Sunday, June 11, 2006

What Do American Teens Believe?

A survey by the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina reveals some disturbing trends about the religious beliefs of American teenagers. They interviewed more than 3,000 teens and here's some of what they found:
  • A God exists who created the world and watches over human life.
  • God wants people to be nice to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  • The central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself.
  • God does not need to be involved in one's life except whan needed to solve a problem.
  • Good people go to heaven when they die.

Gene Edward Veith, now an official at Patrick Henry College in Virginia, made these comments about the results:

Even these secular researchers recognized that this creed is a far cry from Christianity, with no place for sin, judgment, salvation, or Christ. Instead, most teenagers believe in a combination of works righteousness, religion as psychological well-being, and a distant, non-interfering god. Or, to use a technical term, 'Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.'

There we have it! Is that what we're teaching our kids? Moralistic Therapeutic Deism? If so, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves! I'm sure that I'd have a really hard time finding any pastor or youth pastor in an orthodox Christian church who would admit to teaching what the study shows (in a 5-part series, of course). Those of us in the pastorate who don't have the privilege of serving alongside a youth pastor (we're the de-facto youth pastor!) need to be motivated to make sure that we're contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

I wonder how many adults in our congregations believe exactly the same things. One one hand, I'm not sure I want to know. On the other hand, I know I have to know.


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