This past Sunday we briefly considered what might be the most dominant “religion” in America, at least among teenagers and college students. It’s called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: God created us but isn’t really involved in our lives unless we have a problem with which we want help (deism). The goal of life is to feel good about oneself (therapeutic). God, along with what most religions teach, wants us to be nice, good, and fair to others – and if we are, we go to heaven when we die (moralistic).
In contrast (thankfully), the gospel tells us that God is not the god of a deist: He not only created the world, but he upholds all things through Jesus, who is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb 1:3). The gospel is also not moralistic: Because we are not nice, good, and fair to others, we therefore would not have the pleasant prospect of “going to heaven when we die.” Thankfully, God has taken care of our biggest problem, even when we didn’t see it as such, in sacrificing his Son to cleanse us from our sin. And the gospel is not therapeutic: Through Jesus death and resurrection, he has set us free to no longer have our central goal as feeling good about ourselves, but to magnify God’s value by finding our joy in Christ.
Lest we drift away from the gospel and become moralistic, therapeutic deists, “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard” (Heb 2:1)
We’ll continue to see the greatness of Christ and the gospel through the letter of Hebrews this Sunday. We’ll be in 2:5-18.
If you would like to read a great article describing the challenge of “moralistic therapeutic deism” further, you can go here.