New Religion?

Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton have written a book about the spiritual condition of American youth titled Soul Searching: The Religious And Spiritual Lives Of American Teenagers. In their studies they found that most American teens live a religion they call “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” This “religion” is defined by these traits:

  1. A God exists who created and orders 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 solve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

Here is my question for you: How is this different from the way you understand and practice Christianity? When I first read these 5 points, my first thought was, “That sounds like a lot of church members I know and have known!”

I will tell you plainly, this is NOT Christianity! For one thing, Jesus isn’t mentioned in or necessary for Moral Therapeutic Deism.

So, I ask again: How is this different from the way you understand and practice Christianity?

2 thoughts on “New Religion?

  1. Thanks for the information. I am going to ask my youth group what they think. I would hope that most people in my congregtion would says that Jesus Christ is necessary and essential.

    I’ll post my findings. New Jersey is a different cultural context than Texas. Pondering Perfection

  2. Steve –

    This gets me thinking. I would argue that the four “pegs” on which Christianity hangs are these:

    1. The Incarnation (think Orthodoxy);
    2. The Cross (think Roman Catholicism);
    3. The Resurrection (all Christian traditions); and
    4. The Second Coming – neglected by all in 2005?

    From what I can see, none of these figures in the “Moral Therapeutic Deism” you reference.

    – Greg Crofford

    P.S. — Thanks for the blogroll listing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s