Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Church of Whatever

Via Ross, I recently read the article on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:
After conducting more than 3,000 interviews with American adolescents, the researchers reported that, when it came to the most crucial questions of faith and beliefs, many adolescents responded with a shrug and "whatever." . . . .

These individuals, whatever their age, believe that religion should be centered in being "nice"--a posture that many believe is directly violated by assertions of strong theological conviction.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is also "about providing therapeutic benefits to its adherents." As the researchers explained, "This is not a religion of repentance from sin, of keeping the Sabbath, of living as a servant of sovereign divinity, of steadfastly saying one's prayers, . . . of building character through suffering, of basking in God's love and grace, of spending oneself in gratitude and love for the cause of social justice, et cetera. Rather, what appears to be the actual dominant religion among U.S. teenagers is centrally about feeling good, happy, secure, at peace. It is about attaining subjective well-being, being able to resolve problems, and getting along amiably with other people."

I stress this distinction as I instruct my own children in the Christian faith: you can either believe what Christ said about himself ("No man cometh to the father except by me.") or you can believe what the world says (in the words of an aunt, "there's more than one way to skin a cat." I reel at the profundity). But you cannot simultaneously believe both. Following Christ means utterly rejecting the claims made for any other path to the salvation of your soul.

So . . . how can the church help educate its members and strengthen their adherence to God's exclusive and permanent path? Well, um . . . it would help if we could keep our own damn Creed straight!

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