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Thread: Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

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    Senior Member Paul DeBaufer's Avatar

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    Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

    On the prayer thread there is prayer for a school who was sued by a 16 year old girl to have a prayer removed from the wall of the school. In the linked article we learn that the girl was baptized and raised Roman Catholic. However, when she was 10 her mother fell ill and the child lost her faith in God. I think that this is very sad, much worse than the prayer being removed.

    My question, then, is what does it say about what is being taught about God that a 10 year old loses "faith" and becomes an atheist when her mom falls ill?

    I think that I agree with Bonhoeffer and Rollins that God has become a deus ex machina within modern Christianity. Which, I further believe, leads to a moralistic therapeutic deism.
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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

    It says we teach a wrong concept of God. I too agree with Bonhoeffer and Rollins at this point. In fact, my last sermon was meant to contradict such a view of God.
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    Senior Member Jon Bemis's Avatar

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    Re: Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

    I think it's another example of the belief that "God can only be my god if he behaves the way I want him to."
    Loving God . . . Loving others.

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    Senior Member Paul DeBaufer's Avatar

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    Re: Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Bemis View Post
    I think it's another example of the belief that "God can only be my god if he behaves the way I want him to."
    I'm not disagreeing, but do you find that within the church catholic in the last century we have taught that God is there to give us meaning, to solve our problems, that we are led to bring Him out when we have problems so that He can solve them for us? Because IF this has been what we've been taught, even if only very subtly, then the condition you state has been, in actuality over time, taught to us.
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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul DeBaufer View Post
    My question, then, is what does it say about what is being taught about God that a 10 year old loses "faith" and becomes an atheist when her mom falls ill?

    I think that I agree with Bonhoeffer and Rollins that God has become a deus ex machina within modern Christianity. Which, I further believe, leads to a moralistic therapeutic deism.
    Could you explain the bolded part? I am not familiar with either authors books well enough to understand their connection to your first sentence.

    My thoughts on your question are that just because one is baptized and raised _________ doesn't mean that there will be uniformity of being raised well into the faith. How the parents live out their faith in a daily walk differs from family to family. Plus, is there much healthy modeling of the faith outside of the parents? It is also up to the individual to choose. I grew up in a Christian home but it was still up to me at age 10 to feed my curiousity about the Bible enough to want to read it voraciously. If my mother had died at that time I may not done so.
    Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18a


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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul DeBaufer View Post
    I'm not disagreeing, but do you find that within the church catholic in the last century we have taught that God is there to give us meaning, to solve our problems, that we are led to bring Him out when we have problems so that He can solve them for us? Because IF this has been what we've been taught, even if only very subtly, then the condition you state has been, in actuality over time, taught to us.
    Thankfully, while hearing the above alot, I do also recall hearing from the pulpit when I was a child that salvation is not about God taking away all our problems but about God helping us work through our problems and struggles. But I could have used more preaching on this. I didn't hear this again until I was an adult and in the midst of serious struggles. That was when a guest speaker at church taught that being a Christian will also increase some of one's struggles [ie. persecuation].
    Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18a


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    Thanks Paul DeBaufer, Benjamin Burch - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Todd Erickson's Avatar

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    Re: Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

    The observation, which Rollin's works out at length in the first chapter of "Insurrection", is that God can fulfill a couple of roles in popular religion.

    1. God is the one who, no matter what happens in life, will always love us absolutely. This is important, because what we desire in those that we desire is that they would always absolutely desire us. As we grow up, we find that our parents, our loved ones, etc. do not absolutely love us... we are one of many things for/to them. But God will always love us unconditionally and absolutely. (while this may be true, we need to be careful what we allow this to permit)

    2. God can be the deus ex machina in our lives. No matter how bad things get, there's a chance that if we pray hard enough, or long enough, or God just wants to, that God will step in and make everything better. Christian folk theology in fact depends on this fact, that in the end, no matter how bad things get, God will make things better, if only with heaven.

    3. Thus religion becomes the way that we use God as a Crutch (re: Boenhoffer). God solves all of the problems that we have no solution to, he takes care of our worries, he heals our sickness, everything is better in the end because of God. So we don't have to live those things or deal with them, because God will resolve them for us.

    Rollins points out in Chapter two that these conditions flatly contradict identification with Christ on the cross as he is abandoned not only by the church, but in the end by God. If we cannot give up religion, society, even our hold on God, then we cannot see a new, freer, living version of those things...we will always cling to our illusions and our comfort.

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    Senior Member Jon Bemis's Avatar

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    Re: Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul DeBaufer View Post
    I'm not disagreeing, but do you find that within the church catholic in the last century we have taught that God is there to give us meaning, to solve our problems, that we are led to bring Him out when we have problems so that He can solve them for us? Because IF this has been what we've been taught, even if only very subtly, then the condition you state has been, in actuality over time, taught to us.
    I don't think the teaching has been all that subtle in some areas. The "health and wealth", "name it and claim it", and "signs following" movements have all gone down that road IMO. I think that even in our own denomination there has been teaching of a name it and claim it sanctification experience that has contributed to this.
    Loving God . . . Loving others.
    Thanks Todd Erickson, Paul DeBaufer, Steven Burton - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Atheism and Deus Ex Machina

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Erickson View Post
    The observation, which Rollin's works out at length in the first chapter of "Insurrection", is that God can fulfill a couple of roles in popular religion.

    1. God is the one who, no matter what happens in life, will always love us absolutely. This is important, because what we desire in those that we desire is that they would always absolutely desire us. As we grow up, we find that our parents, our loved ones, etc. do not absolutely love us... we are one of many things for/to them. But God will always love us unconditionally and absolutely. (while this may be true, we need to be careful what we allow this to permit).
    It sounds like I am not alone all those times I've been SUPREMELY annoyed when, after telling someone my woes, I get in response "Just remember God loves you more than you'll ever know!!"...[and then will also be punished with a guilt trip when I say that that mentality/phrase has nothing to do with what I saying]?

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Erickson View Post
    2. God can be the deus ex machina in our lives. No matter how bad things get, there's a chance that if we pray hard enough, or long enough, or God just wants to, that God will step in and make everything better. Christian folk theology in fact depends on this fact, that in the end, no matter how bad things get, God will make things better, if only with heaven..
    Ahh...exprerienced that just this week. Someone told me that if I just had more faith in God about my finances, I would buy something that I did not need...but the other felt that I needed. My comments that God wanted me to be more self-disciplined about how I spend my money elicited another lecture [aka guilt trip] about my supposed lack of faith. The kicker though is that this did NOT come from a proponent of health and wealth theology so it caught me off guard. But the desire to control/manipulate others isn't necessarily a H&W thing, but a totally different issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Erickson View Post
    If we cannot give up religion, society, even our hold on God, then we cannot see a new, freer, living version of those things...we will always cling to our illusions and our comfort.
    True dat.
    Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18a


    Become an organ donor ~ donatelife.net ~ www.organdonor.gov
    Thanks Todd Erickson - "thanks" for this post

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