November 28, 2014

The Coming Evangelical Collapse: A Statistical Review by Michael Bell

The Eclectic Christian, Michael Bell, is a long-time IM reader and commenter. He can also count all his digits, which puts him way past me when it comes to the statistical evaluation of the ARIS data and the Evangelical Collapse posts. Welcome Michael as an IM guest blogger and take note of his conclusions.

Michael Spencer has published a series of articles about a coming Evangelical collapse in the United States. One, published in the Christian Science Monitor, has stirred up a great deal of debate, both inside and outside the Christian community. As a person who is greatly interested in statistics, I was very interested in seeing if Michael’s claims could be borne out by statistical analysis. Let’s look at some of his statements and see if these ideas can be statistically supported.

1. “Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.”

Let start by looking at the present day numbers. Michael says that between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelical. According to the recently released American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), of the 228,182,000 adult Americans in the survey, 77,747,000 self identify as “Evangelical” or “Born Again”, a number equivalent to 34% of the adult population. These numbers come from across the theological spectrum and include a significant percentage (18.4%) of Catholics who identify themselves as Evangelical as well as members (38.6%) of mainline denominations. So when Michael says that a maximum of 35% of Americans are Evangelical, he is pretty much on the money.

If you only want to count those Evangelicals who are not attending Catholic or mainline denominations you have a number of 56,500,000 who identify as Evangelical or “Born Again”, a number equal to 24.8% of the total adult population. So it would appear that Michael’s range of 25-35% was an extremely accurate starting point.

2. “Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants.”

While certain segments of evangelicalism will remain strong, as affirmed by Michael in his article, much of Evangelicalism will see significant decline, particularly among the Baptists, who currently make up over 50% of American Evangelicals.

Consider this: In the general population, 22% of adults are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine, while 28% of adults are between the ages of fifty and sixty-nine. When we calculate the ratio between these two groups we come up with a ration of .785 to one. This means that if you want to keep up with the general population trends, for every 1000 adults you have between the ages of fifty and sixty-nine, you will need 785 adults who are currently between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine with which to replace them.

So how do the Baptist fare? For Baptists 11% are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine while 37% are between the ages of fifty and sixty-nine This calculates out to a ratio of .297 to 1. In other words there are only 297 adult Baptist between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine for every 1000 adults between the ages of fifty and sixty-nine.

When we compare the numbers of 297 with 785 we find that Baptists are only reproducing themselves at 37.8% of the rate at which the general population is reproducing itself! While people who call themselves Baptists are 15.8% of the population today (according to ARIS), in less than two generations we are looking at Baptists potentially being only 6.0% of the general population (15.8% times 37.8%).

We should note that the actual number of attendees of Baptist churches may be slightly higher than the numbers would indicate as you will likely see Christians who do not self identify as Baptists going to Baptist churches. (I would be one who falls into that category today.) Admittedly there will also be other factors involved: People also have a tendency to come back to the church later in life. Other Evangelical Christian groups are statistically healthier than the Baptists are currently, so Evangelicals as a whole will likely not fare as badly as the Baptists. What this does tell us though is that at least for Baptists, less than two generations from now they will likely be less than half as strong as they are now. Michael’s prediction is looking pretty accurate.

3. “We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity.”

According to ARIS, currently 21% of adult Baptists are over the age of seventy. (I keep using Baptists in my examples as they are a good representation of evangelicals and it helps to keep things consistent for now.) In ten years, based on what we know of life expectancy, roughly this number of Baptists will have died. Yes, some of those who are currently older than 70 will still be with us, but at least a corresponding number who are currently under 70 will also have died. They will be replaced by the children of those Baptists who are now in the eighteen to twenty-nine year range, which as mentioned previously is 11% of adult Baptists. Assuming that those who are in the eighteen to twenty-nine year range roughly reproduce themselves over the next ten years, you will have a net decrease in Baptists over the next ten years of roughly 10%.

So as Michael has said, the next ten years should be the beginning of the collapse, and as was shown earlier in the article, this collapse should continue for several decades until half of the Baptists are gone.

4. “This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West. “

I did an interesting study a number of months ago entitled Southern Baptists in Decline – Where will it end? In the study I looked at the ratio of attendance to membership in denomination both in Canada and the United States. In doing so, I made the interesting discovery that:

Generally if your attendance is under 50% of your members and adherents your church will likely decline over the next ten years. Conversely if your attendance is greater that 50% of your members and adherents, your church will likely grow over the next 10 years. There are of course exceptions to the rule.

Almost all mainline churches were under the 50% ration, and almost all had experienced significant decline. One of the interesting exceptions to the 50% rule was found in the Southern Baptists, who despite having an attendance to membership ration of roughly 28%, managed a small growth between 1990 and 2000. I attributed it at the time to a positive “Evangelical” factor. What I did not realize at the time was that the Southern Baptists had not yet reached what Michael Spencer calls the “generational horizon.” The Baptists were a generation behind the mainline church in terms of the age of their members, and while the mainline churches have already experienced significant decline, the Baptist are only just beginning their decline. I should note that from the ARIS data we can see that the mainline churches now have a much healthier distribution of members (especially compared to the Baptists), although one that still indicates that decline will continue in relation to their proportion of the general population.

5. 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.

One statistic that really jumped out at me when going through the ARIS data was the statistics on Education. In the general population, 27% of those of the age twenty-five and older were college graduates. In Baptist churches the figure was 16%, and in Pentecostal churches the figure was 13%. I am seeing more and more of the Western world viewing Evangelicals as ignorant and uneducated and not worthy or participating fully in the public square. Unfortunately the education numbers seem to support their thesis. Are there Evangelicals who are going to rise to this challenge?

This ties into the last point of Michael’s that I wanted to look at today:

5. This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

If you want to know what the America is going to look like in forty years, and how Evangelicals will be treated, look at Canada today. Here are some numbers on Canadian Christians. If my statistical analysis up to this point has been correct, then Evangelical numbers in the USA in forty years will be very similar to Evangelical numbers in Canada today. Much of what Michael has said about the way Evangelicals will be treated in the USA is already true in Canada. Michael also talks about the rise of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement and it is these churches, along with moderate charismatics like the Christian and Missionary Alliance who are leading the way in church growth in Canada. I do not have the time or space to go into further details, but forty years from now it will be a much different world from what you are currently experiencing.

All is not lost however, Michael and many of his commentators have talked about what can be done. I am pleased to report that Evangelicals in Canada are starting to show signs of health and growth again. Perhaps too, Michael has given a wake up call that, like in the story of Jonah, if not ignored can lead to significantly different results.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Comments

  1. ** I can only pray that the Church of America wakes up and gets to work in gathering and keeping souls. God laid out the foundation for the church in Ephesians 5:11. American churches have been operating in one office primarily (Pastor). The church needs to operate on all cylinders. Then only can the church be complete. I believe the outpouring of His Spirit is getting ready to flow if the Church of America will align with His Word. We are experiencing a new move and biblical governmental change in our church in Manteca, CA. It’s time for church leaders and Senior Pastors to align their churches with the Biblical Model and believe God for a new lasting outpouring of His Spirit that will transform our country. We are starting to see this God Ordained movement in our city. To God be all the Glory!

  2. Sorry, the correct scripture reference for my blog entry is (Ephesians 4:11).

  3. I’m a new reader, and a relatively young christian. I wanted to thank you for the article. I see most in my age demographic starting to veer more towards cultural and political relevance, than spiritual. I believe soon the church will be purged, and that is when we may see the return to new testament Christianity.

    thanks again
    may God find us faithful till the end

  4. Chris – if you go to http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108517.htm you can find the official analysis of the USA Department of State regarding religious freedom in Canada in 2008.

    While the report is very positive, “The Government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the Government during the period covered by this report,” there were also some additional notes that go to what Michael said.

    Among those notes are:

    “Civil liberties organizations, the media, and some members of Parliament occasionally criticized federal and provincial human rights commissions and tribunals for their application of hate speech restrictions included in federal and provincial human rights acts, claiming that the commissions and tribunals at times limited free speech and expression, and religious rights.”

    “In 2007 the B’nai Brith Canada League for Human Rights received 1,042 reports of anti-Semitic incidents, an 11.4 percent increase compared to 2006. The League noted that incidents had increased more than four-fold since 1998. The most reports came from the provinces of Ontario and Quebec (582 and 291incidents, respectively); the vast majority of the country’s Jewish population resides in these two provinces. The report linked January 2007 and November 2007 spikes to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call for the destruction of Israel and Quebec’s public hearings on the integration of minorities, respectively. The 1,042 reports included 699 cases of harassment, 315 cases of vandalism, and 28 cases of violence.”

    While Michael did not cite statistics, there are statistics quite available. There is no widespread persecution at this time nor was that the claim being made. The claim was that some of what is starting to be seen, as reflected in the statistics quoted above, are harbingers of things that are to come.

    Finally, by defining persecution as only physical trauma, one misses all the complex dynamics that are involved in the process. Physical trauma is only the very last step of a process, and it is not even the defining step.

  5. SisterPhoebe says:

    (1) Sorry about that list of Creationist PhDs. I thought it was probably too long for you to post :o).

    (2) Re: us “ignorant” creationists:

    The Darwinists’ childlike faith in a “science” that has in ~150 years of increasingly desperate attempts never managed to produce ONE single solitary teeny-weeny shred of empirical evidence that ANY organism has EVER proceeded from a lower-to-higher state of complexity/ differentiation/organization, always reminds me of Luke 7:9:

    “And when Jesus heard these things, he marveled…, and turned and said unto the multitude that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in all Israel.”

    (3) Re: the “Coming Evangelical Collapse”, I can only quote I Jn. 2:19: “They left us, but they were not part of us, for if they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. Their leaving made it clear that none of them was really part of us.”

    All we’re seeing, I think, is the inevitable winnowing that separates the faithful from the religious, the Christians from the churchians.

  6. Ky boy but not now says:

    Jim Mason
    ” Amongst the living creation scientists I would highly recommend looking up the bios of Humphreys and Hartnett both of whom have done some excellent work in cosmology which has resulted in an extension to the cosmolgy of Moshe Carmeli that has eliminated many of the issues associated with the Big Bang, such as the Horizon, Dark Matter and Dark Energy problems (see Wikkipedia) as well as account for other anomalies such as the observed quantization in redshifts.”

    Not really. Those I know who have read it and understood it think it’s fairly off base. I read it and while I can’t follow the math I found lots of gross over simplifications and bone headed logic. And I have friends, dedicated evangelical Christians, who can follow the math and they also think it’s bogus. And to be honest calling it a scientific theory when there are two “miracles” which change the physics of the universe during the process is a very big stretch of the term “scientific”.

    “With respect to the age of the earth, there are many, many observations that are not compatabile with millions/billions of years such as too little He in the atmosphere, too much He in very old minerals, not enough Sodium in the sea, the rate of decay of the earth’s magenetic field, and Carbon-14 in …”

    The AIG positions on these things, and I’m assuming your positions are the same or very similar, have been refuted by everyone who’s looked at them as a data point, not by starting out with Gen 1:1 and tossing any data they don’t like. As to sodium in the oceans, the arguments tend to WAY over simplify the chemistry of the oceans. You can pick another element in the oceans, apply the same analysis as the sodium argument and get dates ranging from 600 years to 1,000,000 years or more depending on the element chosen. It’s a bogus argument.

    And to be honest most of the AIG type of work takes the data points that give the “right” answer and toss the rest as unreliable even if the rest out numbers the ones used by 1,000,000 to 1. That’s not science.

    But as I’ve learned in this argument, most young earthers don’t care about the science as they know the answer and will not listen to any discussion that disagrees with their “known” answer.

  7. While this leads off subject, I will try to be brief. In response to Jim Mason, thanks for the list of great minds c.1600-1900. I would expect them to believe in the Biblical creation account because people didn’t know any better then. Its the nature of learning. believing wrong ideas doesn’t make you stupid, it merely means you haven’t investigated enough. The Aztecs had great pyramids and advanced astronomy and mathematics and also believed the sun wouldn’t rise unless fed fresh human blood. many great thinkings of antiquity thought the elements were earth, wind, fire, and water. we now know this was wrong. Were they bad scientist? No, they just didn’t have enough information.

    Would you consult the works of Francis Bacon, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, Linnaeus, Mendel, Pasteur, Lord Kelvin, Lister, Maxwell, Lord Rayleigh, or George Washington Carver for information on nuclear physics?

    The twentieth century has produced many great advances in physics, geology, and astronomy. Their discovery had little to do with the accounts of the first chapters of Genesis. To cling to them is to reject the work of Einstein, Hawking, and others. Mind you at the time Genesis was great science, but we now have better ideas on how God makes a universe. All the so-called evidence and arguments for traditional creationism inhabit in scientific circles the same lofty place as aliens founding human civilization, cold fusion, and the Moon landing hoax.

    To deny the truth is create a lie. To build on a foundation of lies invites destruction because lies are only illusion that disappear when exposed to the light of the truth, because only the truth is real.

    If Evangelicals want to save themselves from the corruption that is wasting them away, they should not slip into the fantasy of the forces of darkness defeating them, but, like Martin Luther, take a look at the church they inhabit, from foundation to steeple and look for the rot within.

  8. Pastor Mike says:

    “One statistic that really jumped out at me when going through the ARIS data was the statistics on Education. In the general population, 27% of those of the age twenty-five and older were college graduates. In Baptist churches the figure was 16%, and in Pentecostal churches the figure was 13%. I am seeing more and more of the Western world viewing Evangelicals as ignorant and uneducated and not worthy or participating fully in the public square.”

    While this stat is interesting, it is not really something new. In my experience before and after I was saved, Christians have always been accused of being ignorant. Frankly, our faith appeals to those who are “not wise” (I Cor. 1:26-31) or educated (John 7;15). This is not something that should concern us. The “unwise” and “uneducated” are those who are most often humble enough to understand their need for a Savior. However, once saved, we should not remain this way. Look at the difference between the Peter of the Gospels and the Peter of his letter. Amazing transformation of a rude fisherman. But that is what Jesus does.

  9. Have you considered the LDS Church? May the Jesus-centered church you are looking for already exists?

  10. Pastor Mike, I disagree. The church should not just be for the uneducated. That makes the church sound like an organization which dupes the unsuspecting. I am not concerned with Christians being accused of being ignorant, but we should not let that stop us from being the thoughtful alternative to atheism, evolution, and the like. I am educated and do believe that the facts speak loudly to the truth which is God’s word. The bible even says it does through his creation to the unbeliever. What we must do better is teaching the flock how to defend the faith. We must not focus on only the milk, but advance the flock to be fed on meat. Christians are bombarded daily with the words and thoughts of worldly disbelief and become better equipped through the years to defend atheism than their Christian faith.

  11. After hearing of this article on your website from this morning’s exegeted sermon, I wanted to re-read some of the parts he had read in the sermon, to further make the point he was on, to get a more full idea of what you were saying. After reading it I began reading the comments. To say the very least, your article is bringing out, in some 75 to 80% of the comments posted, the future mothers and fathers, grandparents even, of the very resistance to the “gospel first deleivered to the Apoltles” you are talking about that will contribute to the future collapse mantioned!

    It is intrestingly enough to know and partly understand that Noah was in the minority when he entered the ark, but in the majority we he came out of it! Being in a minority is not wrong in itself, being wrong- (full of sin) before your Creator- IS!

    You need only to read with an open minded approach to both the article and the comments to see it with such clarity. I am not a regular reader of yours- first time. Not every response mind you but the majority are the verbal resistance that will contiue to grow into literal percecutation to the supporters and advocates of the “ONE WAY” that Christ himself spoke of.

    He is the ONLY WAY. This is most troubling to many of the authors commenting as resistance to this article.

    Tolerance? Absolutly!, God removes our sin as far as the East is from the West!, This is done through Christ ONLY! That turly is AMAZING GRACE that God would TOLERATE our sin until Christ removes it, He did not have to.
    That is being John 3:3ed!

    Promotion of LOVE, A LOVING GOD? That is a loving God! Tolerance, Love, Etc., wasn’t that tried in the sixties? (as well as many other times through the centuries)

    Lesson: We do not make Christanity what it is by our finite definitions of love, tolerance, joy, peace, etc. These are defined best by the personhood of Christ in living example. This account best found in the four Gospels. The putting on the new man and the putting off the old man (Eph. 4:22-24) is not done over night, it is progressive, only finalized at death for the child of God (Romans 8:30).

    When the “world” looks at TRUE evangical Christanity and sees fault, I say, “NO KIDDING!”

    But when TRUE evangical Christanity looks at the “world” we should say, while considering the “LOG” in our own eye,”While my purpose is to glorify God,(Is. 43:7) and my aim is to please Christ, (2 Cor. 5:9) may I live NO longer to please my self (2 Cor. 5:15), therefore equip me for the ministry you have for me that I may do such”

    ONLY then will TRUE joy and tolerance and love and peace come to those authors above, who resist biblical Divine Authority, who so desperatly strive to fill their VOID with self-esteem.

    I am not the “plumb line” by which others should live or think, but do not kid yourselves, there is an absolute, a bottome line, a TRUE Plumb line by which one shoud strive to live.

    Most of all, there IS a PERSON who is very capable of removing our guilt, our sin, and bringing us to THE absolute TRUTH, Jesus Christ. Will you consider such as these words should they apply to you????

    Striving…

  12. @Fr. Ernesto

    Thanks for the response. I now have a better feel for what folks in Canada are dealing with.

    However, in reading the whole piece, the government is clearly focused on hate crimes and hate speech. I see nothing in this that can reasonably viewed as anti-christian let alone hostile.

    Does this mean religious groups were legally constrained from making certain public assertions? Yep, it does.

    While YOU may not agree with the decisions, keep in mind that the Catholic Church itself has come to repudiate past actions and offer apologies for them.

    It wasn’t that long ago that religious organizations of all types were protesting loudly against women getting the vote and the ERA.

    Which of you today would still make those same statements? If you were to do so today, wouldn’t it be correct for the larger society to view your words as damaging to the targeted parties?

    You yourselves, as a group, are quick to claim offense and damage at the media’s hands. Why can’t you see that you are doing the same thing?

    Regarding the individual acts listed in the article, they also include hostility towards LGBTs. At least one of those was so egregious that the religious leader was fined.

    The individual acts mentioned in your excerpt are common to many countries, including the US. In fact, Jews, Catholics, blacks and gays are regularly the victim of hate speech and actions here and have been since well before the “secularization” of society.

    What I do see is a government doing it’s best to make life easier for all while still allowing multiculturalism. Again, I don’t see a bias against Christianity – just a reduction of it’s control and special status.

    It’s understandable that you are upset about this. However, you represent only one viewpoint in a democracy.

  13. I read your article on CSM. While I agree with a lot of it, I disagree that independent fundamentalist bible churches are going to dry up and blow away.

    I go to such a church and it’s alive and thriving, age-diverse and with a strong servant leadership. Not that a church can’t turn on a dime and disappear, but I believe that as many churches stop teaching the Word and glorifying Christ, the people in them who are looking for churches that do will find their way to those who preach the Word without politics or agenda and who live their faith. Not that churches like ours are the only ones who do, but I think they’ll at least be a first stop for such people.

  14. Michael, I don’t understand the point of your article. Are you trying to be a prophet? Do you really hope for evangelical Christianity to die? Or, are you in the prophetic sense, kind of sounding an alarm. Pardon my skepticism, but I think you hope all you have predicted will come true. Too bad that you are judging the whole country by your little microcosm of experience. We, in New England are experiencing tremendous growth in the evangelical community, both numerically and spiritually. We don’t preach a consumer driven gospel, but actually preach against sin and we still grow. We have a gigantic teen ministry that doesn’t just entertains but teaches about all issues, divides into groups for dialogue with a facilitator. We deal with same sex attraction and other issues in a no-nonsense, head on way. We teach them about how to defend a Christian worldview and we are creating zealots who desire to serve God and build more churches. And we grow. We serve the world and build churches and feeding centers around the world. We are now in the top 15% of churches in size, not quite mega, but almost. Maybe the problem is that you are underexposed to the full spectrum of evangelical faith. We are a nondenominational, evangelical church that adheres to the fundamentals of the faith, and we grow. Yes, we also think abortion is a horrible evil, and that people don’t have to be gay and we are doing this in CT, one of the most liberal states in the US. Yet we still grow. I wonder why we don’t fit into your paradigm?

  15. pezz: There are great evangelical churches and there always will be. That’s why I said we need to start lots of new ones.

    ms

  16. Color me unimpressed. What we are seeing here is a natural swing of the historical pendulum. The rise of the Evangelical movement can be fixed to Cold War era. US history has seen other evangelical “awakenings.” It’s a long story of peaks and valleys beginning just after our founding.

    This Cold-War awakening unfortunately had deep roots in the Jim-Crow South. Once the province of “Bourbon Democrats” it gradually wed itself to the Republican Party. One can not understand the present day Evangelical movement without dealing with its roots in the Segregationist South. Far too many of the old-time Evangelicals; Pat Robinson, Jerry Fawell and others began their careers supporting Jim Crow from the pulpit. When segregation became a lost cause other “social issues” took its place. The grand strategy of social conservationism (and the support of status quo)continued.

    A quid pro-quo developed between Politically Conservative Evangelicals and the Republican Party. The Republican Party got grass-roots shock troops and the Pastors got political power.

    All went swimming along until Politically conservatives Evangelicals got their dream date with George W. Bush. Let us not rehash how Bush proved the old Chinese adage of being careful what you wish for.

    For the sake of brevity let us not itemize all the particulars of the political agenda nor bog down in considerations of whether the agenda was “correct” or not. Let us just point out that the 2/3 or so of the population that was not Evangelical finally lost its Patience right around Terry Schivo and got steamed right around Katrina. Because evangelicals were so strongly linked with Bush they got buried in wreckage of his administration.

    If the evangelical movement became a victim of the failures of the Bush administration the SBC is a victim of its own success. It has become an Established Church, it has become mainline. It has become rigid, pedantic and authoritarian. Pastors are no longer good shepherds of their flock but unassailable princes in the pulpit. They rule with an iron hand; no quarter is asked or given. This is absolute poison for a laity informed by iconoclast impulses. The pastoral message of my way or the highway is leading to a mass exodus of younger parishioners.

    Still the SBC is not the end-all-and-be-all of the Evangelical Church. As much as the rigid secularists would love to see the nation become less religious, to become less wedded to Abrahamic notions of morality we are not about to see Christians relegated to second-class citizenship. There might be a slight chipping away of the preferred status of the Christian Religion but nothing that would justify the putting on of sack-cloth and ashes. While Evangelicals might complain about the loss of prayer in the public schools secularists will rightly point out that such prayer should not have been introduced in first place. Government has no right to force prayer on a captive audience.

    Students still reserve the right to silent prayer whenever the mood strikes them. There is plenty of leeway for non-disruptive forms of religious observance. The keyword here is non-disruptive and it is negotiable. Schools have an obligation to establish an environment that they feel is most conductive to their primary function of education. Schools do have right to set up boundaries of what is an what is not acceptable behavior. And if a evangelical outreach program or club somehow falls outside of those boundaries then a school does have the right to deny access to that evangelical group. That group still has other options for its gathering places and outreach programs.

    What many fail to understand here is that no right is absolute. First Amendment rights of free speech and religious freedom are limited. The Baptists are not free to incite a riot against the Mormons; The Catholic Church can not stir up its parishioners to burn down a Buddhist Temple. More to the point the government of Canada does have the right to curtail speech it finds to beyond the pail regardless of who is uttering it. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. There is a line between witnessing your faith and threatening my person. That line is codified by specific laws labeled as “hate crimes” and “hate speech.” The right of religious freedom is not absolute especially when it conflicts with the right of equal protection under law. Government has an obligation to protect the rights of minorities against the majority. Just as the law does protect one against oppression it also prevents one from becoming an oppressor. Ones rights and responsibilities are outlined by established precedent and by present interpretation of the law by the courts. It is only when one is stripped of effective legal recourse that one can complain of oppression.

    The trivial annoyances that Canadian Evangelicals deal with are in no way, shape or form oppression or the beginnings of oppression. They are at merely examples of over-reaching political correctness that can easily be rectified through established procedures.

    Actually there are fates worse than oppression. The fate that may greet evangelicals could be irrelevancy. The larger society may reach the conclusion that it is best to abandon the evangelical community to its own devices. Cold indifference can be much worse than oppression. At least the oppressor is engaged with his victim. In an odd way oppression can give validation. It can offer the martyrs crown to the faithful. Indifference on the other hand is the ultimate brick wall. It is the death of a thousand cuts.

    The major concern for Evangelicals is how to deal with an indifferent public. Outreach becomes problematic when there is no one to reach out to. Unable to use persuasion to convert the general public some may try to resort to force.

    The potential for violence may not lay in the larger society but in the depleted and disregarded evangelical movement. Hubris mixed with self-pity could create a toxic ideology of a wronged evangelical movement. That movement could then lash out at imagined slights from the larger society. The larger society will then react to what it sees as unacceptable behavior of the evangelicals. This reaction will be seen as further proof of the “oppression” of god’s chosen people causing the evangelicals to become even more isolated and extreme. Thus imagined oppression could then lead to the real thing and evangelicals could get their fondest wish of an oppressive and hostile general public. Let the martyrdom commence!

    Such a result is fortunately unlikely. The ebb of evangelism will end and the movement will recover.
    What form it will take is anybodies guess. Historical trends point to a bottom-up, grass-roots, anti-establishment faith. US citizens have routinely opted for an informal, personal and emotional faith. Trends point to a faith less informed by material considerations and much more concerned with community and spirituality. It is anyone’s guess whether those concerns becomes less political or just shift into new political areas. The mustard seeds of the next great awakening have already been sew; where, when and how they will actually thrive is unknown and unknowable. Man proposes and God disposes.

  17. Striving says:

    Chris- as concerns @Fr. Ernesto,

    Your summation sentence, “It’s understandable that you are upset about this. However, you represent only one viewpoint in a democracy.” is the format for your entire point. The main point of of which you seemed to have overlooked in the article as the subject of the blog. The article isn’t an argument for or against democracy. This seems to be a pre-conditioned response to any seemingly conservative comments that seemingly strive to take away your “understood” freedoms.

    Freedom; Not the right to do or think anything you want to, but the right and choice to do what one OUGHT to do. OUGHT? Where does one get the absolute truth on the OUGHTS? I’ll come back to this…

    It is a theocracy that is at the root of the article and its current and furture condition…IF the trajectory is not affected by any other force. The freedoms we enjoy are not the rights and prividgles granted by government ALONE. Romans chapter 13 which may give absolute truths to the orgin of such freedoms and the rulers/officals/presidents, etc.

    A theocracy is defined as: “a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the God’s or deity’s laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities.” To be more absolutely truthful to the secular defination above from the truth found in Scripture, “THE one and only God…”.

    So many misunderstand that the job of converting the depraved fallen human is that of Gods’, Father of the One and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “I will build My church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it”. That is to say, nothing or no one will overcome what God has, is, and shall accomplish! For sake of brevity I shall not delineate of man’s responsibility at this point…

    According to Romans 13, No person in any position of authority will ultimatly overcome what God has, is, or shall do to accomplish the promises found in the Old Testement in the fulfillment of the New Testement!

    That is a closer proper biblical theocracy, NOT democracy. While the government takes the form it takes, where ever it is located on earth, is not the deciding factor in the outcome of The theocracy.

    The outside forces spoken of above that can affect that outcome… God and God’s children through the work of the Holy Spirit in the children of God (John 15:5).

    The OUGHTS mentioned above are found in the new nature and progressive changing of the practices of the new man. Practicing the freedoms granted us by God, (no authority having a seat but what God has ordained, Romans 13) through the work of the Holy Spirit’s affect on the reason of the new man, (2 Cor. 5:17) as he reads and studies The Theocracy’s Laws, (Psalm 1), The Bible, God’s instruction for all of man’s OUGHTS!

    When approaching topics, especially the Scripture, inductive reason must be the first discipline, later after much research, the deductive approach can be appropriately applied. IF it is out of order much information/truth is only approached with a pre-conditioned idea of what the context is actually saying.

    A whole new paradigm is waiting for you with this approach…

  18. Clark D. says:

    The overriding assumption is that Christianity is something worth saving in it’s present form. I have a hard time understanding the benefit of a faith tradition that has never in it’s history actually done anything that has made the world a better place to live, furthered the teachings of Christ, or managed to accomplish anything except maintain the stranglehold America has on the rest of the world – we are in no way, nor have we ever been a “Christian nation.” A Christian nation would work towards peace at all costs, would invest no money in weaponry and all of it’s resources to clothe the homeless, feed the hungry, care for those who are sick or unable to care for themselves, and we would be true stewards of the planet God so lovingly provided for us. Every moment in the history of American Christianity has lead us further from God and the “faith” that so many of you are blindly supporting and without a true understanding of what it means to be Christian, who have twisted a tradition of love and forgiveness into one of greed, hate, and war – you spit in the face of God every time you invoke his name and it is you who are so lost that for your sakes I hope the true mission of Christ does come, that missionaries are able to find their way into the locked doors of your sanctuaries and have a chance to save as many of you as he or she can before you pull out your handguns and start shooting.

    If you’re still reading this, and you have any argument that actually withstands the test of scripture I welcome you to attempt and illustrate one way in which the faith you are all so desperately clinging to is connected to the message Christ brought to earth. Think about these issues in particular:

    Where in the bible does it excuse or make allowances for Christians to violate the commandment “thou shall not kill?”

    Would Jesus weep or celebrate that we provide the world with 70% of the weapons, bullets, tanks, bombs, soldiers, all designed to destroy kill and maim indiscriminately while we pray for our sons and daughters to kill more often than we pray for them to love their neighbors?

    Will God forgive you for electing, supporting, or for doing nothing to stop the atrocities committed by the last President who claimed to be a man of faith and follow the teachings of Christ.

    How is it that Christian’s claim George Bush as a brother as he victimized the poor, reduced care for the sick and elderly, and made his friends rich by starting two wars in the name of God. Turning the other cheek wasn’t a suggestion, it was spoken by the son of God, to us. The most Christian thing we could have ever done after 911 was to forgive the sins committed on that terrible day, and to ask God for the strength to resist our all too human desire for revenge.

    Please, I dare you to argue with that and try to tell me Jesus didn’t really mean it when he taught us to forgive, that he died begging for God to forgive us, but that if we’re just so mad and it’s just oo hard we don’t actually have to forgive anyone and we can own guns and build the most destructive instrments of death the world has ever known, that of course we can sell them to anyone who has the money to buy them and we don’t care who they turn around and kill with something we made, sold, and profited from, that can own our own gun and we can kill someone because didn’t God tell us he loved guns and thought we all should own them… that’s somewhere in the Bible I’m sure of it… I just can’t seem to find it though so help me out and send that along if you’d be so kind.

    And finally if someone could explain why it is a sin to love someone, or even find the passages or parable where Jesus spoke about how much it angers his father if there is a love shared between two men or two women, that it is offensive to God it is abomination!!!!! Yeah, that’s actually not there, becasue Jesus (the guy with the whole “new covenent idea, you remember when he told us it was ok if we ate shrimp, pigs, didn’t stone our wives… oh and where that stuff about men who lie with men, that got changed too, becasue if it didn’t then I think a lot of people who are eating or who have eaten at Red Lobster are going to be pretty surprised when we all find out that Jesus is really mad about that, way more than he is about planting different crops too close togehter, I mean c’mon everyone knows god didn’t mean that one… but he really meant it in that one passage about men who lie with men (which actually isn’t the same thing as loving men, so if gay men don’t sleep in the same bed that’s ok right…)

    Now I know you’re thinking you will find it, that of course Jesus said something about hating gays… except man that is hard to find… yeah that’s because he never mentioned it. He did talk an awrful lot about how much he wanted us to love each other though, nothing about not loving or who was ok to love and who was not… unconditional love… yeah I read that for sure, come to think of it Jesus wants us to love each other more there aren’t conditions or guidelines about who we should love or are who we are allowed to love.

    In fact the sin Jesus was clearest about, the one he talked about the most, and is the most consistent and explicitly prohibitied sin spoked about in the Bible (old and new testament mind you) is the sin we committ when we abandon or betray someone we love… you know that thing more Americans do to someone they love… it’s called divorce. How it must please god to know that we make laws to make divorce easier (the sin he really was clear on) and make laws to stop people love from being celebrated (no gay marriage here, not in God’s country!!)

    How proud h\He must be that more Americans are divorced than gay (or married, or in loving relationships), but since we really want to get divorced sometimes that’s probably one of those sins that’s ok, it has to be ok since it’s easier right?
    It makes ssene that we can decide what we want, instead of actually doiong what God asked of us, that stuff He talked about ALL THE TIME, kind of like murder and killing… if it’s said once (like gays) it’s very bad, but if Paul wrote letters about it and Christ talked about it and Peter founded the Catholic church on those tenets, yeah that makes TONS of sense because if he said nothing about gay people of course that means Jesus loves it when we tie them to fence posts and beat them until they die… it’s even better if they are defenseless, Jesus loves it when the weak are murdered for daring to love someone.

    Yeah, there’s just nothing about any church in America I think is worth hanging onto, except for your souls and your salvation so I will pray that God forgives you, and hopefully you will too before you stand in judgment and realize you had it all so very very wrong…

  19. Hey Chris – actually, you bring up a very interesting point, because I do have a small disagreement with iMonk on interpretation of statistics.

    The reason I cited the “Jewish” statistics is because what I see is an increasing secularization going on. As a result, the number of religious believers of any type will trend downwards. However, secularization may have an additional effect. There are various religious groups that believe in actively looking for new members, or who believe in actively speaking their beliefs into the common marketplace.

    My prediction is that groups that fit one or both of those two conditions will find themselves disadvantaged. This is because the current secularizing trend is also linked with a “don’t offend” trend which is starting to be interpreted as a “don’t speak any of your beliefs into the common marketplace.” In some cases it is even a, “don’t act on any of your belief unless you are in the privacy of your home or a safely approved meeting place for only those who agree with you.” That is the substance of some of the complaints documented by the USA State Department.

  20. Clark D,

    I recognize that the US is not a Christian nation, nor would I want it to be. Because I think that all views, from stanch atheistic to evangelical to Catholic to Orthodox to Muslim to animist to pagan, should be allowed and encourged. Just as long as no one is yelling “Fire” or “Kill them.”

    Where do you get the idea that Christ was a pacifist? And if we were a completely pacifist nation, how could we protect the weaker peoples, such as those under attack in Darfur? (I just wish that we could do more there.)

    I suspect that many of us are going to be surprised about who is and who is not in heaven with Jesus.

  21. My thanks to Clark D.’s passionate argument for his interpretation of the gospel. I think a big reason why the progressive Christianity of 100 years ago is invisible now is that its adherents became afraid to jump into the pit and defend it as Christianity against the arguments of the new evangelicalism of the 20th century that we are debating now.

    I think your(Clark D.) quite correct about the conservatives pick and choose attitude toward the laws of the old testament. Jesus gave two simple laws. Love God, Love everybody else. Everything else is mere interpretation of how to practice these.

    On the other hand your interpretation of a Christian nation would be a disaster for the well being of its citizens and all others. It implies that Satan makes a better lord of the world than Christ since “peace at all cost” is necessarily the handing over of power to the most violent.

    If Christ didn’t lay out rules for how his disciples should govern a nation rather than live in the cracks of, he can be forgiven since it would be centuries before the issue would be relevant. We should have the spirit to guide us, as the Gospel of John explains,we wouldn’t have Jesus to run too with our questions for ever. Sadly I think the Church trusted less the spirit and more the judgment of ancient saints.

  22. Susie Toquain says:

    Talk less.

    Do more.

  23. Susie Toquain says:

    Ok. I have to comment just to Clark D. You were making a lovely point about how people pick and choose which laws are importanat.
    And then you and chose divorce to rail on. Kind of killed your argument entirely. So either argue against self serving judgementalism, or be judgemental.

  24. I am a Christian. I have been a missionary. I have lived in S. Carolina for three years now, and have been to church three times. Evangelicals spend too much time telling others what they should think and do and not enough time in a personal relationship with God. They mistake telling others what to think and say as a personal relationship with the almighty. Change the world! Bring everyone to Jesus no matter if it drives millions away! If you do not believe what their pastor says then you are not a Christian. I live in a small town with over 50 churches and all of them are different except for the one fact they all believe that their teaching is the only correct one. My thoughts. Pray in a closet so no one sees. Get the secular out of the churches. Put God in your heart. Not on your car bumper. Treat your neighbor as yourself no matter if they are Christian or Muslem or Jewish or Atheist. I could go on but lastly, remember, you will be known for your works(people will see and come), but it is God who gives the increase.

  25. Wow. How did the folks with Bush derangement syndrome find there way here? They are everywhere. To respond to the rambling posts of Clark and James is an act of futility. James tries to imply that evangelical Christians are going to become violent. Yeah, when the pastor was shot in the church in Maryville there was marching in the streets. Ooops. No. Instead of shouting and carrying signs that say H8 like they do in CA or throwing rocks at people because someone published a comic strip that you did not like, there were prayer meetings. It is because of nonsense like this that Paul said he would preach Christ and Him crucified. What Clark and James and others like them want us to do is allow them to raise our children in their secular schools. And if your boys actually act like boys in the school then Clark and James give them drugs to prevent them from acting like boys. But now I am rambling. Forgive me. Like I said. Responding to rambling nonsense can make you sound crazy as well.

  26. Michael’s comment about “Christian education” not producing a product that can withstand secularism struck a chord. I was educated at Gordon College, where the faculty admitted that evolution was likely true and that an old earth was definitely true. The school was leery of the Religious Right, and stressed that evangelicals had to appreciate the value of the intellect and rise above its anti-intellectual fundamentalist heritage.

    You know what? Many of my fellow church-goers have told me that I didn’t go to a “real” Christian school and hold up places like Word of Life Bible Institute and Liberty University as examples of “real” Christian schools that teach the Truth. The average evangelical has an authoritarian personality at heart and yearns for a flamboyant personality to shout simple answers from the pulpit. If you get evangelicalism to abandon this trait, you’ll be morphing evangelicalism into something else, something more akin to mainline Protestantism. Simplistic and reductionist thinking, anti-scientific biases, and absolutist morality are in the heart-and-soul of evangelicalism. I’m not sure it can be “reformed” so much as some portion of it can re-establish a Protestant center with help from mainlines disillusioned with their own churches’ problems.

  27. “Simplistic and reductionist thinking, anti-scientific biases, and absolutist morality are in the heart-and-soul of evangelicalism.”

    Xino, I can’t agree. The gospel is or needs to be at the heart of evangelicalism. The things you have just mentioned are more trademarks of fundamentalism than they are of evangelicalism as a whole.

    “I’m not sure it can be “reformed” so much as some portion of it can re-establish a Protestant center with help from mainlines disillusioned with their own churches’ problems.”

    There are already many Christians and Pastors out there who are part of the evangelical faith, who are not characterized by the things you have listed. The reformation of evangelicalism, especially among the young, has already begun.

  28. “The Darwinists’ childlike faith in a “science””

    Where do you people come from? Science has produced tons of empirical evidence to support the findings of Darwin, and Darwin wasn’t the only one uncovering these findings. The fact that people of faith continually mock education and science is so ironic considering your entire faith is based on nothing more than hearsay and superstition. You continue to astonish. Well done.

  29. Two things… First off, rwh, not all people of faith mock education and science. I love all kinds of science. Always have. Follow the news constantly in all kinds of fields.
    I’m an equal-opportunity skeptic. I don’t trust any “faith” that says, “Well, God made it, so I can be happily ‘child-like’ and ignorant.”
    On the other hand, not a week goes by that I don’t read about some finding that the scientists weren’t expecting. I don’t think I’m an idiot for saying we still don’t have solid evidence of spontaneous increases in an organism’s complexity, the kind that would obviate the need for intelligent design.

    Back to the original material… American Christians might end up being persecuted? I must admit there’s a part of me that says, “Well, good. It’s about time.”
    When they have to go to every meeting with this nagging thought in the back of their heads — “You know, it’s very possible I might be bludgeoned or shot when I leave.” — maybe they’ll wake up to the reality of the society that they’ve helped create in Jesus’ name.
    In case anyone doesn’t get it, I’m talking about the “Christian” treatment of gays in our country. Turnabout is fair play.

  30. In 1382 AD, the followers of John Wycliffe finished a version known as “God’s Law” which was the first Bible translated into English: but Wycliffe was condemned by the Church for heresy.

    In 1522 AD, Martin Luther’s New Testament in German
    appeared. Within ten years William Tyndale hatched
    another version: copies of this version were put to
    the torch, and so was Tyndale.

    Dr Maurice Bucaille: The Bible, The Qur’an and Science
    http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/MB_BQS/default.htm

    Dr Maurice Bucaille: What is the Origin of Man?
    http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/MB_OM/default.htm

  31. J. Reiser says:

    TJ – Christians created a society wherein they are worthy of being bludgeoned or shot? This is the epitome of hate speech. Why, because they disagree with certain lifestyles? Do you agree with the way every single person lives their life? Obviously not, which renders you guilty of the same offense. Moreover, based on the logic of your statements, you yourself would deserve the same punishment. Disagreeing with someone does not amount to hate; This thought process is utterly ludicrous. If Christians were as hateful as you infer, given all the Christians and how long they’ve been around, gays and non-believers would have long been eradicated.