The 10 Commandments in American Culture

While reading through The Art of Pastoring: Ministry Without All the Answers, by David Hansen, (a book recently recommended to me that I find myself wishing I had read years ago,) I came across this convicting assessment of American culture – an indictment that sadly is also widely applicable to a wide swath of American Evangelicalism:

“The majority of Americans will tell any pollster that they believe in the Ten Commandments. But only a small percentage of those people could even recite the Ten Commandment; and even a smaller percentage have any genuine interest in following them.”

David Hansen


Warped Christianity

Warped Reality

Sociologist Christian Smith introduced the phrase Moralistic Therapeutic Deism in his book Soul Searching:The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.  Smith, and his colleagues, assert that, from their research, this would be a fitting description of the spirituality of the typical American teenager – a spirituality they gained from watching and listening to their Baby Boomer parents.

Al Mohler, in a post titled Moralistic Therapeutic Deism – the New American Religion, describes Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as consisting of beliefs like these:

  1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.”
  2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.”
  3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”
  4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.”
  5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”That, in sum, is the creed to which much adolescent faith can be reduced.

What is perverse about these statements is that none of them is entirely wrong.  But it is the subtle errors that erode genuine faith, especially when the propositions fit together to form a worldview.  Together they create a warped perspective that, while borrowing the language of Christianity, is not actually Christianity.

Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics – An Interview

I am not a fan of Diane Rehm, by any measure.  Not only do I find her views unpalatable, her voice grates my ears.  But as I was driving to an appointment today I clicked the NPR preset on my JEEP radio and in the matter of seconds had my attention arrested by the discussion between Rehm and her guest, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.  Earlier this week Douthat released a book provocatively titled Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.  This book was only on my “To Read” list – or at least, it was on the list to put on my list, but now it on my “Definite Read” list.

I have no doubt that there are areas of doctrinal difference that I have with Douthat, but as I listened to him make his points and respond to Rehm and some of her regulars, I could not help but nod in agreement.   Douthat offers some astute cultural observations that, being missional, I cannot ignore.

To listen to today’s interview click: Bad Religion