8
   

The impending death of evangelical Christianity?

 
 
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 10:06 am
Very interesting article in Christian Science Monitor (source)

I hope his predictions of the demise of evangelical Christianity are wrong, but his astute insights into some of the "rot" that's occuring at the core of the movement are unassailable. Just look at the anti-Christian sentiment as evidenced by the Proposition 8 backlash in California, the perception (which unfortunately is sometimes true) that Christians have caused more evil than remedied and our inability to live up to the very beliefs and doctrines we espouse (especially in our move visible leadership e.g., Swaggart, Haggard, Bakker), Obama's acknowledgement of atheism as a peer "spiritual" group to Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc., in the country, and my own experience of failing to pass my own deeply held Christian beliefs to my children (I am not alone; in my experience there are many Christian parents who sorrow for their lost children).

Quote:
WHY IS THIS GOING TO HAPPEN?

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

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.

2. 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.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to "do good" is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive.

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.

7. The money will dry up.


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Type: Question • Score: 8 • Views: 7,689 • Replies: 100
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 10:10 am
Wow, I can only hope this is true. Having grown up in the South alongside tons of these people, I can say that they are a mixture of annoying and idiotic 90% of the time - though basically decent people for the most part.

I could care less what anyone believes about how the world works; but some have to spend all their time trying to force those beliefs on others/convert them...

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 10:20 am
@slkshock7,
slkshock7,

I would be lying if I didn't admit that the demise of evangelical Christianity as the mother of the rampant Christian theocratic drive for political control in the US is a good thing.

I have nothing against any one person or anyone's faith but I do think that fundamentalist theocrats are the most dangerous people on the planet, regardless of their theocracy. Any group who wants to determine how someone not affiliated with that group should live it's life and have the laws of the land reflect those thoughts should be stopped at all cost.

On the other hand, I have worked with a number of faith-based groups on disaster relief projects and found, without exception, that the faith-based groups are highly organized, committed to supporting those who need help, and are there to offer assistance long after "official" agencies have moved on to other events/tasks. This also applies across theologies and denominations.

I'm glad for you that you find comfort in your faith. I, myself, do not consider your children lost, but I empathize as a parent for wanting what's best for their children and not seeing that come to fruition.

Best wishes to you and yours.
Green Witch
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 10:28 am
Nonsense. Self-righteous, fundamentalism will never go out of style.
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 10:44 am
@slkshock7,
To quote Eddie Izzard...

"The first words in the bible should have read: The world is round for **** sake!"

Evangelical Christianity will not die. I do believe it will continue to recess back down to a level where it is not overwelming the masses. That kind of cultural territory loss to some evangelicals will be called loss. It's not enough to have a slice of the pie, evangelicals want the whole thing. Anything less, and they act like they are too good for the piece you're offering them.

I think the greatest reason that Evangelical Christianity will atrophy is that it fails to adapt be a part of the progression of mankind these days. The article hits pretty close on that point. The harder they fight to damage our educational institution's science curriculum in a ever more high-tech and science based society, the more they make themselves irrelevant.

T
K
O
Green Witch
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 11:16 am
This story from CNN yesterday seems to contradict the CSM story:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/03/09/us.religion.less.christian/index.html<br />

Quote:
The survey also found that "born-again" or "evangelical" Christianity is on the rise, while the percentage who belong to "mainline" congregations such as the Episcopal or Lutheran churches has fallen.

One in three Americans consider themselves evangelical, and the number of people associated with mega-churches has skyrocketed from less than 200,000 in 1990 to more than 8 million in the latest survey. Video Watch CNN report on new study
0 Replies
 
curtis73
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 12:50 pm
I would be lying if I said I thought the death of evangelical christianity was a bad thing. Its the far end of the bell curve and I for one wouldn't miss it if it dropped off the chart altogether.

Quote:
Just look at the anti-Christian sentiment as evidenced by the Proposition 8 backlash in California

Excuse me? anti-christian? Since when did this become a vote about religion? Its not gays versus christians, its a political vote on whether or not homosexuals should be given equal human rights. Last time I checked they were human. Religion has no place in politics, and when a political movement is started that opposes something the church supports, its not because you're a persecuted christian. Its because we disagree with your political views.

I voted against prop 8, but I never once thought that my vote was helping "screw the religious folk." I did it because I support my gay friends' right to be treated like any other human.
slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 06:51 pm
@JPB,
JPB,
Thanks for your response...especially your words about my kids. The real point of my post was the inability of my generation to formulate a convincing argument which would keep our children in the fold of Christianity. In our society today, our kids have mixed in their mind the true American doctrine that "all men are created equal" with the siren song that "all beliefs, pleasurable practices, and moral codes are also equal".

I would argue against your argument that "the demise of evangelical Christianity as the mother of the rampant Christian theocratic drive for political control in the US is a good thing." This is really a "whose ox was gored argument". In my opinion, advocacy for a society or Government run by rules that mesh well with your own personal opinions and beliefs is a good thing and should never be precluded by any other part of a democratic society. This principle holds whether your personal opinions and beliefs fall in the secular vein or Christian.

JPB wrote:
Any group who wants to determine how someone not affiliated with that group should live it's life and have the laws of the land reflect those thoughts should be stopped at all cost.


This quote reflects where I think Christianity has often gone wrong. I think my primary concern is with the phrase "wants to determine". I'll use my own kids as an example...I am well within my bounds to be concerned how my daughter lives...I believe she shouldn't sleep with another before marriage, she shouldn't sleep with other women, she shouldn't abort babies and should go to church, etc. As you mentioned, this is what I think is best for her. For the exact same reason (because it is what I think best for them) I should be concerned for non-relatives, even strangers...even though I will have less influence on those folks. This is no different than others who abide by a different set of moral rules e.g. that one can sleep with whomever one wants or that abortion is a woman's inherent right. If one really believes that some thing or some practice is harmful to another, it would be disingenuous at best and hypocritical at least to allow another to proceed down that harmful path.

Unfortunately all too often Christians go overboard in their insistence that others must toe the party Christian line and in the end, turn off the very person they are trying to save. I am a strong believer in God's sovereignty and while I feel obligated to ensure my friends and neighbors understand my particular religious beliefs, I leave it to God to do the convincing and effect the ultimate conversion.
slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 06:57 pm
@Diest TKO,
Diest TKO wrote:
I think the greatest reason that Evangelical Christianity will atrophy is that it fails to adapt be a part of the progression of mankind these days.


But a true Christian shouldn't be concerned about the "progression of mankind" nor adaption, he/she should have their focus elsewhere. If that results in atrophy of earthly evangelical Christianity, than that is not loss either.
slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 07:14 pm
@curtis73,
curtis73 wrote:
Excuse me? anti-christian? Since when did this become a vote about religion? Its not gays versus christians, its a political vote on whether or not homosexuals should be given equal human rights. Last time I checked they were human. Religion has no place in politics, and when a political movement is started that opposes something the church supports, its not because you're a persecuted christian. Its because we disagree with your political views.


I agree.......it became a crusade against Christians, Catholics and Mormons when opponents of Proposition 8 decided to forego lawful protest against the measure and instead took up a campaign of vandalism and terrorization of churches. I see those unlawful actions of Prop 8 opponents as equally reprehensible to those acts of violence, vandalism and terrorism committed against abortion clinics. The battle lines of varying political views should be drawn against the law or legal precedent not those innocent people and organizations that simply believe differently than I.


hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 07:23 pm
a lot of these groups have incredibly large cash needs, to fund their mega churches and outreach (promotion) programs. Those who can't/won't economize will find themselves dissolved by bankruptcy
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 07:44 pm
@Green Witch,
Green Witch wrote:

Nonsense. Self-righteous, fundamentalism will never go out of style.


I wa gooing to say "Hallelujah!! Praise the lord!!!!" when I saw the title of this thread...but I think you are right.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 10:12 pm
@dlowan,
The author of the piece slkshock refers us to has some interesting things to say, in same ways.

For instance, he has a strong opinion on the extent to which evangelicals have been subsumed, as I read it, from their religion into being the shock troops of the culture wars:


http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/the-tactics-of-failure-why-the-culture-war-makes-sense-to-spiritually-empty-evangelicals


Excerpts:

Quote:
The Tactics of Failure: Why The Culture War Makes Sense To Spiritually Empty Evangelicals

August 4th, 2006 by iMonk

Ann Out Of Place

This afternoon I listened to Ann Coulter being interviewed on TBN. Not CNN. TBN. The Paul Crouch/Jan Crouch fashion show and soap opera that you can’t look away from. Yes, that TBN. The one with Creflo, Joel, General Joyce, Kenneth and Gloria, Kim, Matt and hundreds of very, very uncool people with shocking attractions to hair-styles from other planets.

There sat Ann Coulter, blonde babe darling of the hardcore far right, loathed and hated enemy of all things liberal, author of the new hit Godless, a book I haven’t read, but whose reviews tell me is an assault on the left as the “anti-God” side in American politics. There sat Ann on the same couch as hundreds of Pentecostal preachers and well-dress Apostles to America’s women, talking to Paul Crouch, Jr...

.....Ann spoke contemptuously of liberals during her little interview. She said, with all sincerity, that part of her prayers were prayers for liberals and thanking God that she wasn’t one. An uncomfortable Paul Crouch, Jr. seemed to immediately recall that somewhere it says that “I thank you, Father, that I am not a liberal,” isn’t a good prayer. “We’re all just sinners saved by grace,” he said. Whatever. Eye roll.

What is Ann doing on Christian television? Is she there as an example of TBN’s Charismatic style of Christianity? Is she giving her testimony? ***ahem** Or is she there as an example, a voice, to evangelicals of what it’s now all about: the culture war against those hated liberals?


The War All Around You

Everywhere one looks, evangelicals are becoming the religion of the culture war. Liberals vs evangelicals almost defines America these days, and evangelicals don’t mind at all. The more intense it gets, the more we seem to know our place.

Increasingly, major evangelical ministries are becoming more interested in the culture war than any other topic. Take Baptist Press, the former press outlet for the Southern Baptist Convention. These days, fully half of the articles and columns coming from Baptist Press are culture war related, particularly dealing with abortion, homosexuality, feminism, stem cell research, support of the War in Iraq, displays of the Ten Commandments and politics in general. The SBC itself is, on some days, fortunate to get 1 or 2 articles on its own press service..........



...................My Conclusion

I am suggesting, therefore, that the increasing interest in the culture war among evangelicals is not an example of a reinvigorated evangelicalism remaking its culture. Instead, I believe the intense focus by evangelicals on political and cultural issues is evidence of a spiritually empty and unformed evangelicalism being led by short-sighted leaders toward a mistaken version of the Kingdom of God on earth.


0 Replies
 
curtis73
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2009 10:18 pm
@slkshock7,
Quote:
I agree.......it became a crusade against Christians, Catholics and Mormons when opponents of Proposition 8 decided to forego lawful protest against the measure and instead took up a campaign of vandalism and terrorization of churches


Ok. I just don't think that the actions of a few extremists should serve to condemn the entire group. Of the millions of people against Prop 8, only a small handful (relatively) are responsible for inappropriately taking out their frustrations on churches. At least, I'm not of the opinion that we are at the point that we can call this "anti-christian." I'm willing to concede that a large percentage of prop 8 supporters are christian, and a fair number of opponents are not, but correlation does not prove atheism

.... wait, what? Smile
0 Replies
 
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 01:02 am
@slkshock7,
slkshock7 wrote:

Diest TKO wrote:
I think the greatest reason that Evangelical Christianity will atrophy is that it fails to adapt be a part of the progression of mankind these days.


But a true Christian shouldn't be concerned about the "progression of mankind" nor adaption, he/she should have their focus elsewhere. If that results in atrophy of earthly evangelical Christianity, than that is not loss either.


If what you say is accurate about being a true Christian, then "true Christians" will be left behind as other parts of society continue to move forward. Hell, even the Amish drive cars now.

Not all Christians are evangelical, many are content just having their view and have no interest in creating a public agenda.

T
K
O
slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 06:22 am
@Diest TKO,
Diest TKO wrote:
If what you say is accurate about being a true Christian, then "true Christians" will be left behind as other parts of society continue to move forward. Hell, even the Amish drive cars now.


I didn't mean to imply that Christians hole up in a cave someplace praying and waiting for the second coming. Frankly the rub lies in the fact that your definition of "society moving forward" may be very different than mine.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 06:33 am
I only want to add that "evengelical" here seems to emant how the term is used in the USA.

Generally, 'evangelical' was used (e.g. by Marin Luther) as a term to distinguish some kind of Christianity from another, here: Roman Catholicism.

Thus, for instance, the Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of 23 Lutheran, Reformed and United Protestant churches, most of them rather liberal (in sense you use this term in the USA).
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 08:14 am
@slkshock7,
slkshock7 wrote:

I would argue against your argument that "the demise of evangelical Christianity as the mother of the rampant Christian theocratic drive for political control in the US is a good thing." This is really a "whose ox was gored argument". In my opinion, advocacy for a society or Government run by rules that mesh well with your own personal opinions and beliefs is a good thing and should never be precluded by any other part of a democratic society. This principle holds whether your personal opinions and beliefs fall in the secular vein or Christian.


Ah, but your choice of secular vs Christian is precisely the point. I assume then that you have no trouble with laws dictating no vehicular transportation during the sabbath, or laws requiring all citizens to pray five times each day while facing Mecca? It isn't secular vs Christian. It's secular vs theocratic, independent of the theocracy.

slkshock7 wrote:
JPB wrote:
Any group who wants to determine how someone not affiliated with that group should live it's life and have the laws of the land reflect those thoughts should be stopped at all cost.


This quote reflects where I think Christianity has often gone wrong. I think my primary concern is with the phrase "wants to determine". I'll use my own kids as an example...I am well within my bounds to be concerned how my daughter lives...I believe she shouldn't sleep with another before marriage, she shouldn't sleep with other women, she shouldn't abort babies and should go to church, etc. As you mentioned, this is what I think is best for her. For the exact same reason (because it is what I think best for them) I should be concerned for non-relatives, even strangers...even though I will have less influence on those folks. This is no different than others who abide by a different set of moral rules e.g. that one can sleep with whomever one wants or that abortion is a woman's inherent right. If one really believes that some thing or some practice is harmful to another, it would be disingenuous at best and hypocritical at least to allow another to proceed down that harmful path.


I fully understand the desire to proselytize one's faith. If I had a sure-fire cure for all cancers and no one would listen to me then I would be frustrated indeed. BUT, should my government be allowed to FORCE it's citizens to partake of my cure? I think not. Should my government be allowed to FORCE it's citizens to follow the dictates of one religion's moral codes when those moral codes are based on opinion and theology? I think not. Rather than being disingenuous or hypocritical to allow another human to determine for his or her self what is and what isn't "harmful", it's intrusive and arrogant.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 08:36 am
@slkshock7,
Quote:
I agree.......it became a crusade against Christians, Catholics and Mormons when opponents of Proposition 8 decided to forego lawful protest against the measure and instead took up a campaign of vandalism and terrorization of churches.


Slkshock... I think you are missing the point the writer of this article is trying to make.

Quote:
Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake.


The point is that Evangelical Christians are making a "costly mistake" by linking themselves to politics (and a controversial brand of conservative politics at that). I agree with him in this point.

If Christians would work on practicing their own faith... rather than on forcing others to adhere to their faith... the rest of us may be less pissed off at them. You don't see Jesus, or the early Christians in the Bible getting involved in worldly politics.
slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 09:38 am
@JPB,
JPB wrote:
Ah, but your choice of secular vs Christian is precisely the point. I assume then that you have no trouble with laws dictating no vehicular transportation during the sabbath, or laws requiring all citizens to pray five times each day while facing Mecca? It isn't secular vs Christian. It's secular vs theocratic, independent of the theocracy.


Actually I would have trouble with such laws because there is no Biblical command that requires such...
You also seem to be of the opinion that Christians are intent on establishing a theocracy here in the US....that is no more true than Democrats are intent on establishing a socialist state here. Sure you'll find a few extremists (both Christians and Democrats) that might lean that way but they are far in the minority.

JPB wrote:
I fully understand the desire to proselytize one's faith. If I had a sure-fire cure for all cancers and no one would listen to me then I would be frustrated indeed. BUT, should my government be allowed to FORCE it's citizens to partake of my cure? I think not. Should my government be allowed to FORCE it's citizens to follow the dictates of one religion's moral codes when those moral codes are based on opinion and theology? I think not.


I think we are in violent agreement here, if "by force" you mean at the point of a gun, or under threat of jail, fines, etc. Requiring somebody under duress to abide by your religous moral codes is completely ineffective and more likely to create enemies than followers of your faith. Acceptance of a religious faith in an individual only comes from an open and willing meeting of the mind and heart.

But this in no way restricts Christians from attempting to vote in and establish a Government that abides by Christian principles (or that is in the best interest of our fellows)....it just needs to be done in a persuasive God-led manner, not by coercion. The same thing can be said for any political or social advocacy group....we all have the same right to attempt to get a Government that abides by our particular moral code. Conversely we all have the same right to protest when we feel our moral code is being infringed.

Ultimately it becomes a matter of who is most effective at persuading the masses, and right now I'd argue that the evangelical Christian is on the losing side of that equation.
 

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