June 11, 2019

Why I Can’t Be a Fundamentalist (Although I Miss Some of It) Recently, here, a very articulate interlocutor has engaged in conversation with me about this question: Is it possible to throw out the “bathwater” of fundamentalism and keep the “baby” of passionate, Jesus-centered, vital, joy-filled, exciting, transforming, fulfilling Christianity that also resists constant and quick accommodation to the whims and fancies of American culture? What started this conversation was my sentimental reminiscing about the Christianity of my childhood and… Read more

June 10, 2019

More about Gay Marriage, Progressive Churches, and Plural Marriage If you have not read my immediately preceding post/essay about plural marriage, you must go back and read it before responding to this one which is a continuation or possibly a lengthy footnote to it. It has never been proven that every plural marriage is bad for women or children. Some obviously are. So are some monogamous marriages. But it is obviously conceivable that a plural marriage might be truly mutual…. Read more

June 5, 2019

Why Not Polygamy? A Question to Progressive Churches Recently several churches with which I have friendly relations and that I respect as good Christian congregations have adopted gay-friendly policies that are generally called (among Christian theologians and leaders) “welcoming and affirming.” The precise details of the policies differ from one congregation to another, but, in most cases, the decision is to allow gay marriages within the church building, performed by members of the congregation, recognizing same-sex couples as legitimately married… Read more

June 1, 2019

Three American Religions Confused with Christianity Recently I have been examining and critiquing an American religion called Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD). I have argued that many Americans who think they are Christians (disciples of Jesus Christ) are actually believing in and practicing a false religion. Anyone who knows the New Testament and Christian history well can immediately recognize how false MTD is. Of course there is truth in it; that is not the issue. Almost no religion is wholly false…. Read more

May 28, 2019

The American Religion: Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD) Part 3 If you have not yet read parts 1 and 2 of this series, please do it now—before reading and especially before responding to this essay which is about the “Deism” in Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD). Deism has many faces. Smith and Dean used it in a rather informal ways not directly related to intellectual-religious history. Here I will follow their lead—instead of using “deism” to designate a particular group of religious… Read more

May 25, 2019

The American Religion: Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD) Part 2 If you have not, please read Part 1 of this 3 part series. Here, in Part 2, I describe my understanding of “therapeutic” in “MTD.” First, however, I want to remind readers about something many seem either not to know or forget. Here, in blog posts like this, I am definite NOT describing ALL churches or ALL Christians. I am describing a trend of a type within American Christianity. Please don’t… Read more

May 22, 2019

The American Religion: Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD) Part 1 Several years ago sociologists of religion Kenda Dean and Christian Smith announced their discovery of the religion of most American Christian teenagers in Almost Christian (Oxford University Press, 2010). They labeled it “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism.” During the years since their book’s publication much discussion has surrounded their proposal. With apologies to them and acknowledging a debt to them, here, in a three part series, I would like to dissect and discuss… Read more

May 19, 2019

What Makes a Religious Group a Cult? Part 3 (Final) Before reading this blog essay you really ought to read Parts 1 and 2. In them I lay out my credentials for explaining the contemporary meaning of “cult” in Christian theology and religious studies (apart from its technical us for any form of worship). It is simply not possible to avoid the word “cult” altogether or even to offer a very simple definition. I am asked on a regular basis… Read more

May 16, 2019

What Makes a Religious Group a Cult? Part 2 If you haven’t read Part 1, please do that now. Some, perhaps much, of what I write here in Part 2 assumes knowledge from Part 1. Before Jonestown the word “cult” was used in America almost exclusively of highly unorthodox religious groups. Its main meaning was theological—although behavior came into view to help label a group a cult when groups like the Unification Church (“Moonies”) and the Children of God (“the… Read more

May 13, 2019

What Makes a Religious Group a “Cult?” Part 1 One of the questions I am asked most often is whether a specific religious church is a cult. Most often the questioner is not satisfied with my answer. That’s because they want a simple “yes” or “no” and, is so often the case in matters religious (and other matters), there is usually no such simple answer. And a big part of that is the change in the meaning of the word… Read more

Browse Our Archives