The church in North America is badly infected with MTD and it likely going to get worse in 2018. This spiritual disease is now so rampant and pervasive, that the spiritual health of the church will undoubtedly continue to decline noticeably.
But, you say, what is MTD? It sounds really bad. Some years ago this label was employed to describe (with accuracy, I believe) a growing theological idea spreading in the church. MTD stands for Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Quite a mouthful. But essentially it alters one’s view of God, salvation and purpose of life. It says that there is a good, nice God who created and watches over the world; and He wants us to be good and nice to one another, and He says so in the Bible, and also in most other religions. And the main goal He has for life is that we are happy and feel good about ourselves. However, on a daily basis, it is not really necessary to involve Him in our lives. But He is there if and when we run into problem and difficulties, and He is happy (and apparently even obligated) to bail us out. And, because He is nice, we are told that good people will all end up going to heaven. And if you listen closely, these ideas are being heralded to tens of thousands each week in churches and over the air waves.
What has brought MTD about is that over the past 60 years there has been the lack of solid, biblical teaching of the Word of God. Good theological instruction is not what folks want and they are quite satisfied with the sweet, frothy motivational stuff that passes regularly for biblical preaching. But this should not come as a complete shock to us. The writers of the New Testament foretold this happening as this age moved along.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” (The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:3-4)
The solution to MTD, of course, is a return to the careful exposition of God’s Word. To replace the Word with MTD is to replace the nourishing wheat with the valueless chaff. But, frankly, it does not seem hopeful that 2018 will witness the return to the expository preaching of the Scriptures in American churches. Os Guiness said, in his book “Dining with the Devil”, that today’s churches are fundamentally interested in “nickles and noses”; that is, in money and attendance. MTD brings in lots of people, as the Apostle predicted. And, in spite of the declarations by most MTDers that they are seeking to reach people and see them changed, the truth is that only the Word proclaimed can transform people (Rom 12:2).