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Our Inverted Deism

Deism has often been critiqued, rightly I think, as leading to a sort of practical atheism. God exists to wind the clock of the universe, but then stepped away and has little or nothing to do with this life.

Sometimes I wonder, are we doing the same thing?

Or more specifically, is a spirituality that centers on my “personal relationship with Jesus” in many ways an inverted Deism?

In classical Deism God matters little to the tough realities facing our world because he is so far away. In our inverted Deism of personal piety, God matters little because he is so close and so small.

Yes, this personal relationship might make us feel better about our own spirituality, and it might motivate us to participate in spiritual exercises or avoid certain temptations.

But does it make any difference to the family who isn’t sure where their next meal is coming from, to the powers that involve us in yet another war, to the community we’ve ostracized in all of our self-righteous judgment?

And if it doesn’t make a difference there, have we really ended up making God just as irrelevant to the “real world” as Deism once did?

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Mason is a husband to Melinda, seminary student, youth pastor, blogger and freelance writer in, Grand Rapids, MI. He is passionate about theology, community and justice. What little time is left amidst his busy schedule is devoted to reading, coffee snobbery and a new adventure in home brewing.