Deism is a movement that started in the 17th-18th century that attempts to replace Christianity with a nonrevelatory religion of a transcendent but impersonal deity (The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics by Hindson and Caner). Basically, deism is the believe that there is only one God, but God is not necessarily personally involved with His creation. He only “steps in” when people need help. People who embrace deism are more concerned about the “moral codes” and principles from Christianity than actually having a relationship with God. They see Christianity as a religion that is moral and worth embracing, but not necessarily getting involved in a relationship with God.
The moment I mentioned the word deism some of you wrote me off thinking it is not very popular. Before you stop reading this, let me just point out that this is probably more popular than you realize. Our culture is filled with people who “profess” to be Christians, but don’t actually “possess” a relationship with God. So called “Christians” in our culture live by Christian moral and regularly attend church, but they do not necessarily embrace a personal relationship with God. We see this in Scripture in Matthew 7:21-23. Sadly, students in our culture embrace this idea of deism without even realizing it. They don’t come out and say, “Hey, I’m a deists!” Their lifestyle says otherwise. They embrace religion and even Christianity, but don’t actually consistently walk with God in a personal relationship. They call on God or post “Christian Facebook status” when things get tough, but they don’t have a personal relationship with God that changes their entire being. The National Study of Youth and Religion found that 13% of teenagers who believe in God had a Deistic concept of the divine. This percent is only growing as our culture become less Christian. This type of deism that students embrace is labeled Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.
Some might say at least students are embracing God and Christianity, but the problem is just embracing the truths of Christianity is not enough to save! Place your faith and trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross for your sins is the only way to be saved (John 14:6, Romans 10:10-13). We must embrace the truths of Christianity because we have been changed (2 Corinthians 5:17) and born-again (John 3:3). The danger in students becoming deists is that they may never have saving faith and will one day spend an eternity in hell apart from their Creator.
As student pastors, parents, and people who care about the spiritual life of students, how do we make sure students embrace a relationship with God and not a form of deism? Here are 3 ways I believe we can help students stay away from any form of deism:
1. Teach students what deism is. As I said earlier, many students embrace a form of deism, but don’t realize it. As student pastors and parents, we must explain to them what deism is. As we do this, we must show them the fallacies in it and how it does not line up with the teaching of Scripture. In a way, we must do apologetics with our students. We must poke holes in the false religion of deism (this form of apologetics is called polemics), but also proclaim God’s word and the truths of Christ (this for of apologetics is called positive apologetics). Students who understand and see deism as a false view of God will be more likely not to embrace it and hopefully embrace a real personal relationship with God through Jesus.
2. Tell them God wants all of them, not just part of them. This is the core of this issues. Students see God has just a part of their life, not their whole life. This is what Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is, making God part of your life and only going to that part when you really need help. My youth professor in college illustrated this concept like an egg carton. Students life’s our like an egg carton. They have a bunch of different parts and they place something different in each part. So when they embrace God, they put Him in one part. That one part doesn’t effect their entire life. This is dangerous! God demands us to lay down our bodies! When you lay down your body, your laying down everything! God doesn’t want to be a part of students life’s, He wants to be their entire life! They need to embrace Christ as Lord of their life! They need to know and be encouraged to do this!
3. Don’t be a “Christian Deists” yourself. Sadly, many Christians, including student pastors and parents, are somewhat of “Christian Deists” themselves. We embrace Christ and have a personal relationship with Him, but we seem to only go to God when we need help or when we are preparing a sermon. We don’t spend consistent time with God daily. We don’t have constant communication with God in prayer. If we are not careful, we will embrace a form of “Christian Deism” that will rub off on students. God demands everything! Are we really giving Him everything as leaders?
Deism is a scary thing because it is so easy to live it. As student pastors and parents, we must be on guard of this in our life’s and the life’s of the students around us. The bottom line is this, God wants all of us and He wants us to have a consistent, daily, personal walk with Him. Lets model and teach students this kind of faith.