Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's The End of the World and I Feel Fine

Once upon a time there was a little chicken, and everybody called him-- Chicken Little.

And one day while he was out walking, up in the sky a bird flew over and it dropped an acorn, and the acorn fell down and-- bip-- bopped him on his head. Chicken Little said “AWK! ” and looked up, and didn’t see anything, and he looked down and didn’t see anything.

So he said “Help, help the sky is falling! Help, help the sky is falling! I have to tell the King!” And he went running down the road, looking for the King.

Did you know that Christianity is dying?  While Time magazine asked the question about God's death a bit early(1966) , it seems that we we have finally caught up to their prophetic words...well not prophecy if these isn't a God, guess???..... This past week the Pew Forum published the results of their survey concerning the religious affiliations of Americans.  The big take away?  Self-identified Christians have shrunk as a representation of the population quite precipitously.  

If you are a believer, the sky seems to be indeed falling.  If you, on the other hand, have been praying(I mean wishing to science) that religious sentiments would go the way of the DoDo bird, the report was an encouraging affirmation of personal bias and hopes.

Is the sky really falling?  Are we on the precipice of the end of Christianity as we know it?  

Not exactly.

Ed Stetzer wrote a response to the Pew data and points out a glaring missing point.  Evangelical Christianity has GROWN nearly 3 million during the time period of the survey.  What the Pew survey shows is not actual numbers, but the share of the population.  During the time of the survey we have seen a rapid population growth from many regions of the world where Evangelical Christianity is far behind Catholic identification(though Catholocism shrank noticeably within their survey data).  And so while Evangelical Christianity clearly grew, it didn't grow as fast as the total population growth...THEREFORE...they shrunk as a portion of the population.

Something DID land on our heads.  It just wasn't the whole sky.  

What are we supposed to make of all of this?  How should we respond?  Should we be worried.

Let's make a couple of important broad points clear;

1- Truth is not a popularity contest.  Even if Evangelical Christianity was shrinking, that doesn't prove anything one way or the other about its veracity.  Conversely, its growth, in and of itself, doesn't prove anything either.  

2-  The goal of the Gospel is not to have the largest voting bloc and strongest political influence of other groups.  If anything, that is a distraction that has lead, historically, to terrible compromises and destructive behaviors.  

Within this there is something that we SHOULD be glad of.  And let me be clear, I don't mean glad in the sense of this being something great because of what it means in an eternal sense.....  


For a long time Christianity has been synonymous with social/political order.  Meaning, without any personal thought or conviction, people would just identify as Christians without any concern of whether or not it really meant anything.  As the cultural pendulum has swung away from this there is no longer artificial social pressures to continue to identify with that which you do not really take seriously.  

Look at the "mainline" denominations today and you will see what the results of generations of nominal Christians have created.  One of the largest historical denominations in the US is the Presbyterian Church of The USA.  About a decade ago guess what they took out of their doctrine?  That Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.  He is now listed as "unique to our faith tradition".  

For those who are not nerds for etymology like myself....the term, "Christian" is rooted in identifying with, and proclaiming, Jesus Christ(hence Christian) as the Son of God and the one and only hope for Salvation for all man kind.  You may disagree with this statement, BUT, that is the definition in a nutshell of what a Christian is and believes.  

Why do I think the mainline denominations are hemorrhaging members over the last decade?  Because they have become social clubs that don't make any claims to Truth, nor claims that that Truth has a claim on YOU.  At the end of the day, if what we do in "this" group is interchangeable with any other group, it becomes easy to become disengaged.  

The modern church has become what we were warned about in 2 Timothy 4:3---people gathering around teachers to tell them exactly what they want to hear.  And lets be honest, deep down inside, we don't really want(or NEED) an echo chamber affirming our self-centerdness.  We are desperate for Truth. We are desperate for conviction.  Accountability.  ETERNITY.  And talking about things that are nothing special, just "unique" to us, ain't cutting it.

So they sky IS falling.  But not in the way some people are going to tell you.  And before your sky starts to collapse on you make sure you are building towards eternity in Christ and Christ alone, because that is the foundation that will never fall.