Might traditional theological perspectives of God be implicitly deistic?
Let’s not forget that deism argues that God started the world but has since left it to run on its own. God does not involve himself in human affairs.
When we think of deity has mainly to do with “what” God is, we might also too sharply separate the physical world and God’s realm. However, Rev 21–22 and Isa 65–65 are strong reminders that our ultimate hope is for the union of earth and heaven, i.e. God’s throne room (cf. Ps 11:4; Isa 66:1).
Many traditional apologetics and theologies create this sort of perspective when they dichotomize the “material” world and “spiritual” things. Similarly, when we say the Bible represents human nature and divine nature as different “substances,” we create our own apologetic problems and Christ’s nature becomes an apparent logical contradiction.
God enters our world!
By contrast, what happens when we see deity in terms of “divine identity” (my second post in the series)? Our exegetical problems go away and we stumble on to fresh insights.
For example, Richard Bauckham directs our attention to Phil 2:8–11
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It is precisely because of Christ’s humility as a human that he receives the praise due only to the one true God. Notice the “therefore” in the sequence of thought.
Recall that one distinctive of the “divine identity” is that God engages in the things of our world!
We need to heed this warning: Traditional Christian assumptions about “deity” (being primarily about substance) may subtly oppose the Bible’s view of God.
I have a few questions for you.
Even if, philosophically speaking, there is a “material” difference between deity and non-deity, is it worth sacrificing the biblical emphasis on God’s divine identity?
What do you think?
Do we create our own apologetic problems?