A rising secularism in America

And who is to blame? We Evangelicals:
When young people were asked to identify their impressions of Christianity, one of the common themes was "Christianity is changed from what it used to be" and "Christianity in today’s society no longer looks like Jesus." These comments were the most frequent unprompted images that young people called to mind, mentioned by one-quarter of both young non-Christians (23%) and born again Christians (22%).

Kinnaman explained, "That’s where the term 'unChristian' came from. Young people are very candid. In our interviews, we kept encountering young people - both those inside the church and outside of it - who said that something was broken in the present-day expression of Christianity. Their perceptions about Christianity were not always accurate, but what surprised me was not only the severity of their frustration with Christians, but also how frequently young born again Christians expressed some of the very same comments as young non-Christians."
The above quote was from Barna, one of the few evangelicals in America to use quantitative polling data to work out what is going on with American Christianity. He's not terribly good theologically, so I take his solutions with a grain of salt, but his conclusions are quite reliable.

I found this quote via reading a posting by a secular blogger named "Classically Liberal". The title of the post is "The rise of a post-Christian America". As some of you know, I have been concerned for many years that American Evangelicals have been essentially trying to punish unbelievers for acting like unbelievers. The rise of Dominionism, with its roots in heresies like Kingdom Now Theology and the Latter Rain Movement, have created an evangelical movement that is combative and overtly hostile to the world around them. It is not enough for evangelicals to believe that homosexual relationships are sinful (which is entirely biblical), but to work at stamping out homosexuality in society altogether (which is not biblical at all). Rather than presenting a God who has acted in history to provide a saviour, modern Evangelicals are presenting a God who demands to be the unelected president of the United States with the Bible replacing the constitution. This is the fruit of syncretism - a merging of American Exceptionalism, Revivalism and Biblical illiteracy. I mention Biblical illiteracy simply because, as a self-described evangelical myself, I cannot find any support for Dominionism in the scriptures. I can quite happily continue to call myself an Evangelical because I believe what the Bible says - and do this while mainstream evangelicalism continues down its unbiblical path.

The signs of secularism in America have been there for a while. Census figures show an increasing amount of people who describe themselves as having no religion. In the 2001 Census, some 50.8 million people identified themselves as Roman Catholic, 33.8 million as Baptist and 27.5 million as having "No Religion", making religious unbelievers the third largest "religious" group in America. Moreover, the amount of "No religion" adherents has more than doubled since the previous census in 1991 (Source: Self-Described Religious Identification of Adult Population: 1990 and 2001, 22k excel file).

I believe that when Christianity is practised biblically, the result will be a strong church. The fruit of heresy, worldly culture and biblical illiteracy will decimate any church movement over the long term - and this is precisely what is happening with American evangelicals.

I predict that over the next two decades there will be a massive realignment in American religious culture. The swing against evangelicalism will result in an exodus of members from churches. There will be a lot of "churn" - believers moving from one church to another - and during this phase there will be many churches that grow and proclaim their success while all the while the net amount of believers will shrink. Dobson and the Christian Right will continue their political activities for at least another decade before someone writes an article in Christianity Today outlining the utter failure of this movement to meet its goals.

Unbelievers will, quite rightly, point to this period in history - specifically the Bush presidency, the Iraq war and massive corruption within the Republican party - as being one in which evangelicals dominated and who are, in the end, responsible for much that has gone on. The loss of civil liberties, the sanctioning of torture and an unjust invasion that will probably end up ending the lives of between 1.5 and 2.0 million Iraqis will be seen as tragic and preventable actions that were fully supported by, and originating within, American Evangelicalism. The result will inevitably be a future America that has disdain and hostility towards the evangelical movement since it was complicit in America's humiliating disregard for its own high standards.

1 comment:

BLBeamer said...

Enjoy your holiday. There is a lot of truth in what you say, but I would like to discuss with you at a later time your view that the problems in the American Church (and they are legion) are almost solely the fault of the "Christian Right". There is plenty of blame (i.e., sin) to be shared around.