Tag Archives: Christian Smith

Ethically stunted? The moral morass of Evangelical America


Circles of hellOne of the chapters of my forthcoming Getting Medieval with C S Lewis pulls the threads of that 20th-century moral philosopher (for that was what he was, at his core) for his medieval and classical ethical sources.

Befitting a book that proposes to unpack for evangelical readers a “care package” from what most would consider a very unlikely source – the Middle Ages – I am doing my best song and dance to draw them in. Part of that is putting “Saint Lewis” on the cover. But another part is starting each chapter with a clear and compelling portrayal of “the modern situation” (if you like, postmodern situation) that we find ourselves in: the problem that needs fixing.

This is only classic marketing protocol: state the problem, then give the solution. I’ll let you judge whether I manage to do this well in this draft of the introduction to the chapter tentatively titled “The moral fabric of medieval faith”:

I had finished the first year of my seminary Masters program. Back home, my evangelical pastor pulled me into his office: “How can I address the character issues in my congregation without seeming legalistic? Anything I say on morality seems to pull against the Gospel message of grace!” The question was heartfelt. But after a full year in a church history program, I was at a loss for a helpful answer. Continue reading

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America’s teens don’t know the radical message of the Gospel–and we parents are to blame


Two adolescent couples at the 2009 Western Ida...

Yup, “Christian” teenagers in America are more likely than not to believe “moralistic therapeutic deism.” That was sociologist Christian Smith’s coinage, and although he’s not mentioned in the following CNN.com article, the diagnosis remains the same: American Christians are not teaching their young people enough Christianity to get arrested for. Maybe they should check out Mark Van Steenwyk’s and my “Resources for Radical Living” course (coming someday to a bookstore near you).

(CNN) — If you’re the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:

Your child is following a “mutant” form of Christianity, and you may be responsible. Continue reading