January 27, 2019

Is Christianity in decline?

Yes, I know; dedicated Christians will be with us forever, Christianity still has a strong following in many nations, and the number of people who identify themselves as Christians is projected to increase. But deteriorating European and American statistics prove a different point: Faith in the Divine has seen better days. Church attendance and belief surveys, along with a growing disaffection for Christianity among people under 40, tell us Christian theological influence is fading in the United States and Europe. Hundreds of Christian churches have already been closed. Hundreds more have an uncertain future.

In America, the moral influence that held together a virtuous, civil, and faithful social structure has fragmented. It has been largely replaced by an immoral secular pop-culture theology that despises Christianity and mocks Jesus Christ. Moral perceptions are frequently superficial and often hypocritical. The traditional role of the American family is in shambles. Children living in a traditional first marriage American household has dropped from 73% in 1960 to just 45 % in 2016, and the number of single parent households has tripled. Abortion is routinely advocated as just another form of birth control.

Church and family statistics show the deterioration of Christian influence is even more pronounced within the European Union where Christianity now competes with both right and left philosophies as well as the growth of a Muslim population.

The problem: Lethargy, indifference, disbelief, and competition from secular theologies. Public schools have become godless indoctrination centers with a distinctly anti-Christian agenda. Secular political fanatics despise and mock Christianity. Christian beliefs are frequently viewed as being tired, dogmatic, irrelevant, fallacious, and absurd. Christians are often labeled as racist, sexist, homophobic, or oppressive. Existing social attitudes encourage a rejection of Christian doctrine. If existing statistical trends in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Western Europe continue to unfold as they have for the last 57 years, then Christian doctrine is unlikely to survive as an influential conviction within these nations.

The solution: Christian theology must combine God’s spiritual wisdom with 21st century human knowledge. Christianity must experience a theological renaissance and institutional reformation that embraces a credible and consistent doctrine. That does not mean Christianity must accept every conclusion or theory human imagination has created. It does suggest ancient beliefs about our physical universe and the nature of our spiritual existence need to be updated. We need to be open to contemporary expressions of the spiritual and we need to rethink our relationship with the divine.

Christian leaders and believers cannot run away from these challenges by pretending they do not exist. Endless quotations from the Bible fall on mostly deaf ears. The anger of religious zealotry only serves to increase the derision and disdain of those who believe it is politically correct to despise Christianity. We need to deal with reality. If Christians wish to increase the positive and constructive influence of Christian theology, then it must – with some discretion - assimilate 21st century knowledge.

Thus my motivation for exploring the spiritual: I firmly believe Christian theology – which started with the words of Jesus Christ – is worth saving. His message provides a solid moral and spiritual foundation for all humanity: just as God intended.


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