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Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Post-Christian America?

Apparently the recent findings of a survey have caused quite a stir in the evangelical community.

"According to the American Religious Identification Survey that got Mohler's attention, the percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 percentage points since 1990, from 86 to 76 percent."

This quote came from another article I saw in Newsweek about the effects this survey has had on America. Since this survey has come out, there has been an uproar about America becoming less Christian and more secular, mainly by Christians. I talked about my initial reaction to these finding's in a recent post. In the Newsweek article, Meacham talks about how many Christian conservatives are labeling the present as a post-Christian time. Of this he writes,

"Let's be clear: while the percentage of Christians may be shrinking, rumors of the death of Christianity are greatly exaggerated. Being less Christian does not necessarily mean that America is post-Christian. A third of Americans say they are born again; this figure, along with the decline of politically moderate-to liberal mainline Protestants, led the ARIS authors to note that "these trends … suggest a movement towards more conservative beliefs and particularly to a more 'evangelical' outlook among Christians." With rising numbers of Hispanic immigrants bolstering the Roman Catholic Church in America, and given the popularity of Pentecostalism, a rapidly growing Christian milieu in the United States and globally, there is no doubt that the nation remains vibrantly religious—far more so, for instance, than Europe."

I'm going to have to agree with Meacham on this. It is very much so an exaggeration to conclude that a 10% drop in religious affiliation, from 85% to 75%, signifies a post-Christian age.

I'm also reading Donald Miller's book Searching for God Knows What and have found his examination of Religion very insightful into the current response of American Christians, and certainly my own responses, to the recent religious survey.

Donald Miller writes, "It is true people need Jesus, not religion. And yet at times I am concerned our most passionate missionary endeavors are more concerned with redeeming our identity as Christians within the {fallen culture} than with presenting Jesus to a world looking for a God." In an earlier chapter on Morality (a very good chapter) he writes:

"I assure you, once we leave the fight over our country's future and enter the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of the lost, the church will fourish, and the kingdom of God will grow. God is not in the business of brokering for power over a nation; He is in the business of loving the unloved and pulling sheep out of crags and bushes."

So I guess the question I'm asking myself is why do I care if a survey says there are less people affiliated with churches in America now than ever before? When has that ever mattered to Jesus?

Something to think about...

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