CNN—Author: More teens becoming ‘fake’ Christians

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you're the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:

Your child is following a "mutant" form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* Theology

7 Comments
Posted August 29, 2010 at 5:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Timothy Fountain wrote:

Just sent a kid off to college yesterday.  He’s respectful of the church but I think sorting out some of our claims.
In a strange way, I’m thankful this morning for some of the struggles we’ve faced in life, because those are where he’s seen us act on our faith, and he’s also seen blessings that have come as nothing other than answers to prayer and surprises of God’s grace.

August 29, 8:54 am | [comment link]
2. Daniel wrote:

United Methodist Social Justice and works based righteousness warning -

About Dr. Corrie from the Emory website -

Dr. Corrie draws on commitments both to peace with justice and to the education of young people as a foundation for her work in the development of pedagogical and youth ministry practices that empower young people for global citizenship. Her research interests include theories and practices of nonviolent strategies for social change, the religious roots of violence and nonviolence, international peacebuilding initiatives, and character education and moral development with children and youth.

What we have here is a pleasing version of the Methodist gospel of you’re not an authentic Christian if you don’t politically organize and demonstrate to force the change you deem theologically correct on others, rather than trust to proclaim the Gospel and let God change people’s hearts. If you’re not lobbying Congress about all the laws that need to be changed to remake the world into conformance with the UMC Book of Resolutions, you’re not going on towards perfection and entire sanctification.

BTW, the Gaza blockade running ship MV Rachel Corrie is named for Dr. Corrie’s cousin, who was run over by an Israeli bulldozer while protesting building of Israeli housing in the West Bank.

August 29, 2:28 pm | [comment link]
3. ekcathey wrote:

I teach English in a public high school in Tennessee.  I’ve found that my students rarely understand biblical allusions despite the fact that many of them are active in church youth groups.  I’ve often wondered about this.

August 29, 3:44 pm | [comment link]
4. Utah Benjamin wrote:

#2 Daniel: Note that while Elizabeth Corrie was interviewed as part of the article, she is not the “author” referenced in the headline, just to avoid any confusion.  Kenda Creasy Dean, the author whose book is highlighted in the article, is an ordained UMC minister, but is certainly on the orthodox side of things.

August 29, 4:56 pm | [comment link]
5. Daniel wrote:

Thanks for the clarification Utah Benjamin.  I was mainly trying to point out the precipitous slide in the UMC being primarily driven by the clergy, particularly female clergy.  I personally have never met an orthodox female UMC minister, but my experience is limited to the Virginia Annual Conference and what I see on blogs.  The UMC’s historic emphasis on the Social Gospel and the Wesleyan emphasis on entire sanctification and holiness through works has bred, IMHO, a witches brew of social progressives determined to ram through all manner of laws in the name of religion.  Two of my favorites from the UMC Book of Resolutions are their call for banning private ownership of handguns and banning the manufacture of any bleached paper products.  At least I know it’s O.K. to eat Mt. Olive pickles again since they got the wage increases they demanded for the migrant workers picking cucumbers. smile

August 29, 6:40 pm | [comment link]
6. Utah Benjamin wrote:

Valid concerns, Daniel, to be sure.  Any comments relating to Dean’s points she articulates in the article? wink

August 29, 7:42 pm | [comment link]
7. Daniel wrote:

I do agree with much of what Dean has to say.  Young adults of my acquaintance, by no means a representative statistically valid sample, mention that they are quite tired of hip, trendy, worship.  They like to connect with the traditions of something that has worked for 2000 years and learn how what the saints of old experienced matches up with what they are experiencing.  That being said, they also are joined at the hip to social networking, use it constantly, and like using it to communicate about church and religion.  In my experience, I would have to rate the Presbyterians and Lutherans as more effective at discipling their young people than Episcopalians and Methodists.  I can’t speak for the effectiveness of Baptists and Pentecostals.

True story - at a recent Bible challenge event where teens are tested on their biblical knowledge, the graduates of the Presbyterian church CATS class, blew away their Baptist competition.  There were no Episcopal or Methodist competitors.

One other thing to note.  No matter how well you do with teens on religious training and discipline, once they get to college, everything changes.  It is absolutely critical to get them hooked into an organization and community of faith that will continue to nurture them in an orthodox expression of their faith and provide them with a safe place of refuge to make sense out of all the strange and contrary things they are exposed to in the college classroom and dorm rooms.

August 30, 8:50 am | [comment link]
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