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Christian belief fading rapidly

May 26, 2012
Rev. Tom Bower, Marshalltown , Times-Republican

The speed of change in our culture is breath taking. We are succeeding in "eliminating the binary." That starts by doing away with the distinction between Creator and creature (the definition of paganism). Then other binaries fall like dominoes: the binary between right and wrong. It is, after all, thinking of good and evil as absolute opposites that produces guilt, which results in neurosis! And now we are moving toward removing the "gender binary," the difference between male and female because "there is no one way a person should be."

Evangelical Christians are in the forefront of fighting against the "elimination of binaries." Unfortunately, however, some evangelical strategies are having tragic results. I refer to the rapid rise of the "new fundamentalism" which promotes as "biblical truth" things like young earth creationism, TULIP Calvinism, dispensationalism and Christian Zionism.

Our young people are leaving the church in droves. Not only leaving the church, but abandoning the faith that they once knew. Atheism (belief in no god) is the new "political correctness." Traditional Christian sexual ethics are falling by the wayside 80 percent of evangelical youth have sex before marriage. Even people who still claim to be Christians are abandoning the belief that Jesus is the "only" way. They, too, have bought the idea that truth is relative. "What's true for you may not be true for me."

And these new fundamentalists think if they become more absolutist, less ambiguous on matters such as evolution, end-times theology, restriction of salvation to the evangelized, they will "strengthen" the faith of our young people and stop the bleeding of our churches.

The data says they're wrong. Christian belief is fading rapidly from our shores (and from our families). And the new fundamentalists, inadvertently, are helping it happen.

Meanwhile there is less room for those who want to stand on "middle ground." That ground holds uncompromisingly to Jesus Christ as God and Savior. But those on this middle ground also admit that they do not know or fully understand all things - they embrace science as God's "mouthpiece" and hold with tentativeness and humility those beliefs which are "non-essentials." They attempt to live out a healthy balance between the personal gospel and the social gospel. But it appears as though fewer and fewer pastors and churches care about that balance. This does not bode well for passing the faith to the next generation. Perhaps we can understand why the center of Christianity is moving to Asia and the Southern hemisphere.



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