John Neslon Darby
Early History American Deism
The extract below is well stated for a Christian publication. Perhaps they can explain this from Christianity in America, a Handbook, 1983 William B. Eardmans Publishing company.
To quote page 164: (in regards to the Revolutionary War)
If the war seemed particularly unfriendly to the church, it also accelerated Enlightenment values, natural theology, and secularized thought. Revolutionary heroes like Ethan Allen (Reason the Only Oracle of Man, 1784) and Thomas Paine (Age of Reason, 1794-1796) launched savage attacks upon orthodox Christianity and advocated Deism, a system of thought that dispensed with revelation, ridiculed the Incarnation-a Creator meddling with the laws of the universe-and exalted human reason and ethical endeavors.
The first three elected Presidents of the United States-Washington, Adams, and Jefferson-all advocated a form of reasonable religion that drained the supernatural from religion and valued piety primarily for its civic utility.
Although this form of enlightened religion never came to command the allegiance of most common people, it did enjoy great popularity among educated Americans and was quite the intellectual rage among college students in the last two decades of the eighteenth century.
At Princeton in 1782 only two students professed Christianity, and Bishop Meade wrote that the College of William and Mary had become a hotbed of French skepticism. In assessing what it meant that only five Yale students belonged to the college church in New Haven in 1800, Lyman Beecher lamented: "That was the day of the infidelity of the Tom Paine school. Boys that dressed flax in the barn, as I used to, read him and believed him."
Deism, as theology, abstracts divinity as the perfectly reasonable and
orderly originator of the universe. Unlike traditional Christianity and other
ancient concepts of divinity, Deism does not assume a human-like god busily
interfering with natural law to achieve his ends and prove his existence to
Instead, the divinely perfect reason created the perfect universe and has no need to interfere with it. Evidence of its perfection is in Nature itself and in natural laws discoverable through the new empiricism of the Age of Reason. An obvious extrapolation is that science is a way of worshipping divinity (see Jefferson's "Letter to Peter Carr").
Notice that Franklin and Paine state their beliefs in almost identical words.
In his Autobiography and his letter to Ezra Stiles Franklin says he
believes in one God and that the best way of worshipping him is to do good to
one's fellow beings. In The Age of Reason Paine limits his belief to one
god and divides doing good into three categories.
For deists the one god is not the mythic god or gods of ancient religions; these Jewish, Moslem, or Christian divinities are, Paine implies, creations themselves, not creators. Franklin and Jefferson speak of Jesus as a moral philosopher and a "personage." Paine opines that Jesus never claimed divinity; rather he became caught up in the enthusiasm of those who would develop a cult around him. Franklin doubts his divinity; Jefferson advises his nephew to apply to reason to stories of miracles and mysteries; and Paine denounces stories of Jesus' divine origin.
By bluntly attacking organized religions and denying their claims of
authority, Paine became a pariah. Franklin and Jefferson, more politic in their
statements about belief, became fathers of this nation.
One should beware, therefore, of Christians proclaiming that this country was founded on principles identical to their own beliefs. Paine, the darling of the revolutionaries in the colonies and in France, finds Christianity, like all other religion, a fraudulent means to gain power and wealth.
Jefferson, advocate of freedom of religious belief, trusted in human reason to eliminate wrongheaded ideas. Franklin admired Jesus, even equating him with Socrates, as the origin of the best moral principles ever devised. They did not, however, advocate the doctrines of Christianity or any of its sects.
That is what freedom is about, Christians can present their faith, others can present theirs. That is why fundamentalists religious and secular want to silence others because they don't think they can win otherwise. If they don't believe it, who can they convince?
- Deism and Reason Main Page
- About Thomas Paine
- Thomas Paine - Thoughts on Deism
- Thomas Paine Age Of Reason - Editor's Introduction
- Thomas Paine Age of Reason Part 1
- Thomas Paine Age of Reason Part 2
- Thomas Paine Letters Concerning the Age of Reason
- Controversy at Calvary Chapel
- Territorial disputes has 2 California cults feuding
- Probe needed of Calvary cult's ties to Orange County polls
- Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel Movement
- Chuck Smith Is Ecumenical
- Losing My Religion
- Calvary Chapel sponsors anti-Latter-day Saint speaker
- Premillennialism and John Nelson Darby
- Comments From a Former Fundamentalist
- East Tennessee Strip Bar Wars
- Christianity 101
- Religious misc.
- Jesus the Man
- Apostle Paul Founder of Christianity
- Why we should know John Calvin
- Egyptian-Christian Connection
- Judaism Meets Zoroastrianism
- Judaism Meets Hellenism and the Logos
- Challenge to Atheists 1
- Challenge to Atheists 2
- Challenge to Atheists 3
- Challenge to Atheists 4
- Challenge to Atheists 5
- What Now for Post Christian Deism?
- Deism Must Oppose Homosexual Tyranny
- Deism Versus Phony White Guilt Cult
- Deism Must Oppose Infanticide
- Rise of Deism from Reform Christianity
- Doom Of Deism?
- Links to Religious Topics
- Deist Examination of Islamic Trinity
- Mohammed the Man as Islamic Ideology
- Why Muslims Can't Build a Lightbulb
- Original Sin an Overview
- Gnosticism as Explained by Bishop N. T. Wright
- Deist Critique of the Gospel of Mark
- Religious Syncretism and Christianity
- Classical Deist' View of Religion and Its Application Today
- Taking a Closer Look at Gnosticism and Christianity
- Thoughts on Theistic Evolution and Deism by Lewis Loflin
- My Answer to a Secular Fundamentalist by Lewis Loflin
- Separation of Pseudo-Religion and State
- Environmentalism Religion or Political Philosophy?
- Leftist Failure in Seattle Schools