Neo-Deism is different from Classical Deism in many ways. However, while each deist practices their deism a little differently, there are some general headings that we can review. What follows is not an all-encompassing definition by the way. Instead, consider it a general overview.
While there are a lot of little differences, we are going to focus on some of the major differences. For instance, Classical Deists tend to follow something called Lord Herbert’s “Five Articles”. These are five essentials to the Classical Deist’s belief system today and something that influenced many of the Deist’s of the 17th and 18th Century.
These “Five Articles” include:
- (1) a belief in the existence of the Deity,
- (2) the obligation to reverence such a power,
- (3) the identification of worship with practical morality,
- (4) the obligation to repent of sin and to abandon it, and,
- (5) divine recompense (great reward from God) in this world and the next.
Yes, Neo-Deism believes in the existence of a deity, however, it is a Neo-Deist’s belief that there is no “obligation” to respect the power as there is no observation from that deity. There are various (though extremely non-uniformed) forms of “worship” or observation within the Neo-Deism community but on a similar note, there is also no obligation to repent. Sure, a Neo-Deist would feel bad when he or she infringed upon the Rights of another, but it is not done for the acceptance of God. Finally, a great reward from God in any world implies an involved God. Neo-Deists simply do not believe in this due to what is known about the Trinion Contradictions.
The Trinion Contradictions is another element that sets Classical and Neo Deists apart. Some Classical deists believe in a “lightly involved” deity. Neo-Deists tend to reject this idea in its entirety because of what the Trinion demonstrates. It is unclear at this time how many Classical Deists subscribe to the idea of the Trinion, but reference to it in Classical circles has been hard to come by.
Classical Deists of the 17th and 18th Centuries (as well as today) sometimes assert that one could have a relationship with God to a certain extent. Some have even gone as far as to suggest that God could communicate with a person individually (a personal God). Also, because of the Trinion, Neo-Deists tend to believe that such interactions are either impossible or improbable.
This is also what separates a Neo-Deist from a Modern Deist. Modern Deists loosely follow the “Five Articles” and believe that God probably interacts with the universe on some level. Some extremes of Modern Deism demonstrate a belief in a God that has an interventionist hand in human affairs as well as having a belief in some sort of heaven or hell. Neo-Deists tend to reject the idea of intervention entirely and do not believe in a “heaven and hell” at all. That being said, there is a strong similarity between Modern Deism and Neo-Deism on one very specific topic: they both set out on their own paths because generally speaking, Classical Deists seem to be much less tolerant to new or different ideas.
Something to note, however, is the study conducted by the Neo-Deist. While a Neo-Deist does not necessarily subscribe to the Classical Deist’s points, a Neo-Deist will study the foundations of Deism in the effort to better understand deism as a whole. It is generally the practice of a Neo-Deist to continually study, challenge, and share, as it is believed that only through information exchange can we advance ourselves and future generations.