Deistic Evangelicals?

3_31retreatcenter I spent the first part of this week at a beautiful retreat center near the entrance of Sequoia National Park. It overlooks the valley on one side and the mountains on the other. There is a babbling river, a big rock perfect for lizards (and a kitty who was also intrigued!) You can see more here

The North American Baptist pastors from all over California came together for spiritual retreat where they were in the alta_peak_1_12_05_smalloversight of Alta Peak. We talked a lot about the true spirituality as opposed to the pantheistic spirituality of Oprah and Star Wars on one side and the mechanistic, scientific deism of many Americans on the other. He is the creator God, the Intelligent Designer who created a world that runs under scientific and moral laws. Those who pay attention to the rule book will succeed. Those who don’t will be in trouble.

The frustrating thing to me is that many evangelicals are pretty deistic. God and heave are way out there somewhere. In the Christian version there are occasional miracles, the biggest one being Jesus. We were headed for hell because of sin. But Jesus died so that if we believe in Him, we’ll go to heaven when we die.

Of course that’s true, but the gospel is a lot more than that. Jesus is God with us, who died but also rose again to new life. He was exalted to the right hand of the Father and the dark powers are defeated. Those who repent (change their mind about who is God and what is important) and believe (trust that what God says is true) get forgiveness of sins (justification, imputed righteousness at conversion by grace alone through faith alone) and also new life of the Spirit (regeneration, imparted righteousness at conversion by grace alone through faith alone). Living from the new heart, people can act with joy in living out the life in them. Lots more to say. What do you think?

previa When I returned, Sherry picked me up at the airport in our faithful Previa and brought me home after an 11 hour journey home. This morning when I went to start the Previa to go to Westnomah, it didn’t. Dick Anderson checked it and found the leaking head gasket! Same problem as the Geo!! But we’ll not sell the Previa. It has a lot of miles left and very special memories of the children. So we’ll get it repaired.

But I’ll wonder if it is deja vu!

5 thoughts on “Deistic Evangelicals?

  1. One can use “Jesus” a lot and still be quite deistic in the sense I’m talking about. He’s the savior of the world who is out there waiting for us to join Him when we die. Present prayers don’t do a lot and there’s little life of a transformed heart or power of the indwelling Spirit. I don’t know a lot about Hogan, but he actually seems like he is on the deistic side with his strong emphasis on justification only. I heard Matt Chandler’s talk at the Resugence conference. It was really good.

    Hope your knowledge of New Covenant spirituality makes for a present and powerful Jesus

  2. I awoke in the middle of last night wondering about “deistic Christianity” and its effect on the North American evangelical church. After a powerless sermon on moralism this morning, I am becoming convinced that we emphasize the teachings of Jesus, without regard to the person of Jesus,

    Michael Horton at Modern Reformation called this “Christless Christianity” (google the phrase to see the article and YouTube videos). At the recent Resurgence Conference, Matt Chandler makes the same point (google “Preaching the Gospel from the Center of the Evangelical World”).

    The logical end of “Christless Christianity” turns up in the teaching of those like Joel Osteen and Brian McLaren. Osteen preaches a self-help, prosperity gospel. McLaren preaches a kingless Kingdom. Both emphasize the teachings of Jesus; neither recognize the beauty, majesty, and power of the God-man.

  3. You certainly have figured me out, Michele! What a mess I am. Is it philosophy or writing? Or both?

    Enjoying Jesus with you both!

  4. Amen, Gerry, amen.

    The essence of the Gospel is we get Jesus, we get brought into everlasting communion with the eternal Trinity by the power of the Spirit, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all to the glory of God.

    Evangelicalism often says get saved and you’ll _____________ (fill in the blank— have a better life, marriage, career, etc). Evangelicalism unwittingly teaches a disguised prosperity gospel whereby Jesus is the means to our personal exaltation and glorification: “Believe in Jesus and he’ll make much of you; he loves you *that* much!”

    This is dead wrong; Jesus is never the means, but the end! The Gospel is the means to relational connection to the Almighty!

    … or so it seems to me 🙂

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