Comparison between Deism and Christianity
Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2001 6:23 PM
Hello. I was looking over your site and became quite concerned for you. It's ok that you don't consider yourself "Christian". But, are you Born Again? Because in the Bible it says - "John 3-8 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. "4 "How can a man be born when he is old?"
Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.7 You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.'8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." I myself am a Born Again Christian. What turned you off so much to Christianity? In every religion you will find people that are full of hate and that have destructive life styles. What exactly is the difference between Deist's and Christian's? Thanks!
Love in Him,
Thank you Christy, I'll try to answer your question. Christianity does not turn me off at all as long as Christians act like Christians and follow the moral teachings of Jesus. Jesus is clear in His teachings yet most Christians refuse to follow those teachings and make endless excuses why they don't have to.
First, let's take John 3:1-8. I went to a Baptist Church and this is the first place they go, then to Paul (Romans, Epistles), then Book of Revelation, then the Old Testament for their moral code (Ten Commandments, Deuteronomy, etc.) harping on "Original Sin" along the way. They mainly select "choice" pieces here and there to say "faith alone" and take it just on that, just "faith alone." Christy is typical of most Evangelical Protestants in America.
One must understand that a Deist reads the Bible, goes by the content as written, then makes a judgement based on reason, not faith. Your first problem is a Deist believes in God, not the Trinity which is not even in the Bible. To quote Jefferson,
No historical fact is better established, than that the doctrine of one God, pure and uncompounded, was that of the early ages of Christianity; and was among the efficacious doctrines which gave it triumph over the polytheism of the ancients, sickened with the absurdities of their own theology. Nor was the unity of the Supreme Being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but by the sword of civil government, wielded at the will of the fanatic Athanasius. The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads...The pure and simple unity of the Creator of the universe...that man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities...
To quote the Bible directly,
King James Bible Deu. 6:4-5, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Mark 12:29-30, And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
Jesus never said he was God and He said to love God, not Himself. God is one. A Deist worships God, Christians do not and engage in idolatry, unless they can come up with a way to turn a man into God. A Christian sums your belief up as,
Christianity is founded on the worship of Jesus Christ...The most distinctive Christian claim about God is the Trinity, three persons in one. This is often thought to contradict the Hebrew notion of "the Lord is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4) and rightly so, for how can three be one? The answer is spelled out in the Athanasian creed, and to a lesser extent, the Nicene creed...throughout the Bible, we find subtle hints as to the triune nature of God...Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians around the world stand united in their idea of the triune God.
Now he reveals what is going on, it's " subtle hints" and not directly what the Bible says. To further quote the Church Fathers, One of the main Catholic Fathers in the West is St Augustine who claimed, "The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed." (Browne) Catholic Church Father St. Jerome is alleged to have claimed, "The Jews insist upon a literal interpretation of the Scriptures based on thirteen rules, but we know that the spiritual (allegorical) interpretation is far superior." Deists don't engage in this kind of nonsense. Either the Bible is the word of God as written or it isn't. The Bible says God is one, end of story.
If Christy had been a Deist, she would have read the rest of John and found this at John 5:29, "those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. which says only be a moral person. (Known as works.) If looked at more closely, she would find almost nothing on morality at all in John, just vague claims of divinity (absent in Matthew/Mark/Luke) and long drawn-out stories about the Second Coming.
At the end of John she would find this interesting conversation between Jesus and the Apostle Peter, "21:20 Then Peter, turning around, saw a disciple following. This was the disciple whom Jesus sincerely loved, the one, who had also leaned on Jesus' breast at the supper and asked, "Lord, who is going to betray You?" 21:21 Peter seeing him, said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" 21:22 Jesus said to him, "If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? This clearly said Jesus would return in Peter's lifetime, something that never happened and never will, or so it seems.
In fact Jesus did come back to John in his lifetime, the Church removed that part. Go read it yourself and here is where you do find the Trinity. See The Apocryphon of John. Deists are not Gnostics.
If Christy had bothered to read further and got an electronic Bible with word search, she would find that terms such as Original Sin, Trinity, secret rapture, etc DO NOT EXIST IN ANY BIBLE ANYWHERE. She would have also found that terms such as "Holy Spirit/Ghost don't exist in the Old Testament and i n fact are innovation from other religions such as Zoroastrianism and Greek philosophy. If Christy would bother to take a college level history class, she would find that these concepts were concocted by those who never met Jesus (Apostle Paul and a Greek who wrote John) or inserted at Nicaea in 325 AD under a murdering pagan Emperor Constantine. She'd find that most of the true Christians of the first three centuries never followed the nonsense that came out of Nicaea. See The Trinity
In fact the so-called Apostle Paul never met Jesus in the flesh at all. See Paul
This illustrates the first important difference: Deists are far more Bible literate than most Christians. According to the Chattanooga-based American Rights Coalition, "a recent survey found that less than 1 percent of adults and teen-agers in conservative Bible-believing churches could name the Ten Commandments. (Bristol Herald Courier 7/18/99) Other studies shows over 90% of evangelicals have not read the Bible at all. Deists and our close cousins the Unitarians read Scripture, go by what is written, and then use our God-given reason to derive truth. Christians (at least those that were literate) were once the most educated people in society. That's not true today.
Christi's story is typical. She likely got her beliefs from her minister. Her minister got it from whatever denomination he/she follows. The denomination got most of its doctrine (if not Catholic or Mormon) from a John Calvin. John Calvin got most of his opinions from St. Augustine. (Calvinist' accept the Catholic Nicene Creed and the same New Testament books of the Catholic Church.) Saint Augustine (4th century mental case) based his opinions on the Roman Citizen Paul. Paul never met Jesus, a Jew who founded a sect of Judaism. Jesus was clear on the issues, so why resort to others who never met Him? Jesus and his teaching should the center of the Christian faith and once were. Not after 325 and Nicaea.
If the Arians had won Nicaea and Pelagius had defeated Augustine, Christianity would never have adapted the pagan Trinity or Original Sin views of St. Augustine. Perhaps the history of the Christian faith wouldn't be covered in blood. There is no real support in the Bible for this outside Paul.
During the Protestant Reformation many new groups/churches appeared wanting to follow God in their own way. Deists, Unitarians, Anabaptists, Mennonites, etc would be declared heretics. Calvinists and Lutherans, like their fellow Trinitarians the Catholics, were totally intolerant of others. Some Calvinist groups would change later, but these new churches all believed in religious freedom and many in separation of church/state. They would influence John Locke and all would later influence the American founding fathers. Locke was an Arian Christian; the Church in the 4th-6th centuries wiped them out.
I hate even using the general term "Christian" because most are so different I wonder if I'm not dealing with hundreds of different religions. I don't know you so it's wrong for me to judge you. Matthew 7:1 tells us, "Do not judge others, or you too will be judged." In James 2:1 we are warned not to show favoritism. The Bible also warns of arrogance and prejudice.
Who are they/you to judge? I answer only to God. I certainly have nothing against Christians so long as they follow what they preach. A true Christian is one who acts like a Christian and follows the moral teachings of Jesus. Being "born again" or faith alone doesn't cut it. Who says so? The Bible itself!
A DEIST ANSWERS ONLY TO GOD.
Understand there are no Deist bibles or holy books. Deists are free thinkers and are as varied as Christians. Some Deists think Jesus never existed, I think He did and I feel there is much to gained from reading the Bible if one is willing to examine the facts and stop being told what it means and strip out the nonsense. On my Web Pages I clearly said "Deists value reason over revelation."
You asked what is the difference between Deists and Christians. We both believe in God, we just do it in different ways. Matthew 7:7 tells us, "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened..." Jesus Himself gives us the right to ask questions, to seek the truth, to think for ourselves. What is wrong with this? In this respect, Jesus is almost a Deist.
DEISTS ASK QUESTIONS, WE DON'T JUST FOLLOW.
The Apostle James in 2:14 tells us, "What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?" This is a complete contradiction of the Roman Paul who said in Romans 16:17, "The righteous will live by faith." (alone) James actually knew Joshua/Jesus, he was a relative who took over the Jerusalem Church (founded by Joshua/Jesus) after the Romans executed Him as they had many other troublemakers. Both Martin Luther and John Calvin, the founders of most Protestant churches, adapted this faith alone business based on Saint Augustine. Jesus goes on in Matthew 5:19 in regards to following the Law, "Anyone who breaks...the least and teaches others to do the same...will be called least... in heaven." Thus Jesus said personal conduct and doing what is right, not faith alone, is the way to heaven.
DEISTS BELIEVE THAT PERSONAL CONDUCT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN JUST ANY BLIND FAITH. Cults rely entirely on faith, Jesus, James, and Deists do not.
This isn't the first time James and the real Apostles have had run-ins with the Roman citizen Paul. In Acts 21:18, "The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James..." The author of Acts also wrote Luke. He was a close friend (Gentile convert) of the Apostle Paul. Both he and Paul never met Jesus in the flesh, just claimed assorted visions. (Paul on the way to Damascus in Acts 9:4)
DEISTS REJECT REVELATIONS, MAGIC, VISIONS, ETC.
James knew what Paul was up to and that is why they ran him out of Jerusalem. Paul ran to the Roman for protection. Paul redefined Jesus' teachings into a new non-Jewish sect.
The Jews that are endlessly attacked in Acts, Romans, etc. are mainly the Jewish followers of Jesus. Those are the "Jews" derided by Paul and Luke. Paul put all of the blame for everything on the Jews because they rejected his theology. If he put the blame on the Romans, he could face danger. (As a Roman citizen Paul couldn't be crucified.) Paul's Greek half was often in conflict with his Gnostic/mystic/Essene half. Jews in fact were tolerant of (or simply ignored) Jesus and his followers and still considered them fellow Jews. James and the others considered themselves Jews. Jesus was a Jew (a Pharisee) who preached Judaism. The real fight was when Paul wanted to abolish Jewish tradition.
In Matthew 5:17 He said, "Do not think I have come to abolish the Law..." But the Paul saw things differently. The Jews had always accepted converts and didn't require circumcision for adult converts. (They were treated as second class Jews.) The fact is that Judaism, including that taught by Jesus (a reformed style of Judaism) actually gained converts for Judaism. This brought wrath from cult leaders like Paul and Church fathers in general later on in the 4th century when they decided what to put in the Bible. The real split was the Jewish followers of Jesus versus the mainly Gentile followers of the Paul.
This whole affair is brushed over by Christians and ignores the fact that Christianity as we know it today, was created by Paul, not Jesus. There is an enormous influence from Gnosticism. The Essenes of Dead Sea Scrolls fame, which likely included John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin) and was a massive influence on the writer of the Book of John and Revelation. The Essenes were an apocalyptic cult that derived their fantasies from the Persians during the Captivity, the Persians originated Zoroastrianism, which produces a view of dualism: good versus. evil, God versus Satan, etc.
DEISTS DO NOT BELIEVE IN ANY SATAN OTHER THAN AS A REPRESENTATION OF EVIL. Satan versus God is an Eastern idea.
For more on this connection checkout The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Myth by John M. Allegro. He is one of the scholars that translated the Scrolls, which have proven devastating to Orthodox Christianity.
This has led to massive anti-Semitism with many Christians and was responsible for the Holocaust. Even Pope John Paul II acknowledged this and placed a note in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem asking for God's forgiveness for these atrocities. Pope John Paul should know, he lived through the Nazi Hell in Poland were 3 million Jews and 3 million Christians were murdered. As a Deist and using God's gift of reason, I would believe Pope John Paul would know of the Holocaust because he was there. I would believe the Apostle James is right because he knew Jesus. I wouldn't believe anyone would know what he or she is talking about based on dreams, nightmares, or visions. AGAIN, ALL DEISTS REJECT VISIONS AND PROPHECY.
I draw my conclusions based on what is in the Bible based on reason, not what I'm told it means. Reason is not God and should never be an end in itself. I advise everyone to read the Bible for himself or herself. Check out the facts for yourself. According to Christians themselves, over 90% of evangelicals have never read the Bible. Most quote selected bits and pieces, but mainly preach their own beliefs often mixed in with politics and folklore. This has become so absurd that many American fundamentalists see themselves/America as the new chosen people/Israel. In 1 John 4 it says, "Do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit..." A few pages later we get the false prophecy of Book of Revelation, based on the dreams/nightmares of a Gentile called St John the Divine of Patmos. I make no claims of "Spirit" anything. Deists don't get into that nonsense.
WHAT ABOUT PAUL?
Paul did believe what he preached but his state of mind is questionable. He had his own inner demons to grapple with. He, like St. Augustine, was eat-up with his own sins and feelings of guilt. A glimpse of this is revealed in Romans 1:27, "in the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and are inflamed with lust for one another..." Paul was likely a repressed homosexual; he didn't practice it, he thought it was sick/sinful. He shunned women and never married as all rabbis are expected to do. (If he was ever a rabbi to begin with.)
Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus mention Original Sin. Paul pushes it heavily in Romans and elsewhere. There is no death atonement for salvation of sins in Judaism. Jesus never said he was God come to earth either; Paul was again mixing Jesus up with Mithraism. There are no known writings from Jesus, the real Apostles, or anyone who knew him in the flesh.
The Bible as we know it today was compiled 325 CE after the Council of Nicaea and not finished until about 385 CE. Under the direction of Constantine, four Gospels (of over 40) were selected as right while mostly the Roman Paul was selected for the rest. These were selected for political reasons, to try to save a dying Roman Empire. That is why several sections of the Bible keeping advocating paying your taxes (to Rome), obey your leaders, they are appointed by God (Constantine and friends), and slaves obey your masters.
The Christianity to this time was very diverse, being much like America today with many different churches and ideas. Jews, pagans, Christians generally got along and often inter-married. St. Augustine is a good example; his mother Monica was a devout Christian, his father a pagan. Women often preached the Gospel and were a big part of bringing Jesus to many homes. In the Gnostic Christian churches, women were priests if they wanted to be. Rome was very liberal most of the time on religion. If you lived at that time, you could be a minister even if one is a woman.
Christianity brought joy, hope and love to millions of people. The poor, the slave, women, and the sick would receive peace and hope, many preached love, charity become a thing of honor, and many barbaric pagan practices (such as the gladiatorial games) would end. Under Constantine: the church would become an arm of the state and all of this would change.
MOST DEISTS ACCEPT THE MORAL TEACHINGS OF JESUS
Church leaders became totally corrupt as power and money became more important than love. Dogma, the creation of Constantine and his henchmen, would replace the joy with tyranny. Not only were pagans and Jews terrorized, many Christian churches would close, their leaders imprisoned/murdered for heresy, the many other unapproved Gospels burned. Women were reduced to their old status of silent servants to their husbands. All non-approved Christian groups would be butchered.
According to Norman Cantor in his book THE SACRED CHAIN, "The four Gospels ...appear to have been written between AD 70 and 100." (After Paul's Epistles written between A.D. 45 and 65.) "Almost all were certainly written outside Palestine." Luke made errors in geography and wasn't likely to ever have seen the county. "Mark and Luke were likely Gentiles, and John, writing around A.D. 100 in discourse heavily conditioned by Napoleonic philosophy (Greek), certainly was." Matthew may have been a Jewish convert, but his hatred of Pharisees and Jews makes this questionable. (p. 89) This doesn't even begin to consider the four conflicting stories of the Resurrection. Resurrection or no Resurrection, the real origins of the Bible begin in Nicaea (present day Turkey) in 325 based on selected writings of the Apostle Paul.
Our founding fathers knew how corrupt and tyrannical religion could be if allowed to meddle too much in state affairs, and how religious freedom would vanish if any religious group were allowed access to political power. That is why our Bill of Rights forbids church and state mingling. History has proven this the correct choice. Today there are fundamentalists who would do what Constantine did in a minute if given the power.
DEISTS BELIEVE IN TOTAL SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE..
Christianity as we know it boils down to Paul and his visions from a dead Jesus on the way to Damascus in the Book of Acts written by one of his Gentile converts. If James who knew Jesus rejected Paul as a fraud, reason would say James was right. As a Deist, I reject Paul, his Epistles, and any visions related to this brooding, unhappy man. Thomas Jefferson (another Deist) also rejected Paul when he wrote the Jefferson Bible.
DEISTS DON'T BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE INERRANT WORD OF GOD.
No, it isn't unless God is an idiot. The Bible can't even get the genealogy of Jesus right. In Matthew 1 we have 42 generations going from Abraham to King David to Joseph, husband of Mary. In Luke 3:23 we have 37 generations going back to Adam who is a "son of God." Isn't that interesting, "son of God" doesn't mean God came to earth as a man, it means much the same as the term "to be a Christian" means today. Someone who walks right with God, not being God. There is no way to logically reconcile these numbers and many other parts of Scripture. This is a process where Christians often take selected sections of Scripture in isolation of other parts of Scripture to protect their faith. It's a physiological process called denial. Few Christians would ever bother to check out these two genealogies and would go down kicking and screaming if forced to.
DEISTS BASE TRUTH ON EXAMINATION OF THE FACTS AND DERIVE TRUTH BASED ON THAT EVIDENCE. CHRISTIANS CLAIM TRUTH THEN HUNT FOR EVIDENCE TO PROVE THEM RIGHT REJECTING ANYTHING THAT PROVES THEM WRONG, EVEN IF IT'S IN THE BIBLE ITSELF! This illustrates another fundamental difference between Christians and Deists.
DEISTS DO NOT THINK GOD IS AN IDIOT, MURDERED THE FIRST BORN OF EGYPT TO MAKE A POINT, DROWNED THE WORLD IN ANY FLOOD, ETC. Except for tradition and a little history, Deists reject the murdering, raving god depicted in the Old Testament.
I hope that give you some idea, Christy, how Deists differ from most Christians. I know this was a long answer, but 30-second sound bites are for politics, not for answering an important question. Deism isn't opposed to Christianity but is opposed to mindless faith/superstition. Please read your Bible for yourself with an open mind and I'll bet you will love Jesus more than ever.
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