Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

I’ve heard Al Mohler refer to today’s general and generic understanding of Christianity (by Christian adolescents and young adults) as “moralistic therapeutic deism,” using the terminology of sociologist Christian Smith in his 2005 Soul Searching: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. I had not seen the key points of how Smith understood this concept until today, and they are worth considering as reflecting how the next generation (I brush broadly!) thinks. How does our church’s teaching and preaching support or (hopefully) deny this collection of points?

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 resolve a problem.

5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

(Christian Smith, Soul Searching: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005], 162-63. Quoted in R. Albert Mohler Jr., We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong [Kindle edition; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015], 146).

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