moralistic therapeutic deism

Waiting for my red-eye return flight back home, after spending a day here in Southern California on a personal excursion. Always a kick for me when my wife Rachelle exchanges introductory small talks, and someone knows her husband (me) because of and that she’s related to me. One of those person’s is sociologist Richard Flory, who crossed my radar because of a Biola art show he helped put together back in 2003 and co-authored a book titled Gen X Religion. Sat in on a presentation he did today with Brad Christerson about youth and their beliefs & attitudes on religion. They described the faith of most American teens (Christians included) as: moralistic therapeutic deism. Teens have a largely fuzzy religious faith along the lines of: God created the world, God wants people to be good, the main goal is to be happy and feel good, God is only needed to solve problems, and good people go to heaven. The presentation referred to the tons of great sociological research data, both qualitative and quantitative, from the inch-thick book titled Soul Searching: the Religions and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.

I’d be willing to bet that most American adults hava a faith that could be best described as moralistic therapeutic deism too. Most people just don’t think and talk in theological metaphysical categories.

The extra bonus today was to hang out with Richard later this afternoon to shoot the breeze, and to get my grimey hands on a couple of early manuscripts of books he’s working on: “Congregations That Get It: Understanding Religious Identities in the Next Generation” in Passing on the Faith, and “The Embodied Spirituality of the Post-Boomer Generations” in A Sociology of Spirituality.

Then, met up with my old college friend, now widow, over dinner. She was in great spirits, and we were amazed to hear how God is providing comfort and encouragement, and how God has moved His people to provide in so many ways already.

And, no, I didn’t get to meetup with Rudy and do a book exchange, now that we’re both newbies in the self-publishing print-on-demand world. And, Evangelical Outpost (aka Joe Carter) included me on his short list of Christian bloggers rumble smackdown. I don’t get it.

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  1. This is also seen in the ‘name it, claim it’ faith movement where the person is in charge ;by their confession and claiming the right scriptures. It is also seen in formulas for a sucessful marriage, a growing church, etc. Much of church growth can be done without even being a Christian for it is based more in sociology than in the gospel. Much of what is proclaimed as the way to a healthy church is a bunch of systems theory without any Christian theology. Thus, adults are into this imposter of Christian religion as much if not more than many youth are.