Miraculous Deism

This past Sunday my pastor spoke a little bit about healing, which in turn got me thinking about something I used to think about often but haven’t thought about in a while, namely how we love to bifurcate things until we end up being functionally deist. First, a crude definition of deism: God did something way back when and then stepped aside in order to let things work themselves out.

How does this apply to how we think about things like miracles and healing? Take for example something as mundane as a common cold or a headache. Most folks will just take some cold medicine or a pain reliever and call it a day. Many might assume that doing such is to leave God out of the equation. Rather than praying for God’s intervention they’re just leaving it up to “natural” (rather than “supernatural”) means.

But that seems a rather deistic view of things, doesn’t it? How do I mean? Well, the assumption is that God isn’t involved in the healing that comes from cold medicine or pain relievers. The idea is that God just sits by passively and let’s his creation work itself out. If there isn’t some great sign that can’t be attributed to anything other than a “supernatural” source then it ain’t God, right? Wrong.

That’s where I think we miss the mark. We pay lip service to God’s sovereignty but then take him out of everything that doesn’t seem remarkable. But God is in control of everything. He is at work in everything. He deserves just as much glory for the broken leg that heals over time in a cast as he does for the one that heals in the blink of an eye. All healing comes from God.

I could go on and on about why I think it’s a mistake to split up “natural” stuff from “supernatural” stuff but I’m pretty sure I’d just be repeating myself with different examples. And if I’m not mistaken, I’ve covered that on this blog before. I will conclude by saying that I think Bible translators are a little bit to blame. I think that “signs” will suffice where “miracles” appear and that in turn will change how we think about things. But that’s a post for another day.



5 thoughts on “Miraculous Deism

  1. Given that deism rose to popularity concurrent with the old light Presbyterianism (the anti-awakening, anti-revival folks) in the 17th century, would it be fair to say that cessationism was perhaps a touch influenced by deism?

  2. Seth. It is my understanding that Old light Presbyterians were not against revival, just various form of revival(s) Just as we would be today.

  3. Maybe I used the wrong term. I think I meant Old Side Presbyterian. Originally, they opposed revival during the First Great Awakening, and it ended up splitting the Presbyterian Church for a time.

  4. Seth, I don’t really believe it matters which period of history you are talking about. I believe my statement above still stands in whatever controversy you pick.

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