Anthrocentric (man-centered) Approach:
The primary purpose of man is to be happy and enjoy what God has made.
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism--the New American Religion
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.|
When Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."
As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these:
1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth."
2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions."
3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself."
4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."
5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."
The major flaws with this view:
1. We can never be happy without God’s forgiveness – we need an answer to our sin problem and the guilt we have because of our sin.
Psalm 32:3–5 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.Selah 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
2. We can never be happy without God’s presence – we were created to be in fellowship with God.
Psalm 27:8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
3. We can never be happy worshipping anyone or anything except God – everything else is unworthy of worship and we know it because nothing else can survive time.
Psalm 96:4–6 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
4. We can never be happy when our purpose/happiness can die or be destroyed – we will live with fear of loss.
Matthew 6:19–21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
5. We can never be moral or enjoyable when our focus or purpose is our happiness because we can only be inspired/satisfied with an eternal holy loving God that does not change.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Theocentric (God-centered) Approach:
The primary purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
"God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you." -Augustine, Confessions
1. We have rest and glorify and enjoy God when we have peace with God.
Romans 5:1–2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
2. We have rest and glorify and enjoy God when we serve God’s purpose.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
3. We have rest and glorify and enjoy God when we live to glorify God.
Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”