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Thomas Paine's Profession of Faith-Worth Reading Again

Thomas Paine
Friend of Thomas Jefferson
and Benjamin Franklin
Thomas Paine is not respected by all.  During the time I was a Seventh-day Adventist, I read with interest the following by Ellen G. White:

"Thomas Paine, whose body has mouldered to dust, and who is to be called forth at the end of the 1000 years, at the second resurrection, to receive his reward, and suffer the second death, is purported by Satan to be in heaven, and highly exalted there.  Satan used him on earth as long as he could, and now he is carrying on the same work through pretensions of having Thomas Paine so much exalted and honored; and as he taught on earth, Satan is making it appear that he is teaching in heaven.  And some on earth who have looked with horror at his life and death, and his corrupt teachings while living, now submit to be taught by him who was one of the vilest and most corrupt of men; one who despised God and his law. . .

. . .  Satan dictated much of his writings, and it is an easy thing for him to dictate sentiments through his angels now, and make it appear that it comes through Thomas Paine, who was his devoted servant while he lived.  But this is the masterpiece of Satan.  All this teaching purporting to be from apostles, and saints, and wicked men who have died, comes directly from his Satanic majesty." Chapter 30, The Great Controversy

And yet, when studying the American Revolution and the French Revolution, what he helped start was the foundation for our "Bill of Rights" and the French "The Rights of Man."  He was at the heart of fostering the ideas that men and women are all equal before the law, regardless of gender or race or religion.  I think we have a lot to owe people like Thomas Paine.  But I know why he gets the bad rap from religion.  It's because of his religious beliefs.  I think they are worth reading, so here they are.

Thomas Paine's Profession of Faith

It has been my intention for several years past to publish my thoughts upon Religion. I am well aware of the difficulties that attend the subject; and from that consideration had reserved it to a more advanced period of life.  I intended it to be the last offering I should make to my fellow citizens of all nations, and that at a time when the purity of the motive that induced me to it could not admit of a question, even by those who might disapprove the work.

The circumstance that has now taken place in France, of the total abolition of the whole national order of priesthood and of everything appertaining to compulsive systems of religion and compulsive articles of faith, has not only precipitated my intention, but rendered a work of this kind exceedingly necessary; lest, in the general wreck of superstition, of false systems of government, and false theology, we lose sight of morality, of humanity, and of the theology that is true.

As several of my colleagues, and others of my fellow-citizens of France, have given me the example of making their voluntary and individual profession of faith, I also will make mine; and I do this with all that sincerity and frankness with which the mind of man communicates with itself.

I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.

I believe in the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.

But lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe and my reasons for not believing them.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches--whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish--appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind and monopolize power and profit.

I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise. They have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of a priest for the sake of gain, and, in order to qualify himself for that trade, he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive anything more destructive to morality than this?

Soon after I had published the pamphlet, Common Sense, in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion. The adulterous connection of church and state, wherever it had taken place, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, had so effectually prohibited, by pains and penalties, every discussion upon established creeds and upon first principles of religion, that until the system of government should be changed those subjects could not be brought fairly and openly before the world; but that whenever this should be done, a revolution in the system of religion would follow. Human inventions and priestcraft would be detected, and man would return to the pure, unmixed, and unadulterated belief of one God, and no more.


Bulletproof Failsafe Prayer Results: The Con Of Prayer

The Prayer Illusion

If I had to offer evidence as to why the Bible is a farce, Exhibit A could be the Biblical concept of prayer.  And once a person prays, anything or nothing can happen, and the Bible neatly categorizes the prayer results in a way that cannot be challenged.  It will either be seen as answered prayer, purposefully-witheld-by-God prayer, or a prayer failure on the part of the one praying.  It is an unverifiable process.  Religious folks pray and pray and pray; and no matter what happens, they see God at work.  Seriously, I would expect something better from a benificent, all-powerful, and all-knowing God.  The illusion of answered prayer is substantiated by it's supporters as follows: 

1.  First of all, the Bible promotes prayer.  Jesus prayed.  In Luke 11 he teaches the disciples how to pray.  And later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul promoted the idea of "prayer without ceasing."

Prayer is promoted as the way of taking hold of God's deliverance, sustenance, and forgiveness.  It is the believers way to tap into the supernatural: his way to move mountains and receive miracles.  Indeed, Mark 11:24 records Jesus as saying, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."  The Bible says that faith is the key to prayer. You have to believe before you can receive.  2 Corinthians 4:18 and  5:7 admonish believers to fix their eyes not upon what is seen but what is unseen and to live by faith, not by sight.

The Bible claims that Jesus said that those who have faith could speak to mountains, and they would move (Matthew 17:20-21).  They could speak to a fig tree, and it would die (Matthew 21:19-22).  He said that nothing would be impossible for them.  

Adherents are taught to pray "in faith" and expect God to answer the prayer.  

2. If the supplicant remains faithful but sees no tangible results to his prayer, it is okay. Because, as some Christians believe, we are to pray according to God's will.  For these folks, lack of prayer results may well be God saying, "Not now" or "I know what's best for you, and your request isn't it."  But for another segment of Christianity, God's will is expressed in his Word (the Bible); and one must meditate upon it, speak it out of his mouth, and believe that he will receive the promise.  There are texts to back up either path of belief.  This is very convenient, because if no answer to prayer is visible or forthcoming, it can be rationalized, actually, as a prayer answer or a prayer failure.

3. Ah! Prayer failures and guilt.  The Bible handles these possibilities quite well.  If no answer is seen to the supplicant's prayer, and he chooses not to believe that God is saying, "No or not now," the Bible offers a Cornucopia of reasons why the supplicant may be at fault.

Maybe the one praying did not have enough faith.  The story of the woman with an issue of blood promotes the idea that faith itself can bring deliverance and healing.  In Mark 5:25-34 the story unfolds.  Jesus is passing through a crowd, and this woman with faith simply reaches out and touches the hem of his garment.  It says that Jesus felt "virtue" flow out of him.  And the woman is said to have been healed.  The inverse impression is left to condemn those whose prayers seem unanswered:  their lack of faith causes them not to receive.  And in Matthew 14:22-31, Jesus' disciples are out in a boat; and a storm arises.  The disciples are afraid they are going to die, and they see Jesus out walking on the water.  Jesus calls Peter to walk out and meet him; and when he tries, he begins to sink into the water, afraid he was going to drown.  Jesus puts out his hand and saves him.  And while he was about it, Jesus chastised Peter for having such little faith.

There are many verses in the Bible to cover other possible reasons for prayer failure.  Luke 11:25 teaches that if you are not forgiving others,  then you are not forgiven by God.  And the implication here is with regard to what could impede one's receiving what he prayed for. 

1 Timothy 2:1-15 implies that all kinds of things can block prayer: anger; disputing; immodest or too expensive clothing, hairdos, or jewelry; women who want to have authority over men; or women who will not be  silent.  Lucky for women though, it goes on to say that they can be saved by bearing children.  :-)

Jesus and the Bible give many instructions about what we should do and shouldn't do.  And for those who harden their hearts and do not trust Jesus, the stamp of "disobedient" is placed upon their sinful flanks (Hebrews 4:6); and they await death and judgement (Hebrews 6:1-8).

It's Christianity's bulletproof failsafe doctrine of prayer.  The Bible covers every conceivable result, short-circuiting any attempt to challenge it, and the believer is left to continue striving to "pray continually."  In my book, I call this phenomenon the surrender of our sovereignty.  I personally decided to take back my sovereignty with a simple decision not to believe the historical fiction known as the Bible, written 1000 years B.C. in the court of David or Solomon, revised, edited, changed, embellished, canonized, revered, and exalted among Christians to be the Word of God.  


Bible Thumper Finds His Way Out Of The Christian Maze

I would like to tip my hat to Tom Crawford in Northern Ireland.  Tom is a former health service worker who followed Christianity most of his life and now has followed his mind and heart out to Atheism.

Although I am currently comfortable with being an Agnostic, I feel the big jump is the jump out of monotheistic religion.  In my mind whether to be an Atheist or and Agnostic is another matter for the mind and heart.  So Cheers Tom.  Good luck with the book.  And if my readers want to check out his site click HERE.