Ecclesial Deism, part two

Ecclesial Deism

I have posted this article before, but it is so good that I’m posting it again. This time, I am going to try to define its central terms. I want to do this because the article is long and extremely complex. Not easy or light reading for sure! The author goes into a lot of detail that is super interesting, but a bit distracting. Even so, he gets to the heart of the matter, and in order to understand him, the most important terms need to be clearly identified and defined. By so doing I think I will be able to convey the argument.

1) Ecclesial means “pertaining to the church.” It comes to us from Greek.

2) A quick summary of the terms “deism” and “theism.”

Deism is the belief that God exists, but he doesn’t care about us. He created us and the whole universe, but leaves us alone to manage our lives on our own.

Theism is the belief that God exists, but he is a personal God who cares deeply for us and for all of creation.

An easy way to remember the difference between deism and theism is in this expression: “God is in control.” That can only be said by somebody who is a theist. A deist would never say such a thing.

3) When we put “ecclesial” together with “deism,” as we see in the link above, we have the idea that an impersonal God created the church but then left her to manage her affairs, her heirarchy, and her authority on her own. An ecclesial deist does not believe that Christ remained in control of his church from her inception, keeping her from error. Since Christ is not in control of the church according to the ecclesial deist, she can fall into error in regards to Christ’s teachings on faith and morals.

4) When we put “ecclesial” together with “theism,” we have the idea that Jesus Christ, who is God, created the church and has always been with her, guiding her and caring for her deeply. He did not ever leave her, but remains with her forever. Like her husband Christ, she is both human and divine. We see the human parts easily; the divine parts are harder to discern. Being perpetually guided by her husband Christ, she has never erred in her teachings on faith and morals.

The author never puts the terms “ecclesial theism,” together in the article, but I think these definitions get to the heart of the matter pretty well.


Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I originally started writing here to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I gradually started writing about the Catholic faith, and the blog probably is more of that at this point. However, there is overlap between the two, since the "shape" of the family is a triangle, which is a reflection of the Holy Family and the Holy Trinity.

8 thoughts on “Ecclesial Deism, part two”

  1. Hi there,
    I too converted in 2012:) I liked your musings on “ecclesial deism”. Relativism about pretty much everything is what’s vogue, but when one finally questions his own presuppositions about the notion of Truth he will be on his way to finding the Pearl of great price. Thank you for addressing things that are the impetus for the search.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A more careful reading of my comments above would not lead one to reply with this false dichotomy. We are talking past each other. I do not want to hijack your thread. Good luck with your blog.


  3. One may opine that your piece above neglects to consider the possibility that the Church men (when they have their own agenda) do not do what Christ wants for the Church as regards faith and morals. The area of morals is a mine field for the Catholic Church because so many of its prohibitions are manmade and are not necessarily on a solid foundation (despite the ominous phrase “this is what the Church teaches”). I no longer argue with Catholics on this. Beware of idolatry as the Church, mystical Body of Christ notwithstanding is not God and is not sovereign. The Catholic Church chose early on, say in the late 4th century (the time of Augustine and Pope Siricius and St. Jerome), a legalistic and authoritarian approach that is understandably questioned by moderns.


      1. You do misunderstand. What I said was that the men who run the Church do not always do what Christ wants for the Church. (You may choose to assert that this is not even possible.)

        As the Church insists on playing moral arbiter over all aspects of the lives of the faithful, it would help everyone – both the prelates at the top of the pyramid and the laity – if the Church were more capable of dealing with moral complexity. Lest you think that this is an attack on the Church, we think that the Catholic Church could become a much more effective force for good in the modern world and be more effective in spreading the Gospel if it would correct itself in some areas. Will this happen? Not likely. The Church strives to maintain the idea, really the belief, that it cannot make any errors in the areas of faith and morals. Thus, admitting to and correcting errors is not going to happen.


        1. “…the men who run the Church do not always do what Christ wants for the Church. (You may choose to assert that this is not even possible.)”

          OK, I think I understand our disagreement better. It appears that we view the Church in different ways:

          A) I see an infallible teaching authority (aka, the magisterium) that stretches in an unbroken line through the bishops going back in time to the Apostles.

          B) You see “men who run the Church.”

          This is a profound difference. Do you agree?


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