John Beversluis Required One Textbook in the Philosophy of Religion for 42 Years!

I'm posthumously posting a few chapters from the late John Beversluis (see Tag below). As I was re-reading his first chapter I found a gem from him on teaching philosophy of religion students. Which book had he recommended to them for 42 years? This one!
If you use Thomas Paines's The Age of Reason as a required textbook in a Philosophy of Religion course, as I have done for many years, your students will not eagerly devour its contents and shower you with tears of gratitude for providing them with this eye-opening experience of what is really in the book they revere as the inspired Word of God. Nor will they be shamed by the astonishingly detailed knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments that Paine and Jefferson possessed. On the contrary, when such students are required to read The Age of Reason and to discuss it in class, they become (by degrees) irritated, belligerent, and finally downright angry. Inter-Varsity and Campus Crusade for Christ types are the most vocal and the most argumentative. I welcome (and even solicit) their objections. Having heard them out, my response is always the same: “I didn’t write The Age of Reason; Thomas Paine did. Is he wrong? Did he misrepresent what the Bible says? I don’t think so. But don’t take my word for it. Go home and read your own Bibles. Check him out. If you can find a single passage that he has misquoted or manufactured or misinterpreted, write an essay in which you convincingly demonstrate his error(s) and I will give you a grade of “A” for the course and urge you to submit your essay for publication in a reputable philosophical or religious journal with my enthusiastic recommendation.” I have been teaching philosophy for 42 years and during that time no Paine-incensed student has ever submitted such an essay. The reason is clear: The Age of Reason is accurate and his documentation is irrefutable.

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