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Friday, September 16, 2022

OPINION:

Considering the undeniable liberal and secularist dominance in Hollywood, media, universities and Big Tech, it’s manifestly unsurprising to see America’s collective decrease in faith and an undeniable upsurge in moral chaos.

We’ve become victims of our whims, with the “gospel of the self” continuing to bedevil culture as people look inward rather than upward to find “their truth.”


Survey after survey corroborates this disturbing dynamic, with atheists and anti-religionists pounding their chests in glee. “Faith is dying,” they say, as they pine for the day when they hope to see belief fully disintegrate into the abyss.

While it’s easy for the faithful to lament what’s unfolding — and there are certainly reasons to wail — we must explore some essential truths at the center of it all. Here are just three reasons the chaotic statistics showing the supposed death of faith in America have a surprising upside:

1. Numbers no match for fervency

Secularists and atheists are engaging in the premature celebration of the supposed demise of faith. They’re content to confine their understanding of the modern era to the times in which we live rather than the broader human arc of theological understanding.

The numbers certainly create a perception that things are on the decline. For instance, 78% of Americans said they were Christians in 2007, but that proportion plummeted to 63% in 2021. That’s surely a stunning change — and one that’s poised to continue.

But simply saying you’re a Christian has very little to do with actually being a Christian. Plus, the basic premise of quality over quantity is essentially lost on nonbelievers and those aimlessly panicking. At its inception, Christianity spread from a handful of people to an international, intergenerational force that has upended and undergirded societies for more than two millennia.

At some point, though, we began worrying more about the number of nominal Christians than we did the health of those claiming the label. There’s more power in 100 committed believers than in 1,000 fairweather, nominal believers any day. And church history shows how the former is more formidable and far more effective at evangelism than the latter.

2. Gut checks help purify, reinvigorate

That brings us to an uncomfortable concession: The faith situation isn’t just rocky in culture; it’s also at a critical juncture within the church.

Bill White, pastor of Christ Journey Church in Miami and author of the book “Mature-ish: Your Mission from God, Should You Choose to Accept It,” recently detailed some depressing church statistics.

He found that 88% of Christians haven’t advanced past the “toddler stage” of their faith, 47% are spiritual newborns, and just 1.9% have reached the most advanced stage. There’s no way to candy-coat those numbers.

Culture has invaded the church, and the results are evident. Some churches are on life support, while others are in self-induced comas. Fortunately, the healing remedies are before us.

Mr. White found a lack of Christian community and not reading scripture at least once time per month (i.e. Bible engagement) are two of the issues contributing to this congregational disorder. While tragic, these statistics and others like them are a wake-up call.

Jesus proclaimed “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:14, NIV), yet too many of us have become more afraid of man than we are of God. We’ve exchanged truth for the whims of emotion, and culture — and the church — are paying the price. But now that we know the impact, we’re faced with a question: what will we do to course-correct?

3. Culture is eating itself

Culture is eating itself; evil is engulfing people’s hearts and minds. The gospel of the self has proven a destructive, diabolical, nonsensical creed.

The smothering of truth has led to gender chaos, cancel culture, fiendish lies being pedaled as discerning truth, and radical instability. Even an atheist should be looking around today wondering what in the ever-loving world is happening.

Mixed with the aforementioned statistics, we’re seeing parents inside and outside of the church snap out of their oblivion and flood school board meetings and other venues to express their shock at the sordid results of our ethical confusion — and the reaction is just beginning.

The fear holding so many back from speaking the truth has been shattered by the reality that our inability or unwillingness to engage culture and convey the gospel to a watching world has plunged us into chaos.

Jesus told us in Matthew 10:28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” We’re seeing Christians reawaken to this calling — and more will follow.

The cultural pandemonium around us is the catalyst needed for a gut check that is reawakening us as we desperately seek a path back to truth and goodness. The proportions might be smaller than in the past, but the refining fire is certain to bolster power and refocus the church to look inward so outward work can more fruitfully unfold.

Billy Hallowell is a journalist, commentator and digital TV host who has covered thousands of faith and culture stories. He is the director of content and communications at Pure Flix, and previously served as the senior editor at Faithwire and the former faith and culture editor at TheBlaze.


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