What Is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism?

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What is Christianity? That is a good question we need to ask ourselves. So take moment. Answer that question for yourself. What do you think Christianity is?

Now notice something about your answer. Does your answer revolve around you or does it revolve around God?

Dr. Albert Mohler reported on his podcast “The Briefing” just this morning:

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 ones self.” 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.”

That, in sum, is the creed to which much adolescent faith can be reduced. After conducting more than 3,000 interviews with American adolescents, the researchers reported that, when it came to the most crucial questions of faith and beliefs, many adolescents responded with a shrug and “whatever.” (http://www.albertmohler.com/2005/04/11/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion-2/).

What is Christianity all about? Is it about you? Is it about others? Or is it about God? Well certainly all three groups play an important role in that answer. But the “you” and the “others” in the answer only fit in the discussion if God is at the center. The problem with Moral Therapeutic Deism is that it is incredibly self centered. God is only on the outskirts of that theology. Christianity has God at center. All things radiate around God.

It is not as though God does not care about mankind—John 3:16. God sent his Son, and inspired his word that our “joy may be full” (John 15:11) and so we might enjoy the abundant life to its fullest (John 10:10). But what is best for us? Is the best thing to be full of ourselves or to be full of God?

 Remember that the Bible tells us what life is all about— “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Psalm 37:4 tells us to “delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The importance of God is to be demonstrated by our zeal for his work and his church. Matthew 13:44 says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

In order for our lives to be the best they can possibly be, we must place God in the center. Only when we are with God are we at our best. Psalm 16:11 reminds us, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Paul lived that Christ centered life. He wrote, “Indeed, I count all things as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Because Paul lived that life, he wrote, “henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” God was at the center of his life. That center demonstrated itself in dedicated service to the church. Paul lived life to the fullest.

I hope we can sing and live out the words to the song “Be Thou My Vision” which say:

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”

 

 

Author: D. L. DeBord

I am a Christian who is blessed with a great family and I have been entrusted with the sacred work of preaching His Gospel. BA, MA, and M.Div. from Freed-Hardeman University. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Theology from Midwestern Seminary. Teaching, preaching, and training others to do the same.

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