The book I am commenting on is called Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White and of course the book is about people’s opposing views [black vs. white]. What are the opposite views regarding God and the existence of evil in the world? What are the opposite views regarding the bad things that happen to all of us in life?
According to Pastor Hamilton, some Christians have a tendency to turn a blind eye to God being related to bad things altogether. To help explain that perspective, they use a means of explaining the universe called deism.
The opposed Christians have their concept of theological determinism to explain their point of view.
Today we will discuss deism.
I first encountered deism when I was majoring in English in college and I took an 18th century English literature class. My professor [Dr. Ward] was into deism and he explained that all the popular writers in England in the 18th century were “into it” also.
What is deism and how does it work for the Christian faith?
Sometimes my memory stretches back quite a few years, and in the case of Dr. Ward and deism, I remember him explaining that God created the world like a clock. He put it all together and got it running and it had a perpetual mechanism on it. It ran forever. God never had to touch the clock again.
What are the implications for all of us regarding a deistic God and the bad things that happen?
Well God could not be related to the bad things of life because God was not part of this world at all. Pastor Hamilton states “that God created the universe and set in motion the laws that govern its operation, but beyond the initial work, God is not directly involved in the workings of our universe. God does not intervene in our affairs. The universe is a closed system.”
Where does suffering come from?
Obviously God is not related to it at all in a deistic world so He could not cause it.
Suffering comes from the violation of God’s laws that He established when He set up the working universe and the natural processes of the planet: storms, earthquakes etc.
This lets God off the hook for the bad things that happen.
But is a deistic God the God you really believe in? What about prayer? Why do it? The world is going to unfold in a mechanistic way despite our requests. What about the Holy Spirit? Do you depend on God leading you to do what He wants you to do? If He is not intervening in the world today, the Holy Spirit is not even relevant. It does not exist. Many Christians believe they have a relationship with God. We interact with Him. If God is deistic, there really is no relationship. How can man relate to some mechanism?
Besides the obvious need for connection with prayer, the Holy Spirit and Divine relationship, where are the other problems with deism?
Well let’s turn to the Bible.
My Bible says God knows me by name. God knew me in my mother’s womb. God made Israel His covenant people, lead them out of slavery in Egypt, hears the prayers of His people and continues to be involved in the story of His people. The New Testament tells the story of God being so concerned with this world that He sent His only Son to walk among us, “teaching, guiding, healing, and ultimately suffering and dying to redeem and save the world” [Hamilton, 123]. I don’t know how many times I have read about the Holy Spirit as our guide. John 14: 16-18 says “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
Does this sound like a God who is not interacting with our world?
I don’t think so.
But when we prove that God interacts with our world, what does that do to God and the existence of evil or at least the bad things that happen to good people? When bad things happen, couldn’t God stop them from happening? Is God the cause of the bad things? Does God stand by and let bad things happen [e.g. the case of Job]?
My God is part of my world.
When times are tragic, where is He?
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