Is It All About Us?   Leave a comment

The article I posted on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism came to my attention in a roundabout way, but it spoke to my own concerns for the degradation of American Christianity. You can argue with me if you want, but I think the study was dead on and that we’re in trouble.

 

I don’t think Dr. Smith did a very good job of explaining what he meant by “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”. He gave examples more than a definition.

 

Today’s youth – and to a large extent, today’s adults — who claim the mantle of “Christian” have replaced vital, sacremental, evangelizing Christianity with “moralism” – a set of rules and regulations that can be interchanged for different subsets of society. A suburban congregation might value respectibility and good manners. A liberal, socially aware or hipster group might value ecology, the right attitude on human rights issues and the right political stance. A conservative Christian congregation might focus on sexual morality, modesty and the right religious rituals. None of these moral focuses are necessarily wrong, but morality is not faith. The mistake we’ve made is in substituting the rules and regulations for faith.

 

Of course, nowadays many who claim the mantle of Christianity have replaced religion with therapy. Rather than recognizing that faith is all about God and worshipping Him, we seek religion to help us in some way. The urban congregation might be all about recovery from addictions, advice on money matters or help with parenting skills. The classic suburban church might focus on feeling good about onesself, the blessings of wealth, or using church to get kids into good private education, the right college and a “good” job.

Religion is seen as useful if it makes us feel good. Whether in a raucous charismatic service or high church aestheticism with ornate ritualism, a feel-good sermon and heart-stirring music are seen as essential to put the congregation in its comfort zone. We don’t want the pastor to preach on painful or controversial subjects. We want our church to be as warm and comforting as a flannel blanket and a well-made cup of coffee, preferably with sugar and cream.

 

Again, there’s nothing wrong with receiving a good feeling from religious observance, but just as rules and regulations are not faith, good feelings cannot replace the Holy Spirit’s guidance and correction in our lives. Regulations are useful guidance tools and there is entertainment value in good feelings, but it’s not the same as God in your life.

Deism is a belief that God is “out there” and not all that involved in our lives on a daily basis. We believe in God, but we don’t have a regular conversation with Him. As long as we follow the rules and feel good about it, God is pleased and generally, so long as we don’t do anything really bad, He won’t notice.

Because God is a disconnected benevolent father figure rather than an active, personal Savior, our faith reverts to a system of religious rules and regulations, therapy and good feelings. For many, Christianity has become little more than a rock concert (swaying to the music with our hands in the air) or a football game (shouting out our praises in refrain to the cheer-worship leader). Christianity has taken on the veil of hobby or leisure pursuit as our faith has been replaced by religion.

Might I suggest … it’s become all about us rather than about God.

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