…Is this the New American Religion?
Pastor Jason Robertson recently re-posted a link to a 2005 article by Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary, in which he critiques a then recent study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which found that the faith held by most young people today amounts to a form of squishy deism, rather than the robust and magnificent Christian faith held by our ancestors. The researchers labeled the religion of today as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”
A common misconception of Christianity is that the Bible, which Christians adhere to, is filled with mythical stories whose primary goal is moral application. Sadly, the topical preaching found in most all Evangelical and Fundamentalist pulpits today has led the younger generations to conclude that the Bible is just a book of moralistic stories which are used to teach personal lessons of conduct. Tools like the Life Application Study Bible or Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Study Bible re-enforce this misunderstanding.
The problem with turning Christianity into a moralistic organization, rather than a redemptive organization, is that it undermines the Gospel message, the core distinctive of the Christian faith. Once the Gospel is undermined, Christianity is no different than Romanism, Islam, Judaism, and other false religion that teaches a grace-less means of self-improvement/salvation apart from the Grace of Christ alone. As Christianity loses it singular distinction, confused young church dropouts see no difference between one “path” and another. Isalm teaches morals, Christianity teaches morals, Budhism teaches morals, I have my own morals and you have yours – it’s all the same and yet its all personalized – sadly it all ultimately has man as its god and brings spiritual death.
The only corrective is a return to the redemptive-historical Biblical-Theological method of expository preaching, aimed at systematically teaching God’s unfolding plan of redemption, as revealed in Scripture, with Christ, not morals or Israel at the center!
People want to believe that God is on their side. Their consciences tell them there IS a god, and all men have a tendency to try to fashion this god to our own personal benefit.
The problem with preaching a prosperity god is that it turns Christianity into superstition. The god of this religion is a magic genie who exists to grant wishes when the magic lamp of religion is rubbed in just the right way. The mentality is at the root of the charismatic movement, prosperity gospel, liberalism, and revivalism. Any religion that puts man, his wants, desires, needs, and happiness at the center, is man-made and false.
A robust and full preaching of the Gospel of Christ – the depravity of man and the Sovereignty of God. Men need to understand their inherent evil and lack of natural good in order to appreciate the true goodness of mercy of God and in order to appreciate His true Holiness. And, man needs to see the majestic and transcendent Holiness of God, in order to appreciate his own utter depravity. With these two in proper focus, the heart is prepared to reach to God with empty hands, begging only for mercy, and ready and willing to humbly obey and to live a life in subjection to a higher calling – the glory of God.
It is naturally embedded into the heart of man that there is a God (James 2:19, Romans 1), but to ascent unto the Christian God of Holiness and Justice is to turn from sin and self love – which the natural man is not willing or capable of (Rom 8, 1 Cor 1-2).
It has been hip in recent times for young folks who are out of church to maintain a sort of agnosticism or deism about religion. This can be the safe house for one that is genuinely confused about the truth claims of, say, Biblical Christianity versus Catholicism versus Mormonism (etc); or, more likely, it can be a lazy excuse for pursuing ones own agenda at the expense of looking to God’s perfect Word.
The only solution is to preach the Gospel without compromise. Christianity MUST NOT conform to the least common denominator mentality in order to widen its tent. Truth is exclusive! Jesus is exclusive (John 14). We must bring the Gospel message into sharp contrast to the relativism of today, not capitulate to it.
According to the research, todays religious young hold to beliefs listed below. As you can see, there is a kernel of truth in each, but a subtle partial spiritual truth is a soul-damned lie, when it comes to the gospel –
1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
True as far as it goes, but this is a personal and eminent God. One who is Holy and has communicated His holiness to man and one who will judge man.
2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
True as far as it goes, but the inability of man to save himself is not emphasized here – this confusing message conflates all religion into one and the same message – do good works to save your soul.
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
This is the central tenant of Satanism – worship of self. Happy is defined as pleasure and one defines oneself as one’s own god of pleasure. The core of the Christian faith, in contrast, is to glorify God by loving him and our neighbor.
4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
Here’s the pop-psychology! This carnal mind is the enemy of God (Rom 8:7).
5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
Wrong! Perfect people go to Heaven when they die. Yeah, but no one is perfect right? Wrong! Christ is! Are you IN Christ? Do you have Christ’s righteousness as your own? No? Then you have NOTHING whatsoever to offer.
Romans 3:10-19 says,
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.