Sunday Morning Therapy

Something frightening happened to me this morning.  A heavy weight that has been pressing down on my heart finally got a name and a face. If you haven’t notice this heaviness when you are in church, maybe what the Holy Spirit has said in His word will turn on the lights.  But when you start to feel as if something is missing or that you maybe missing out on something, you’ll know. I have found myself in church saying to myself “this can’t be all that it’s suppose to be”. I was listening to an interview of a Pastor about his book about going through suffering and pain with God. The interviewee brought up a term that I have never heard before.  The term is “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism“, he used to term to describe a view point of God  that most Christians hold to. The Pastor talks about how it keeps us from seeing God during suffering and how it actually shrinks God down. Today I was finishing a sermon on holiness that didn’t necessarily use the term but illustrated a state of mind that reflect what was talked about previously.  In this sermon, he mention that using our moralistic behavior as a starting point in how we view and judge God cripples us.  From this I begin to see how without seeing God as holy and majestic we can’t move forward in our faith. In this state our faith will latch onto a belief system that makes our world smaller and manageable. So we add a manageable God that lines up with our will for our kingdom. So this morning I decided to look up the actual definition of the term.

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moralistic_therapeutic_deism

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:
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.
 oralistic Therapeutic Deism teaches that central to living a good and happy life is being a good, moral person.”[6] The system is described as being “about providing therapeutic benefits to its adherent” as opposed to being about things like “repentance from sin, of keeping the Sabbath, of living as a servant of a sovereign divine, of steadfastly saying one’s prayers, of faithfully observing high holy days, of building character through suffering…”[7] and further as “belief in a particular kind of God: one who exists, created the world, and defines our general moral order, but not one who is particularly personally involved in one’s affairs–especially affairs in which one would prefer not to have God involved.”[8]
oralistic Therapeutic Deism views God as “something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist: he’s always on call, takes care of any problems that arise, professionally helps his people to feel better about themselves, and does not become too personally involved in the process.”[9]
When I read this the first thing that came to mind is a verse of scripture in 2 Timothy.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Looking at my own cultural background within the African American a Community, going to church is an event.  I have heard it a million times how church is our therapy.  I see it in movies that reflect a God working everything out neatly by the end.  This religion has made God small, reducing him to feel good consultant and psychologist.  Every Sunday we feed on what we think is the bread of life.  Sunday worship is about taking part in a cultural event as we all head to the social club and pay our club dues.  We put on uniforms and sing club songs.  We talk about all the people who are not in our club.  We gossip about them saying things that are not true.  We even do this to Jesus, spreading lies about things he didn’t say, cosigning things he wouldn’t approve of.  Our social clubs have tried to take away more authority from God than the world has.  It sounds hateful to hear even though it’s true.  We worship our Christianity more than we worship God.  We spend more time labeling ourselves than being who Jesus says we are.  Our being Christian is the focus, not having faith in Jesus. So we put on a show to tell the world we are different then the next day we pull off the mask.  We still want what the world wants showing that we share the same treasure and same love. We walk the same board road as they do.  So who could we possibly be praying to?  What God could possibly be ok with this?  What God could possibly allow his grace to be treated so cheaply…. The god of you, that’s who.  Our “you take a step and “god” take two”, is our self-will for the desired outcome that brings glory to you.
“We have such smooth, almost secularized ways of talking people into the kingdom of God that we can no longer find men and women willing to seek God through the crisis of encounter. When we bring them into our churches, they have no idea of what it means to love and worship God because, in the route through which we have brought them, there has been no personal encounter, no personal crisis, no need of repentance–only a Bible verse with a promise of forgiveness.”  A. W. Tozer
We have become so numb and dead that Jesus yells at us to follow but all we see lose of life for His sake and that troublesome road is not the path our god promised. Think about that one moment in your life were a decision stood. One path was a way out but it wasn’t the respectable way, it was based on you and held the least resistance. It would be what everybody else would do, no one would really crucify you for it. It would go accordingly to your plans and ease you anxieties. The other way was difficult and hard. It would cost you a lot, it presented a barrier between you and comfort. It would make you look foolish and people would question you about not going to this or that person. The choice would bring would be supports from everywhere. The choice would put you on a island causing some to judge you relationship with their gods. For years we have asked if there was a God or where was He in that difficult hour? He was past the narrow gate waiting on the side of the road to be that Good Samaritan. He was that father waiting for the prodigal son, he was the generous land owner calling for workers at the last hour. That narrow choice was the call to follow, it was the call of the cross, the call to deny yourself, the call to lose your life, the call out of the boat and onto the sea, it was the call of obedience; the moment He would give you faith. During that journey God was going to write his law in your heart, making you his forever. How many times have we taken the road that is board because we trusted us more than God?We have taken hold to the lie of the gospel of moralistic therapeutic deism that says “if it is of God it will be easy”. In the cultural religion we worship our transformation as we have arrived and it’s time to wait for heaven. Life is suppose to be easy now. Our songs are filled with what we truly believe God to be, a vender machine called dial-a-blessing. This celebration of what we use to be, what we are now and what we will be is nothing more than life coaching.  We celebrate it in such a way that implies that we made a great choice and with God’s help we did it.  We think we are Christian cause we follow Jesus’ two greatest commandments.  The sinful heart has corrupted Jesus’ two commands.  We love God based on earthly gifts and love others in a way that reflects the typical “yes man” we all want around us.  At this point we have no clue what it means to be a follower of Christ.   We want preaching to be man glorifying and encouragement to be positivism talk as well as self affirming, self justifying “the world is yours” speech.  Now we are on a quest to get everyone else to be like us. We hear from inspirational speakers, communicators, talkers, motivators, encourages, philosophers, therapists, and counselors.  We don’t hear a lot of preachers, ministers, teachers, messengers, ambassadors,  and servants.  Each group is very different, the first group always give a message of “God is love”, “God wants you to have a good life”, “you are a child of the King”, “Live your best life now” and etc.  Basically the message is enforcing the criteria of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism but what is so dangerous about it is that it will hold just enough truth to keep Christians there.  After awhile when They hear the Gospel of Christ and word of God is proclaimed, they reject it.  They kill the messengers and call them haters. Those that have bought into this fakery hate to be called sinners and the thought of them not being good is crazy to them. They believe that they are perfect with just a few issues.  But these speakers never answer our questions of suffering, they only tell us “peace, peace”.  They only tell us that our season is coming, our breakthrough is coming, joy is coming in the morning and so on.  They never give us what God gave Job during his suffering.  They never show us that God is God and we don’t care; we just want the butler to show up and show out with our blessing in hand.

They have healed the wound of my people lightly,saying, ‘Peace, peace,’

when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11, ESV) 

Today’s ministry of the Gospel is more like being a slave turned abolitionist. Those that carry the true word of God are not welcome by the plantation owners, not even the house slaves.  These abolitionists didn’t build the underground railroad, nor did they come up with the idea.  They were set free and called to set others free.  Some sneak onto the plantation and pose as slaves.  Some pass by and bring the word.  They stand among the fields and slaves to simply make the plea.  The true abolitionists are not salesmen, selling hope like that of a drug dealer.  They are not trying to get you hooked on a particular product produced by them.  They don’t hide truth that may cause you to think.  They don’t sugar coat words to make you like them.  They don’t make promises that they can make happen.  They don’t take credit for the freedom you gain, nor to they take credit for the plan.  They don’t look for the praises of the slave.  The true abolitionists will tell the slave that the way is hard, the path is narrow, you may lose everything, you may not see your family again, your family my even hate you, the path is filled with danger, you may get sick, you may not be able to eat what you desire but the freedom you will receive is greater than the guaranteed death of staying and the struggle of the journey.  At the same time the house slaves preaches the saving of our lives and the security of knowing the plantation.  They present the possibility of making the best of living on the plantation because you can count of the master feeding and clothing you; do you really want to trust God with that?   Here on the plantation if you play by the rules, obey the rules, be good, give the master his praise, and assimilate you will be blessed.
“[Genuine] believers worship gladly because they have a high view of God. In some circles, God has been abridged, reduced, modified, edited, changed and amended until He is no longer the God whom Isaiah saw, high and lifted up. Because He has been reduced in the minds of so many people, we no longer have that boundless confidence in His character that we used to have….The God of the whole earth cannot do wrong! He does not need to be rescued. It is man’s inadequate concept of God that needs to be rescued.”
A.W. Tozer
Let’s go to church to worship God for his grace, mercy, and love; but mainly for himself alone.  Our God has nothing to do with that fake love that’s says all the time, “you are wonderful”. Our God has the kind of love that let’s you be mad when “no” is for our good.  Our God, loves just like the perfect father would love not like the “new uncle” that shows up every weekend for our whoring mother and our prostituting heart. Yet, we love the “new uncle” because our  focus is happiness from gifts not joy from relationship.  Don’t seek to be the brat but hold on through it all to be the heir.  To see God, you first have to tear down the image of ourselves being God and anyone or thing we make supreme.  That’s what the cross does but now we use virtues, morality and tolerance; all while not understanding that it’s deeper than that.“I freed thousands of slaves, and could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves.”
― Harriet Tubman
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  1. […] put their rules on us we can have true freedom.  So we gather to ourselves, life coaches, certain “relevant” pastors, philosophers, gurus or whatever person or book that will help us come up with the rules or even […]

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