National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology


Theism is a belief system centered around the existence of one or more deities or gods. Theists believe that these deities are responsible for the creation and maintenance of the universe, and that they have the power to intervene in human affairs. Theism is often contrasted with atheism, which is the belief that there is no god or gods, and with agnosticism, which is the belief that the existence or non-existence of a deity or deities is unknown or unknowable.

Theism can take many forms, depending on the specific religion or belief system in question. Some of the most well-known theistic religions include Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Each of these religions has its own unique beliefs and practices, but they all share a belief in one or more divine beings.

Theism has been a subject of philosophical debate for centuries, with proponents and critics offering a wide range of arguments for and against the existence of God or gods.

Some arguments for the existence of God include the:

Cosmological argument, which posits that the universe must have had a cause or creator -cause and effect: (Thomas Aquinas)

* Something caused the universe (the only other option is that nothing caused the universe).

* It has to be either a divine being or chance. We must believe in the eternal existence of something.

Teleological argument, which suggests that the complexity and order of the natural world are evidence of an intelligent designer – argument from purpose. There is an
observable order or design in the universe, which argues for an intelligent designer. A design requires a designer. (Thomas Aquinas)

The anthropological (or moral) argument – or the nature of man (Immanuel Kant).

Arguments against the existence of God include:

The problem of evil, which questions how a benevolent deity could allow suffering and injustice in the world, and

The argument from inconsistency, which suggests that many religious beliefs and practices are inconsistent or contradictory.

A. Four different possibilities about the existence of a Divine Being:

1. Supernatural power(s) – one of many gods (polytheism).

2. The existence of only one God. May be personal or impersonal, active
or inactive.

a. Monotheism

b. Pantheism – God in everything/everything is God

c. Deism – Transcendent but not immanent.

3. A personal God – Transcendent and immanent who exists in one person. This is theism of Judaism, Islam and universalism.

4. A personal God both immanent and transcendent, who exists in three personal personalities (Christianity).