What is the best definition of deism. Does it include the non-existence of a personal, intervening god? I recently had a discussion with someone who claimed that Deism has sub-categories and that there is such a thing as a christian-deist. I found it rather contradictory because my own thoughts regarding deism always included the idea that a god created the universe and then left it to physical laws - this god is not personal and does not intervene with its creation. Using this definition, I can't logically come to the conclusion that someone could actually be a christian-deist for the following reason:

- Being a christian, at the very least, requires a belief in Jesus Christ and that he is God. Jesus Christ is most definitely an intervening, personal god. I don't believe any rational, logical person would actually debate otherwise. Therefore, one cannot be a christian and a deist if my definition above is correct.

Any thoughts?

That being said, this stemmed from a discussion about the founding fathers of the US. Were many of them deists? How much evidence actually points to their being deist rather than christian?

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(Deism entries on About.com and Wikipedia)

- Being a christian, at the very least, requires a belief in Jesus Christ and that he is God.

Not necessarily. I've seen people call themselves Christians just for adhering to Christian values (or what they perceive as such), but otherwise having a "not sure/don't know" agnostic attitude wrt the divinity of Jesus. Christian agnostics and deists aren't literalists (i.e., the Bible uses metaphoric language; it isn't necessarily 100% true; it's open to interpretation; etc.)
IMO, they are not christian if they do not hold certain tenets. They may be religious, but they are not christian. Once of those tenets is a belief in Jesus Christ.
You said it: IMO. You're entitled to your opinions just like they're to theirs. Personally I've no problem with these people claiming the 'Christian' label for themselves. As long as the context is clear, definitions need not be.
I fail to see how someone can be Christian and NOT believe in a personal, intervening god....even if they don't believe that Jesus Christ was divine.

I believe that anyone who does not believe in the god of the bible (and Jesus Christ) is not christian, even though they may call themselves Christian.

There has to be some form of guidlines or tenets that distinguish one religion from another. What are those tenets for Christianity? What makes one Christian rather than simply a deist? IMO, you can't be both.

The person I was debating at the time was a very fundamental Christian who argues that the US was founded on Christianity. She tried to argue that those founding fathers whom we now recognize as being deistic were actually Christian-deists. That is grasping at straws in my opinion. There was NO way that she was EVER going to admit that our country was founded on secularism and that some of our founding fathers were not Christian, so, to support this position, she made up this idea of a Christian-Deist.

Again, I would like someone to explain to me how one can actually be both. I think the second we remove the personal, intervening god of the bible from the equation, we are no longer referring to Christianity and to try and reconcile the two (christianity and deism) is disingenuous at best.
Maybe believing in the Christian God is like enjoying haggis.
Please describe to me what it means to be Christian as opposed to Jewish, or Muslim.

There HAS to be SOME defining factors.

What are they.

I am quite familiar with the no true scotsman fallacy and I'm honestly not sure why you mention is here.

There are specific religious sects in our world. SOMETHING has to define them from and distinguish them from one another.

Please, enlighten me.

What is Christianity?
There HAS to be SOME defining factors.

From my experience of people who call themselves Christians, my best bet is this defining factor is a list of optional elements. E.g.,

(a) I believe Jesus is the Son of God
(b) I adhere to (a subset of) Christian values
(c) I belong to the Christian clergy
(d) I was baptized by a Christian priest or minister
(e) I attend mass every Sunday

(If you answered 'Yes' to one of the questions above, congrats! You're a Christian!)

I'm not interested in sorting out fake Christians from real ones. Was Mother Teresa a Christian? Her doubts about the existence of God are well-known, so she probably wouldn't qualify per your rules. And what about Alexander VI, the Borgia pope?

I am quite familiar with the no true scotsman fallacy and I'm honestly not sure why you mention is here.

Dusty: All A do B
Jaume: some A don't do B
Dusty: Well, all true A do B

Whether (A/B) is (Scotsmen/like haggis) or (Christians/believe in God), the logic is the same.
You are incorrect in stating that what I am doing is a no true scotsman fallacy. The no true scotsman fallacy is a way of reinterpreting evidence in order to prevent the refutation of one’s position.

That is not what I am doing. I am merely defining terms in a way that allows us to determine who qualifies as A and who does not qualify as A. Once a term is defined, you can certainly group people as being A or not being A.

If what I did is considered a no true scotsman fallacy, then you did the exact same thing, you simply added more variables than I did.

//(a) I believe Jesus is the Son of God
(b) I adhere to (a subset of) Christian values
(c) I belong to the Christian clergy
(d) I was baptized by a Christian priest or minister
(e) I attend mass every Sunday

(If you answered 'Yes' to one of the questions above, congrats! You're a Christian!)//

Hmmm..

So, if I am Hindu and my husband is Christian AND we both attend mass every Sunday, I am Christian? According to your set of defining factors, you would have to conclude that I am. (this doesn't even bring up the fact that "mass" is contingent ONLY to the Catholic faith, and not to Christianity in general". If I was babtized by do not believe the bible, follow the bible, or even hold a belief in a god at all (ie. an atheist), you would have to conclude that I am a Christian based on your set of defining factors.

I believe that my initial definition is correct. A Christian believes that Jesus Christ is divine and most definitely believes in a personal, intervening (follow my guidelines or there will be reprercussion) type of god

To quote Victor Stenger:

"Although a majority of American's call themselves "Christians," a study of their actual beliefs by Baylor University in 2005 indicates that many people who think of themselves as Christians actually disagree with basic Christian teachings. The survey found that 44 percent of Americans do not believe in a god who plays an important role in the universe or their personal lives. That makes them deist, not theists, although most probably would not accept the designation. But, the fact is that only 54 percent of Americans are true Christians who believe in a God who significantly acts in the universe and in human lives. Certainly you are not a Christian if you do not believe in a God who consciously acts in the world."

I couldn't agree more.
If what I did is considered a no true scotsman fallacy, then you did the exact same thing, you simply added more variables than I did.

Nope. Nowhere did I try to define Christianity. Note that in my previous posts I took great care to write "people who call themselves Christian" instead of "Christians". You also missed the "E.g.," before my little list: it was merely an example I made on the spot to illustrate my point, the important sentence here was

"my best bet is this defining factor is a list of optional elements"

By the way, maybe you'll find this interesting (Preachers who are not Believers - Dennett /LaScola, March 15, 2010)
I was baptised by a Catholic priest (don't actually remember it, but I have anecdotal evidence which I am inclined to believe). Does that make me a Christian? I hope not!
It doesn't, unless you want to. "People who call themselves Christian", that's what I wrote.
I think most sane theists are actually deists. They don't believe the mythology is literally true and say things like "something must have created all this" and "no religion is correct but they all have a sense of the same real god".

To Dusty, here are some quotes from the US founding fathers:

Thomas Jefferson to James Smith, 1822
Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind.

Thomas Jefferson (Notes on Virginia, 1782)
Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.

Thomas Jefferson (Notes on Virginia, 1782)
Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787
Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.

Benjamin Franklin
The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.

Thomas Paine
The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.

Thomas Paine
To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

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