the Creator of the Universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render Him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental principles of all sound religion.
The goal of classical Deism is to reform and modernize traditional belief systems - not wipe them out or replace them.
The question becomes why are the modern internet deists so hostile to the beliefs of Franklin and Jefferson, but try endlessly to claim them as an authority for their invented nonsense? For the same reason Christians claim the authority of the Hebrew God while following the Gnostic nonsense Paul invented. They are in reality as hostile to Deism as Paul was to Judaism.
In closing I'll add the faiths-philosophies I cover most often (Judaism, Christianity, Hellenism, and Zoroastrian and their offshoots) have lot to offer and a lot to reject. I'll leave that to individual to decide.
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