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Christianity, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, apologetics, theology, philosophy, culture, classical, youth ministry, evangelism, discipleship.


In 2005, American sociologist Christian Smith coined the term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” in his book, Soul Searching, The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. At the time, this phenomenon was heralded as a new “religion” for emerging generations, yet it ascribes to no formal text, deity, or doctrine. It serves as a self-focused compilation of secular philosophy, politics, culture, and spirituality flavored with fragments from popular religions. While there is no formal MTD doctrine, there are five affirmations: (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, and (5) Good people go to heaven when they die. Originally, MTD was a youth ministry phenomenon. As the subjects of the original study are now adults, there is concern that this errant worldview will continue to influence culture and pass to future generations. This study offers a classical critique of MTD affirmations, reveals the weaknesses of this religion, and argues for a biblical worldview.



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