Moralistic Therapeutic Deism--the New American Religion

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Revmitchell, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    When Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."

    As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these: 1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth." 2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions." 3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself." 4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem." 5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."......

    .....This is an important missiological observation--a point of analysis that goes far beyond sociology. As Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton explained, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism "is about inculcating a moralistic approach to life. It teaches that central to living a good and happy life is being a good, moral person. That means being nice, kind, pleasant, respectful, responsible, at work on self-improvement, taking care of one's health, and doing one's best to be successful." In a very real sense, that appears to be true of the faith commitment, insofar as this can be described as a faith commitment, held by a large percentage of Americans. These individuals, whatever their age, believe that religion should be centered in being "nice"--a posture that many believe is directly violated by assertions of strong theological conviction.

    Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is also "about providing therapeutic benefits to its adherents." As the researchers explained, "This is not a religion of repentance from sin, of keeping the Sabbath, of living as a servant of sovereign divinity, of steadfastly saying one's prayers, of faithfully observing high holy days, of building character through suffering, of basking in God's love and grace, of spending oneself in gratitude and love for the cause of social justice, et cetera. Rather, what appears to be the actual dominant religion among U.S. teenagers is centrally about feeling good, happy, secure, at peace. It is about attaining subjective well-being, being able to resolve problems, and getting along amiably with other people."

    More Here
     
  2. ReformedBaptist

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    Many years ago I described the sermons in the seeker-friendly/sensitive churches as "self-help" sermons. Sounds like I wasn't too far off...
     
  3. ReformedBaptist

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    Thanks for posting that link. I read through some of the intro and conclusion off of the look inside feature on amazon...and snagged a copy. Thanks!
     
  4. SolaSaint

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    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 2 Tim 4:3. Paul well knew this 2000 years ago. RB you are right this started along time ago and the seeker sensitive stuff is where it flourished.

    It doesn't surprise me though, if you look at what our kids have been taught in our colleges and seminaries from liberal profs. in the likes of Bart Erhman. If our kids don't believe there is absolute truth in God's word then anything will do. What is the standard for our kids?
     
  5. Dale-c

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    Michael Horton has talked a lot about this on the White Horse Inn.
     
  6. ReformedBaptist

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    Very true. As a result of the lack of knowlege our people perish. The hope is Christ Jesus and His Gospel. And with that is teaching them everything He commanded us. I believe this can rest upon the shoulders of pastors/elders and the teachers of our churches. We must teach them, and especially fathers. Thomas Manton once said, 'The family is the seminary of church and state.' That statement can be taken in many way, but certainly one way is that parents, especially fathers, need to teach their homes by doctine and example.

    If our children are not going to recieve a Christ-centered Gospel in our churches, seminaries, colleges, and schools, then they must recieve it in the home. Moreover, it the primary place they must receive it.

    I am not sure if the study above was done by Christians. It appears not to me, but I am not sure. But one true thing they noted, and we all would do well to take to heart, is that the most influencial person in a child's life is their parents. Above teachers, pastors, youth pastors, grandparents, aunts or uncles, et. THe people that shape our children the most are the parents.

    If anything that this study reveals as true, it certainly shows that in general, the parents of America are not raising their children in the fear of God. Have we become as Christian parents as Eli?

    I will have a teen this year. I intend to read this book and learn what is affecting teens in general. But in the main I will hit my knees and beg God's mercy and grace and wisdom to raise my children to fear God and keep His commandments.
     
  7. SolaSaint

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    Just this week me and my wife have decided to start a home Bible study with our family (her mother and step father, our daughter), hopefully we will get our unchurched family members to come also. We can't get them to come to churches in our area and even if we could they are so water-down on the gospel I wouldn't want them come. Maybe we all need to start at home and build from there. I have lost confidence in the church in general. We still plan on attending worship services. Please pray that we can make an impact on our family. Thanks
     
  8. Revmitchell

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    Let me say first that there are a lot of churches out their that are still holding to the pure and undefiled gospel, working to make disciples rather than just pew sitters. Reaching out to the lost, the hurting, the lonely and the sick.

    But when we are in an area as you describe, and I am quite sure their are those pockets, then we need godly men such as yourself to do just as you are talking about. May God be with you and your family and may you glorify God in the hearts of all men you meet. God Bless
     
  9. nodak

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    I so agree.

    So many of the study Bibles, Bible study books and courses, and other helps available are now just mining the scripture for aphorisms.

    Makes me want to break every cup I find with Jer. 29:11 printed on the side with some sappy sentiment how God really wants us all healthy, wealthy, and most of all happy and loving ourselves.
     
  10. Revmitchell

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    It will be ok
     
  11. saturneptune

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    There are lots of churches that preach the Gospel in its pure form. The pattern of the article you posted IMO has developed over some period of time. One of the problems is exactly what you mentioned above, the pew sitter. They interpret the verses in Psalms, "I will not be moved" in an entirely wrong way.

    The other problem that has lead to this is gimmics to attract new members or converts. Instead of doing leg work on visitation, or asking people about their salvation, some churches come up with "programs" or "activities" so the pew sitters can sit more. The earliest form of this in my memory was "pack a pew Sunday," "high attendance Sunday," or "pot luck Sunday." Even the revivals that everyone planned for with advertisements, planned meals, bringing in special singers seemed not to work really well. Maybe some of that is that we forgot to pray.

    That has evolved to recreational centers and social activities to attact people to modern day churches. So since this is mostly a creation of our generation, and maybe the one after, it is not surprising that the average teen thinks that Chrisitanity is described as above. The bottom line is that the difference between the Gospel and this other named idea is that Jesus is left out.

    Do not get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with specific ministries for whatever the need is, whether it is single teen mothers, people battling drug and alcohol abuse, dads trying to be responsible to their families, or whatever, but that must be in addition to the Gospel and Scripture in its purest form.

    Maybe I have my words wrong, but it seems to me replacing Jesus Christ with a social program is a mockery of a Holy God.
     
  12. nodak

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    In many places I believe the churches have totally lost their focus.

    Focus used to be Jesus Christ and Him crucified. When you do that, there is also collateral focus on the salvation of the individual from hell.

    Now the focus is often on the worshipper. We are more concerned with how they feel, whether or not they like our parking lot and children's program, and how can we best transform their lives or our culture into good moral feel good people. Individual salvation is almost a dirty word in some quarters.

    But the only way for people to find peace and contentment or to change a society is the salvation of individuals.

    So just maybe we need to go back to a focus on presenting the truths about Jesus Christ and seeking the salvation of sinners rather than the comforting of "good" people. Especially since the scripture says there are none good.
     
  13. gb93433

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    I have been in areas where it is much like you describe and I find that when people find the real deal they will commit themselves. I have not had much success in areas where everyone goes to church and cultural Christianity is present.
     
  14. gb93433

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    How many churches do you know of that send the congregation out two by two as Jesus did?


    I think the problem is that too often those things are separated when they should be together.

    James 2:14-17, "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself."

    How can a Christian live by not living?

    The groups of churches which are growing the fastest are often dealing with poor people.

    There seems to be something that happens when one gives himself to others beyond just a wallet.
     
  15. saturneptune

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    Our church sends out two by two. Also, no one has said that the two should be seperated. We are here to spread the Gospel. That does not equate to not helping the poor. The two should both be practiced.
     

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