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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Defining Worldviews - Deism

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Isaiah 46:9
Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me...

Daily Scripture Reading - Psalm 19

Puritan Catechism
Question #14 - What is sin?
Answer - Sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of the law of God (1 Jn. 3:4).

Devotional Thoughts

A worldview is “a set of fundamental assumptions about the most important issues in life.” - Ligon Duncan.

Today, we are going to begin an examintion of the foundational elements of the most predominant worldviews throughout recent history right up until today! We will look at a different system each day and then will end with a post devoted to Theism, or the Christian worldview.

This is where I hope most of us are in the way we see life and reality. But the truth is that there are plenty of worldviews that reject the Bible, absolute truth, the existence of God, and the reality of sin. Fallen man has no problem thinking about his world in a way that rejects the Bible and God and the differences between good and evil. So in the next few days we will look at these systems of thought and see what the Bible has to say about their main tenents.

We will start with the worldview identified as Deism.

Deism

A good summary of deism tells us that this worldview predicates a first cause, a divine maker who made this world like a clock and set it running and then let it go and left it all alone so that he might go and do whatever he was interested in doing, and he no longer interacts in this world in any way. The laws he set in motion are still in motion until they run down and creation comes to the end for which it was designed.

This worldview, this subconscious grid through which reality is viewed and interpreted, starts by saying that there is a God. He is viewed very much like a clockmaker. He has built His clock (the universe), put all the mechanisms in place that make it work (physical laws, etc), and now He has wound it up and set it off ticking. And He is no longer involved. The world runs on its own, needs no internvention from Him, and in fact, He is not interested, other than that He desired to build the "clock" in the first place.

This presents a very impersonal view of God doesn't it? There is no need to understand or know Him other than to study science to know what He has created. In this scheme, a better understanding of the world around us will help us manipulate things for our benefit. But beside scientific study, there is no salvation, no need for accountability, no personal responsibility beyond what we owe our fellow man. In fact, the truth, or knowledge, in this system is found through scientific discovery.

There is no revelation from God of Himself - hence the Bible is a book written by men with an agenda, and not inspired by the Holy Spirit, for God does not have any desire to reveal Himself to His creation. There is no possibility of a relationship with God, only the opportunity to study the world He has made. Science is knowledge, and hard provable facts are the only truth that exist in the universe.

This worldview was very widely accepted and taught in the 1600-1700s. As such it has affected most worldviews that come after it. In fact, if we look, we can see elements of Deism in our daily lives. So what else does this worldview lead one to believe and what does the Bible say about the conclusions to which it brings people?

The key element in this worldview is human reason. The things we can learn and determine and discover by our own reason are of prime importance and value.

Here are the five basic principles of Deism, as stated by the founder of this school of thought, Herbert of Cherbury:

1. There is one God who created the world but is no longer involved in it.
2. There is an objective difference between right and wrong.
3. It is the duty of mankind to support what is right.
4. Humans are immortal beings.
5. Our "eternity" is determined by how we live in this life here and now.

How do we determine then what is real and what is right in this system? What is real and what is right is determined by cause and effect. There are no miracles, no revelations from God, nothing supernatural, only perceivable natural laws in operation, bare cause and effect. If the effect is negative then the cause was wrong. If the effect is positive then the cause was right. The end justifies the means in this system. "If it feels good, do it!"

Further this is a system that since the supernatural is removed and God is not personal, salvation becomes a matter of works, not grace. It is man's ability to do what is right, that which brings about a positive effect, and not the working of God to save the sinner, that determines ones state in the next life.

As Dr. Duncan points out in his study of Deism (linked below), the perfect example today of a Deist is Mr. Spock from Star Trek. Vulcans are Deists, and everything is solved by logic! In this worldview the world is not fallen or marred. It is winding down, running in its intended entropic path. And we must try and make a positive difference in this world in order to have a good time in the next life.

The meaning of life then? To be the best man or woman that you can be! Cause and effect - do your part to make the world a better place.

The Bible

But what does the Bible say? Well, to the Deist it does not matter, because there are no miracles and God does not reveal Himself to us personally, so the Bible, while it may be a good book, is really a lie! How can a lie be good? Remember, if the end result is good - if the Bible is used to help people be better people, then the means are right. So even while they tell us that the Bible is a myth, it is still useful to cause people to do what is right for the benefit of others.

But as we understand it, in examining these worldviews, the Bible is not a myth. It is, as our Confession of Faith begins:

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.

Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation.

Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in diverse manners to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His church.

So the Bible is not just a useful myth. It is the Word of God, infallible, inerrant, inspired, and profitable for everything that we need to be thoroughly equipped for every good work in our service to God and each other.

So let us critically evaluate the claims of Deism in the light of Scripture. We will examine a few Scriptures to make the points necessary to show how bankrupt a system Deism really is.

The Purpose of Creation

Why did God create the world? To manifest His own glory! The first thing we notice is that the Bible is clear that God not only created the world but that He had a specific and personal purpose for doing so. Psalm 19:1-6 tells us that the heavens declare and proclaim the glory and goodness of God!

When we confound the Creator for His creation, thinking that we are supposed to get to know IT rather than Him in order to discover truth, we fall right into what is condemned in Romans 1:25. They:

exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.

And if we look at Romans 1:20-22, we see just how far they have missed the truth:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.

The Personal Nature of God

The truth is that God is involved, actively, in the world around us. He has not set the world off spinning, without any interaction at all. We see from the Bible that if it was not for the ACTIVE involvement of God in every detail of His creation then the world would not and could not exist.

Consider these verses as they reveal to us the very personal and involved nature of God in His creation:

Colossians 1:15-17 states:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

He made all things. He is involved in all things. They were made by Him for Him, and even in Him all things consist! He actively holds creation together so that it might complete His purposes for His own glory.

Further we see in Scripture that He causes and calms the storm (Psalm 107:25, 29), He sends the rain (Psalm 68:9), He directs the changing of the seasons and even the political events and kingdoms that rule on the earth (Daniel 2:21). And these are but a few examples of how involved He is in the everyday events of this world.

The Purpose of Divine Revelation

God has given us the Word in order to reveal Himself to us, of that we can be sure. It is the testimony of Scripture. See Galatians 1:11-12, Ephesians 3:1-7, Hebrews 1:1-4. These are but a few of the verses that show us why we have been given the Scriptures - to reveal to us the God who created us for His purposes so that we can come to know Him and fellowship with Him (John 17:3)!

The Purpose of the Gospel

Deism denies the gospel of grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 and Galatians 1:6-9 should be enough to convince us of the truth about this faulty system of human reason! Further, those who hold this view, or are influenced by it, deny the need for salvation by grace from the wrath of God. Clearly in Scripture the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). So the very reason this fallen world is winding down is because of our sin and need for a Savior.

Ultimately, when we examine this system we see that it is devised by men and that it rejects and rebels against the Word of God. It gives us a different God, a different gospel, a different set of rules for determining right and wrong, a different reason for our being here, and a different reason for living! Deism and all that it entails should be rejected and purged from our thinking. God is a personal God who has revealed Himself to us through the Incarnation of His Son and the giving and preservation of His Word so that we might know Him, love Him, serve Him , obey Him, and glorify Him.

The god of Deism is a false god, made by the imaginations of fallen men, a powerless impersonal god.


Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

Dr. James White on Biblical Inerrancy
Dr. Ligon Duncan on Deism
Dr. John MacArthur on The Doctrine of Scripture

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

4 Comments:

Blogger The Once Dead Poet said...

If only you had posted that yesterday...I wouldn't have been nearly as confused in Hermeneutics :)

10:40 AM  
Blogger Phillip M. Way said...

Well, I am glad it helped you sort things out afterwards!

Maybe I need a comments, questions, or suggested studies section?

~pw

12:50 PM  
Blogger The Once Dead Poet said...

Better yet, you could create a new blog devoted to helping me study :)

1:03 PM  
Blogger Phillip M. Way said...

"Raising the Once Dead Poet?"

Speaking of Once Dead -

"From the Cemetary to the Seminary"

or

"Kickin' Theological Butts"

or

????

I'll get right to work on it......after you actually finish a book (that is not for an assignment).

:)

1:28 PM  

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