Has not reason been abused as well as religion?
Matthew Tindal and the Scriptures
in Reformation without end
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This chapter concerns the sources of the triune Christian God’s revealed truth about himself and his creation. In particular, it anatomizes the debates over deism between Waterland and Matthew Tindal, The Tindal-Waterland debate was not simply about how God could be known but about God’s relation to and scope of action within his creation. In Waterland’s defence of the Bible’s truth, he argued for a radically transcendent God, one who could do whatever he wanted; whenever and wherever he wanted; and for reasons that might be wholly inscrutable to human beings. To Tindal, this was an irrational — and, hence, an immoral — argument. This chapter explains why Tindal and Waterland argued as they did. Locating their dispute within eighteenth-century debates over deism, this chapter also shows how Waterland worked out his thinking about Tindal’s Christianity as Old as the Creation (1730) in the margins of his own copy of the work. His initial objections focused on the threat Tindal’s work posed to the nation’s morality. In Scripture Vindicated, though, Waterland confronted what he took to be the underlying hermeneutical challenges posed by Tindal’s work.

Reformation without end

Religion, politics and the past in post-revolutionary England

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