by Mike Ratliff
The five points of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as defined by Christian Smith are these:
- A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
- God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
- The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
- God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.
- Good people go to heaven when they die.
However, this is the basis of the “theology” predominantly preached and taught throughout the “seeker movement” as my friend Lane Chaplin made clear here. I pray that you do follow that link and read Lane’s post from 2008 and also read Christian Smith’s article from The Christian Post, which is also included at the bottom.
Again, as I have often stated here, I grew up in and served in the SBC until 2006. Not all of the churches I served in were as extreme as some. Not all preachers were either. However, just as I was in those formative years of spiritual growth after my salvation in 1986 I came under some well-meaning SBC leaders who would have taken issue with much of the series on Romans I just completed. They would disagree of course, but as I look back on their leadership I see that they were leading us into an understanding of theology and our walk that could only lead to self-righteousness. When I heard my first sermon after my salvation that correctly laid out the Law and the Gospel I was stunned at how different it was to the Moralistic Therapeutic Deism leaning stuff that was being continually preached to us. I was a teacher and the program and literature I was given to use was filled with it.
If you read my series on Romans then you know where I stand on this. We have nothing to offer God. We do not look inside to find our special someone God created there to find our purpose, et cetera. However, you will find this throughout the “seeker movement.” For instance, read this recent article by Rick Warren. How could our destinies as Christians be discovered like this or how could it be “contained” in something like this? How about this instead:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16:24-27 ESV)
Or, how about this:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)
I’m sure you could think of other passages. In any case, this internal focus instead of denying self, taking up our cross and following Jesus because of our total lack of merit or eternal worth outside of the grace of God, has taken on an even more troubling turn lately with Rick Warren. He is endorsing the book Driven by Destiny by LaVerne Adams. Here is his endorsement:
Here is the back cover of the book:
The reason I have been focusing on theology, law, and gospel so much lately is so that you will know the truth and recognize what is not the truth, but looks pretty good to the flesh. This is the latter. This is the natural byproduct of the philosophy or humanistic religious system called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. It is all about “me.” Rick Warren and LaVerne Adams and their friends know a lot of Biblical lingo and words and and can make this stuff sound oh so right to those who are on the wrong side of the law and gospel fence. Read the focus of this. Again, our destiny as Christians is found in Christ, living for God’s glory, and spending eternity with Him forever. God will work out His will for me in this life and it may very well be not so exciting in terms these people would like. I may have to struggle with some chronic illness for the rest of my life (I will). I may have to be continually finding myself in the refining fires of sanctification because God is working in me to get me ready for an even greater test. Who knows, it is all in His capable and perfect hands. What these people are peddling is rubbish and is it not Christian. All it will do is continue to feed Moralistic Therapeutic Deism in the visible church which will only continue to promote self-righteousness, not the genuine righteousness that is imputed to those who believe the Gospel by grace through faith. You see, those who preach Moralistic Therapeutic Deism have also abandoned preaching the real Gospel.
Soli Deo Gloria!