In some ways perhaps the ablest of the deists, and certainly the most scholarly, was Rev. Conyers Middleton, who remained within the Church. He supported Christianity on grounds of utility. Even if it is an imposture, he said, it would be wrong to destroy it. For it is established by law and it has a long tradition behind it. Some traditional religion is necessary and it would be hopeless to supplant Christianity by reason. But his writings contain effective arguments which go to undermine Revelation. The most important was his into Christian miracles (1748), which put in a new and dangerous light an old question: At what time did the Church cease to have the power of performing miracles? We shall see presently how Gibbon applied Middleton’s method.
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When any one was accused of Christianity, he was required, as a means of testing the truth of the charge, to offer incense to the gods or to the statues of deified Emperors. His compliance at once exonerated him. The objection of the Christians—they and the Jews were the only objectors—to the worship of the Emperors was, in the eyes of the Romans, one of the most sinister signs that their religion was dangerous. The purpose of this worship was to symbolize the unity and solidarity of an Empire which embraced so many peoples of different beliefs and different gods; its intention was political, to promote union and loyalty; and it is not surprising that those who denounced it should be suspected of a disloyal spirit. But it must be noted that there was no necessity for any citizen to take part in this worship. No conformity was required from any inhabitants of the Empire who were not serving the State as soldiers or civil functionaries. Thus the effect was to debar Christians from military and official careers.
Intelligent races who are not EARTH HUMANS
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Gibbon had not the advantage of the minute critical labours which in the following century were expended on his sources of information, but his masterly exposure of the conventional history of the early Church remains in many of its most important points perfectly valid to-day. I suspect that his artillery has produced more effect on intelligent minds in subsequent generations than the archery of Voltaire. For his book became indispensable as the great history of the Middle Ages; the most orthodox could not do without it; and the poison must have often worked.
A Sherlock Holmes Omnibus - Project Gutenberg …
The liberal views of the Broad Churchmen and their attitude to the Bible gradually produced some effect upon those who differed most from them; and nowadays there is probably no one who would not admit, at least, that such a passage as Genesis, Chapter XIX, might have been composed without the direct inspiration of the Deity.
On The Copernican Revolution by T.S. Kuhn | Forty-two
This was a great triumph for the Broad Church party, and it is an interesting event in the history of the English State-Church. Laymen decided (overruling the opinion of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York) what theological doctrines are and are not binding on a clergyman, and granted within the Church a liberty of opinion which the majority of the Church’s representatives regarded as pernicious. This liberty was formally established in 1865 by an Act of Parliament, which altered the form in which clergymen were required to subscribe the Thirty-nine Articles. The episode of is a landmark in the history of religious thought in England.