Gene Veith reflects on the study that gave rise to the book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. He suggests that the prevalence of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism among church-attending teens may not be due to their ignoring what's being taught. It may be an indicator that they're just obeying. Veith calls us to a three-fold consideration:
Consider how many Christian publications, sermons, and teachings are nothing but moralism. Sometimes morality is reduced to the simplistic MTD commandment "be nice," though often real morals are inculcated. But the common assumption is that being good is easy, just a matter of knowing what one should do and trying harder. The biblical truth that bad behavior is a manifestation of sin, a depravity that inheres in our fallen nature, is skimmed over. And so is the solution to sin: a life-changing faith in Jesus Christ.
Consider how many Christian publications, sermons, and teachings are primarily therapeutic. It is true that Christ can solve many of our problems. But much that passes for Christian teaching says nothing about Christ. Instead, it consists of pop psychology, self-help platitudes, and the power of positive thinking.
Consider how many Christian publications, sermons, and teachings talk about God in a generic way, but say nothing about the Father, who created and still sustains the world; the Son, who became Incarnate in this world to win our salvation; and the Holy Spirit, who works through the Word of God to bring us to faith.The psychologizing of the faith is a topic never too distant from my mind. I intend to share some thoughts in the not too distant future. OK, back to the books.