Tuesday, February 15, 2011

American Deism pt 1.

There is much talk about the US being a “Christian nation” and while many people say that, our country is far from Christian. We’re a religious nation, but we’re not a Christian nation. We’re a nation concerned with spirituality, but don’t press us any further. And as time goes on this will become more and more true.

Many Christians look back to the roots of our country, and see people who were hardcore church attendees. They see “God” in the founding documents, and assume that this God was written with a Christian understanding of God. Yet, if you begin to study the Founding Fathers of the US had a bizarre understanding of how God works.

First of all in the late 18th century, a quite popular religion/Christian worldview was called Deism. Now Deism believed that God, while creator of the world, had nothing to do with its day-to-day operations. He was like a watchmaker, he made it, set up how it works then left it to itself to work everything out. So the Deist thinker believed that God created the world with certain natural laws, which were self-evident, and our goal was to live by these laws. Deism then is about looking to Common Sense for answers.

One Deist actually rewrote the Bible and took all signs of the miraculous out of the text. He did this because the miraculous is God interacting with the world. We find that the Deist does not look to the Bible to find God, that’s not the point of that religion; its about living your life by following basic common sense. By the way, the Deist who re-wrote the Bible sans the miraculous was Thomas Jefferson.

This is where we could have a conversation about “Judeo-Christian” values. It is these values that house the Common Sense/Natural Law viewpoint of the world. The problem is that common sense often goes the opposite way of the message of the Bible, for instance one of the main repetitions of the Sermon on the Mount is, “You’ve heard it said, but I tell you!” Jesus is leading people away from a common sense view of the world; he’s presenting an alternative view of how we should live.

The United States was founded by Deists and was underwritten by Deist philosophy. It is for this reason that when people talk about our country as a Christian nation, that I believe they’re wrong. Our country is built not on the principles from the Bible, but on rational common sense thinking.

More than we realize it, Deism has impacted the way that the American Church views the world. This had led many Christians down some dangerous/non-Christian paths. This has led many Christians to mistake the Gospel message for things that it is not [political