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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Its all a play on words the argument that a christian is not a deist, is all about how one defines the word Christian. In reality anyone could say " I am a Christian", some will say no you are not because of this this and this... John Wayne Gacy, if I remember correctly was by his own words a Christian.I would assume to a majority of Christians this would be insulting. To answer your question, in very simple terms. Deist believe that God came and made everything and then sat back and watched alll the action.
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Calling yourself a Christian doesn't make you a Christian."

Likewise saying someone is not a Christian because they don't hold the popular modern belief is a No True Scotsman fallacy. The debate over who a true Christian is like debating who a "true American" is.

"
WHY? Why do you think it okay to keep moving the goal posts?"

You're presuming that Christians has ever had universal agreements on what the goal posts are. Do you consider Gnostics to be Christians?
//Likewise saying someone is not a Christian because they don't hold the popular modern belief is a No True Scotsman fallacy. The debate over who a true Christian is like debating who a "true American" is.//

That is NOT true. It is NOT wrong to place people in a group based on DEFINITION. Now, we can debate what that definition is, but once it terms are defined, it is NOT a true scotsman fallacy to place some outside of the group.

Now, I'll ask you: how do you distinguish a Christian from a non-Christian? What tenets MUST be held to be a Christian vs another religious group or one that is not religious at all.

You guys keep telling me that saying that A, B and C are not christians is wrong. You have yet to explain WHY it is wrong.

I'll say it again: we HAVE to define terms, otherwise we are equivocating and we might as well place every single human on the planet into the group labelled "Christian."

//Do you consider Gnostics to be Christians?//

That depends on the beliefs of the Gnostic (that should be obvious). I'll put it this way: All Christians are Gnostics but not all Gnostics are Christians.
Dusty, I'm not moving the goalposts. I'm admitting the empirical fact that there are multiple operational definitions of the word "Christian" in use around the world. You seem to insist that there can be only one true, correct definition of the word "Christian". That's just silly. Most words in the dictionary have multiple meanings, and that's especially true when it comes to self-identifying labels. I suspect most people who call themselves Christians would agree with your short list of required attributes, but most would insist on more, and some clearly are OK with fewer. Many Christian sects insist that theirs is the only truly Christian sect, and all others are merely cults. I'm certain you don't agree with any of those people. I'm pretty sure that you, like most people, lump Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Pentacostals, Anglicans, etc, etc, into the category of "Christian", despite the fact that they have some fairly fundamental doctrinal disagreements. Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and Seventh Day Adventists describe themselves as Christians, though they get an argument on that from many other sects. The only thing that ties them all together is that they are "followers of Christ". That's really the only attribute in common. If you want to be hardcore about a definition, I think that's the best you can do, and that clearly allows people to be Christian Deists, whether you like it or not.

It's quite odd that you insist that divinity must be part of the definition. "Christian" clearly equals "follower of Christ", regardless of what attributes you ascribe to Christ (existence, divinity, intervening, personal, part of the trinity, etc). You seem to strenuously object to this plain meaning of the term, though you haven't said why, except that you strongly prefer devine miracle-worker to be part of the job description. Why? You really can't answer that any better than any Christian can. It's just the most widespread definition.

Words mean what people use them to mean. The dictionary is descriptive, not prescriptive. It's a question of how many people use the term in a particular way. If the alternate meaning is essentially private, then it's not going to be understood by very many people. If an alternate meaning is commonly understood by a large subset of people, then it will eventually make its way into the dictionary that way. People like to complain about this evolutionary aspect of language, but nobody's ever been able to stop it. Plenty of Christians are essentially deists or even atheists. They admire the man that they think Jesus was, but they don't buy any of the divine or supernatural nonsense. For practical and political purposes, I think it's a mistake to identify with any religion if you're an atheist, but to each their own. And some people identify as "culturally Christian"--no supernatural beliefs, but their family has always been Christian, so they identify that way without really thinking about it. I don't think that makes them wrong. I think that makes the definition of "Christian" rather vague. That's OK. Lots of words lack precision.
"That is NOT true. It is NOT wrong to place people in a group based on DEFINITION. Now, we can debate what that definition is, but once it terms are defined, it is NOT a true scotsman fallacy to place some outside of the group."

So, what do you think the official definition of a Christian is?

"Now, I'll ask you: how do you distinguish a Christian from a non-Christian? What tenets MUST be held to be a Christian vs another religious group or one that is not religious at all."

Which tenets? There's 35,000 denominations of Christianity in existence. How do you take 35,000 denominations and narrow it down to define a certain set of those Christians as being "true" while discarding the 10,000 denominations as being phoneys?

"I'll say it again: we HAVE to define terms, otherwise we are equivocating and we might as well place every single human on the planet into the group labelled "Christian."

Or we should stop focusing on labels and focus on science and evidence. Does it really matter what their label is if they have no evidence for their claims either way?

"All Christians are Gnostics but not all Gnostics are Christians."

How so? Gnosticism is a polytheistic religion. Modern day popular Christianity is monotheistic, so how are all Christians Gnostics again?
//Or we should stop focusing on labels and focus on science and evidence. Does it really matter what their label is if they have no evidence for their claims either way?//

Holy crap. Do you know what a debate is?

I am discussing the idea surrounding whether or not a Christian can also be a Deist.

If you don't want to discuss this, fine, don't. I do.

//How so? Gnosticism is a polytheistic religion.//

What definition of Gnosticism are you using? This simply refers to having positive knowledge, and specifically when referring to religion, specific knowledge of the supernatural or a deity. Some Gnostics may be polytheistic, some are not.
Dusty wrote:

***”I'll say it again: we HAVE to define terms, otherwise we are equivocating and we might as well place every single human on the planet into the group labelled "Christian."
And she also wrote:
***”Holy crap. Do you know what a debate is?

I am discussing the idea surrounding whether or not a Christian can also be a Deist.

If you don't want to discuss this, fine, don't. I do
.”

Give it up Dusty.
See ryan camron’s recent discussion on “what is faith?” or the discussion back in December about agnosticism. (you can link thru my page)
There are people on this forum who will not let you define something because they can’t get past the notion that a definition isn’t the same as a “label”, or that any word can actually be defined.

Heck, I remember having a discussion that sounded a lot like this back in junior high sunday school.*

A/N members should be able to come to some sort of definition for the purpose of discussion here at A/N.
But noooooo.
How hard do we have to make this??

Deist”: a person who believes in some sort of supreme being but not in the divinity of Jesus. (“Christian Deist” is, therefore, an oxymoron)

However, this definition does beg the question: “What is the difference between a Deist and a Theist?
(that shouldn’t be too hard to answer either)
-------------------------------------
*(Our youth minister came into the sunday school class with a very short lesson. “How many of you believe God exists?”
Everybody raised their hand.
He held up his pencil.
“How does he exist? Does he “exist” like this pencil?”
silence..........
Unlike this group, nobody responded: “Well maybe he’s bigger than a pencil”, launching an argument about what “bigger” means)
------------------------------
Like I suggested: “Give it up Dusty”
Asa, if we all agree on your definitions of Christian and deist, then there is, by definition, nothing to discuss--a Christian deist would be an oxymoron. But if you're interested in discussing what it means to be a Christian or a deist, you can't simply define them your way and expect everybody to agree.

Of course, you don't even cite a source for your definition of deist, so that's a nonstarter. And since when does deism have anything to do with Christianity or Christ's divinity? It's a generic term for a clockwork creator god. Thomas Jefferson was a deist who specifically rejected Christ's divinity, but the term is both broader and narrower than that. See, for example, Wikipedia's definition.

So I'll say it again: If your definition of Christian includes Christ's divinity, then no, you can't be a Christian and a deist. If not, then sure. There simply is no standard, one-size-fits-all, guaranteed to apply in all circumstances all the time, everybody agrees with it definition of Christian. Life would be simpler if everybody always agreed with your preferred definitions, but it just doesn't work that way.
Oh, I did give up.

I actually hoped to have some nice debates in this group. I was sadly disappointed. :(

It was my fault: I walked into an Atheist group thinking that everyone here would be rational and logical. I was wrong. Clearly, some are and clearly, some are not.
Dusty, some rational and logical people understand that false dichotomies aren't insightful, and that wishing-makes-it-so definitions aren't a valid basis for debate. You seem to be frustrated that people aren't simply accepting your definition and agreeing with you thereby. It's a little odd that a rational and logical person would expect such a thing.

Again, if you've aready got it all figured out, there is no cause for debate. It has been clear from your opening post that you have a completely intractable view of this issue. Rereading it now, it seems as though you walked into the schoolyard daring anybody to disagree with you: "Jesus Christ is most definitely an intervening, personal god. I don't believe any rational, logical person would actually debate otherwise." Note your attempt to pre-emptively undercut the rationality of anybody who might have an opposing view. And now that your claim has been challenged, you take your marbles and go home, aside from a few parting shots at our ability to reason. Nice.
//o, what do you think the official definition of a Christian is?//

I never claimed to have an "official" definition of Christianity.

I stated that there are certain things which one must believe in order to be a Christian, and one of those tenets is the belief in a personal, intervening god (the god of the bible and his son, Jesus Christ).

//Which tenets? There's 35,000 denominations of Christianity in existence. How do you take 35,000 denominations and narrow it down to define a certain set of those Christians as being "true" while discarding the 10,000 denominations as being phoneys?//

I'm claiming that there are some things that ALL denominations of Christianity follow, such as the one mentioned above (which is the one concerning the idea of a christian-deist).

There may be other tenets which distinguish one denomination from another. I'm not refering to those.
Dusty, if you're looking for the strict subset of tenets that one must adhere to in order to qualify as Christian, then that pretty much limits it to "follower of Christ". The simple fact that there are 35,000 denominations means that Christians themselves have never been able to agree on a definition of the word "Christian". If you want to try where others have failed for 2,000 years, go right ahead.

Meanwhile, if you want to know if it's possible to be a Christian and a deist, the answer is yes. Why? Because the "definition" of "Christian" really is just that vague. It is important to define terms in a debate, but we can't always get what we want. That's why most debates focus on terms with narrower definitions like theist, deist, atheist, Catholic, etc. Even there, much ink has been spilled over precise definitions.

If you want to claim that deism and Christianity are mutually exclusive, be my guest, but it's sort of irrelevant, because they are not oppositional terms. The only meaningful debate is going to be about deism vs not-deism. Most Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus are not-deists. If you want to have a meaningful debate, you have to talk about individual beliefs, not broad belief systems.

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