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CNN on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

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CNN online recently featured an article on Kenda Creasy Dean's new book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telliing the American Church (Oxford University Press, 2010). Dean is a professor at Princeton Seminary who participated with Christian Smith and others in the National Study of Youth and Religion. The CNN article discusses the theme of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, a phrase used liberally by WHI hosts for the past few years and coined by Christian Smith to describe the religious and spiritual lives of today's teenagers. Dean discusses this problem at length in her new book, and argues that teens have received this "fake" view of Christianity from their parents. She writes, "The problem does not seem to be that churches are teaching young people badly, but that we are doing an exceedingly good job of teaching youth what we really believe, namely, that Christianity is not a big deal, that God requires little, and the church is a helpful social institution filled with nice people…" She goes on to say that "if churches practice MTD in the name of Christianity, then getting teenagers to church more often is not the solution (conceivably it could make things worse). A more faithful church is the solution….Maybe the issue is simply that the emperor has no clothes."

Michael Horton recently interviewed Kenda Creasy Dean for the White Horse Inn, and that interview will air in early October.

Click Here for the CNN article titled, "More Teens Becoming Fake Christians."
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  • Guest - pb

    And on CNN yet...wonders never cease.

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  • Guest - Dan

    @Michael G.: Thanks a bunch for posting those links

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  • Guest - Ken Tauch

    The phrase "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism" is really something of a scam, if not simply illiterate, for it slaps the label, "Deism," on something that has nothing to do with true Deism, and is only connected to it by a contortion of language. Christian Smith says "In this sense, the Deism here is revised from its classical eighteenth century version by the Therapeutic qualifier, making the distant God selectively available for taking care of needs," which is kind of like saying that a living room is really a public swimming pool, revised just a teensy bit from its normal definition of being below ground level, outdoors, full of water, and able for people to swim in. The very definition of Deism is in the non-interfering nature of God, for the Deistic Creator did things right the first time out, and has no need for constant tinkering around with the defects of an incompetent Creation; and a God need not interfere all the time (as, indeed, the God of Bible is supposed not to) to fall into being a theistic God. It just has to interfere at all, that is by definition the difference between Deism and theism (and of all subsets of Deism like Pandeism, and subsets of theism like panentheism and polytheism). So why not call this theory what it is, "Moralistic Theism"?

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