How's that title for a mouthful? Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD for short) has been identified by many as the primary Christian heresy facing our day in this country. The term was coined in 2005 by Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith, to describe a set of beliefs he uncovered while researching the religious beliefs of young people.
There were 5 points of belief that he observed:
1. There is a God who created the world and who oversees human life on earth.
2. In line with the Bible and most religions, God desires people to be good, nice, and fair to one another.
3. The overall goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself.
4. God is involved in one's life only to the degree needed to fix problems.
5. Whey they die, good people go to heaven.
As Christians we don't have much argument with numbers 1 and 2 above. But the last three points are problematic. Happiness is not the goal of life; faithfulness to Jesus is. Happiness and feeling good about oneself seems to be the driving force behind many people's choices. In opposition to number 4, we would argue that God is involved in our lives constantly, in good times and bad. We are to pray daily and hear God's word regularly. Our prayers consist of asking for forgiveness, thanking God for His gifts, in addition to asking about our needs. God is our Lord at all times. Point 5 is especially troublesome since it strikes at the heart of Christian teaching. We believe that we cannot earn heaven by our own actions. Faith alone in Christ alone is the means by which we take hold of the gift of heaven that Jesus gives. Apart from Christ, no one is deserving of heaven no matter how good they may be in this life.
In upcoming editions of the Weekly Word, we'll look a little more closely at points 3 through 5, how they manifest themselves in people's lives, and what the Christian answer to those claims is.
(This was adapted from an article by Dr. Joel Biermann in the August '23 issue of the Lutheran Witness, /Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: An impressive name for an everyday heresy./ The article is not available online without a subscription, but an interview with Dr. Biermann about his article can be found on Issues Etc. https://issuesetc.org/2023/07/21/2023-moralistic-therapeutic-deism-dr-joel-biermann-7-21-23/