I had a great conversation with Jake and Megan yesterday about ways to grow faith in young people. We were all expressing some level of frustration that some of our young people are having a difficult time articulating the things they believe in. One of the factors, we concluded, has to do with brain development – they’re just not yet able to grasp and explain abstract concepts like “why I believe in God” and “I think God is…”. We also surmised that it has a lot to do with a relatively new “branch” of Christianity called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD).
Simply stated, MTD encompasses a belief system consisting of beliefs such as:
- A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth
- God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other
- The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself
- God only needs to be involved in my life if I need God to solve a problem
- Good people go to heaven
We also felt that young people have a difficult time articulating their beliefs because their parents have the same problem. How can we expect teens, whose hormones are raging and whose pre-frontal cortex is still developing, to describe the nuiances of faith better than the people who raised them? The issue, of course, is how do you go about teaching a generation of adults to grow in faith or to build on their MTDisms?
That question, naturally, went unresolved. It was a good conversation nonetheless.
Lots of good stuff in these articles – too many great quotes to highlight here. All are worth reading!
Princeton Theological Seminary (.pdf download)