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I.4 Deism and Christianity Have Had a Rancorous History

Bible

A Useless and
Bitter Struggle

Christianity has regularly suffered corruption. There have been religious wars and bloody persecutions. Injustices have been committed in the name of God. Deists, repelled by this history, have often rejected Christianity in the most hostile terms.

Christianity faults deism for its refusal to accept anything on faith. Deism faults Christianity for its acceptance of religious doctrines that transcend reason. The two are separated by an insuperable difference. They will always be at odds with each other.

Yet they share in common much that is important: they both affirm the existence of God; they both wish to live in harmony with nature; they both seek justice under good government. They share a common understanding.

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Bible

There is a Single
God of All

The theologians of the Middle Ages—Jewish, Christian, and Muslim—found union under religious truths that are evident to reason. God shows Himself in nature, they all said, before He reveals Himself in Scripture. The goodness of nature thus reflects the Supreme Goodness of God. This has been understood by the great philosophers and theologians since ancient times.There can be but one God who has created this world, regardless of how He is named in various revelations.

Also, there can be but one moral code. If God is the Author of Nature's Law, and there is but one order of nature, then we are all subject to the same principles of natural justice. The religions of the world can find unity by forging a common religious understanding under the natural light of reason.

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Bible

A Truce between
Faith and Reason

Strictly considered, we should believe only what cannot be known by way of reason. Why should we put our faith in what we already know to be true? For example, why should we believe that God exists when we can know that God exists?

Religious believers should limit faith to its proper objects. They should not say that reason cannot know very simple truths about God and morality. Deists, for their part, should admit that truths known to reason suggest that there must be additional truths that transcend reason. For example, if we know by reason that God is infinite, then it is reasonable to suppose that our finite minds cannot presently know all truth about God. These additional truths would quite rightly be the objects of supernatural faith.

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American Deist © 2012 ‒ 13 Edward J. Furton
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