Spiritual Drifting

You don't have to do anything to drift dangerously!

Two American sociologists surveyed the religious opinions of 3,290 youths in the USA by phone, and followed up with 267 in-depth interviews. 'Soul Searching' was published as a paper in 2005 by Christian Smith with Melinda Lundquist Denton (the book of the same name was published in 2009).

They found that the majority of the young people believed that there is a God, but thought he was a 'cosmic therapist' and 'divine butler' ready to help out where needed.  They believed they are basically good, and good people go to heaven.

Here are some key features of this common view, which Smith and Denton called 'moralistic therapeutic deism':

  1. A god does exist who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth, but does not want to be personally related to us.
  2. God is available when he is needed to resolve a problem.
  3. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions/philosophies.
  4. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

It is, of course, a false gospel ... reducing the Almighty to being an impersonal on-call emergency service, and elevating self-centredness to a positive moral status.

Like all false gospels it offers the peace and excitement of a hot air balloon.  All is well ... while all is well, but it soon crashes when self-energy is exhausted.  It offers no direction, no protection and no ability to counter storms.  Neither does it offer any defence in the final judgement.

This semi-religious philosophy offers nothing of eternal value: no forgiveness for yesterday's sins, no strength to resist temptation, no external purpose for living and no reason to face death with hope.

Moralistic therapeutic deism is an unwritten and untaught ideology but it, and its variants, have spread like wildfire on social media.  It now pervades the Western mindset and is rapidly being accepted in the Majority world.

It is the convenient 'generic religion' which offends nobody, but it is being unconsciously sucked into churches wherever there is a vacuum of biblical truth.

How easy it is for moralistic therapeutic deism to creep into our personal thinking, our churches and our children!  It comes well disguised and full of permission to 'be ourselves', but is empty of the crucified Christ and has no saving power.  Its followers are blind to both the holiness of God and the perversity of human nature.  It is a false gospel that neither fears the wrath of God nor needs any atoning sacrifice.

The only solution is to return to proclaiming the biblical gospel, to teach biblical doctrine, to call sinners into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ by repentance and faith, welcoming Christ's presence by His Spirit and learning to please Him in the company of His redeemed people.

That is why BeaconLight exists.  To provide gospel workers with a biblically accurate gospel explanation and challenge to respond in CrossCheck.  Then Truth Unlocked helps new believers to discover the essential doctrines from the Bible for themselves.  Word@Work enables Christians to grow in Christ through daily Bible expositions.

Our many other books reach out to people who are seeking truth, having exhausted their own resources.  Perhaps that is why so many BeaconLight titles are in such demand in prisons.

When the world invents its own moralism to suit its own imagined destiny, the gospel of Jesus Christ is a breath of reality.

Proclaiming that gospel has never been easy.  It offends those who select their own way to goodness and refuse to place themselves under God's authority.  But the church is called to stand firm.  The followers of Jesus are called to be potent beacons of biblical truth wherever we have been placed.

Thank you for standing with BeaconLight as we help brave gospel workers to equip individuals and churches with truth, so that they will not drift into catastrophic error.

© Dr Paul Adams