Thomas Paine - Age of Reason - Prophets and Prophesying
The word prophesying meant the art of making poetry or playing poetry to a tune upon any instrument of music.
We have noted that the "high church" such as the Disciples of Christ define "church" as those who change with the times. A "sect" is defined as a church which patterns its faith and practice after the Bible. In a previous article, Charles Dailey of Northwest College of the Bible, uses the word "prophet" to authorize singing human compositions with musical instruments.
A true prophet prophesies something which comes true. If not, they were to be executed.
One who prophesied might be a poet or musician whose performance did not speak to either their character or that of their poetry. It did not predict the future.
"Prophesying" at times preceded or was imposed by God as a symbol of impending doom (Miriam before Sinai) or the musicians from the high places signaling the condemnation and destruction of Israel when Saul "replaced" God as king.
CHAPTER VII - EXAMINATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
I have omitted the first part of this chapter by Thomas Paine. While it denies the inspiration of the Bible it is consistent with modern Deists who "pare down" the gospel to a few facts about Jesus and relegate all of the rest to "differing conclusion by Waring apostles" or other writers.
I add the following to show Thomas Paine understood the meaning of the word "prophet" or "prophesying." While there were genuine prophets the most common understanding is that it was reciting poetry or songs and often with instruments. The word says nothing about either the character of the composer or performer and does nothing to endorse the poetic or allegorical language.
Without a doubt, Thomas Paine was a Deist who rejected the Bible as inspired because of the ignorance and evil nature of The Church of England which was one ledge of a two-legged stool of the 'divine rights of kings.' He, more than most, is responsible for our civil and religious freedom from dominant religions. His rejection of inspiration did not deny the faithful recording of the story but of defining "inspired" by some non-biblical method.
Jesus warned that the Word had been spoken in parables "from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 13) and that this prevents the casual peddler of the Bible from ever grasping the spiritual meaning and selling it or using it to manipulate (Isaiah 48). Therefore, while parables are inspired they do not teach the most obvious understanding but are inspired only at their spiritual level. Trees don't literally rejoice or clap their hands but the meaning is God speaking to us.
Next, Thomas Paine. Age of Reason.
Tom in Black, my notes in Red, Editors notes in Blue
All the remaining parts of the Bible, generally known by the name of the Prophets, are the works of the Jewish poets and itinerant preachers, who mixed poetry, anecdote, and devotion together -- and those works still retain the air and style of poetry, though in translation.
[EDITORS NOTE: As there are many readers who do not see that a composition is poetry, unless it be in rhyme, it is for their information that I add this note.
Poetry consists principally in two things -- imagery and composition. The composition of poetry differs from that of prose in the manner of mixing long and short syllables together. Take a long syllable out of a line of poetry, and put a short one in the room of it, or put a long syllable where a short one should be, and that line will lose its poetical harmony. It will have an effect upon the line like that of misplacing a note in a song.
The imagery in those books called the Prophets appertains altogether to poetry. It is fictitious, and often extravagant, and not admissible in any other kind of writing than poetry. [Poetry does not have to be fictitious but much of it is in highly symbolic terms. For instance, when God 'walks upon the wings of the wind' we do not disparage it because it is poetry.]
To show that these writings are composed in poetical numbers, I will take ten syllables, as they stand in the book, and make a line of the same number of syllables, (heroic measure) that shall rhyme with the last word. It will then be seen that the composition of those books is poetical measure. The instance I shall first produce is from Isaiah: --
"Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth
'T is God himself that calls attention forth.
Another instance I shall quote is from the mournful Jeremiah, to which I shall add two other lines, for the purpose of carrying out the figure, and showing the intention of the poet.
"O, that mine head were waters and mine eyes"
Were fountains flowing like the liquid skies;
Then would I give the mighty flood release
And weep a deluge for the human race. -- Author.]
God began Isaiah 5 in the common prophetic form:
NOW will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: Isaiah 5:1
Their error was:
And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts:
but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands. Isaiah 5:12
Paine again: There is not, throughout the whole book called the Bible, any word that describes to us what we call a poet, nor any word that describes what we call poetry. The case is, that the word prophet, to which a later times have affixed a new idea,
was the Bible word for poet, and the word 'prophesying' meant the art of making poetry.
It also meant the art of playing poetry to a tune upon any instrument of music.
[When Paul wished all of the Corinthians would "prophesy" rather than speak in tongues, in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 he used the word "psallo" and the message was a Biblical Psalm -- Psalmos.
The Greek definition is:
psal-mos'; from 5567; a set piece of music, i.e. a sacred ode (accmpanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a "psalm"); collect. the book of the Psalms: - psalm. Comp. 5603. (an ode)
Proponents of musical rituals insist that a "psalmos" necessarily includes a mechanical instrument. However, look again at the definition from Strong's even though scholarship denies that it included instruments at the time:
- A sacred (inspired) ode
- Accompanied by the
- or other Instrument
Paul's option was "the human voice." The object was to "teach and admonish" one another through the use of revealed poetic language, which Paine notes, would include much of the Old Testament.
In the church, one can sing or preach as "prophesying" only if they have a revelation and another prophet is present to keep him honest.
Women were excluded from this revelatory process because their occupation had often been to sell their poems or songs as the revelation from the gods. She was usually drunk on wine or chewing laurel leaves and therefore Paul would call her "mad" in Corinth. Therefore, Paul restricted "singing" to the revealed Word of Christ and the Christian and Pauline example was that to make it honest it must not be sold in a commercial way.
We read of prophesying with pipes, tabrets, and horns -- of prophesying with harps, with psalteries, with cymbals, and with every other instrument of music then in fashion.
Were we now to speak of prophesying with a fiddle, or with a pipe and tabor, the expression would have no meaning, or would appear ridiculous, and to some people contemptuous, because we have changed the meaning of the word.
We are told of Saul being among the prophets, and also that he prophesied; but we are not told what they prophesied, nor what he prophesied.
The case is, there was nothing to tell; for these prophets were a company of musicians and poets, and Saul joined in the concert, and this was called prophesying.
The account given of this affair in the book called Samuel, is, that Saul met a company of prophets; a whole company of them! coming down with a psaltery, a tabret, a pipe, and a harp, and that they prophesied, and that he prophesied with them.
But it appears afterwards, that Saul prophesied badly, that is, he performed his part badly; for it is said that an "evil spirit from God [NOTE: As those men who call themselves divines and commentators are very fond of puzzling one another, I leave them to contest the meaning of the first part of the phrase, that of an evil spirit of God. I keep to my text. I keep to the meaning of the word prophesy. -- Author.] came upon Saul, and he prophesied."
The object of Saul prophesying along with the destruction of the wheat crop with hail was a sign of judgment from God. This was a divine sign that people had demanded: "Set a king over us" when they had lived their lives in the presence of God who needed no human, hereditary and destructive king. Thomas Paine sees this event as the source of the claim of the divine rights of kings. This fed his input into both American political freedom and freedom from the religion of "spiritual kings" who were co-usurpers with political kings.
Unfortunately, the same promoters of religion as a branch of secular government see this prophesying as authority to compose songs and sing them with instruments as a revelation from God. Singing "praise" songs is even sold as the most ancient of superstitions: the power to move you into the presence of God.
Now, were there no other passage in the book called the Bible, than this, to demonstrate to us that we have lost the original meaning of the word prophesy, and substituted another meaning in its place, this alone would be sufficient; for it is impossible to use and apply the word prophesy, in the place it is here used and applied, if we give to it the sense which later times have affixed to it.
The manner in which it is here used strips it of all religious meaning, and shews that a man might then be a prophet, or he might Prophesy, as he may now be a poet or a musician,
without any regard to the morality or the immorality of his character.
The word was originally a term of science, promiscuously applied to poetry and to music, and not restricted to any subject upon which poetry and music might be exercised.
The Bible gives a test:
IF there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, Deut 13:1
And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Deut 13:2
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Deut 13:3
Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. Deut 13:4
And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. Deut 13:5
Saul's prophesying with the "band" from the Philistine high place was God's judgment that they had "spoken to turn the people away from God."
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. Deut 18:20
Or we might translate this:
But the song composer, which shall presume to sing a song in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. Deut 18:20
And in time, they will because their spirits are already wounded beyond repair.
Many of the praise songs promise to lead you into the presence of God or worship God as a polytheistic god. If you don't actually come into His presence or if you don't "go" when you ask God to send you to the lost then God says: "Ignore them."
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? Deut 18:21
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. Deut 18:22
Singers or musicians who sing and promote songs which God has not spoken to them claim to be prophets but they are false prophets and, more often than not, the message of the song teaches error.
Deborah and Barak are called prophets,
not because they predicted anything, but because they composed the poem or song that bears their name,
in celebration of an act already done.
David is ranked among the prophets, for he was a musician, and was also reputed to be (though perhaps very erroneously) the author of the Psalms.
But Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not called prophets; it does not appear from any accounts we have, that they could either sing, play music, or make poetry.
When we call Abraham a prophet in the modern sense we mean that his life and experiences were prophetic of events which actually came true. For that he needed not guitar.
We are told of the greater and the lesser prophets. They might as well tell us of the greater and the lesser God; for there cannot be degrees in prophesying consistently with its modern sense.
But there are degrees in poetry, and therefore the phrase is reconcilable to the case, when we understand by it the greater and the lesser poets.
It is altogether unnecessary, after this, to offer any observations upon what those men, styled prophets, have written.
The axe goes at once to the root, by showing that the original meaning of the word has been mistaken, and consequently all the inferences that have been drawn from those books, the devotional respect that has been paid to them, and the laboured commentaries that have been written upon them, under that mistaken meaning, are not worth disputing about.
In many things, however, the writings of the Jewish poets deserve a better fate than that of being bound up, as they now are, with the trash that accompanies them, under the abused name of the Word of God.
[Well, we warned you about Tom. Nevertheless, Tom gained his impressions when he saw a child hanging at the crossroads on the way to school for stealing bread: hung by the church.
His bitterness matured when he gave his all for the Revolution and was maltreated while the mythological heros went on to fame and fortune.]
While we don't agree with Paine's Deism earned by the abuse of religious men of his age, it is true that we need to grasp the poetic aspect if we are going to grasp the meaning. In Isaiah 48 God hides the true meaning of His predictions under poetic figures to keep the commercial "retailers" of the Word from selling the prophecies. The text ceases to be the Word of God when it is taken out of context and reconstructed.
His next views are "early Post-Modern" and we disagree.
In the next part Thomas Paine may seem like an Atheist but he says what the majority of professional religionists would say today.
If we permit ourselves to conceive right ideas of things, we must necessarily affix the idea, not only of unchangeableness, but of the utter impossibility of any change taking place, by any means or accident whatever, in that which we would honour with the name of the Word of God; and therefore the Word of God cannot exist in any written or human language. [I read that in a church bulletin a few years ago]
The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of an universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are of themselves evidences that human language, whether in speech or in print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God. -- The Word of God exists in something else.
Did the book called the Bible excel in purity of ideas and expression all the books now extant in the world, I would not take it for my rule of faith, as being the Word of God; because the possibility would nevertheless exist of my being imposed upon. But when I see throughout the greatest part of this book scarcely anything but a history of the grossest vices, and a collection of the most paltry and contemptible tales, I cannot dishonour my Creator by calling it by his name.
The Bible makes itself perfectly clear: the grossest tales are the result of men who refused to honor God in their hearts and were "permitted to walk in their own ways." It is important that we do not see the sins of David as inspired permission to imitate him. We are presently reviewing a sermon which denies that the church and worship can be reconstructed from the New Testament and its churches and, therefore, we must return to the Exodus which is really a story of the grossest vices.
This is why the true prophets often spoke in symbolic language to keep from being destroyed by the priestly class of their days.
"This is why Thomas Campbell could say:
"The New Testament is as perfect a constitution for the worship, discipline, and government of the New Testament church, and as a perfect a rule for particular duties of its members, as the Old Testament was for the worship, discipline, and government of the Old Testament Church, and the particular duties of its members."
"Thus there came to be, very early in the career of this movement, interest not only in
(1) Christian unity in a new freedom, but also (defined as 'church')
(2) a return to the doctrine, ordinances, and discipline of the New Testament church." (p. 153) (defined as 'sect')
In 1932, A. W. Fortune says, "The controversies through which the Disciples have passed from the beginning to the present time have been the result of two different interpretations of their mission.
There have been those who believed it is the spirit of the New Testament Church that should be restored, and
in our method of working the church must adapt itself to changing conditions.
There have been those who regarded the New Testament Church as a fixed pattern for all time, and our business is to hold rigidly to that pattern regardless of consequences.
Because of these two attitudes conflict were inevitable."
"Broadly speaking, it may be said that number
1 above generated the present fellowship called Disciples of Christ,
2 and that number (church) gave rise to the Churches of Christ. (sect)
According to Troeltsch,
Disciples would be among the 'church' type and
Churches of Christ among the 'sect' type.
"By 'church' is meant that body of conceptions which says "From the beginning they have been 'high churchmen'...
because they 'never ceased to stress the visible and corporate character of the Church as the Divine Society,' (with bylaws, a head and ability to adapt to the culture. This flows from Catholicism, Church of England, Anglicanism, Episcopal, Methodist to early Christian Churches.)
and rejected 'legalized methods and structural forms which are a contradiction of the living nature of the church.'
Of course, this was not a division but of two people flowing in two different streams coming together for a very short period. The Disciples flow from Catholicism-Church of England-Anglican-Episcopal-Methodist stream largely influenced by James O'Kelly.
Churches of Christ flowed out of Presbyterians and Baptists and the Reformation Movement.
Leroy Garrett stated:
"This is to say that the gospel is not the whole of the New Testament scriptures,
for the gospel was a reality long before the scriptures were written.
the teachings of the apostles are not facts, as the gospel is,
but interpretations, implications, and edification based on the gospel.
In this area, that of the didache (teaching) even the apostles differed in their ideas and emphases.
The churches for whom these documents were written were likewise different from each other.
Garrett goes on to define the "gospel" as something revealed but not subject to debate but:
The doctrine allows for debate and dialogue, for intellectual stimulation and the stretching of the mind. It nurtures us in Christ,
but in such a way that each man develops according to his own uniqueness. The pragmatic mind as well as the speculative mind finds food for thought. Its design is (not) to make us all alike in our thinking, but to make us mature in Christ.
The truth be told, the Bible's "silence" on a subject is most often ambiguous rather than either prohibitive or concessive. What one is willing to allow or quick to oppose is, I fear, due more to taste and temperament than to any clear application of the following cherished dictum:
"Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent."
But hold on! Where did that dictum come from? It's not a Bible verse. It's a well-worn religious slogan that I think has some very positive value
Here is what God wants churches passionate about:
(1) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, (2) that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
(3) "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
(4) "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: (5) While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (6) Since we have now been justified by his blood, (7) how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" (Rom. 5:8-9).
These are the essentials of Christian faith. It is this core message about Jesus that we share in common with other
Bible-believing, cross-proclaiming, resurrection-confessing, born-again persons that constitutes us a church.
Outside the essence of the gospel,
there are other features that reflect our history and consensus interpretations of the larger biblical message.
The Post-Modern "hermeneutic" of the Latter Rain (or Latter Reign) asks:
"Are you having difficulty discerning or receiving this "new revelation"?
Then you have been interpreting your Bible in the "old way,"
comparing Scripture with Scripture, studying diligently to account for every jot and tittle and being careful to rightly divide the Word of truth.
"If this describes you, then you belong to the "Old Generation"
which will not enter in to "possess the land" in the Latter Rain Revival.
You may even be a member of a denominational church, with its dogmatic confession of faith and statement of doctrine.
These legalistic forms will be relics of the past in the up and coming "Post-denominational Church."
Paul Cain advises that you "dump all that carnal stuff" (doctrine)
and listen to what the "spirit" is saying to the churches through the Latter Rain Prophets and Apostles, who are dispensing many "new, sacred truths.
The modern "prophets" who believe that their songs are inspired and their instruments the vehicles upon which the Spirit rides constituted one leg of a "two legged stool" upon which oppression rested. By interpreting Psalms and the prophets as prose the church saw them as "raw material" from which to construct their own songs and sermons.
If Paine and Paul are correct, these are the songs which we should sing rather than use as raw material for constructing a New Testament church with authority to suppress the Word in the form which we have received it. By using symbolic or even judgmental prophesying as authority to "rule over" people the church makes itself into a manufacturing machine to turn out unbelievers.
Warning against Pagan Prophesying:
Paul warned against the "mysteries" in the church where women were the charismatic singers and musicians selling their tunes as merchandise:
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the (his) spirit he speaketh mysteries. 1 Cor 14:2
Therefore, Paul defined Christian prophesying:
But he that prophesieth (teaches) speaketh (preaches) unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 1 Co.14:3
In the "singing" passages Paul defines the resources as "Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." This is then defined to the Ephesians as "Spirit" (Christ's Words, John 6:63) and "the Word of Christ" in Colossians.
The external method making it "prophesying" was to speak.
The internal effect was "singing and melody" in the heart and directed to God and not the admiring spectators.
The goal of Charles Dailey and Northwest College of the Bible is to "expand" the meaning of the word "prophet" to allow you to translate Paul in this way:
But he that prophesieth singeth and playeth upon an instrument unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 1 Co.14:3
That is not what Paul said: prophesying in Corinth--like speaking in tongues--was regulated for supernaturally inspired prophets or apostles: none existed in Corinth because history is clear that they never corrected the problems:
Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 1 Corinthians 14:29
If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 1 Corinthians 14: 30
For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 1 Corinthians 14: 31
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 1 Corinthians 14: 32
Why? For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints 1 Corinthians 14: 33 .
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 1 Corinthians 14: 34
The church of Paine's pain and suffering was built upon the law and the clergy which became the "kings set over us" with the power of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
His own rejection of the inspiration of the Bible did not mean that he was not a believer in God who was to be worshiped in spirit and not in cathedrals built upon the backs of the poor.
In Worship and Church Bells Paine understood Christ's demand that worship be in spirit and in truth:
The practical part consists in our doing good to each other.
But since religion has been made into a trade, [NOTE: French: "since the most scandalous hypocrisy has made of Religion a profession and the basest trade." -- Editor.]
the practical part has been made to consist of ceremonies performed by men called priests;
and the people have been amused with ceremonial shows, processions, and bells.
By devices of this kind true religion has been banished; and such means have been found out to extract money even from the pockets of the poor, instead of contributing to their relief. [NOTE: French adds: "du superflu de la richesse." (from their superfluous wealth). -- Editor.]
No man ought to make a living by Religion. It is dishonest so to do.
Religion is not an act that can be performed by proxy. One person cannot act religion for another. Every person must perform it for himself;
and all that a priest can do is to take from him; he wants nothing but his money [NOTE: The ten preceding words are replaced in the French by: "to take from us not our vices but our money." -- Editor.] and then to riot in the spoil and laugh at his credulity.
The only people who, as a professional sect of Christians provide for the poor of their society, are people known by the name of Quakers. Those men have no priests. They assemble quietly in their places of meeting,
and do not disturb their neighbours with shows and noise of bells.
Religion does not unite itself to show and noise.
True religion is without either. Where there is both there is no true religion.
[NOTE: "A Religion uniting the two [noise and show] at the expense of the poor whose misery it should lessen, is a curious Religion; it is the Religion of kings and priests conspiring against suffering humanity." -- Editor.]
The first object for inquiry in all cases, more especially in matters of religious concern, is TRUTH.
"The religious ecstasy induced by music expressed itself either in an outburst of emotions, thus giving rise to religious catharsis, or in a transfer to the state of prophecy. In this way music became an important factor in divination. In the mysteries of the Magna Mater this relationship between music and divination is particularly clear.
Through the din of tambourines, cymbals and flutes
the ecstatic worshiper of the goddess prophesied the future to those present.
"From time immorial music had been especially valued in the service of prophecy. Pliny the Elder gives us a report of the cult of Apis:
"In Egypt an ox is honored in place of the god. He is called Apis and he lives in isolation. If he ever goes among the people he stalks along while the lictors make way for him and throngs of boys accompany him, singing songs in his honor. He appears to understand what is happening and seems to wish to be adored. The throngs [of boys] sudddenly become inspired and prophesy the future. (Pliny, Natural History)
Consequently Apollo was god of prophets and musicians and Pan was god of medicine, music and divination.
"Here singing served as a means of inducing ecstatic prophecy (speaking in tongues).
Thus the essential relationship between music and prophecy can be clearly seen.
This relationship also explains why the expression for "making music" and "prophesying" was often identical in the ancient tongues. origen contra celsum 8.67.
The Hebrew word Naba signifies not only "to prophesy" but also "to make music." (Quasten, Johannes, Music and Worship in Pagan and Christian Antiquity, p. 39)
Origen Book VI, Chapter XLI.
In the next place, as if he had forgotten that it was his object to write against the Christians, he says that, "having become acquainted with one Dionysius, an Egyptian musician,
the latter told him, with respect to magic arts,
that it was only over the uneducated and men of corrupt morals that they had any power,
while on philosophers they were unable to produce any effect, because they were careful to observe a healthy manner of life."
If, now, it had been our purpose to treat of magic, we could have added a few remarks in addition to what we have already said on this topic; but since it is only the more important matters which we have to notice in answer to Celsus, we shall say of magic,
that any one who chooses to inquire whether philosophers were ever led captive by it or not, can read what has been written by Moiragenes regarding the memoirs of the magician and philosopher Apollonius of Tyana, in which this individual,
who is not a Christian, but a philosopher, asserts that some philosophers of no mean note were won over by the magic power possessed by Apollonius, and resorted to him as a sorcerer;
and among these, I think, he especially mentioned Euphrates and a certain Epicurean. Now we, on the other hand, affirm, and have learned by experience, that they who worship the God of all things in conformity with the Christianity which comes by Jesus, and who live according to His Gospel, using night and day, continuously and becomingly, the prescribed prayers, are not carried away either by magic or demons. For verily "the angel of the Lord encamps round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them" from all evil; and the angels of the little ones in the Church, who are appointed to watch over them, are said always to behold the face of their Father who is in heaven, whatever be the meaning of "face" or of "behold."
One can but wonder about the faith in the Word of God in the mind of Thomas Paine if it not been crushed by those who interpreted "inspired" to mean that one can grasp an isolated passage and make it into a law to dominate others.
He gave his life, liberty, wealth and freedom to do more for buying American political freedom and freedom from the tyrany of false religions than any other person in our history.
He would warn us that when we see "prophet" as always literal when it may just mean "musician" or "poet" speaking poetic language we can easily fall under the tyrany the poets wrote about.
So, let Thomas inform us without destroying our faith as the "church" destroyed his.
Counter added 12.13.04 7:38p 2745