Biblical Theology for Life

Reading Questions 6:  American ‘Gods’?

  1. SO: Generally speaking, what do Americans believe in, where do they place their trust?
  • Read Smith, “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” 

RD: In your own words, what do the M, T, and D, of “moralistic therapeutic deism” mean?

  • D/O: Which (if any) of the 5 tenets of the MTD “creed” do you regularly encounter in US culture? Which (if any) do you not encounter?
  • D/O: Compare and contrast your understanding of the relation of MTD and Christianity with Smith’s.
  • Read Dean, “Becoming Christianish” – pay attention to the epigraph for this section of Dean’s book. 

RD: According to Dean, what is the root problem of our American youths’ MTD and what is the path forward?

  • RD: In your own words, summarize what “highly devoted” teens have in common.
  • D/O: What did you find most interesting in this chapter and why?
  • Read Dean, “The Triumph of the Cult of Nice.” 

D/O: What is your response to Dean’s claim that MTD helps American youths navigate otherness in a diverse culture?

  • D/O: Summarize and respond to Dean’s critique of the “cult of nice.”
  1. D/O: Is MTD idolatry? Is it a serious threat to the Christian faith?

Quiz Instructions

  • RD: “Reading Data” – the content of your answer should come from the assignment – your answer is a report on the information contained in it. Cite it simply using APA (Kapic, p. 34).
  • SO: “Supported Opinion” – the content of your answer can come from your own head, but it still needs to be supported (with reasoning, illustrations, examples, etc.) from the reading.
  • D/O: “Data/Opinion” – the content of your answer should mix data from the assignment and your own reasoning, opinions, knowledge, or experience
    • sometimes the data and opinion will be separate and sequential: “Summarize Bockmuehl’s definition of holiness and then explain why you agree or disagree with Bockmuehl.”
    • Sometimes the data and opinion could be mixed: “Compare and contrast the popular understanding of ‘justice’ with the biblical account of ‘justice’ presented by Feldmeier.”

For every question, half of your grade consists of the content and half of your grade consists of composition.

  • content: do you understand the reading? support your claims with appeal to particulars from the reading, illustrations from your experience, or unfolding your reasoning?
  • composition: is your writing clear and cogent? well-organized? correctly spelled? grammatically correct?

For additional information, consult the rubric

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