I've been ruminating a lot on what Kenda Creasy Dean was saying last week and I'm putting some more choice quotations up on FeminYM. What I've thought about most is her analysis of the church and the role of Moral Therapeutic Deism (Mothedism for short). Yes it's a big long scary unfamiliar term for some but I thin the concept itself is all too familiar.
MORALISTIC - the church/God is there to tell us what is good and what is bad
THERAPEUTIC - the church/God make us feel better about life because of this
DEISM - God's got something to do with it but in a distant way
All this is encapsulated in the wya most of society views God and I think it's why people don't join church communities. It's why there are so many people who say "Oh well yes I believe in God but I don't go to church often" (for which read hardly ever if at all). There is a prevalent view underpinning society (as the Christian church has been so fundamental to western society for so long) that says there are things which are right and wrong, that "good people" go to heaven, that the church will help your children to grow up into good, useful, law-abiding citizens, that God is there in a crisis but a distant deity.
Before people get offended, I'm not saying that the people who believe in God and have an ACTIVE relationship with God but don't go to church are inherently WRONG. However I think the church has gone wrong somewhere if it can't show people cleary enough that MOTHEDISM is not what we're preaching. God is not the God who promotes Mothedism. God is not distant. God is there wanting a personal relationship with each and every human being.
God is not MORALISTIC. Jesus spent time with those that many "regular church goers" of his time (and maybe also of ours) would have shunned and accused of LACKING in morality. Jesus made it clear that we are not to judge others for their morals. (Judge not lest you be judged... the woman caught in adultery etc.) God is interested in US not in our morality. Yes of course God wants us to act in a way that is loving towards him and towards neighbour but his door is one which is ALWAYS open to us. God is not one who would condemn a sinner but rather go out to find them (lost sheep).
God is not THERAPEUTIC. Yes God's peace can bring an incredible inner calm, a stillness beyond imagining but God also wants us to be challenged, as Jesus said, to take up our cross and follow him. God wants us to be there with Him and to be with us in ALL times not just when it's hard. God is there for the good and the bad. He is a comforter yes but so much more. He rejoices in our joy and spurs us on to face hardship in pursuit of his kingdom.
God is not about DEISM. God is not some distant far off being. God made that clear when he chose to create us. God made that clear when he sent Jesus to sort out the mess we'd made of it all and God makes that clear everyday in his loving presence with us, each of us, individually and personally.
All these things show that God is not about Mothedism yet the church needs to be sure that Mothedism is not it's own real hidden aim. As Kenda said, is our greatest fear that in fact what we truly want IS mothedism. Do we really want to be challenged to take up our crosses? Do we really want our children to be fired up so much with a spirit of evangelism that they face persecution? Or do we really want a nice comfortable environment that makes us feel good about ourselves and about the world?
I know there are probably people of both camps in the church; those who would really rather it was all NICE and those who want greater radicalism and a return to God's GOSPEL as given to us by Jesus. The challenge to that latter group is to show the world that the church is not about Mothedism. That's the difficult part.
I think it can only be done through individuals taking that stand. Being countercultural. Speaking out. Talking about their faith.
That's the only solution I have. It's up to me, to you, to US to make that change. But do we really want to?