God as the Clockmaker: Thinking Through Deism and an Active God

Next week, I travel to Lincoln, NE to attend a Candidacy Summit for ordination candidates in the Great Plains conference. This will be a great opportunity to learn and fellowship and connect with others who are on the same journey I am on right now.

In order to afford the expense of this trip while living on a single income, I set up a GoFundMe page to raise money. Earlier today, I easily rolled past the goal I had set. The gifts I received from so many are wonderful and gladly accepted. It’s heartening to know all the support I have as I begin this new phase of life.

I want to meditate here for just a minute on the blessing from God that this money really is, and how I reconcile that in my mind.

My understanding of the active nature of God generally falls along the “Clockmaker” line of thinking. (I have in fact self-identified as a deist in the past.) In my view, God set up an orderly, rational universe that moves according to the laws of nature as initiated by God. God wants us to understand the world around us, so that we might not live in fear and darkness, so he lets the world run according to nature. He may not cause hurricanes, but he doesn’t stop them either, and he has given us brains and abilities to be able to avoid and survive the worst nature has to offer.

(I don’t, however, subscribe to the traditional clockmaker doctrine of predestination. God set the world into motion, but gave us free will to act. We have bearing upon the operation of the clock, and can but positively and negatively influence it’s operation. “Clock” refers to the world we live in. This is convoluted, I know. I’m not the most coherent theologian yet. I’ll get there.)

Let me explain. I don’t say this to mean God is uninterested and checked out on human kind. Quite the contrary. I believe he is intimately concerned with us and our actions. But I don’t think God actively interferes in the day-to-day happenings of out lives. I don’t think God magically “heals” the sick from heaven, or pushes our car a little farther forward to avoid the oncoming semi. I think a God who would do these things is a sick God. Because everyday millions of people suffer and die from illness, car wrecks, poverty, war, and a million other reasons. Thus, a God who chooses to save some but refuse to act in the case of others is a cold-hearted God who is anything but “all-merciful.”

So in the past, I abstained from crediting any earthly happening to the hand of God.

But I’m starting to acknowledge some nuance in my view.

This money that I have received is truly an example God providing, of God making something that seemed impossible, possible, in an active way. Without these donations, I could not go to Lincoln and continue on my journey of ordination. But, through trusting in the goodness of others inspired by the spirit of charity that God imbues in us all, I can make the trip. Through this, God has led me to the proper path for my life.

Think of it in contrast to past attempts at fundraising on my part. As many of you know, last year, I briefly campaigned for elected office in Oklahoma. “Campaigning” mostly consisted of making phone calls asking people for money. I was terrible at this. I didn’t raise much money at all. I was awkward and uncomfortable and needless to say, didn’t pursue campaigning for very long. Fundraising in that way is not a gift I have.

And that is a commentary on God leading me in life. I was created and born with certain gifts and abilities. As I grow and learn and realize who I am, I awaken to those gifts and abilities and recognize my proper place in the world. And that has lead me to ministry.

To say that God played no active part in this guidance is to deny the existence of God.

God may not have reached into people’s bank account and moved money. He didn’t whisper in my ear saying “You should go into ministry.” But God’s mark is all over my journey. And that is the true essence of a “Great Clockmaker.” Even in things that seems completely disassociated from any mention of God, God’s touch is still present in the very existence of those things.

Thanks again to everyone who donated, and keep an eye out here for my thoughts and experiences during the Candidacy Summit next Friday and Saturday in Lincoln.

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4 thoughts on “God as the Clockmaker: Thinking Through Deism and an Active God

  1. Having just completed by Candidacy Summit here in the EOC, I can feel where you came from with this post. Luckily for me, I had my wife to watch our boys while I was gone. We also live on her income alone, so it was not too hard of a financial burden.

    I like the idea of the Clockmaker. God being active without actually having to move us around like pieces on a chessboard is something I can hold onto. It makes more sense to think of God in this way for the exact reason you stated above.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Like

  2. Pingback: The Immanence of God – Justin DaMetz

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