What on earth is ‘moralistic therapeutic deism’?
This is a term used by Kenda Creasy Dean, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of Almost Christian, a book based upon research into the faith of 3,300 American teenagers. According to a recent article on the CNN website it means:
… a watered-down faith that portrays God as a “divine therapist” whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.
The article is very good and I recommend reading it, whether you are a parent or a teenager or are simply interested in the state of faith in our society. While this is obviously about American teenagers and the failings of the church in that nation, I think it applies fairly well to New Zealand also.
I particularly like the recommendation of what parents should do to avoid teaching our kids a false gospel:
What can a parent do then?
Get “radical,” Dean says.
She says parents who perform one act of radical faith in front of their children convey more than a multitude of sermons and mission trips.
A parent’s radical act of faith could involve something as simple as spending a summer in Bolivia working on an agricultural renewal project or turning down a more lucrative job offer to stay at a struggling church, Dean says.
But it’s not enough to be radical — parents must explain “this is how Christians live,” she says.
“If you don’t say you’re doing it because of your faith, kids are going to say my parents are really nice people,” Dean says. “It doesn’t register that faith is supposed to make you live differently unless parents help their kids connect the dots.”
This is a challenge to me to consider my own faith in Christ and how I live it in the real world — is the call of Christ real enough to me to result in actions which make my kids ask, “why do you choose to live like this Dad?”