Which branch(es) of Christianity takes the stance that there is a God who creates all things but once the creation is here on this earth, does not intervene?

I heard an argument between coworkers that the Christian founding fathers of the United States had similar beliefs but not sure as there is a lot of debate there.

Also heard this position in the scientific community and am wondering if there are Christian denominations that hold this view and how popular it really is ?

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  • Personally, if God doesn't ever intervene for us nor before, then Christianity is pointless because we would all be on a train to Hell, since Jesus let us have our sins be forgiven, not any good work we do. May 27 '18 at 22:55
  • Non intervening Gods are almost by definition not the Christian or Jewish God. The old testament and the new testament both literally detail divine interventions.
    – TKoL
    Sep 14 at 14:54

The idea of a God that set things in motion but does not, and has not intervened since is a concept central to Deism.

The view has a long history, and has had a few supporters, but is not by any means the predominant view within Christianity. Deists also reject the notion of divine revelation, including Scripture. It's not necessarily a Christian concept, but there are people who might self-define as Deists and also as Christians. They would, however, be more likely to have more in common with "Christian Atheists" than with mainstream Christians. Rather than seeing Christ as the Son of God, or as God Incarnate, they'd see him as a good moral teacher.

There are a few sites on Christian Deism in the 'net including this one,

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    As for the Founding Fathers being Deists, I'm not so sure that's not revisionist history. There's a good refutation based on rather sound, careful logic here: christiancapitalism.net/were-the-founding-fathers-deists But I'm not enough of an expert in U.S. history to know how sound this idea is. I tend to buck against the idea of appealing to authority (except Scriptural authority) in determining Truth, and can therefore hold to unpopular/unorthodox views. The article could be wayyyy off-base on the Founding Fathers, but it look sound to me. Dec 12 '12 at 5:34
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    broken link in the article above. Here's another: patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/… Dec 12 '12 at 12:53
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    I strongly disagree that the George Washington and Franklin were not Diests, they were in fact Diests.
    – user1054
    Dec 13 '12 at 21:28
  • @DavidStratton: the link to Christian Diests is really interesting, looks legit. Dec 15 '12 at 1:20

The term you are looking for is 'Deism'. It says there is a God, but doesn't say that he does much. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson in particular, and several of the Foubding Fathers were in fact Deists, leading Benjamin Franklin to the aphorism, "God helps them who help themselves".

1 Peter, by the way, mentions that in the last days, there will come scoffers saying that since the Creation, God has essentially fallen asleep. Much of the Bible seems to indicate that God is a present and active force, leading many to call Deism non-Christian.

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    A strong case can be made that Lincoln was a deist for most, if not all, of his life. Dec 12 '12 at 1:30
  • @AffableGeek: It appears Deism is not really Christian. Are there any self-proclaimed Christian denominations with similar beliefs? Dec 12 '12 at 22:46
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    As stated, most Christians would not call it Christian. Many Deists, however, such as the examples noted above, thought of themselves as Christians. It isn't so much a denomational label as a movement, much like 'Evangelical'. Dec 12 '12 at 23:14
  • @AffableGeek: I see...never thought of these as a "movement" but that sounds right....I'm learning.... Dec 13 '12 at 19:56

Usually Deist, but there are other less popular forms of Christianity that Orthodox and Heterodox folks would both probably label as heresy. For instance the "Paradox" Christians, who often cite Paul in Romans 7:

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

And those who practice Christianity as a life-philosophy without what they regard as childish superstitions. To a degree, that was Einstein's view, and also Thomas Jefferson's view. Einstein professed a belief in the "God of Spinoza" many times, but also said:

The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

Thomas Jefferson wrote one book in his life- and I'm not including his penchant for cutting up Bibles and re-assembling them into stories about Jesus as "authoring a book". (only one of those survived, which is what people mean by "Thomas Jefferson's Bible".)

Anyway, in the book that he wrote, he describes the sublime geology of a land that he visited- I believe in America- and specifically alludes to the idea that it must have taken a long time for the features of that land to form. I think this contradicted the understanding of most Christians at the time- who believed that the world was 6000-10000 years old, or was created in 7 "normal days" - with the mountains and oceans sort of plopped down as they are now instead of carved by natural forces, such as the earth's mantle crumpling up near the tectonic plates.

(He was absolutely correct- I mean at least if you aren't a young-earth creationist. Who I think believe that dinosaur bones were placed in the earth by God in order specifically to deceive us and send as many people as possible to Hell.)

In any case, he was called an atheist because of those implications, and lost so much political capital that he faced what may have been a very real threat of being burnt alive at the stake by Puritans who escaped Europe and England to avoid that sort of thing. (Some history sites like Encyclopedia Britannica say that is a false narrative, and that the early Americans largely just hated British and European life because it was too city-like, with not enough open space, and making money was too hard.) Regardless, his Christianity had been questioned, and he had to prove himself in the eyes of many of his peers again. I am guessing this is why he kept his "Bible clipping projects" secret.

I've read alot of discussions of what his faith would best be labeled as, and there are actually good arguments for about 3 o 4 different answers- probably the most convincing argument for Deist, but others had decent evidence (like letters he wrote, that he probably thought would have been kept private) supporting them.

I think Deism is under-rated, because it can be used as a way to get atheists and agnostics interested in Jesus without making "wild claims" about Jesus being Divine, or God - and instead "just" the most wise and moral human ever to have lived.

Sorry about the long answer. I'm new here. :)

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