Monday, February 25, 2008

Assessing The Decline of Protestantism

According to a new report by US News & World Reports, we Protestants are going to eventually become the minority. "Whereas nearly two thirds of Americans identified themselves as Protestant as recently as the 1980s, only 51 percent identify as Protestant today, the study found." Really? Going to be a minority? I'm a Protestant, and I'm pretty sure that I've always been in the minority of American religion. Ever since I took my evangelism class with Josh Walker at GCU and read my way through The Purpose Driven Life per my teacher's requirements, I have known that "true" Protestant religion stopped being cool a long time ago. Sure, really cool guys like Josh and I are fighting to make it society's standard for awesome once again; but swimming upstream like this takes time.
"American religion is likely to be even more diverse in the future than it is now," John Green, a senior fellow with the Pew Forum, told reporters. "One can make the case that Americans will be less Protestant and less Christian a century from now, but how much is hard to gauge."
Darn. And I was used to being in the majority! I thought that the "seeker sensitive" churches with their broad and appealing approach were supposed to save Christianity in America. Oh well; I suppose the next trendy approach to butchering historical Christianity should get its chance to try out the spotlight. Go ahead, Emergents; you give it a try.

One really interesting piece of information: "Thirty percent of all Americans, it found, have switched their religion at some point in their lifetime, either to a different religion or to an 'unaffiliated status.'" For those living in Rio Linda, unaffiliated means, "I believe what I want about God and no religious group is going to tell me what He's like. This is becoming very popular, but lets remember that this trend started long before Meno Simon ever picked up a New Testament and decided those creeds were completely worthless.

I want to remind our readers here at Bring The Books that we are in a struggle for the hearts and minds of those around us; of our communities. Significant threats are not only on the horizon, but already here. First, Roman Catholicism; as more and more immigrants come here from Latin countries, so too does the Roman religion come along with them. Second, Islam; though not something I have to deal with, living here in the Bible belt, it is nonetheless a worldview threat which we must all be educated on and prepared to offer a defense against (with love and respect). Finally, generic unbelief; judging from this study from US News & World Reports, massive numbers of people are turning from religion altogether or labeling themselves "atheistic" or "agnostic."

I want to also make a passing observation that these figures from USN&WR makes one presumption which we should not accept; and that assumption is that the trends will continue as they are right now. If history offers us one lesson it is that trends change. What pollster could have predicted the Great Awakening, for example? The opportunity for spiritual revival and a resurgence of interest in the true Biblical faith is there, and that is something which polls cannot predict, because our God is sovereign.

Though election and predestination are both true, we as Reformed Christians know that we have a responsibility to present the Gospel and to leave unbelievers "without an excuse." "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14). After all; would the Great Awakening have ever happened if Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and John Wesley had not spread the Truth of God throughout the colonies? I would suggest not. I would also suggest that we each take personal stock of each of these major competing worldviews I have pointed out and ask ourselves whether we are adequately prepared to defend "the faith once delivered" against unbelief in its many forms.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great article. Thanks for being so culturally relevant.


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