Monday, August 30, 2010

"Mutant" Christians

An story from CNN about a Protestant author's new book on teenage faith in the USA has some very interesting conclusions. Here are a few snips:
Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.

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 have to agree with much of what she says. Christianity isn't just about entertaining people or stroking someone's ego. Yes, we need to find our own worth in Christ, but not to the detriment of also knowing we are nothing without Him and sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation.
The study included Christians of all stripes -- from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations. Though three out of four American teenagers claim to be Christian, fewer than half practice their faith, only half deem it important, and most can't talk coherently about their beliefs, the study found.

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."
If this is the case, then what a sad testimony against what Christian adults are teaching our youth. This is not Christianity. This is modern culture's spin on Christianity and we have bought it hook, line, and sinker...
Corrie says she sees no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the Christianity some are taught doesn't inspire them "to change anything that's broken in the world."

Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on, she says.

"We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake," Corrie says.
Again, I agree. I think the problem is in formation, starting with adult formation. If parents, catechists, preachers, teachers, priests, etc. don't know the faith, live the faith, and proclaim the faith in a compelling way, then why would we expect our children to?

We need to challenge each other to be Christians. This means sacrifice, repentance, virtue, and all the other hard things. Why? Because it is worth it. Happiness isn't found in being selfish. It isn't in grasping for pleasure, money, fame, or power. It is in spilling out your life in service to others for God's glory.

So, will we have a Christian faith or "moralistic therapeutic deism"?
The choice is our own. May we choose wisely.

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