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I have led plenty of church services in which people came, yawned their way through the hour, and scooted out the door to more exciting activities. I believe I know why.

Earlier in my pastoral ministry, I majored on the transcendence of God, emphasizing his holy otherness. I described the sacraments as "mere symbol" and believed that only at the eschaton would the kingdom of God dawn. Nevertheless, I began to sense I was catering only half a meal to my congregation.

I realized that people in our culture, me included, were yearning for God's immanence: his real, manifested, experienced presence. Theologically, I knew that he is present everywhere at all times, but I also knew that we didn't sense his presence as much as we would like.

I had to admit that I had been talking like a theist but acting like a deist: praying but not expecting God to truly come. Being a functioning deist takes a lot of pressure off-once you learn to preach a sermon, once you learn to run a service, pastoring is no ...

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