Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about. Its full title is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, from Soul Searching a sociological study of the religious beliefs of young people that came out a decade ago. The central characteristics of this religion are
several moral statutes not exclusive to any of the major world religions. It is this combination of beliefs that they label Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:Well, not just youth, I'd say. They didn't invent it out of nowhere. We have been moving in this direction since my childhood in a Congregational Church. Many of Garrison Keillor's characters seem to draw from this spring. I get the sense that people who hold these views do not think this is a description of correct doctrine so much as a bare minimum that any other religious person has to reach in order to be credible. It's not very intellectually rigorous, certainly. There's a lot of "But what if..." that hasn't been thought out here.
- 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, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
- The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
- God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
- Good people go to heaven when they die.
Still, the great majority of people in any time and place haven't put a lot of independent thought into their beliefs. Dissenters of various stripes do a bit better in thinking, but they usually pretty quickly just fall into some other rut that happens to present itself. As it has ever been. On a FB thread from a minister friend last night was the reply "...he called people to know and follow him, to find the positive of life-of-the-vine that transforms us, not the negative of stop-doing-that-first..." This was by an adult.
When I went back to get the exact quote just now, I found my comment there had been deleted, BTW.
There are plenty of nominations who to blame for this, but as I see it criticised in Both Lewis's and Chesterton's writing, I don't think the origins are American or recent. I do think this is the religion that will bring down the Church in the West. It already guides even the believers. Unconfortable truths can always be headed off as hurtful.