Age of Reason
In the eighteenth century Deism was defined differently than today. Very smart men took the facts they had available and tried to discover the truth by the use of their own intellect. The facts we may accumulate will always run short of all the facts there are. It requires a level of humility to admit that we do not know everything.
Without all the facts there is the danger of error. This is why the "tree of life" is also in our personal garden because it guides us inspiration-ally to know when something important is missing. To attempt to reason our way to the truth about what is good and evil without the guidance of the omniscient God of creation or an omniscience factor of divine knowledge is like hunting with bent arrows.
The age of enlightenment and the book The Age of Reason was not all that reasonable because Thomas and men like him did not and cannot know enough about the nature of the universe nor the even the inspiration of the men who wrote the Bible to come to a rational conclusion on their own without some error.
What they knew then as science compared to what we are learning about Epigenetics, Quantum mechanics and the Mysteries of the Universe, as well as String or M-Theories, to say nothing of the Mind itself overthrows many of their eighteenth century conclusions.
Paine was clearly not a Deist by today definition. But the seeds of rational deism were planted by those who resented the corruptions of the Church of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some imagine that Paine's book “the Age of Reason” is a great critique of the Bible.
Actually his critique of the Bible was generally rather petty. Knit picking about the fact that one gospel mentions an element of the stories while others do not.
Where does he get into the real message of the real Jesus which was the message of Moses who set millions free from the Bondage of Egypt. Moses and Jesus offered one form of government that survived without compelled taxation, kings or rulers, with everyone owning their own land and possessions and with a command to love your neighbor under the prohibition to oppress strangers in your midst  or even covet what is produced by him.
I do not condemn him but give him the benefit that he was looking at the Bible through his personal prejudices and categorically deceived by what was posing as Christianity at the time. The same could be said of the Pharisees in their age and the Modern Christian today.
Thomas Paine challenged institutionalized religion in The Age of Reason. He speaks of a Christian fraud and a neglect of the Creator in the views of Christians. But his views and interpretations of the Bible were dependent upon what was posing as Christianity at that time. Paine was also said to be a deists yet he quoted the Bible extensively in his pamphlet Common Sense.
He drew from 1 Samuel 8 arguments against the Crown and tyranny. Samuel, who was not a deist by any definition, was speaking to God and prophesying to the people what kind of government they would have if they elected men to exercise authority rather than follow their God given conscience.
Paine even went so far as to say:
- “Where, Say Some, is the king of America? I’ll tell you, Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the royal brute of Great Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honours, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on divine law, the Word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the People whose right it is.”
What was posing as Christianity at that time was composed mostly of people who were not real followers of Christ. Real followers had been killed by the millions during hundreds of years of inquisitions and persecutions. No follower of Christ would have ever burned anyone at the stake or hung man or women for their opinions.
Thomas Paine opposed the authoritarian nature of uniform church doctrines imposed upon society by these man made institutions but he and many others failed to recognize the purpose of the Church and the practice of Pure Religion.
False religion has been distracting and misleading people in many ways.
Today is even worse.
I understand that people today imagine many things about the Bible. They think that it told them to pile up rocks and burn up sheep and doves. The Essenes and many others knew this was false yet they believed and followed the message that the authors tried to share with those holy texts.
Those stones were living men and that language was describing how a living government of friends rather than rulers could sustain the people as free souls. But men are deceived by words and their own vanity that wont let them look at old things anew. http://www.preparingyou.com/wiki/Sophistry
Paine was not opposed to Christian principles as he understood them but did oppose that institutional religious system produced by men and their substituting doctrinal ideologies of men for the simplicity of Love and Pure Religion.
- "As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism— a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious, or an irreligious, eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade." Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine, "TO MY FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA"
The Church was not a system compelling people to conform to anything but its Ministers and the Elders should be striving to conform to the righteousness of God. All who come in the Name of the Lord should be sacrificing regularly in charity and attending to the Weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith which include caring for the needs of our neighbors, the widows and orphans of our society through Pure Religion in matters of Health, Education, and Welfare. We are NOT to do so by the Covetous Practices of modern governments and false Christians.
The Way of Christ was not like the way of the World, nor the governments of the gentiles who depend on Benefactors who exercise authority. Christ's Ministers and true Christians do not depend upon systems of social Welfare that force the contributions of the people like the Corban of the Pharisees which made the word of God to none effect. Many people have been deceived to go the way of Balaam and the Nicolaitan and out of The Way of Christ.
The Christian conflict of the first century Church appointed by Christ was because they would not apply to the Fathers of the earth for benefits but instead relied upon a voluntary Network providing a Daily ministration to the needy of society through Faith, Hope and Charity by way of Freewill offerings of the people, for the people and by the people through the Perfect law of liberty in Free Assemblies. The Modern Christians are in need of repentance.
The Age of Reason
In the editors introduction we see:
- "He states that soon after his publication of "Common Sense" (1776), he "saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion," and that "man would return to the pure, unmixed, and unadulterated belief of one God and no more." He tells Samuel Adams that it had long been his intention to publish his thoughts upon religion, and he had made a similar remark to John Adams in 1776. Like the Quakers among whom he was reared Paine could then readily use the phrase "word of God" for anything in the Bible which approved itself to his "inner light," and as he had drawn from the first Book of Samuel a divine condemnation of monarchy, John Adams, a Unitarian, asked him if he believed in the inspiration of the Old Testament. Paine replied that he did not, and at a later period meant to publish his views on the subject." EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION WITH SOME RESULTS OF RECENT RESEARCHES. Age of Reason, Thomas Paine.
First, Religion was defined when Thomas Paine wrote his pamphlet as “Real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men” and it is simply how a nation, a people, or a society takes care of its needy and therefore serve the God or gods they have chosen for themselves.
But Thomas Paine is using it to mean religious type institutions filled with personal interpretations of scripture and opinions about God. None of that is listed as religion in the Bible.
Paine was so against the taxation without consent yet ironically Paine proposed later in life to create a property tax administered by government which would have oppressed his neighbor by exercising authority over the people and their property. He hoped it could provide for the Welfare of the people as an old age benefits for those who had no family to care for them.
Paine wrote in the Age of Reason of Deism and Religion. He thought that at least the Quakers saw things clearer admitting that they were close to understanding the liberty bestowed on man but considered them to drab and colorless.
- "How different is this to the pure and simple profession of Deism! The true Deist has but one Deity, and his religion consists in contemplating the power, wisdom, and benignity of the Deity in his works, and in endeavoring to imitate him in everything moral, scientifical, and mechanical." 
But had Paine simply forgiven the drab and colorless nature of Quakers he would have never been tempted to force his neighbor to contribute to his welfare through men who would call themselves Benefactors but exercise authority by compelling a tax to provide social Welfare. This was one of the primary purposes of Religion and the Church. To call on governments of authority to provide for the needy was a Charitable Practices nor Pure Religion. It was Covetous Practices that makes men Merchandise.
Clearly Paine and many others then and now missed the essence of Christ's appointed Church and did not understand the Corban of Christ. Had more churches focused on the daily ministration through charity and less on dividing the people into sectarian groups based on private interpretation Paine might have embraced such a church.
He makes reference to his "inner light" but criticizes the Bible as not being the result of revelation of its authors. The authors were supposedly inspired to write the Scriptures but that says nothing about translators or pastors or even theologians who may attempt to translate the words of the authors by their own private interpretation which the Bible itself warns against.
- "As it is necessary to affix right ideas to words, I will, before I proceed further into the subject, offer some observations on the word 'revelation.' Revelation when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man." Chapter II. Age of Reason, Thomas Paine
I could not agree with Paine more but unfortunately he did not agree with himself. He needed to define religion.
more to come
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- Leviticus 25:10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
- Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. Matthew 19:19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Mark 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Luke 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
- Exodus 22:21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Exodus 23:9 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Jeremiah 7:6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Zechariah 7:10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. Malachi 3:5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
- Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. Mark 7:22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Luke 16:14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. Romans 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Colossians 3:5 ¶ Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. Hebrews 13:5 [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 2 Peter 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2 Peter 2:14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
- At the same time piety was defined as the duty to your Father and Mother and through them to others with in your community.
- Judges 10:14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.
- : "The religion that approaches the nearest of all others to true Deism, in the moral and benign part thereof, is that professed by the Quakers; but they have contracted themselves too much, by leaving the works of God out of their system. Though I reverence their philanthropy, I cannot help smiling at the conceit, that if the taste of a Quaker could have been consulted at the creation, what a silent and drab-colored creation it would have been! Not a flower would have blossomed its gayeties, nor a bird been permitted to sing." AGE OF REASON by Thomas Paine, "TO MY FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA"
- 2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
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