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Biblical Blasphemy

By Thomas Paine, 1807

Review is copyright 2016 by Wil C. Fry. All Rights Reserved.

Published: 2016.01.22



Copyright 2015 by Wil C. Fry.
Some rights reserved.
Full Title: Biblical Blasphemy
Author: Thomas Paine
Year: 1807
Publisher: Forgotten Books
ISBN 978-1605060309 (U.S.)
View It On Amazon
Read it online


Summary


In the collection of Paine’s writings I own, Biblical Blasphemy was separated from other works, though it appears to have originally been a part of “Part III” of The Age Of Reason, as well as being part of Paine’s Examination Of The Prophecies.

By itself, this essay is very short — even for a pamphlet. Microsoft Word tells me it has 499 words (including the title).

In it, Paine makes the case that the Bible itself is blasphemy against what he considers to be the truth of God — Deism. Referring to the Old and New Testaments, Paine says “those books... teach us not only false but blasphemous ideas of Him.”

He goes on to quote the several scriptures from the Bible that say God is deceptive, including Ezekiel 14:9, in which YHWH himself is speaking:
“And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.”


What I Liked Least About It


While making astute and worthwhile notes about the odd things the Bible says about God, Paine asserts that “Deism teaches us that God is a God of truth and justice”, but offers no explanation for how Deism arrives at such a conclusion if it rejects the Bible as the inspired word of god.

Elsewhere, in earlier sections of The Age Of Reason, Paine tries to make the case that creation proves his God, including God’s attributes, though his arguments seemed to me as weak as any argument that the Bible is infallible. Certainly nothing he said of creation (a theist word meaning “universe”) shows that “God is a God of truth and justice”.


What I Liked Most About It


The strength of this essay is its brevity. Paine simply presents two contradictory claims and tries to determine which is false. Claim one is that of the Church, that the Bible is divine revelation and “without this revelation we could not have true ideas of God.” Claim two (from Deism) is that the books are not divine revelation.

Paine’s proof, however, fails, since he nowhere makes the case that the Bible is not divine revelation. Instead, the scriptures he quotes only show that the God described in the Bible is not the same as the God described by the Church, nor the same as the God described by Deism. It’s a worthwhile point, perhaps, but the fact that the Bible describes a deceiving, unjust God doesn’t mean it’s not true.

For my money, Paine made a much better case in Part II of The Age Of Reason for why the Bible could not be true.


Conclusion


While Paine’s reasoning falls short in this pamphlet, the work itself is exceedingly short and painless to read. It’s also free to read online, for anyone who has two minutes.








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