Behold Your God — Week Ten, Day Two

25 Jul

The descriptions of practical atheism and practical deism in day two are very powerful.

Practical atheism is when we live as if God does not exist. Practical deism is when we acknowledge that God exists, but live as if He is no longer actively involved in the world on a personal level.

Practical atheism is a particular danger for those who are not well-grounded in the Word. If you are not consistently taking in the truths of Scripture, you will be prone to live your life based not on the truth of God but on your own notions of what is right and wrong. You will claim a profession of faith in God perhaps, but your life will not be marked by the hand of God. Practical atheists are church members who rarely open their Bibles, treat prayer like a glass case holding a fire extinguisher (break in case of emergency) and sleepwalk through gathered worship. Practical atheists believe life really runs by the ways of the world and they manage their lives on that basis to maximize their temporary happiness. Many times churches that are filled with conflict are simply churches that are filled with practical atheists, as everyone pulls against one another for the sake of their own preferences.

Practical deism, on the other hand, is a particular danger for those who are well-grounded in the Word. These deists may be very involved in church life but they are prone to think of God’s work as a thing past or perhaps a thing far future, but not as a present reality. People in the grip of practical deism are convinced that Scripture is true but are not sure it is true for them on a daily basis. Somehow, the stories of the Bible seem remote and God seems to have withdrawn. Turning away from the truth that God is unchanging, they may even use phrases like “It is finished” to put all the emphasis on what Jesus has done rather than what Jesus is doing. Committed to the sufficiency of Scripture they turn away from the life of the Spirit. Afraid of becoming too emotionally-driven or too experience-based rather than biblically-based, they are full of light but not warmth. To be sure, Jesus paid it all and what He has done and what Scripture teaches is critical. But God is real. He is alive today. He is still at work every bit as much as He has always been. And we can enter into His life and work in the world today through faith in Christ.

These two approaches to life are deadly to a church and are especially deadly within church leadership. If you have pastors who are practical deists, most of the time you will have a dead church. If you have a deacon body filled with practical atheists, most of the time you will have a divided church.

So let’s search our hearts in prayer and repent of practical atheism and practical deism. Let’s be people of light and warmth, fully committed and wholly devoted, people of the Word which is living and active.

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