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Lecture #2 Christian Theism & Deism

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Jeff Voth

on 30 August 2016

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Transcript of Lecture #2 Christian Theism & Deism

How does Christian Theism answer...

Question #5:
Why is it possible to know anything at all?
How does Deism answer...
Question #7: “What is the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ of human history?”
ANSWER= History is linear, for the course of the cosmos was determined at Creation. Still, the meaning of the events of history remains to be understood by the application of human reason to the data unearthed and made available to historians.

Deists dismiss Jewish history as legend, because it insisted on God’s direct action among His chosen people.
How does Deism answer...
Question #4: “What happens to a person at _ _ _ _ _?”
ANSWER= Humans beings may or may not have a life beyond their physical existence.

Cold Deism
= No afterlife, as humans are merely part of the machinery of the universe.

Warm Deism
= There is an afterlife, but since God is not very personal, there is not much that can be known about it.ANSWER= Humans beings may or may not have a life beyond their physical existence.
How does Christian Theism answer...
Prime reality is the infinite, personal God revealed in the Holy Scriptures. This God is triune, transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign and good.
How does Deism answer...
Question #1
: What is _ _ _ _ _ reality--the really real?
ANSWER= A transcendent God, as a first cause, created the universe, but then left it to run on its own. God is thus, not immanent, not triune, not fully personal, not sovereign over human affairs, not providential

Warm Deism= God ought to be worshipped (Franklin)

Cold Deism= Eliminates most features of personality (Aristotle’s Prime Mover, First Cause)

Thomas Paine (1737-1808, Cold Deist & author of Common Sense)= “The only idea man can affix to the name of God is first cause, the cause of all things.”

God is distant, foreign and alien.
Christian Theism & Deism
What is really real?
God is transcendent, yet immanent=
How does Christian Theism answer...

Question #6:
How do we know what is right and wrong?
How does Deism answer...
Question #2: What is the nature of e_ _ _ _ _ _ _ reality, that is, the world around us?
ANSWER= The cosmos God created is determined, because it is created as a uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system; no miracle is possible.

How does Deism answer...
Question #5: “Why is it _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to know anything at all?”
ANSWER= Through our innate and autonomous human reason and the methods of science, we can not only know the universe, but we can infer at least something of what God is like. The cosmos, this world, is understood to be in its normal state; it is not fallen or abnormal.

(Lecture 2)
HUM 103- Christian Worldview
Dr. Jeff Voth

Is he personal?
Or
Is he a clock maker?
The Grandeur of God
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
(Gerard Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur, 1877)
Christian Theism
The prevalent view until the end of the 17th century in the West was Theism

Most agreed upon: 1.) The existence of the triune personal God, 2.) That He had revealed Himself to mankind and could be known, 3.) The universe was His creation, 4.) Human beings were His special creation.

From the early Middle Ages-the end of the 17th Century: 1.) Very few challenged the existence of God, 2.) very few, believed that ultimate reality was impersonal, and, 3.) very few, believed that death meant ultimate extinction.
WHY?...
Christianity was DA BOMB!!!
It had penetrated the Western World

Most people (whether or not they believed in Christ) lived in a Christian Theistic paradigm.

They believed in some type of Heaven and Hell.

They believed in absolutes (good and bad, right and wrong).

Is this still the case?
Let’s see how Christian Theism answers the
8 Worldview Questions...
Remember Jim’s definition of a WORLDVIEW?
(This is really important!!! If I were you, I would memorize this!!!)
“A commitment, a
fundamental orientation
of the heart,"
Why the glasses?
Answer=
Fundamental
Orientation
Question #1
:
What is prime reality--the really real?
God is infinite=
God is personal=
God is triune=
He is beyond scope, beyond measure, un-challengeable, all else is secondary. He is in and of Himself. Self-Existing.
He is not mere force or energy. As a personality, He engages in self-reflection and self-determination (He thinks and acts)
“...Three persons who are neither three gods on the one side, not three modes or parts of a god on the other, but coequally and coeternally God.” (Bromiley, The Trinity, 1960, p. 531)
13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “
I am who I am
.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Ex. 3:13-14)
(This aspect of God’s nature is upsetting to both Jews and Muslims)
Is it 1+1+1=3...or...1x1x1=1...or just 3?
MYSTERY
He is beyond us and our world. He is otherly. Yet, He is in our world...with us.
God is omniscient=
He is ALL knowing. The alpha and the omega (Rev. 22:13)
God is sovereign=
He is RULER and in authority in and of Himself
God is good=
This is what He is. He can’t be anything else. It is the essence of His character.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col. 1:15-17)
Expressed in 2 Ways

#1- He is Holy
“In Him is no darkness” (1 John 1:5)

#2- He is Love
“God is love” (1 John 1:6)
Question #1 (cont.):
How does Christian Theism answer...

Question #2:
What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?
External reality is the cosmos God created
ex nihilo
with a
uniformity
of
cause and effect in an open system.
Ex nihilo= 0...nada...nothing...rien
Jim says...
“If the universe were not orderly, our decisions would have no effect. If the course of events were determined, our decisions would have no significance. So theism declares that the universe is orderly, but not determined.”
NO CHAOS
18 
For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.
19 I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,   ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right.
(Is. 45:18-19)
How does Christian Theism answer...

Question #3:
What is a human being?
Human beings are created in the
image of God
and thus possess personality, self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, gregariousness and creativity.
IMAGO DEI
.”27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.28 God blessed them... (Gen. 1:26-28a)
NO IMAGO?
=
...this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”
(Pascal, Pensees)
Pascal
What does this mean?
Transcendent= In and outside of myself
Intelligence= “I can think”
Morality= I can know good from evil...inherently
Gregariousness= I am relational (see the Trinity)
CrEaTiVe= see Rocky Mountains, look at your neighbor
Gus
“Our hearts are restless till they rest in thee.”
Confessions
How does Christian Theism answer...

Question #4:
“What happens to a person at death?”
For each person, death is either the gate to life with God and His people or the gate to eternal separation from the only thing that will ultimately fulfill human aspirations.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.(Romans 10:9-10)
Heaven
Hell
OR
Human beings can know both the world around them and God Himself because God has built into them the capacity to do so and because He takes an active role in communicating with them
The IMAGO in us
(Gen. 1:26-18)
Supernatural Revelation
Natural Revelation
JOHN 1
1 In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men.
Paul
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[c] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
ROMANS 1
Ethics is transcendent and is based upon the character of God as good (holy and loving)
John 14:9
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How does Christian Theism answer...

Question #7
: “What is the meaning of human history?”
History is linear, a meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for humanity.
Adam #1=BAD
Adam #2= REALLY GOOD!!!
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
— (Romans 5:12)
19 
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

(Col. 1:19-20)
28 And we know that in
all things
God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28-30)
All things= your linear history
How does Christian Theism answer...

Question #8:
“What personal, life-orienting core commitments are consistent with this worldview?”
Christian Theists live to seek first the kingdom of God, that is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!!!
CARPE SOME SERIOUS DIEM FOR HIM, in creative, redemptive and amazing fashion!!!
Theism/Deism (part 3)
Let’s review...
A Worldview is: “A commitment, a f _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ o _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ of the h _ _ _ _, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of p_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (assumptions which may be _ _ _ _, partially _ _ _ _ or entirely _ _ _ _ _) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.” (Sire, The Universe Next Door, loc 133)
Deism
“Say first, of God above or man below,
What can we reason but from what we know?
Of man what see we but his station here
From which to reason, or to which refer?
Through worlds unnumbered though the God be known,
Tis ours to trace him only in our own.”

Alexander Pope, Essay on Man
The Crafting of the Clock (Deism)
A response to theological & philosophical quibbling of the 17th century

The location of authority changed from special revelation found in Scripture to the presence of Reason, “the candle of God” in the human mind.

Biblically oriented minds began to recognize that this is God’s world and though it is fallen, it has been created by God and has value.

The world is worth knowing and understanding, because God is rational, orderly and knowable.

Scientists began to investigate the forms and processes of the universe.

The universe was seen as a well ordered mechanism whose gears and levers meshed (Galileo 1564-1642, Copernicus 1473-1543, Francis Bacon 1561-1626, Johannes Kepler 1571-1630 held fully Christian worldviews).

General revelation (empirical facts) would trump Special revelation (the spiritual & meta-physical).

Deism= God can be seen only in “Nature”...the systems of the Universe. The system is the clock and God is the clock-maker.

Theism= one can know something about God from Nature, but there is much more than what Nature can tell us.
Basic Deism
It is a reduction of Theism (the miraculous is not to be allowed for)

Varying degrees of Deists (warm and cold):

Locke (1632-1704)= did not reject revelation, but insisted that reason was to be used to judge it
Voltaire (1694-1778)= Hostile to Christianity
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)= Believed in the immortality of the soul
Others believed that God left His creation to function on its own; some believed in providence. Some believed in a mildly personal God; others did not
“Whatever God hath revealed is certainly true: no doubt can be made of it. This is the proper object of faith: but whether it be divine revelation or no, reason must judge; which can never permit the mind to reject a greater evidence to embrace what is less evident, nor allow it to entertain probability in opposition to knowledge and certainty. There can be no evidence that any traditional revelation is of divine original, in the words we receive it, and in the sense we understand it, so clear and so certain as that of the principles of reason: and therefore, Nothing that is contrary to and inconsistent with, the clear and self-evident dictates of reason, has a right to be urged or assented to as a matter of faith, wherein reasoning has nothing to do.” (John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding 4.18)
Is resurrecting from the dead reasonable?
Feeding 5,000 with a couple loaves and fishes?
Where does this lead?
Aristotle
Jefferson
Adam Smith,
Wealth of nations
Paine
Warm Deists
= Humans can act to change their environment.
Definitely not COLD DEISTS, are they?
Cold Deism
= 1.) The universe is closed to God’s reordering (reordering= Open system), for He is not interested in it. Any tampering with the machinery of the universe would suggest that God had made a mistake in the original plan and that would be beneath the dignity of an all-competent deity, and, 2.) the universe is closed to human reordering because it is locked up in a clocklike fashion. To be able to reorder the system, any human being alone or with others would have to be able to transcend it and get out of the chain of cause and effect...and this can’t happen...it isn’t reasonable.
How does a Deist answer...
Question #3: “What is a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _?”
ANSWER= Human beings, though personal, are a part of the clockwork of the universe.

Human beings have no essential relation to God--as image to original--and thus have no way to transcend the system. No grounding in God’s character.

Bishop Francois Fenelon (1651-1715), in response to deists: “They credit themselves with acknowledging God as the creator whose wisdom is evident in His works; but according to them, God would be neither good nor wise if He had given man free will--that is the power to sin, to turn away from his final goal, to reverse the order and be forever lost.”

Fenelon identified a major problem with Deism= In the Deistic system, humans have lost the ability to act significantly. They are only puppets!
What kinds of questions does this raise about living a moral life? Absolutes?
No Scripture, No Messages from God, No Prophets, No Dreams, No Visions that contradict what can be seen and arrived at/processed via human reason.
Human reason becomes autonomous...why? No outside revelation.
GOD IS merely AN
ARCHITECT.
Not a lover, poet, artist, judge...
How does this make you feel?
Is this livable?
Is this what you sense reality is like?
How does Deism answer...
Question #6: “How do we _ _ _ _ what is right and wrong?”
ANSWER= Ethics is intuitive or limited to general revelation; because the universe is normal, it reveals what is right.

The Deist believes that built into human nature is the capacity to sense the difference between good and evil. Humans, are not fallen, as in Christian Theism. When one does evil, he is merely not conforming to his inherent nature.

Natural disaster is seen as normal occurrence. Just as human reason is not fallen, neither are natural processes.

If this is so, how can the universe be good?
Deist, Alexander Pope wrote in his Essay on Man...
“All nature is art, unknown to thee,
All chance direction which thou canst not see; All discord, harmony not understood; All partial evil, universal good;
And spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite,
One truth is clear, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT.”
Does the world feel right Mr. Pope?
Is this liveable?
Right?
DOES ALL OF THIS FEEL RIGHT?
Were Hitler,
Stalin, Chairman Mao, Saddam and
Mussolini right?
Wildfires?
How about 9/11?
Katrina???
What does this ticking mean?
Thomas Jefferson
published the Life and Morals of Jesus, better known as The Jefferson Bible
It excluded
narratives of all miracles.
Jim says:
“By such a procedure the Bible became largely discounted as giving insight to human beings, or especially the natural order.”
(loc. 603)
What does this mean?
How does Deism answer...
Question #8: “What personal, life-orienting _ _ _ _ commitments are consistent with this worldview?”
ANSWER= Cold Deists use their own autonomous reason to determine their goal in life; Warm Deists may reflect on their commitment to a somewhat personal god and determine their goal in accordance with what they believe their god would be pleased with.
And Jim says once again...
“Because, unlike Christian Theism, there is no orthodox deism, each deist is free to use reason, intuition, tradition, or whatever squares with his or her view of ultimate reality. Deists’ core commitments will thus reflect their personal passions or, in common parlance, what turns them on--the flourishing of their individual personal life, their family life, public life...”
Modern Deistic strains...
Sophisticated Scientific Deism= IntelligentDesign, Einstein, Hawking
“It’s hard for me to believe that everything out there is just an accident...I don’t have any religious belief. I don’t believe that there is a God. I don’t believe in Christianity or Judaism or anything like that, okay? I’m not an atheist...I’m not an agnostic...I’m just in a simple state.” (Robert Wright, Three Scientists and Their Gods)
Sophisticated Philosophic Deism= Anthony Flew, Aristotle and the “fine tuning of the universe” convinced him. He was formerly an avid atheist.
Popular Deism= Cold version- God is an abstract force that created the universe, but just left it alone. Warm version (moralistic therapeutic deism): 1.) God is personal and friendly, 2.) He created and watches over human life, 3.) He wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other (as taught in the Bible and most religions), 4.) He does not need to be particularly involved in the lives of people, unless there is a problem to be resolved, 5.) Good people go to Heaven when they die (and we don’t talk about that other place...if it really exists), 6.) He makes no demands on His creation to be holy, righteous or Good.
Quiz #2
The world view definition
“A commitment, a _____(1)_____ orientation of the __(2)____, that can be expressed as a __(3)___ or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be __(4)___, partially true or entirely false) that we __(5)___ (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the __(6)___ constitution of ___(7)___ and that provides the ___(8)____ on which we live and move and have our being.” (__(9)___, The ____(10)____ Next Door, loc 133)
Fill in the blanks
Full transcript