Is evangelical Christianity on its way out in Western culture? According to writer Michael Spencer, we might just be headed that direction. As I was reading emails yesterday, I received a message from Jerome Smith, author of “Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible” who pointed me in the direction of Spencer’s article in the Christian Science Monitor. There were a number of notable comments in this piece but perhaps the most scathing was this:
We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.
Good writing causes you to interact with it. In this, Spencer connects. I had to think back to just last week when I wrote my two articles on “Politics and the Gospel” and my comments on how we as Christians must look upon bringing change to our culture. Spencer made reference to this idea as well when he commented:
The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.
My thoughts? As I’ve stated before, I’m not a fatalist but I do believe Spencer is on to something here. In the Denver metropolitan area where I pastor, I’m alarmed at the number of “Christian” people who cannot clearly explain to me why one must be saved. We have large, mega churches all around and yet, the cause of Christ is minimalized and discounted as “one among many”. For all the money and big programs being brought into these churches, life change isn’t happening. Instead, we’re building a consumer church that offers what the public wants and not what it needs. We do this because it’s easy for someone to go down the road and find what they want if you won’t give it to them. What will be the end result? Spencer sees consumer churches that are compromised and not doctrinally based thriving while solid bible teaching churches will fade away. We are already starting to see much of this in areas where old churches are closing or merging with others and still others surrender to a multi-site takeover and let someone from another state teach their flock. A remnant will survive however. I’ve seen some of my pastor friends here who are solidly biblical, current, and reaching the lost take a stand on this issue of biblical illiteracy. A group of us meet regularly for prayer and to encourage one another. I’m not sure what will stem the tide of this current wave but I do know that we will be faithful regardless.
Well known author Robert J. Morgan wrote his own commentary to this article late yesterday. I liked his closing comment:
…it’s always a mistake to assume Christianity is dead and buried. As we saw on Easter Sunday, the “corpse” has a way of resurrecting and outliving the critics.
To this, I would agree. I believe now is a great opportunity to reach people with real truth. The trials that Spencer writes about may come to pass but Jesus never told us it would be easy. He told us that narrow is the road that leads to eternal life and wide is the path that leads to destruction. We should not be surprised when we see this play out before our eyes but we should also not be apathetic to the situation either. Let’s pick up our swords (bibles) and let’s lock arms in the battle that lay before us. Let’s teach our congregations the meat of the Word and not just self-help milk. Let’s claim the minds of our people for Christ that they may be renewed as Romans tells us. Let’s not grow faint in the battle but rely on God for His strength in this time of need.