At the same time that the Neo-Platonists, like Ficino and Pico de la Mirandola, and the pantheists, whose God was little more than a reverential conception of the universe at large, and the purely worldly humanists, like Celtes and Bebel, were widely diverging each by his own particular path from the ecclesiastical Weltanschauung of the middle ages, Ulrich von Hutten was busy attacking the Curia in his witty Dialogues, in the name of German patriotism.
This may be briefly illustrated by a comparison with the greatest of modern pantheists, Spinoza.
The term "deism" not only is used to signify the main body of the deists' teaching, or the tendency they represent, but has come into use as a technical term for one specific metaphysical doctrine as to the relation of God to the universe, assumed to have been characteristic of the deists, and to have distinguished them from atheists, pantheists and theists, - the belief, namely, that the first cause of the universe is a personal God, who is, however, not only distinct from the world but apart from it and its concerns.
The title also was in those days alarming, and still more so the mystery which the author threw round the question how far such societies of pantheists actually existed.
What it means on the lips of pantheists is plain.