Deism, Part 3

God is both First Cause and Continuing Cause in every aspect of physical reality and moral reasoning, whether or not we can visually see, measure, and quantify His presence.  The brilliant arrangement of the complex and ordered information that is found in every aspect of the non-living and living world, plus the beneficial moral transformation that occurs in the lives of new Christian converts, is the signature autograph of the one, true, living God.

Deism has never been the reality for people accepting the New Testament and personally experiencing the words of Jesus that He will be with us always, even to the end of the world.  A person cannot personally know the intimacy of God’s participation in a biblical-quality journey of faith and at the same time countenance the philosophy of deism.

God active in the lives of believers is central to Christianity, is central to the biblical record, and is central to contemporary Christian experience.  By definition God’s interaction and personal relationship with us is supernatural.  Immanuel (Isa. 7:14)…meaning “God with us” in the person of Jesus Christ…is as supernatural and as personal as it gets, and is far removed from the notion of deism.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible portray this theme all along, from Abraham through Paul.  Relationships with God are by definition supernatural, in addition to the more spectacular things like Moses parting the Red Sea or Jesus multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread to feed thousands of people gathered on a hillside.

Yet portions of the changing philosophical outlook even among some “believers” at the end of the Scientific Revolution (1300-1700) sadly degenerated into “deism” (the idea that God created the natural world but is not an active participant in its day-to-day operations), as if scientifically discovering a smooth-running, machine-like creation is now somehow revelatory evidence that God might be far-removed and hands-off in both the operation of the natural world and the affairs of mankind.  But an intelligently designed functional system, on autopilot, is still evidence for an intelligently designed functional system…designed that way for a greater purpose.

From a Christian viewpoint encompassing the cross of Christ, integral and active in the biblical adventures of faith, God was never merely the absentee Divine Clockmaker.  But even if God did design the natural world in such a precise way to function independently and what might  outwardly appear to be deterministic in its perfection, this would have nothing to do with His active participation in the lives and affairs of mankind other than to provide a consistently stable environment.

If God as maintenance handyman appears to be absent because the machinery of the universe is designed so well it runs smoothly for its current 14-billion year history, without the need for a scheduled service tune-up and oil change, this does not logically have to extrapolate to an absent, non-participant Manufacturer God inaccessible to our lives.

The concept of deism, that a precise clockmaker means an absent clockmaker, is a faulty inference of men who did not and do not have the starting perspective of a personal relationship with the living God of the Bible, and who were and presently are ignorant of the divinely unique, novel qualities of the way of the cross of Christ inherent within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts.

Author: Barton Jahn

I work in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have six Christian books self-published through Create Space KDP. I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on two more books on building construction.

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