Friday, August 13, 2010

An (all too) easy faith of American Teens

Wow, this article struck me right where I live, and I feel resonances of it in the work I've done in both churches and in schools...this is a MUST READ, even if you don't agree with all of it...just how dumbed down is the theology and description of the Christian life that we offer our adolescents (and our adults and other children?).




Take a gander...

Here's a bit of it:

Faith, nice and easy
The almost-Christian formation of teens
In 1984, Marvel Comics created a new nemesis for Spider-Man. The character would be a symbiote, inspired by what parasitologists call the weaker of two organisms inhabiting the same space. The weaker organism can draw life from the stronger, and in the most dramatic cases it siphons off its host's nutrients before the host realizes what's happening. The symbiote survives, but the host is seriously weakened.

Once Marvel Comics had a new symbiotic character, that character needed a host. It struck a bargain with another character named Eddie Brock: the symbiote would give Brock its power in return for Brock's life energy. But of course symbiotes from outer space cannot be trusted. Once the symbiote had inhabited Brock, it absorbed his life energy and morphed into the evil Venom.

Has something similar happened in American Christianity? Has a symbiote taken up residence without our knowledge? Yes, say Christian Smith and Melinda Denton, who are principal investigators for the National Study of Youth and Religion (a study of congregations in seven denominations). They're seeing an alternative faith in American teenagers, one that "feeds on and gradually co-opts if not devours" established religious traditions. This faith, called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, "generally does not and cannot stand on its own," so its adherents are affiliated with traditional faith communities but unaware that they are practicing a very different faith than historic orthodox Christianity. If teenagers wrote out the creed of this religious outlook, it would look something like this:

• A god exists who created and orders the world and watches over life on earth.

• God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.

• The central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about yourself.

• God is not involved in my life except when I need God to solve a problem.

• Good people go to heaven when they die.

The rest is HERE

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