Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pain-Free Christianity?

Read a devotion today from my husband's "Men of Integrity", and I felt like I should share.  A group of students were discussing in class one day a very term that would only appear in seminary: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.  You then say...WHAT is that?  Well, it is a complex word for a rather simplistic view on Christianity.  MTD embodies a Christianity that is all about feeling good,(yes, doing good things) and identifying with God as some "divine therapist".

1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth."
2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions."
3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself."
4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."
5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."
See this link for a further detail of the above: http://www.christianpost.com/article/20050418/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion/
Here's another article from CNN.com: http://articles.cnn.com/2010-08-27/living/almost.christian_1_teens-share-moralistic-therapeutic-deism-dean-talks?_s=PM%3ALIVING about how some teenagers are functioning in what the article calls "fake" Christianity.

Sociologists came up with the term MTD, I guess, but what is interesting is that when I look at the overall bullet points of the signs/symptoms of MTD, I must consider the implications of the presence of this in the Western Church.  Have we lost a  real understanding of the gospel? If you spend anytime in the gospels, you quickly realize that there is little mention of the a "feel good" faith--rather there appears to be a more frightening, shoving you out of your comfort zone, utterly surrendering, releasing all pretensions of control faith! Remember the scene on the boat in the middle of a storm while Jesus was sleeping!

So what are we to do about MTD? SHOULD we do something about it? What do you think? I think some reflection, and some real, authentic dialogue, is a great first step. We have to be willing to face the hard stuff of the gospel, without losing the beauty, freedom and wonderful grace that is offered in the person of Jesus.

SO, let the dialogue begin!  What do YOU think?

"One harmful view of Christian experience says the christian life is to be a pain-free zone.  As Christians we must not only expect hand to hand combat with sin, but we must also know there is no exemption from suffering in this life.  suffering is not indicative of a lack of faith.  Pain is not the direct result of our sins and failures.  Certainly all suffering and pain is ultimately rooted in sin, but the notion that my pain and suffering is a payback from God is unbiblical.  That is the theology of Job's comforters.  A theology of Christian experience that says only blessing, health and prosperity are the lot of the faithful is a recipe for emotional disaster with deep accompanying damage to faith.  such teaching is voice of the very gospel itself.  If we expect that "every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before" we will be in for some serious disappointments.  If we expect that victory over sin will be one uninterrupted triumph after another, we will become disillusioned with God, His Word, ourselves, or all of the above.  A sound theology of Christian experience makes room for the struggle of the war-faring pilgrim and the suffering of the wayfaring pilgrim"--Brian Borgman, Feelings and Faith.

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