An Overview of Christian Deism

How you live your life and the happiness you find are largely dependent upon your view of yourself and the world that you live in. Your view of life is known as your “worldview,” or “religion,” or “philosophy of life.”

Your understanding of life comes from what you are taught by others, and by what you learn from your own sense perception, experience, and reasoning. Sense perception refers to what you learn through your five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Experience refers to what you learn from what happens to you as you interact with the world around you. Reasoning refers to what you learn from thinking about what you perceive and experience.

The word “religion” comes from the Latin word “religio” which is related to the verb “religare” meaning “to bind” or “place an obligation on.” The World Book Dictionary defines “obligation” as “duty” meaning “a thing that a person ought to do, or a thing that is right to do.” In other words, “religion” deals with “how a person ought to live” or “what is right to do.”

When we look around us, we see many different “organized religions” such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others. These “religions” offer different views of life, and offer instructions about “how a person ought to live.” Some religions claim that their teachings came from “supernatural revelations” received by particular individuals such as Moses, Muhammad, or Paul of Tarsus.

These so-called “revealed” religions make exclusive claims to knowing the “truth” from God, and the followers of other religions are frequently viewed as “infidels” or “unbelievers.” This has led to hostility, oppression, persecution and wars between the followers of different religions.

In contrast to so-called “revealed” religions, there is another kind of religion called “natural” religion. Whereas “revealed” religion claims that truth about life comes through some supernatural revelation from a source beyond human knowledge and experience, “natural” religion is based on what human beings can discover from their own sense perceptions, experiences, and reasoning.

One of the greatest teachers of natural religion was a man named Jesus from Nazareth. Jesus was a Jew, reared in an ancient form of Judaism, but his personal perceptions, experiences, and thinking led him to a deeper understanding of life, and how it is intended to be lived. Jesus described himself simply as “a man who told you the truth which I heard from God” (John 8:40) but Jesus did not claim to have any special revelation of truth from God.

Jesus said that everyone knows the truth, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (John 6:45). Jesus also said, “My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me; if any man’s will is to do His (God’s) will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (John 7:16-17). According to these statements, people already know God’s will and those who are seeking to follow it can recognize that Jesus is teaching the truth, and they will be attracted to Jesus.

Jesus summarized God’s truth or “commandments” (laws) as “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). The word “love” means “to appreciate” or “to value.” We should appreciate God as the giver of life, and we should value life in other persons as much as we value life in ourselves.

We show our appreciation to God by how we use the life we have been given. We show our appreciation for the value of life in others by how we treat them. Human nature is designed for living by love. Everyone knows that our Creator intends for us to live by love because failure to love is destructive to life, our own and others. We know this from our own perceptions, experiences, and thinking. This truth is the foundation of natural religion.

Failure to love is acting against our human nature. We fail to love God when we waste the gift of life that God has given to us. We fail to love other persons when we cause human suffering or when we do not try to relieve human suffering when we have the ability and opportunity to do so.

In his parable of the “talents” (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus taught that we show our love to God by how we use the life that God has entrusted to us. In his parable of the “good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-37), Jesus taught that we fail to love others when we cause human suffering or when we do not try to relieve human suffering when we can do so.

In his parable of the “good Samaritan,” Jesus expanded the definition of “neighbor” to include everyone, even those who are viewed as “enemies.” Jesus said, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor but hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Jesus added, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Love your enemies and do good . . . . for He (God) is kind to the ungrateful and selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father (God) is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36). Jesus went far beyond the religion that he had been taught in his day. Just as God provides the necessities of sunshine and rain to all persons, including the “good and evil” and the “just and unjust,” we must be ready to “do good” and “be merciful” to all persons, even those we consider our “enemies.”

The failure to love God or “neighbor” (all persons) is called “sin.” The only remedy for sin is repentance. Jesus taught the meaning of “repentance” in his parable of the “prodigal son” (Luke 15:11-24). According to Jesus, repentance is the prerequisite for receiving forgiveness of sins, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in a day and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I repent,” you must forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). Also, Jesus said, “If you forgive men their trespasses (against you), your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses (against you), neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

In the teachings of Jesus, we see the essence of natural religion.

Unfortunately, soon after Jesus’ lifetime, a man named Paul of Tarsus began proclaiming a very different message. Paul never claimed to have seen or heard Jesus during Jesus’ lifetime, but claimed that Jesus had appeared later to Paul in some kind of vision after the death of Jesus. Paul began preaching that Jesus “was in the form of God, . . . . but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-7).

Paul viewed the crucifixion of Jesus as a sacrifice to God to atone for the sins of humankind. Paul wrote, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ (Jesus) died for us. Since therefore we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:8-9). According to Jesus, we are forgiven by God if we repent of our sins and we are willing to forgive others who sin against us, but Paul taught that Jesus had to die as a human sacrifice to obtain God’s forgiveness and save us “from the wrath of God.” Paul’s teaching, or “gospel,” was very different from Jesus’ gospel.

Paul claimed that his “gospel” was revealed directly to Paul by Jesus after the death of Jesus. Paul wrote, “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12).

It is clear that Paul replaced Jesus’ natural religion with a so-called “revealed” religion. In all of his letters found in the New Testament, Paul never quotes the teachings of Jesus. Jesus’ gospel calling for people to repent of their failures to love, and to forgive each other, was replaced with Paul’s “gospel” of blood sacrifice to appease an angry God. A series of church councils in the fourth century compounded the errors of Paul by making Jesus equal to God and institutionalizing Paul’s “substitutionary theory” of atonement.

In the seventeenth century, in England, a movement called “deism” began in opposition to the doctrines that had been adopted by the church after the time of Jesus. The deists opposed the doctrines of original sin, the virgin birth and divinity of Jesus, the “trinity” of God, blood atonement by the death of Jesus, and “hell” as a place of unending torture. The deists viewed so-called “miracles” as unverifiable, and they viewed so-called “supernatural revelation of truth” as unnecessary.

The deists believed in natural religion rather than revealed religion. Most of the deists viewed themselves as “Christians” who were seeking to return to the natural religion taught by a man named Jesus. The words “deism” and “deist” come from the Latin word “Deus” which means “God.” Deists believe in one God and they view Jesus as simply a human being. Christian Deists view Jesus as a great teacher of deism.

Practicing Christian Deism

Deism is based on the premise that life is a gift. A gift is something that we receive because someone intended for us to have it.

The fact that we have life through no decision or action of our own is evidence that life has been given to us. In using the word “life,” I am referring to the individual “self” or personal consciousness that you perceive within your physical body. This is sometimes called “soul” or “spirit” or “being.”

Jesus used the term “spirit.” He said, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail,” that is, the physical body is of no value without the spirit (John 6:63). This, of course, is stating the obvious because without “life” we cannot have consciousness, and our physical body is of no use without personal consciousness.

Deists believe that a Creator (usually called “God”) intentionally created the world and humankind. Deists infer this from the complex designs observed in nature–both in the world and in humankind. Based on this premise, deists believe that we should show our appreciation to God for the gift of human life and the natural world that sustains life.

We show appreciation to God in three ways: (1) by respecting the value of one’s own life, (2) by respecting the value of life in other persons, and (3) by respecting the value of the natural resources of the Earth on which human life depends.

Respect for the value of one’s own life is shown by:

1. Taking care of your health. We should not neglect or abuse our bodies by abusing alcohol and other drugs, eating unhealthy foods, eating too much or too little, failing to exercise and rest, or neglecting personal cleanliness.

2. Doing your share of work required to maintain human society. We should not neglect the care of our home or family. To the extent we are able, we should support ourselves and contribute to the economy of the community.

3. Enjoying your life. A person can find much joy in common things and everyday experiences. Enjoyment does not depend on having wealth or expensive pleasures.

Respect for the value of life in other persons is shown by:

1. Not doing anything that causes human suffering.

2. Trying to relieve human suffering whenever possible.

3. Taking care of other persons, or helping them to take care of themselves, as a situation requires.

Respect for the value of the natural resources of the Earth is shown by:

1. Using the natural resources wisely, renewing them, and by sharing them fairly with all other persons.

2. Not damaging the land, water, and air by neglect, exploitation, or pollution.

3. Avoiding overpopulation that depletes limited natural resources. The population of the Earth has increased from 2 billion to 6 billion persons in the last 50 years. This uncontrolled growth of population is depleting the natural resources of the Earth, and is the underlying cause of most wars. Population growth must be halted by means of education, contraceptives, and voluntary sterilizations. However, in my view, abortion should not be used for birth control, and rarely used for other purposes.

“Worship” means “to honor” or “to respect.” Deists believe that we worship God by showing respect for the value of human life and the world in which we live. Deism is called “natural” religion because its principles can be discovered through our observation, experience, and reasoning. The principles of deism have been recognized and taught by great teachers in many different cultures.

A man named Jesus expressed the essence of deism in terms that came from his Jewish culture. Jesus said, “The Lord our God is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31). Christian Deists see the premise and principles of Deism in these statements but we must understand what Jesus meant by these words.

These statements begin with the premise of deism, an affirmation that God exists (“The Lord our God is one”).

Then the first principle of deism is stated as, “You shall love God with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This means loving God with your whole self–soul (conscious being), mind (intelligence), and strength (body). You should show respect to God by what you are, by what you think and say, and by what you do. In other words, you should live in a way that shows that you appreciate the gift of life that you have received. Above, I have suggested how this may be done in practical ways.

The second principle of deism is stated as, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Note that “love for neighbor” is related to “as yourself.” This is important. The requirement to “love your neighbor” is based on the assumption that you love yourself. In other words, you must first recognize the value of your own life, or love yourself (have self-respect) before you can fully appreciate the value of your “neighbor’s” life.

This leads me to believe that God wants us to love our own life–enjoying it as a gift. In my view, gifts are for the enjoyment of the receiver, and for the joy of the giver. I believe that God wants us to enjoy our lives and help others enjoy theirs. From experience, we know that much joy in life comes from giving love (care) to others, and receiving love (care) from others.

Now I would call your attention to something that is usually overlooked, or ignored, in the teachings of Jesus. When Jesus said, “You shall love . . . God,” he was essentially quoting from the Hebrew scriptures (Deuteronomy 6:4). And when Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” he was quoting from the Hebrew scriptures (Leviticus 19:18). But in Jesus’ definition of “neighbor,” he went far beyond the definition in the Jewish religion of his day.

The Hebrew book of Leviticus (19:18) states, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Here, “neighbor” is defined as “sons of your own people” or, in other words, your Hebrew (Jewish) neighbor. Only one exception to this definition is made in Leviticus 19:33, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; . . .”

Leviticus is known as one of the “books of Moses.” Obviously, this book defines “neighbor” as “sons of your own people” (Leviticus 19:18) and “strangers who sojourn in your land” (Leviticus 19:33). In other words, “neighbor” only included Hebrews and other persons who lived in their country. There was no requirement to love anyone else, and this was clearly demonstrated when Moses ordered the Hebrew army to slaughter or enslave people of other countries as the Hebrews marched toward Canaan to invade it (Deuteronomy 20:10-17).

When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?,” he answered with the parable of the “good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-37). In this parable, Jesus defined “neighbor” as EVERYONE, even those who are considered “enemies.” The Jews and the Samaritans viewed each other as “enemies” but, in his parable, Jesus used a Samaritan as an example of a “good neighbor” who came to the rescue of a suffering Jew who had been beaten and robbed. This story must have shocked the Jewish audience.

On another occasion, Jesus said, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor but hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).

We may resist the idea of “love your enemy” because our “enemies” are persons who have offended us or have threatened us in some way. What did Jesus mean by “love your enemy?”

Jesus certainly did not mean that we should be passive toward someone who seriously threatens our lives. On the night that Jesus was arrested, he and his disciples obviously felt that they were in danger because Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison or death” (Luke 22:33). Then Jesus urged his disciples to arm themselves with swords (Luke 22:36). Jesus obviously believed in the right of self-defense. But later, when one of his disciples made a “first strike” with his sword, Jesus condemned the action, saying, “No more of this” (Luke 22:50-51).

So what did Jesus mean when he said, “love your enemy”?

Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Love your enemies and do good . . . for He (God) is kind to the ungrateful and selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father (God) is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).

While retaining the right of self-defense, we should try to “do good” and “be merciful” to our “enemies.” This may turn an “enemy” into a “friend” or, at least, we can find out whether there is any chance to solve the conflict by peaceful means.

In teaching “love your enemy,” Jesus went far beyond the religion that he had been taught in his culture. Just as God provides the necessities of sunshine and rain to all persons, including the “good and evil” and the “just and unjust,” we must be ready to “do good” and “be merciful” to all persons, even those we consider our “enemies.”

Loving your enemies is a keystone in the religion taught by Jesus.

Today, in our world, we see how fear and hatred can lead people to see others as “enemies” who must be destroyed. The hatred expressed in the cycle of revenge–an eye for an eye– has blinded people from recognizing that their “enemies” are often persons who are suffering from poverty, disease, ignorance, exploitation, and hopelessness. They need help. What would happen if someone tried to “do good” and “be merciful” to them?

What would happen if we sat down with our “enemies” to find out what they need from us, and to tell them what we need from them? Maybe we could find some ways to help each other, and achieve a better world for all of us–a world that Jesus called “the kingdom of God” on earth.

Call this “unrealistic” if you wish, but you must admit that the leaders on all sides of every violent conflict in the world today are accomplishing nothing but death and destruction. No causative problems are being solved. It is time to try a different approach. Jesus has a radical idea and, as a Christian Deist, I am ready to be a radical. How about you?

Bible Study and Prayer

I have written other essays relating to the practice of Christian deism as a personal religion. In the essay, “Christian Deism as a Personal Religion,” I focused on what it means to “love God” and “love neighbor” as we live each day. I also focused on repentance by us, and our forgiveness of others. In the essay, “Christian Deists: Christians Without Churches,” I focused on the meaning of worship “in spirit and in truth.”

In this essay, I will try to address the subjects of Bible study and prayer in the practice of Christian deism.

In regard to “Bible study,” my focus as a Christian deist is on the teachings of Jesus found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament. Preceding these books in the “Bible” is the Hebrew Bible, which Christians erroneously refer to as the “Old Testament.”

The Hebrew Bible presents the story of a primitive people (the Jews) struggling to survive in an environment of conflict with other nations. In that conflict, the Jewish leaders clearly believed that “might makes right” even if it meant the slaughter of innocent women and children of other nations in the Jews’ pursuit of a land of their own (Numbers 31:13-17). What makes this even worse is that this brutality was allegedly done in obedience to “God’s will.” Although there are some valuable passages in the “Old Testament,” these are too few to be of much value to a Christian deist.

Following the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the book called “The Acts of the Apostles” provides some history about the early years of the Christian movement, at least as it was viewed by the writer about fifty years (or more) later. The remainder of the “New Testament” includes letters that Paul (a Jew from Tarsus) wrote, expressing his interpretation of Christianity which varies significantly from the teachings of Jesus. Also included are some letters and books, by unknown writers, reflecting late first Christian century theology, much of which was influenced by Paul.

Finally, in the New Testament, there is a book called “Revelation” predicting an imminent end of the world to encourage persecuted Christians to hope for a “new heaven and a new earth” after the destruction of “evil doers.” This fantasy writing continues to inspire modern-day “end-of-the-world” fanatics to lead their followers to disappointment (at best) and destruction (at worst). Christian deists should view this book as useless.

In reading the books of the New Testament, a Christian deist must put each idea to the test of reason. The basic theology of Paul, with his idea of the crucifixion of Jesus being a sacrifice to pay for the sins of humankind, should be summarily dismissed. However, a Christian deist can identify with Paul’s statements about faith, hope, and love in the letter called First Corinthians, chapter 13. Unfortunately, the scope of Paul’s love did not include persons of a different sexual orientation.

In studying the life and teachings of Jesus, a Christian deist should keep in mind that Jesus was a human being like ourselves. Some of his ideas simply express the cultural views common among Jews two thousand years ago in a pre-scientific age. Some ideas, such as “demons” causing epilepsy, have no validity. The idea of a “devil” tempting and misleading people is also a sign of that time, and has no place in a religion based on reason.

Let me say this clearly: If you find an idea in the Bible that does not seem reasonable to you, you do not have to believe it. God gave you a mind to use, so use it.

In the New Testament, it is clear that Jesus began his career as a Jewish revolutionary who was seeking liberation of the Jews from the Romans, but Jesus gradually came to recognize that the rulership of God (the “kingdom of God”) on earth would not become a reality by military force but by the gradual recognition of God’s laws “in the heart” of individuals. This concept was too “unorthodox” for his compatriots to accept at the time, but Jesus’ view of the “kingdom of God” came to be understood later when Jesus’ teachings, especially his parables, were collected.

Now, let us think about prayer. What is the meaning of prayer to me as a Christian deist? Put quite simply, prayer is communion with God. Jesus taught that “God is spirit” and it is the “spirit that gives life” to us as individuals (John 4:24 and 6:63). In other words, the essence of God and our own being is spirit. This is not an idea that originated with Jesus. Ancient Greek philosophers, such as Heraclitus over 500 years before Jesus, recognized that a “creative intelligence” (they called “logos”) was responsible for the creation of order in the world, and for the creation of “intelligence” in individual human beings. In other words, there is a “Mind” which we call “God” and we each have a “mind” through which we can communicate “mind-to-Mind.”

Prayer was important to Jesus, and we can learn much from how Jesus prayed. Usually, Jesus prayed by himself, away from the company of others (Matthew 14:23; Matthew 26:36; Luke 6:12). Sometimes Jesus prayed in the presence of a few close friends (Luke 9:28; John 17:1). Jesus cautioned against making a public display of prayer (Matthew 6:5) and he urged his disciples to “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Matthew 6:6).

Jesus urged his disciples to pray simply. He said, “And in praying, do not heap up empty phrases …. for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).

Some Christians have a misconception about prayer based on their reading of Jesus’ statement (Mark 11:24), “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you will receive it, and you will.” Many Christians are disappointed when they fail to receive what they pray for. Some blame themselves for not having a strong enough “faith,” or belief that they will receive what they have prayed for. Others blame God for failing to keep Jesus’ promise.

The truth is that Jesus often taught by hyperbole (exaggeration). In the verses preceding Mark 11:24, Jesus told his disciples, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him” (Mark 11:22-23). This is an example of a hyperbole to express the importance of faith in God when we pray. But even Jesus did not believe that whatever he prayed for would come to pass.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that he would not die (“let this cup pass from me”), but he prefaced his prayer request with the words, “If it be possible” (Matthew 26:39). Here, Jesus recognized that sometimes what he asked for in prayer was not possible. We, too, must accept the fact that sometimes what we seek is not possible. Nevertheless, we may not know what is possible or not possible, so we should express our hopes in prayer. Believing that something is possible may be a deciding factor in something becoming a reality. Personal faith has been proven to be a factor in healing some illnesses, but not all illnesses can be healed by faith. And faith healing is not a substitute for medical treatment.

To me, prayer is more than just “talking” to God. It is also “listening” to God. I do not mean that God’s voice will come “out of the clouds,” but I am convinced that God can help us think of some solutions to our problems. Prayer provides a means of focusing our attention on problems in a way that may open our minds to possible solutions. I have prayed about a problem at bedtime and have awakened to find a possible solution in my mind the next morning. Perhaps this is the way God communicates with us.

I also believe that prayer is a channel through which we can receive strength to cope with our problems. Jesus told his disciples to “pray that you may have strength” so they would not be “weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life” (Luke 21:34-36). The Hebrew psalmist wrote, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

I believe that prayer is not just “communication” with God. Prayer is COMMUNION with God. In some way when we direct our thoughts to God in prayer, we join our individual spirit with the Spirit that gives us life. The Hebrew psalmist claimed that God spoke these words, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Without saying a word, we can pray by just being still and knowing that God is with us.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray by giving them an example which we call the “Lord’s Prayer.”

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9-13).

As we know, Jesus viewed God as being like a loving father. In this prayer, Jesus distinguishes God from a human father by referring to God as a heavenly Father. Then Jesus expresses respect for the sacred authority of God by using the words “hallowed” (sacred) and “name” (authority).

Then Jesus gets to the heart of the prayer by seeking the coming of God’s kingdom (rule) on earth, which Jesus equates with “God’s will.”

The request for “daily bread” is a recognition of the fact that we are dependent on God for the very basics for life (such as bread) that come from what God provides (such as seed, earth, rain). This recognition of God’s gifts is also an implied expression of thanksgiving to God for these provisions. Thanksgiving should always be a part of our prayers.

The request for God’s forgiveness of our sins (our failures to love others) is directly tied to our obligation to forgive those who repent of their sins against us.

Finally, the prayer concludes with a request for strength to resist temptation to do evil, and a request for help in protecting ourselves against those who would do evil against us.

This prayer is a good model to guide us in our own praying.

This short essay certainly does not cover all that should be said about Bible study and prayer, but I hope that it is enough to suggest an approach consistent with our beliefs as Christian deists.

Christmas and Easter

This essay is written in response to email from readers who asked, “Do Christian deists celebrate Christmas and Easter?” This question has arisen because some readers, who have recently discovered that they are Christian deists, feel uncomfortable with the trinitarian interpretation of Christmas and Easter.

My answer to the question, “Do Christian deists celebrate Christmas and Easter?” is “yes.” But to explain this answer, I would like to provide some information about the meaning of these two holidays.

Many people do not know that the “Christmas” and “Easter” holidays are based on religious traditions that are centuries older than Christianity. As the Christian movement ventured beyond Judea and into the Gentile world, the movement encountered other religious traditions which were assimilated by Christians and redefined in Christian terminology.

From human history, we know that there are two particular times of the year celebrated by human beings in countries north of the equator. One is in the Winter, in December, and the other is in the Spring, around March or April.

From their observation of nature in the Northern Hemisphere, human beings have recognized that the longest night of the year occurs in December. After that night, the daylight increases and time of darkness decreases. This natural phenomenon has come to symbolize the “coming of light” in various religious traditions.

Some celebrate this change from darkness to light as the Winter solstice (on December 21 or 22). In Zoroastrianism and Mithraism, the mythological god called “Mithra” was the “god of light” whose “birthday” was celebrated on December 25.

In Judaism, the holiday called “Hanukkah,” or the “Feast of Lights,” is observed in December for eight days. Hanukkah commemorates the Jews’ victory in gaining freedom from Syria in 168 BCE and the rededicating of their temple. It is celebrated by lighting candles in the Hanukkah menorah.

In Christianity, the holiday is called “Christmas” and celebrates the “birthday” of Jesus who is called the “light of the world.” The December 25th date for the “birthday” of Jesus was apparently borrowed from the “birthday” of Mithra, the “god of light” in Zoroastrianism and Mithraism.

From all of the above, it is apparent that the “coming of light” has made December a special time for celebration. The increasing “light” of day that overcomes the “dark” of night is seen as a time for rejoicing and hope.

In trinitarian theology, Christmas is seen as the event in which God became “incarnated” as a human being, named Jesus, through a miraculous birth to a virgin mother. In trinitarian theology, this “virgin birth” is considered necessary so that Jesus could be born “without sin” (unlike other human beings who inherit “original sin” from “Adam”) and therefore able to be an unblemished “sacrifice” to atone for the sins of humankind.

Many of the Christmas hymns reflect this trinitarian theology which Christian deists do not accept. In the hymn “Silent Night,” the trinitarian theology is seen in the wording “all is calm, all is bright ’round yon virgin mother and child.” In “The First Noel the Angel Did Say” the fourth verse states, “Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord who made heaven and earth of naught and with His Blood mankind has bought.” This wording claims that Jesus is God who created the world and who died as a blood sacrifice to pay for the sins of humankind.

Since Christian deists do not accept this trinitarian theology found in many Christmas hymns, the questions arise, “Can Christian deists celebrate Christmas?” and “What does Christmas mean to Christian deists?”

Let me approach these questions in this way. Christian deists see Jesus as a human being who discovered within himself the truth that God intends for human beings to live by love for God and love for each other. Jesus taught that this truth is known by all persons because God’s “word” is sown in every human heart. The “good news” or gospel, according to Jesus, is that the “kingdom of God” becomes a reality on earth as we choose to live by love. As deists, we know this from our own experience and observation. To Christian deists, Jesus was a man who taught this truth so we honor Jesus as a teacher of the truth.

Jesus referred to himself as the “light of the world” and he said, “he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). But Jesus also told his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and its gives its light to all the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). Christian deists believe that Jesus taught the truth because it is confirmed by our own experience. This truth provides a light to guide us in living every day. As we live by this truth, we are a “light of the world,” as Jesus was. Christian deists honor Jesus by celebrating his birthday because he was a man whose life exemplified the “light” that comes from God.

Christian deists should celebrate Christmas as human beings have long celebrated this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere of the earth–as a time of human joy and hope symbolized by the “coming of the light.”

The many ways that Christians celebrate Christmas, with Christmas trees, Yule logs, candles, lights, and giving of gifts, come from many different traditions. And the story of the birth of Jesus adds a tradition of love and care in the midst of human struggle, as Mary and Joseph overcame obstacles to provide for the baby Jesus. All of these beautiful symbols help us to express joy at Christmas time.

Now, let us think about Easter. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 20, the nominal date of the Spring Equinox. Easter Sunday comes in March or April. The name of the holiday, “Easter,” apparently comes from “Eostre” which was the name of the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Eostre was a Goddess of fertility. The name of the Goddess, Eostre, comes from an ancient word “eastre” for “Spring.”

Spring, of course, is a time of new life. It is a time when new plants begin to grow and new leaves appear on trees. The “dead of Winter” ends with the rebirth of vegetation in the cycle of life. Also, it is a time when many animals give birth to their young.

In human history, the celebration of “new life” in the Spring appeared many centuries before Christianity. The cycle of life that is so evident in the Spring has inspired human beings to have hope for life beyond death.

In trinitarian Christianity, the Easter holiday was adopted as the day to commemorate the “resurrection” of Jesus. Jesus was crucified by the Romans on Friday of Passover week in the Jewish tradition. He was laid in a rock tomb on Friday before sundown and the tomb was found to be empty on the following Sunday morning. Then Jesus, who was physically wounded but alive, met secretly with his disciples for some days before Jesus disappeared.

Jesus’ disciples believed that Jesus had died and was brought back to life by God. The apostle Paul claimed that belief in Jesus’ “resurrection” was one of the two requirements for obtaining salvation from sin and death. Paul wrote, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Trinitarian Christians believe that the “resurrection” of Jesus is evidence of life after death, and Easter Sunday is used to celebrate this hope. Christian Deists believe that God’s power to give life is demonstrated in the fact that we have life now. Obviously, what God has already done, God can do again. As human beings have recognized for centuries before the time of Jesus, there is a cycle of life of which we are a part. Each Spring, Christian deists celebrate “new life” and the hope it brings for the future. Christians have borrowed the name “Easter” from a tradition older than Christianity but the basic meaning of the celebration is known naturally: God has the power to give life.

One Easter weekend, my wife and I decided to celebrate Easter Sunday at a beautiful State park that is known for its waterfalls and wild flowers. We took our little camper to the park and set our alarm clock for before dawn on Easter Sunday. That morning, in the darkness, we hiked to one of the waterfalls and waited for the sun to rise. On that fresh Sunday morning, as the dawn came, we could understand how human beings have always experienced reverence and awe in observing a beautiful sunrise and the majesty of new life in the flowers and trees. The experience of “Easter” that morning transcended any one religious tradition. “Easter” is a universal experience available to anyone who chooses to observe it.

The two “holy seasons” of the year belong to everyone. Celebrate the joy that comes from the “coming of the light” at Christmas, and celebrate the hope that comes from the “new life” we see evidenced at Easter. Different religious traditions may describe these holy days in different terms but the basic meanings are shared by all who choose to celebrate.

May you find joy and hope in the celebration of these universal holy days which we as Christians call “Christmas” and “Easter.”

The Christian Deists: Christians Without Churches

People often ask, “Why don’t Christian deists have churches?”

The word “church” usually refers to religious organizations that have professional ministers, and buildings for public worship. Christian deists do not have these.

Why don’t Christian deists have churches?

Primarily, the answer is, “Christian deism is a personal religion. Churches are not necessary in the practice of Christian deism.” But there are other reasons why Christian deists do not have “churches,” in the usual sense of this word.

As a Jew, Jesus attended the synagogue in Nazareth and, on special holy days, he went to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. But Jesus was well aware of the problems that can accompany religious organizations.

In Jesus’ day, the Jerusalem temple had become a place of business where animals were sold for sacrifices and money-changers made profits from Jewish pilgrims exchanging their foreign currency (Mark 11:15). Jesus tried to remedy the commercializing of religion by driving the merchants and money-changers from the temple. The commercializing of Christianity is an enormous problem today, as blatantly evidenced by the numerous TV and radio “evangelists” seeking money donations in exchange for audio tapes, books, and other “gifts.”

Even in local churches, where many sincere ministers earn their livings, money often becomes a divisive issue among church members as they debate how much to pay the minister, how much to spend on new buildings, and other money-related matters. Often the amount of money spent on their churches far exceeds the amount spent on relieving human suffering.

Jesus’ view about places of worship is seen in his conversation with a Samaritan woman (John 4:20-24). The woman said, “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain (a temple on Mount Gerizim in Samaria); and you (Jews) say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father . . . . the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.”

According to Jesus, true worship takes place only in “spirit and truth.” The word “spirit” refers to the inner self of a person. It refers to a person’s attitude and thoughts.

The meaning of the word “truth” can be found in Jesus’ statement in John 3:20-21, where the New Testament Greek word for “truth” is translated “true.” Jesus said, “for every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.” According to Jesus, “truth” means doing “what is true,” or good deeds.

Christian deists agree with Jesus that buildings for worship are not necessary. As Jesus said, “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” We worship (honor) God through our good atttitude and thoughts, and by our good deeds.

Christian deists do not believe that Jesus intended to organize an institutional church. Those who claim that Jesus founded the “Christian church” point to Matthew 16:16-19. Here, the disciple Peter proclaimed his belief that Jesus was the Jewish messiah, and Jesus responded by saying to Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This, of course, is the scripture that the Roman Catholic Church uses to claim that the church holds the keys to heaven. It is alleged that Peter became the first “bishop” in the City of Rome, and Peter passed on the “keys” to the bishops (popes) who succeeded Peter.

The Roman Catholic Church has misinterpreted Jesus’ statement, “I will build my church.” At the time of Jesus’ and Peter’s conversation, Jesus and his followers believed that they were participating in a revolutionary movement to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel, which the Jews called the “kingdom of heaven” or “kingdom of God.” When Peter proclaimed his belief that Jesus was the Jewish messiah who would reestablish the “kingdom,” Jesus said that Peter would have a place of leadership in the movement, as indicated in the statement that Peter would be given the “keys” to the “kingdom of heaven.”

As a leader in the movement, Peter would have authority, as indicated in the statement that “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This is a phrase that Jesus uses elsewhere (Matthew 18:15-18) to say that someone has authority to make decisions.

In Matthew 18:15-18, Jesus told his disciples how to resolve any conflicts between themselves, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained a brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.* Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

(*Note: “Gentiles” and “tax collectors” for the Romans are examples of persons who were usually excluded from Jewish groups.)

Note that in Matthew 18:15-18, Jesus said to all of his disciples the same thing that Jesus said to Peter, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In this instance, the phrase refers to decisions made by the “church” when settling disputes among the disciples of Jesus. The “church” would have final authority to make a decision in the dispute. What did Jesus mean by the word “church?” He certainly was not referring to the Roman Catholic Church, or any other Christian church, since no Christian church existed during Jesus’ lifetime.

The New Testament Greek word which is translated “church” is “ekklesia” which means an “assembly” or group of people. In Matthew 18:15-18, Jesus was referring to his group of followers, then and there. Jesus was simply saying that his group of followers had authority to make decisions to settle disputes among themselves. It was the practice among some Jewish sects to discipline their members for offenses, and even exclude offenders from the group (as seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls sect of Jews).

It is clear from Matthew 16:16-19 and Matthew 18:15-18, that the phrase about “binding and loosing” simply meant “having authority to make decisions.” It is also clear that the word “church” simply referred to Jesus’ “group” of followers. When Jesus said that he would “build my church” in Matthew 16:16-19, Jesus was saying that personal commitment to the “kingdom of heaven,” as expressed by Peter, would be the foundation (“rock”) on which Jesus would “build” his group or assembly (ekklesia) of followers.

It should be noted that Jesus used a word which is translated as “church” in only two verses in the New Testament (Matthew 16:18 and 18:17). The word used in New Testament Greek manuscripts is “ekklesia” which actually means an assembly, or group, of people, not an organization of any kind. If Jesus had intended to “build” an institutional “church,” like the Roman Catholic Church, certainly Jesus would have said more about it.

Why don’t Christian deists have professional ministers?

Christian deists believe that everyone is responsible for “ministering” to, or serving, others. But Christian deists do not believe that a person should be paid for doing this. When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the coming of the “kingdom of God,” Jesus said, “You have received without pay, give without pay” (Matthew 10:8). On their missionary journeys, the disciples were allowed to accept only room and board from their hosts, and the disciples were prohibited from accepting money payments. This sounds like good advice.

How do Christian deists worship God?

As explained previously, Christian deists believe that we should worship “in spirit and in truth.”

For Christian deists, worship is a personal matter. This follows the example of Jesus. Jesus prayed by himself and with close friends in private homes. He opposed the public display of religious practices.

Jesus said, ” Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And in praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:1-8)

In summary, Christian deists believe that religion is a personal and private matter. Christian deists are not opposed to “getting together” for fellowship and religious education, but Christian deists do not believe in public worship “services” because such activity can easily become a hypocritical display of pretended religion.

Getting Together as Christian Deists

Christian Deism is basically a personal religion that is practiced by individuals. It does not require Christian deists to be members of any religious organization. The worship of God is essentially a private matter.

However, this essay is written in response to e-mail which I have received from readers who asked how they can meet other Christian deists in their communities. These readers suggest that it would be helpful to establish local groups to provide a visible presence for Christian deism in the community to:

1. Offer individuals a place where they can inquire about Christian deism as a personal religion;

2. Provide a religious education program for adults and children; and

3. Provide mutual support and social fellowship for Christian deists.

In response to the requests that I have received, I have promised to make some suggestions for those who choose to establish some kind of Christian Deist group in a local community. I agree that some kind of local Christian Deist group could be helpful to many Christian deists, and could offer the general public an opportunity to be aware that there is a Christian Deist alternative to trinitarian churches.

For persons interested in organizing a local Christian Deist group, I would like to suggest several matters to be considered.


Should a Christian Deist group call itself a “church”? The New Testament Greek word “ekklesia,” which is translated by the English word “church,” simply means an “assembly of persons.” Unfortunately, the word “church” has acquired a connotative meaning as a special place for public worship. Christian deists believe that worship of God is a personal and private matter. Christian deists do not believe in public worship. Jesus warns that public worship can lead to a hypocritical show of self-righteousness (Matthew 6:1-6). And Jesus taught that true worship requires no special place (John 4:20-24).

I would suggest that a local group of Christian deists call themselves a “fellowship” rather than a “church”. Since the essence of Christian deism is love for each other, the word “fellowship” seems to suggest a group that provides mutual support and caring for its members. I would suggest the name: “Christian Deist Fellowship.”


The Christian deist movement began in opposition to trinitarian doctrines which churches had developed after the time of Jesus. Early Christian deist writers recognized that trinitarian clergy often used their professional positions in the churches to impose their views and control over the lay members of the churches. These professional ministers opposed the deist belief that all persons have natural knowledge of God’s “truth,” and these professional ministers sought to protect their role in the church by assuming that clergy were superior to lay persons in understanding and interpreting scriptures. In response to this attitude of superiority on the part of these trinitarian ministers, Christian deist writers generally viewed such ministers as obstacles to a lay person’s freedom to read and interpret the teachings of Jesus in the light of the individual’s own reasoning.

Early Christian deists saw the organizational hierarchy of the trinitarian church as the means used by the professional clergy to enforce their “authority” over the lay membership of the church and to require adherence to so-called “orthodox” trinitarian doctrines.

Church history shows that the Christian movement began with informal gatherings of followers of Jesus, but eventually these groups acquired leaders who assumed special authority over the other members. The primary leader in a local church became known as the “bishop.” Eventually the bishop of the church at Rome tried to assert his rule over churches in other cities. This led to a split between churches in the “west,” which accepted the bishop at Rome as leader, and the churches in the “east” which refused to accept the bishop at Rome as leader. The “western” church eventually became known as the “Roman Catholic Church” out of which the Protestant Christian churches came in the sixteenth century.

The reason I am referring to this history of the trinitarian church is to point out the danger of having professional clergy in a religious organization. Such professional leaders tend to assume their “superiority” over other members of the organization and tend to impose their views on other members. In my view, if Christian deists organize local groups, it is important that such groups be led by lay persons who recognize that no member is superior to another.


Early Christians met in small groups in private homes. This could be the place where a local group of Christian Deists could gather. I would suggest that the meeting place be called simply a “meeting house” to avoid the connotative meaning of the word “church” as a place of public worship. If the group outgrew the private home setting, the group could rent or buy a meeting place. If the group meets in a place other than a private home, I would suggest that the place still be called a “meeting house.” Some groups, such as Quakers, have found that buying a house provides a satisfactory meeting place.


What are the purposes of getting together as Christian deists? And what can Christian deists do at meetings? Of course, there are a number of different purposes that may be accomplished at meetings, and there are a number of different activities that may accomplish these purposes. Here are some of them:

1. Social fellowship

People enjoy being with other people who share the same basic philosophy or beliefs that guide them in their everyday living. Social fellowship is an important part of any religious group. Christian deists, who feel uncomfortable with the ideas and beliefs espoused by persons in other religious organizations, seek relationships with other Christian deists who share the “worldview” of Christian deism.

Christian deists can gather in a home-like atmosphere and enjoy some refreshments and visiting while gathering for a meeting.

2. Affirmation of beliefs

After the time of fellowship, the meeting could begin with an affirmation of the basic beliefs of Christian deists. The affirmation begins with a statement that God is our creator, and continues with the personal commitment to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is a statement of the creed of Christian deists. The following could be recited by the group:

“God is my Creator. I shall love God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind, and I shall love my neighbor as myself.” (Based on Matthew 22:37-39.)

3. Time for meditation

The affirmation of beliefs could be followed by a time of quiet meditation. The word “meditation” may make you think of a monk, sitting cross-legged on a mountain, having an esoteric experience beyond the capability of ordinary persons. Actually, meditation is quite simple and can be done by anyone.

The word “meditate” simply means “to think about.” A person’s concentration of thoughts can be enhanced if a person sits in a quiet place and closes his or her eyes to shut out the distractions of surrounding sights. When you do this, the first thing that you realize is the fact of your own existence. Most of our attention each day is concentrated on “doing” and we ignore the remarkable fact of our “being,” or existence. By shutting out the sights and sounds around us, as much as possible, we are confronted with the fact of our “being” alive.

Our recognition of “being” helps us to appreciate life as a gift that we have received through no action or decision of our own. Jesus said that “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and “it is the spirit that gives life” (John 6:63). As we become aware of the life, or spirit, that is within us, we become aware that there are no boundaries to our spirit and there is nothing that separates us from the Source of all life, God. In meditation, we become more aware of being part of something that is greater than, and transcends, the circumstances of our daily life. Our appreciation for life, in ourselves and in others, increases as our awareness of “being” expands through meditation.

Our increased awareness of ourselves and others, can lead a person to think about his or her relationships with others. A person can use a time of meditation to examine how he or she is living in relation to others. Love for others is the principle that should guide our relationships with others. It is important for Christian deists to review their own words, thoughts, and actions on a regular basis to recognize any way they have caused another to suffer or to recognize any failure to try to relieve suffering when possible. Where failures to love are recognized, the individual can silently confess such failures and pray for God’s forgiveness. Repentance and forgiveness are central in the practice of Christian deism and can be a part of the time for meditation.

4. Time for sharing joys and concerns

The meeting should provide a time when individuals can share their joys and concerns. Their joys may be about a birth, marriage, graduation, honor, or some other good experience. Their concerns may be about an illness, death, world event, or other matter of concern. This time of sharing helps the members to understand and support each other. A ceremony of lighting of a candle by the individual can be a way to give recognition to the joy or concern expressed.

5. Religious education

The principles and practices of Christian deism, based on the teachings of Jesus, should occupy a part of the meeting. There are many ways of doing this. One way would be to have a member read one of my essays, and then encourage comments and discussion regarding the topic of the essay.

(Under “Lessons for Meetings,” below, I am listing some basic topics which are covered by some of my essays. I apologize if I appear presumptuous in suggesting that my essays be used as “readings” at Christian Deist meetings, but I intended these essays to provide an overall view of Christian deism from historical and theological perspectives, and I do not know of other current writers who are explaining how Christian deism can be practiced today. Hopefully, there will be many more Christian deist writers in the near future.)

Another way to provide religious education at a meeting would be to have one teaching of Jesus (one or a few verses) printed and distributed to all members at one week’s meeting for each person to think about during the week, and to be discussed by the group at the following week’s meeting. By giving one week’s focus on one particular teaching, it is likely that a number of persons will gain some insight during the week to share with others. Members could be invited to discuss some experience they had that helped them understand the teaching.

If there are children at the meeting, perhaps they can have a separate story time and other activities to help them develop a healthy self-image as loving and responsible individuals having respect for God and all people.

6. Music and singing

When Jesus and his disciples were together, they sang a hymn. Music can have a place in a meeting of Christian deists. Perhaps a member can play a musical instrument and sing a song appropriate for the meeting. Recorded music can be used also. Hymns and other songs, sung by the group, can carry messages of joy, hope, love, and peace. Hymns that express Christian deist beliefs and values should be selected. Hymns based on trinitarian doctrines should be avoided.

7. Other activities

There are many other activities that may be part of a meeting of Christian deists. Poems and stories can encourage and enlighten members as they seek to live each day by love for God and love for neighbor. Individuals could bring poems or other brief inspirational writings to read at the meeting.

8. General comment

Meetings should be characterized by simplicity and sincerity. Some planning is required but the activities do not have to be complicated or elaborate. The meetings should help members grow in their personal practice of the principles of Christian deism. A relaxed and friendly atmosphere should prevail.


My essays may be used as “lessons” to be read by a reader at a Christian Deist meeting:

Lesson 1. Understanding Ourselves

Purpose: To understand the importance of our own view of life.

Read Essay: “What Am I?”

Lesson 2. Natural Religion

Purpose: To understand the basic premises of natural religion.

Read Essay: “What is Natural Theology”

Lesson 3. God’s Natural Laws

Purpose: To understand the two natural laws governing humankind.

Read Essay: “The Natural Religion of Jesus”

Lesson 4. Love Your Neighbor

Purpose: To understand what it means to love your neighbor, and why causing human suffering or being indifferent to human suffering is a “failure to love” others and is called “sin.”

Read Essay: “Love Your Neighbor”

Lesson 5. Love for God

Purpose: To understand what it means to love God, and why the failure to use our God-given abilities for good purposes is a “failure to love” God and is called “sin.”

Read Essay: “How Can You Love God?”

Lesson 6. The Kingdom of God

Purpose: To understand what the “Kingdom of God” is, and that God’s laws governing humankind are known naturally by everyone.

Read Essay: “The Kingdom of God”

Lesson 7. Repentance and Forgiveness

Purpose: To understand the necessity of repentance and forgiveness as ongoing processes in life.

Read Essay: “Repentance and Forgiveness”

Lesson 8. The Gospel of Jesus

Purpose: To understand the gospel (good news) message of Jesus, “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” and how Jesus’ gospel is different from the message preached by Paul of Tarsus.

Read Essay: “What is the Gospel?”

Lesson 9. The Theology of Paul of Tarsus

Purpose: To understand how Paul of Tarsus created his own message which is contrary to the beliefs of Jesus.

Read Essay: “The Theology of Paul”

Lesson 10. Trinitarian Theology

Purpose: To understand how Church councils developed trinitarian theology which is taught in trinitarian churches today. (Christian Deists do not accept trinitarian theology.)

Read Essay: “What’s in a Creed”

Lesson 11. The Humanity of Jesus

Purpose: To understand Jesus as a human being whose view of the “Kingdom of God” includes everyone who lives by love for God and neighbor, and how Jesus’ beliefs led to his crucifixion.

Read Essay: “A Man Named Jesus”

Lesson 12. Christian Deism (Part 1)

Purpose: To understand the basic beliefs of Christian deists.

Read Essay: “What is a Christian Deist?”

Lesson 13. Christian Deism (Part 2)

Purpose: To understand how one Christian deist defines his own beliefs.

Read Essay: “Creed of a Christian Deist”

Lesson 14. Christian Deism (Part 3)

Purpose: To understand how one Christian deist views the the crucifixion and survival of Jesus.

Read Essay: “The Cross and the Empty Tomb”

Lesson 15. Christian Deism (Part 4)

Purpose: To understand the history of Christian Deism, and how Christian deists rejected the trinitarian doctrines of original sin, the divinity of Jesus, the substitutionary theory of atonement, supernatural revelation, and alleged miracles.

Read Essay: “History of Christian Deism”

Lesson 16. Christian Deism (Part 5)

Purpose: To understand Christian deism as expressed by a leading Christian deist in 1730.

Read Essay: “Matthew Tindal, Christian Deist”

Lesson 17. Christian Deism (Part 6)

Purpose: To understand how Christian deism differs from cultural religions.

Read Essay: “Deism and Cultural Religions”

Lesson 18. The Practice of Christian Deism (Part 1)

Purpose: To understand how an individual may practice Christian deism in everyday life.

Read Essay: “Christian Deism as a Personal Religion”

Lesson 19. The Practice of Christian Deism (Part 2)

Purpose: To understand how a Christian deist may approach Bible study and prayer.

Read Essay: “A Christian Deist’s View of Bible Study and Prayer”

Lesson 20. The Practice of Christian Deism (Part 3)

Purpose: To understand the meaning of worship, and why Christian deists do not have professional ministers or “churches” for public worship.

Read Essay: “The Christian Deists: Christians Without Churches”

Lesson 21. The Practice of Christian Deism (Part 4)

Purpose: To understand that the basic premises of “deism” are found in the teachings of Jesus, and the practice of Christian Deism is based on these premises.

Read Essay: “Deist and Christian Deist”

Lesson 22 The Practice of Christian Deism (Part 5)

Purpose: To understand the meaning of Christmas and Easter.

Read Essay: “Christmas and Easter”

Lesson 23 The Practice of Christian Deism (Part 6)

Purpose: To understand the books known as the four gospels in the New Testament.

Read Essay: “Understanding the Four Gospels”

Lesson 24 The Practice of Christian Deism (Part 7)

Purpose: To understand more ways to practice Christian Deism every day.

Read Essay: “Practicing Christian Deism”


Inevitably there will be some expense of money to support the activities of a Christian Deist Fellowship. Such expenses may be for literature, refreshments, and possibly rent and utilities. Such expenses should be paid from voluntary and anonymous donations from the members of the Fellowship. How finances are handled is important because we see some religious groups and religious leaders using unscrupulous or intimidating ways of dealing with money.

I would suggest that Christian deists make most of their personal donations of money to humanitarian causes (I personally like the Ronald McDonald House for cancer patients and their families) but some donations of money will be required to pay the expenses of having a Christian Deist Fellowship. Hopefully, these costs will be kept to a minimum, and all donations made privately. Cash donations can be placed privately in a box, and donations by check can be deposited directly into the Fellowship’s bank account by the donor who is given bank deposit slips. No one else should know how much a person donates to the Fellowship. This is what Jesus meant when he said that “alms” should be given “in secret” (Matthew 6:3-4). There is no place for high pressure fund raising in a Christian Deist Fellowship. All financial giving by Christian deists should come voluntarily out of love for God and “neighbor.”


If you are interested in organizing a Christian Deist Fellowship, you will need to locate other Christian deists in your community. You could run a newspaper ad that suggests that persons read my web page, “The Human Jesus and Christian Deism,” and contact you if they are interested in a local group of Christian Deists. You could advertise an organizational meeting and provide copies of my Christian deist essays which you are free to print from your computer and duplicate. You may print copies and distribute them, if they are given without charge or provided on a non-profit basis.

I receive emails from individuals seeking to know other Christian Deists in their city or state. If you would like for me to notify you of any such inquiries from individuals in your city or state, you may send me your name, city/state/country, and email address. I will notify you of any inquiry from your area if the individual wishes me to do so.

I will only provide first names and email addresses to the individuals who wish to communicate with other Christian Deists in their own communities. After email communication and, perhaps, telephone conversations, the individuals can decide whether to meet in person. Since I will not know the individuals personally, I believe that first names and email addresses are all that I should provide.

If you have any other ideas about how to organize a local Christian Deist Fellowship, please let me know