How to Share the Gospel With a Deist
A Deist holds to a worldview that believes there is a God, but that He’s not knowable and doesn’t involve Himself today in what happens in the world. Deists sometimes think of God as a “watchmaker.” In this analogy, the world is like a watch that is running down. Long ago, God (the watchmaker) designed the world (the watch), wound it up and then walked away.
The Deist worldview varies some with each individual, but at the core are some commonly held beliefs that were shaped from a variety of sources such as their observations of nature, human reason, religious background, personal friends and family background.
At the heart of Deism is rational thought, individualism, self-expression, self-effort and self-gratification. Tolerance is important to the Deist, so they see most all religions, lifestyles, sexual preferences, etc. as equally valuable and valid.
Many people with Deist beliefs may have never actually heard of the term “Deist.” They unknowingly hold to the basic Deist belief that there is a God, but he isn’t personal or knowable.
Questions You Can Ask
- What’s your spiritual background?
- What do you base your view of God on?
- Why are you excited about Deism?
- Do you ever talk about your beliefs with others who see things the same way or do you feel pretty isolated when it comes to your religion?
- How would your view of God change if you found out He loved you and was intimately involved with your life?
- What purpose does good and evil serve in the world based on your Deistic worldview?
- Given the belief in Deism that God is an uninvolved observer, do you ever feel like He has abandoned His creation, including us humans?
- How do you feel about a God who abandons His creation?
- What do you think happens after we die?
- Who do you think Jesus was?
- What do you think of Jesus’ claim that He was God and the way back to God?
Areas You Can Admire
- Their belief in the existence of God.
- Their commitment to reason and logic.
- Their belief that God wants us to be good people.
- Their desire to think for themselves.
What A Deist Believes
About Their Typical Worldview:
The Deist believes God gave humans the ability to reason and that He wants us to be good people. They feel that by using reason, they can live a moral life that will get them what they want without hurting others.
This person believes in God, but they see Him as distant, unknowable and uninvolved in human affairs.
About the Trinity:
The Deist thinks the concept of the Trinity makes no sense, so they don’t believe in it.
Deists believe that Jesus was a nice guy who said a lot of important things. However, they don’t know if He is the Son of God, or really what that even means.
About the Bible:
A Deist believes the Bible is a good book that should be treated with a certain amount of respect. They don’t take the Bible too seriously, though, because that’s what turns people into intolerant extremists. Deists generally pick and choose what parts of the Bible are true – like the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.
About the Afterlife:
This person may or may not believe in an afterlife where there is a heaven and hell. If they do believe in hell, the only people who go there are really bad people like murderers and rapists.
A Deist may or may not believe in heaven, but if they do, they likely think that someone gets there by having more good deeds than bad at the end of his/her life.
What the Bible Teaches
God identified Himself as “I Am” (Exodus 20:2) – meaning He is the self-existent (never had a beginning or end) eternal Creator of the universe. He is both loving AND holy, meaning He will judge sin (2 Timothy 4:1).
About the Trinity:
There is one God and yet three Persons (Isaiah 45:5; Deuteronomy 6:4; James 2:19). The Trinity is true whether or not it makes sense.
Jesus is fully God and fully man, He is the God of the universe (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58; 10:30. Compare Titus 2:13 and Isaiah 45:21), and His death on the cross completely paid for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). He was ‘nice’ when He lived on earth, but He was also sad, passionate, angry, tired, loving, and yes, even righteously judgmental of the stuck up religious people.
About the Bible:
The Bible alone is the word of God and is absolute truth. It is without error. It cannot and should not be added to or subtracted from (2 Timothy 3:16-4:4; Revelation 22:18-20), and it is also the ultimate authority on spiritual matters. Every word of it is inspired by God, so you can’t just pick and choose what you ‘think’ is true.
About the Afterlife:
Those who trust in Christ alone as their only hope of salvation spend eternity in heaven; those who reject Christ spend an eternity in hell (John 5:24-30; Revelation 20:11-15). There will be many ‘bad’ people who trusted Christ and will be in heaven, and there will be many ‘good’ people who lived a great life but never trusted Christ who will be in hell.
Salvation is by faith in Christ ALONE on the basis of His death on the cross. (John 3:16-17, 36; 6:29, 47; Romans 4:1-5; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5) Good works are a natural result of our salvation, but they have nothing to do with our salvation. Sincerity is not the qualification for salvation…truth is – and Jesus claimed He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one gets into heaven except through Him (John 14:6). There are other religions who are sincere, but they are sincerely wrong.
Things to Remember
The best route to take with a Deist friend is to first get them to see the inconsistencies and contradictions in their worldview. This is best done by asking penetrating questions like:
- Every major religion contradicts the others on major issues like who God is and how we get to heaven, so how can they all be right?
- If getting into heaven is a matter of being good and sincere, why did Jesus come to earth, die on the Cross, and come back from the dead?
- There are many areas in the physical life where there are absolute truths, like mathematics and science, so why wouldn’t there be absolute truth in the spiritual world?
Also, your personal salvation story (how you came to know Jesus) will be helpful in helping establish the credibility of your message.
For Further Research
- Pick up a copy of Greg Stier’s book Dare 2 Share Field Guide
- Check out Got Questions? website.