Therapeutic Moralistic Deism Is Real

Not long ago I had occasion to be a typical, midwestern megachurch. Everything was out of the megachurch playbook down to the praise band and the message, which one could hardly describe as a sermon, at least if sermon means something like the authoritative exposition of Scripture and proclamation of the law and the gospel to God’s people. The message was purely therapeutic—meaning that it is all about us and not about Christ—designed to leave the congregation feeling better about themselves and their lives. Far too often contemporary praise music is designed to do the same. This parody works because it is true. There is a Christless, therapeutic formula and the parody exposes it.

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. This and the comedy parody that follows would be absolutely hilarious except that it is so true. For so many young people, this is their experience of the Christian Faith. So depressing.

  2. If they are making fun of it, is it because this being all they know of the Christian Faith, they are mocking it as a sham?

  3. Thank you for posting this. It made me laugh during this otherwise (overblown and fake) dark time we are experiencing.

  4. How easily what is legitimate can be de-legitimized. There are untold blessings that accrue to the believer in this life and it is good to thank God for them. But those blessings associated with this life are not the blessings to which the Scriptures point us but they are the very blessings on which Satan would have us focus our attention, for the good becomes evil when it displaces the best. Rather, our attention is constantly turned to “all spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus” – blessings with which God’s elect were blessed before the foundation of the world and, concerning which, nothing in this world can alter. This past Sunday my morning message touched on receiving Christ for the purpose for which He came: to save His people from their sins. He did not come to make us happy in this life, though, doubtless, in time to come, we will be forever happy; He did not come to release us, in this life, from struggling with the motions of sin within us, though in time to come, He will do just that; He did not come to heal all our diseases or prevent us from experiencing death – but He will save us from those things in the end.

    So much of the Christianity of today is an attempt to possess that which is held out to us as only a hope in this life. And as Paul wrote, “Who hopes for what He already has?”

    I am a sovereign grace baptist pastor in a town full of Dutch Reformed churches, and sadly, some of them have fallen for the very practice rightly parodied in this video. I have warned the parents of the youth in our church not to allow their children to regularly participate in the youth group activities of other churches for their youth programs are very seductive. Adolescents are particularly susceptible to Therapeutic Moral Deism, for it answers their teenage “angst” providing a temporary feeling of relief and a sense of belonging which are then confused with a spiritual experience. As one who came of age in the 60’s and 70’s (born in 55), I was raised in the dominant free-will fundamentalism of the day (Bob Jones type w/ a sprinkle of Fallwell and Wyrtzen) I experienced the same sort of thing parodied in the video but in the form of Basketball Marathons, Operation Nightmare’s and such. These things are great fun and produce all the same emotional responses that purely secular events can produce with the added danger that these emotional responses are played upon to get the youth to make decisions and commitments that have nothing to do true spiritual concerns.

    If a person (of whatever age) cannot be brought to faith and repentance through the plain preaching of the gospel unadorned by fleshly enticements, then the addition of emotionally charged songs, self-reflective lyrics, exciting games, and moving dramatic productions will not be able to do what the powerful and living Word of God did not do!

    I thank the Most High God who lives forever, Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, Whose kingdom is from generation to generation: And to Whom all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and Who does according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What are you doing? that, in the midst of all of this, there were, at the Baptist College I attended (Cedarville), 3 faithful men who brought truth to their disciplines. Interestingly, none of them were in the Bible Department. My Social Science professor would always start his Foundations of Social Science 101 class with, “You will never understand what is happening in the world until you accept two points: 1) Man is totally depraved, 2) God is absolutely sovereign.” My philosophy professor was a graduate of Westminster and a virtual disciple of Van Til, so I got a good philosophical/theological framework into which the truth of Scripture nicely fit. My history professor’s specialty was the Reformation, especially Luther. He often said, “Historians make the best theologians.”

    My life has been an outworking of my philosophy professor’s favorite passage of Scripture,

    “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

    (BTW, there is an answer to Paul’s 3 rhetorical questions in the middle of that passage, and it makes for a great sermon.) And forgive the length – get caught up in it when I begin to reflect on the Sovereign God and how His grace has ordered my life.

Comments are closed.