KendaDean.jpgThe youth in the church reflect a Christianity of niceness

Kenda Dean’s new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
, and it is a hard-hitting critique of the American church (and therefore of parents) for the condition of the faith of its youth. Kenda Dean’s got some very quotable lines.
Her 2d chp is about the triumph of the “cult of nice.” American youth are devoted to nonjudgmental openness, self-determination, and the authority of personal experience.
Religion, she argues, has always polarized and identified people in particularities, but moralistic therapeutic deism’s new version permits the youth to use religion to homogenize instead of polarize.
Christianity is about a particular God and a particular Lord and a particular kind of behavior. It is “radical particularity”: made possible only by taking part in God’s particularity and openness through Jesus Christ.
Her complaint?

The Church has handed on MTD to its youth because MTD is the vision it is itself living.

Jesus demands not niceness but holiness, a life conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. And the Apostles’ Creed is a dramatic sweeping description of God’s wildest dreams but MTD is like reciting the Declaration of Independence in a Sunday School class. Happiness is not the point.
“MTD is what is left once Christianity has been drained of its missional impulse, once holiness has given way to acculturation, and once cautious self-preservation has supplanted the divine abandon of self-giving love” (39-40).
Hard-hitting indeed.
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