In my last post I wrote about the best way to ruin your kids faith is to make it all about them. It’s an extremely easy thing to let happen if you don’t actively take responsibility for the content and shape of your kids’ faith. We live in a culture where the subjective reigns in the form of the sovereign self, which is the reason the default religion of America, and especially our young people, is something called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). The phrase was coined by sociologist Christian Smith in his 1995 book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. He describes MTD thus:
First, a God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth. Second, God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions. Third, the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. Fourth, God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem. Fifth, good people go to heaven when they die.
From my last post you can see how the third piece, that “the central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself,” caused the popular Christian author to declare that she is a lesbian. In her mind, her happiness justified a romantic relationship with another woman in direct contrast to the plain teaching of Scripture. When our happiness becomes the primary purpose of existence, God’s plain teaching in the Bible will always take a back seat. At some point such a person no longer has the right to claim the name of Christ.
One of my favorite theologians, Charles Hodge, who taught at Princeton Seminary in the 19th Century, shows us that this tendency to put ourselves at the center of existence isn’t anything new. In fact, it goes back to the Garden of Eden. Here are a couple quotes from his Systematic Theology:
Order and truth . . . depend on things being put in their right relations. If we make the good of the creature the ultimate object of all God’s works, then we subordinate God to the creature, and endless confusion and unavoidable error are the consequence. It is characteristic of the Bible that it places God first, and the good of the creation second.
Few principles . . . have been so productive of false doctrine and immorality as the principle that all virtue consists in benevolence, that happiness is the highest good, and that whatever promotes happiness is right.
I’m not sure it could be said any better. I have a saying that my kids have heard a zillion times: the Christian faith is not about you, but about what God has done for you in Christ. On the surface, this statement may not seem terribly profound. But what it does is set the tone for living their Christian life in an iEverything culture. There is no navel gazing on our house because it’s all about Him!