What is Deism?


What is deism?


Deism is derived from the Latin, "deus," meaning "god." It believes that a supreme being created the universe, but does not interfere directly with it. Similar to a watchmaker, their supreme being merely created its clock, wound it up, and let it go. Essentially, their god is transcendent (very far), but not immanent (very close). Thomas Paine, a deist, wrote:

In like manner of reasoning, everything we behold carries in itself evidence that it did not make itself. Every man is an evidence to himself, that he did not make himself ; neither could any tree, plant, or animal make itself; and it is the conviction arising from this evidence, that carries us on, as it were, by necessity, to the belief of a first cause eternally existing, of a nature totally different to any material existence we know of, and by the power of which all things exist; and this first cause, man calls God (Age of Reason, pg. 70).

Deism is based on nature and reason. It considers itself a natural religion as opposed to a revealed religion, such as Christianity. They do not have ministers or priests, rather they consider themselves freethinkers. The supreme being just created everything including its laws, but allows nature to work itself out. They do not believe their supreme being takes care of the universe, interacts with it, or has any type relationship with its creatures.

Though modern deists exist, deism became more influential during the Enlightenment (17th and 18th centuries). It encouraged the spread of the cult of Freemasonary and led many to worship science. Atheism and deism have many things in common.

Deism is not a biblical doctrine. Their god is not the God of the Bible. Though a deists beliefs may vary, generally: (1) they deny the doctrine of the Trinity, which Christianity affirms (2) they reject the biblical redemption secured at the Cross by Jesus for his people (cf. Col 2:13-14); (3) though some deists believe that Jesus was a real person and very good, they disagree with the deity of Christ (cf. John 1:1-2); (4) they believe that miracles are not necessary real, rational religion (cf. Acts 4:30); (5) they disavow the inspiration of Scripture (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17); and (6) they believe that neither Satan or Hell exists (cf. Matt 25:41). Some deists such as Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778 A.D.) attack the biblical teaching of the Fall of man (cf. Gen. 3).

Well-known deists include: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, John Locke, Jules Verne, Leonardo de Vinci, Mark Twain, Napoleon Bonaparte, Neil Armstrong, and serval others.

Those in Deism need Christ. See "Is Jesus the ONLY WAY to Heaven?" below.


[1] Beth Houston, Natural God: Deism in the Age of Intelligent Design, (New Deism Press, 2013).
[2] Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason - Thomas Paine (Writings of Thomas Paine), (Merchant Books, 2010).
[3] Bob Johnson, Deism: A Revolution in Religion, a Revolution in You, (World Union of Deists, 2009).
[4] N. L. Frothingham, Deism or Christianity? Four discourses, (Leopold Classic Library, 2015).

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).