I ran across MTD, or Moralistic Therapeutic Deism in Carol Lytch’s article, “What Teens Believe” in the Christian Century. In this areticle she reviews Christian Smith and Melinda Lunddquist Denton’s work with youth, published in their Soul Searching: The Religious And Spiritual Lives Of American Teenagers. (Oxford, 2005).

Smith and Denton identify the predominant “religion” of American teens as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. They surveyed 3000 teens between ages 13 and 17. Here are the tenets of the “faith” they compiled:

  1. A God exists who created and orders 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 solve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
What troubles me most about MTD is it seems a clear and concise articulation of the alleged faith of the average churchmember!
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2 Responses to MTD

  1. Richard H says:

    You should read Smith’s book. He’s also edited The Secular Revolution, another useful book.

    As to MTD, yep it’s pretty common out there. As long as we have a phobia about doctrine in our churches it’ll continue to strengthen until we have no more churches.

  2. I enjoyed reading this. It’s very good.

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