A recent commentator posted something from the Internet Monk and on a whim I thought I would check his website. He has an article up from 2002 taking the Church (in particular the Evangelical brand) to task for a variety of things, essentially following up on a survey which listed Evangelicals as a group hated in American culture. I agree with much of what the Monk says. I usually do, with a few exceptions here and there. I would concur with much of the article I posted above.
What the article does not address is what I perceive to be the solution. In my blog entry of yesterday discussing the decline of religion in America I abstained from offering my own suggestions. I will remedy that somewhat today.
The long and short of it is that, speaking in general terms because I know many, many, exceptions exist, the Church is loveless.
Now, we Christians think we’re loving. This is because we have never opened up the Bible to perform any kind of deliberate study on the topic of Love. Oh sure, you can find theological treatise after treatise in all the denominations over things like Communion/The Lord’s Supper, baptism, Christian unity, worship, predestination, justification by faith, inerrancy, inspiration, on and on and on, but not on Love. These topics, though important, occupy a tiny fraction of the New Testament when compared with how often and how extensively the New Testament discusses Love.
Do you want to know why Christianity continues its decline in America? Ultimately, it is a failure to love as the New Testament models it.
When one opens up the book of Acts, for example, we are told that the Church exploded by the thousands. It is not hard to see why. The first Christians had a compelling message but it was evident by their radical devotion to each other that they really meant it. (Acts 1-4 should serve as introduction)
In ultimate terms, I propose that the reason why Christianity is declining in America is because more and more people are coming to the view that American Christians don’t themselves believe what they are selling. Certainly it is the case that sincere belief doesn’t prove the belief is true but it is obviously compelling evidence. At the very least, it makes that belief worthy of closer scrutiny.
As I said in reply to the commentator in my decline of religion post linked above, the pertinent point here is not that American Christianity is in decline (primarily) because the Church’s message is offensive. We wish! This decline is of our own making. It is our fault. It is our doing. We have no excuse. Now what to do about it?
The issue is multi-faceted and there are many things that need to be addressed, simultaneously. I raise the need to come to terms with Love as described in the New Testament because in my view doing so, and then following through with what is learned, is the basis that must underly all the other things and beyond that, will automatically prompt a number of ‘solutions.’
I look forward to the day when Christianity is rejected in America by people largely because the Gospel offends them. We must not fool ourselves: this isn’t the current reality.