Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) is a term which was coined in the book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Review here) to describe the dominant religious beliefs of both American youth and adults. MTD beliefs often have the appearance of historic Christian belief but, indeed, warp and reprioritize the Christian faith so that it becomes all but unrecognizable from biblical historic Christianity. There is no institutional MTD organization. No one would ever refer to themselves as a Moralistic Therapeutic Deist, but, as a set of beliefs, it is nonetheless an immensely influential and, viewed from the perspective of historic Christianity, damaging system.
One of the main dangers of MTD is that its core beliefs borrow the language and symbols of Christianity. It is subtle. It takes a true idea, reprioritizes it in relation to other core Christian beliefs, and then twists it. In this way MTD “infects” Christian thought. Many who are Christian in name hold to a faith that, at the end of the day, bears little resemblance to historic Christianity.
MTD does damage to Christian faith in two ways. First, it flips the emphasis of Christian faith, moving God from the center, to man at the center. Second, it takes some true Christian beliefs and twists them around so that they fit a man centered approach to religion.
Wednesday: MTD Part 2: Flipping the Iceberg