On 18 September 1697, "Christainity not Mysterious" was burned in Dublin by order of Parliament. This edition of the text is now available 300 years later and also includes John Toland's defences of the work and eight critical essays. Toland's work argues that "there is nothing in the Gospels contrary to reason" and that the so-called Christian mysteries are merely the inventions of competing sects. This view threatened the very basis of the supremacy of the Established Church over the other churches in Ireland. Toland was forced to leave Ireland and spent the remainder of his life on the European continent, "Christianity not Mysterious" was rather more successful as well as influential. Toland's defence of reason over revelation in Christian belief went farther than Locke and other previous rationalists had dared, and so provoked a distinguished Irish counter-tradition that included Swift, Berkeley, King, Burke and many others.
User Ratings and Reviews
5 Stars From a born-again Deist…
An excellent book! The most wonderful fact is that it was written in the time when people were killing for religion. I am not sure how sensational this book would be if it were written in the 20-th century when people stopped assigning such great significance to religion, but for his time and place (especially Ireland!) a man had to be really brave to write something as contraversial as this.
3 Stars Between the lines
Toland's oft-cited Deistical work reads as apologetic rather than truly controversial. The actual rhetorical attacks on Christianity are found not in what Toland says, but rather what he doesn't. Toland frequently sets up strong, reason-based objections to fundamentally held religious "truths" only to excuse them with deliberately weak responses. The burden of truth carefully remains with the defenders of revelation and is never realized in this debate Toland pretends to have with himself.
Other than the occasional questioning of clerical interpretations (Toland frequently expounds a commonly held truism and after defending it philosophically on it's own "merits" he often adds at the end, as if to paralyze the Church with indecision regarding his infidelity, "if it be true.") he pretends agreement with the Church in nearly every doctrinal detail.
In this pre-pantheist dissertation, Toland's words are nearly silent with respect to a true rebellion against the established dogma of the Church, but the unwritten screams to a deafening crescendo for an immediate ascension to unrevealed reason.
With cunning and an apparently insatiable appetite for controversy, Toland does a marvelous job of appearing to walk the literary fence dividing the heathens from the faithful. But an occasional glace between the lines will leave no doubt as to where he truly stood.
5 Stars A concise way to show the Irish enlightement
The book focuses on the famous Toland work "Christianity Not Mysterious". Toland tried, in his opinion, to clean the Christianity of all strange elements that destroy his original purpose. Toland thank that the correct way to realize his purpose was the strictly use of reason. But Toland, at the same time, reflects a strong rationalism, if we use a common expression in philosophy of religion, that cause an enormous opposition of the stablished Church in Ireland. The book also contains another texts that complement that work. The big merit of this publication is to put in only one book some critical views, that gives unity to it. I think is higly recommended for persons that want to study seriously the English deism.