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Plain and Simple for Nov. 3, 2011

SoVaNow.com / October 31, 2011
What do you think is the fastest growing religion in America? Did you guess Islam, Mormonism, or Christianity? According to sociologist Christian Smith from Notre Dame, you are wrong if you did. Based on a book written in 2005 with Melinda Denton, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, Smith believes that the fastest growing religion in America is actually Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD).

Using extensive research done with American youth, Smith developed five basic points of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD): 1. There is a God who created the world and watches over it; 2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair as taught in the bible and most world religions; 3. The central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself; 4. God is not particularly involved in one’s life unless God is needed to solve a problem; and 5. Everyone goes to heaven when they die. Although the ideas of MTD were developed from research done on the youth of America, it is easy to see that it is rampant in our churches and, indeed, is being preached from our pulpits.

When I first started reading about MTD, I was amazed with how much it described the thoughts of so many that I see in the church today. When I went on the Internet to research it, I was appalled but not too surprised to see that many of the comments directed to the articles concerning MTD actually defended the principles. Basically, they were saying that this was a step in the right direction!

So, what is wrong with MTD? Aside from the fact that it has nothing to do with Christ, it is misguided because its central tenet proclaims that the main goal of life is to be happy. We live in a society where the constant cry is that we must be entertained. I am reminded of the Roman people’s cry for bread and circuses and we know where that led. One of the biggest sins of our era is to allow our children to be bored for one millisecond. But doesn’t that take the burden of life from them and put it on us? When exactly do they learn to be productive citizens and learned people? And, please, does Jesus tell us to take up our Ipods and Mercedes so that we might be entertained or does he tell us to take up a cross?

Furthermore, God is not at our beck and call. According to MTD, God is too much of a gentleman to bother us while we commit adultery, take drugs or generally live a life of sin. But if we need him to save us when we are sick or grant us a wish, then he hops down from heaven in order to make us happy. That is more than a deviation from orthodoxy; it is heresy. While MTD is descriptive of how we view God today, it is certainly not to be valued or pursued.



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