Why Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Is a Dead End
Video from Crossway
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
In the early 2000s, a movement came onto the scene that some Christian social philosophers identified as moralistic therapeutic deism. Basically, they surveyed about three thousand teenagers asking what they believed about God.
What they found is that teenagers were basically believing that there is a God and all he wants for us is to be happy and nice. You don’t need God unless anything infringes on one of those two goals. As long as you’re pursuing happiness and niceness, you’re going to go to heaven. Other than that, you don’t really need the Lord.
That philosophy of moralistic therapeutic deism evolved into this sort of believe-in-yourself-ism. The message became: You’re all you need. You don’t need the Lord for anything else as long as he’s helping you to be happy and nice. Everyone can conjure up some happiness and some niceness, so we sort of shelve God and decide we don’t really need him. We just need to believe in ourselves, to invent who we are and what we want to do, and we need to just go for it. This book calls women to look away from new self-improvement strategies in order to find the abundant life and joy God offers them in Jesus.
Health and Wealth
This message is not unlike the health and wealth gospel. When you hear health and wealth gospel, you tend to think of crazy preachers on TV that are slaying people in the Spirit. You may think of a very wealthy and opulent version of faith that looks fake. It probably doesn’t look like what you and I think of when we think of going to church.
The almighty God of the universe created you and me, and he made us for a purpose.
But, in fact, it is closely related because we’re looking to God as a “pie in the sky,” thinking he exists just to make us healthy and wealthy. We may think, Because I’m a Christian, things are going to go well for me. I shouldn’t expect too much hardship or to endure too much suffering because God wants me to be happy, to believe in myself, to be nice, and to be good.
A False Gospel
This kind of gospel is not the gospel at all. This is actually a false gospel and it has really infiltrated our churches. It’s especially infiltrated women’s ministries and women’s ministry materials that tell you to believe in yourself rather than to turn your gaze upon our almighty God.
We’re looking inward, constantly self-reflecting about our gifts, skills, and abilities and thinking, What can I do? What can I make? What impact can I have? Instead, we should be asking, Who is God? Who is our good, true, and beautiful God? What is his character like?
We are constantly looking at our own behavior in a legalistic way thinking, I’m going to act one way and do this so that I can produce that, rather than beholding the Lord our God.
The almighty God of the universe created you and me, and he made us for a purpose. When we neglect that just to be happy, nice Christians, we ignore the greatest truth of all time—the most beautiful, the biggest, and most profound truth that’s available to you and me as women of God.
Jen Oshman is the author of Enough about Me: Finding Lasting Joy in the Age of Self.