Moralistic therapeutic deism…

(HT Jason Clark.)

This is the term coined by Kenda Creasy Dean in a new book describing research into American Christian teenagers.

Defined as follows-

…a watered-down faith that portrays God as a “divine therapist” whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.

It is religion reduced to ‘feeling good’ and ‘doing good’. Faith that fits neatly into a lifestyle that values most the attainment of a life full of ‘me’ experiences, ‘me’ relationships, a great job and a great house in a great location.

God is employed as a talisman, or a life coach for our attainment, our success and our consuming power.

Casey suggests that it is this kind of faith that American teenagers are learning from church. And from the Christian families that they grow up in…

She says this “imposter” faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.

“If this is the God they’re seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust,” Dean says. “Churches don’t give them enough to be passionate about.”

I liked what Jason Clark had to say-

… what are churches (traditional and emerging) modelling and ordering life around(?) A radical commitment to the Gospel or support for a way of life in consumer society. Families located in radical communities, helping each other live radically, is what we need.

And again that radicalism is so unglamorous, putting others first, placing our work and where we live in service of a life together for mission. Is our form of faith and mission, still all about us, our happiness, or the transformation of the world? What are our kids seeing our lives ordered around?


We parents of faith have so many worries and anxieties about how our understandings of God might be transferred to our children, particularly as they are growing into young adults.

We know that we can not control, only hope that our lives carry an integrity that is formational and infectious. And that the way we do church allows the right kind of space for their questions, their passion and their hopes for a better way than ours…

5 thoughts on “Moralistic therapeutic deism…

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