The term "deism" comes from the Latin word deus, which means god. Deism is the belief that God, or a god, exists; this belief is based solely on evidence from the natural world and human reason apart from the revelation of the Bible or other sacred writings. Deism became important during the Age of Enlightenment in 17th and 18th Century Western worldviews, also influencing some early American intellectuals and political leaders.
Deism - What is it? What do deists believe?
Some aspects of deism include the belief that God is not involved in His creation, the rejection of supernatural miracles, the rejection of the Bible as the inspired Word of God (though many Deists believe it is a good book), and the rejection of the Christian belief in the Trinity. Two primary forms of deism include classical deism and modern deism.
Classical deism has existed since ancient times and centers on the idea of one Supreme Being who created all things. This thought system evolved in ancient Greek literature as well, and can be seen in the apostle Paul's argument for the Christian message to those in Athens in Acts 17:23-27: "What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him."
Modern deism attempts to integrate the teachings of classical deism with modern scientific knowledge. While classical deism adheres to a view of God as a Creator who has no personal relationship with humanity, some modern deist teachings suggest a view of God that defies the category of being personal or impersonal but is rather transpersonal, or simply beyond understanding.
How does the Christian faith compare and contrast with deism? Both systems agree in a single Creator God. Beyond this, little agreement exists. Since deism rejects supernatural revelation, deism does not accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God that serves as the basis for other Christian beliefs. Of special importance is deism's rejection of Jesus Christ as divine. The Bible teaches Jesus alone is the way to know God personally and to spend eternity with Him (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 4:12). In addition, deism's rejection of supernatural miracles is at odds with the many miracles recorded in the Bible.
A final note of difference is found in the contrast between deism's impersonal view of God and Christianity's personal view of God. In deism, the Creator has no personal involvement with humanity. Christianity teaches Jesus came because of His love for us. He desires to know each of us personally, providing salvation to those who believe and making them children of God (John 1:14).
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