Questions & Answers – The Decline Of Religious Institutions
Pew Research Center Religion & Public Life
A survey conducted June 4-Sept. 30, 2014, in English and Spanish among a nationally representative sample of 35,071.
- “Between 2007 & 2014, Christians decline from 78.4% to 70.6%”
- “‘Unaffiliated’ grew from 16.1% to 22.8%.”
- “Non-Christian faiths grew from 4.7% to 5.9%.”
“In 2007, of 227 million adults in the US, appx. 78% of them (roughly 178 million) identified as Christians. Between 2007 and 2014, the U.S. adult population grew by about 18 million people, to nearly 245 million. But the share of adults who identify as Christians fell to just under 71%, (173 million Americans), a net decline of about 5 million.”
In many cases, religious answers have become obstacles to the pursuit of genuine faith. Such erroneous answers as…
- You must take everything in the Bible literally.
- God limits the role of women in ministry.
- No civil rights for the LGBT community.
- You are denied access to God because…
- Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Leaders of the organized Christian church emphasize having answers.
To question? Not so much.
An unexamined faith is not worth having, for fundamentalism and uncritical certitude entail the rejection of one of the great human gifts: that of free will, of the liberty to make up our own minds based on evidence and tradition and reason. Jon Meacham
“Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear.” A. W. Tozer
“What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us… For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any [person] is not what [we] at a given time may say or do, but what [we] in our deep heart conceive God to be like.” A. W. Tozer
The reason for “religious rot” is due to erroneous concepts of God.
When we give our greatest attention to knowing God we can cease to worry and fret so much about what we ‘say and do.’
St Aurelius Augustine lived from 354-430 and was indisputably the most important theologian in the first millennium of the western church. He shaped the Western Church’s thinking on salvation, the church, baptism, sin, the Trinity, the Christian state, sex – in short, almost everything.
St. Augustine in his sermon on 1 John 4:4-12 says…
“Love God and do what you will.”
C. S. Lewis – Mere Christianity
“This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the church has a lot of different objects—education, building, missions, holding services. The church exists for nothing else but to draw men [and women] into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose.”
This is a revealing truth about God.
“Organized Christianity doesn’t have a lot of authority today because it hasn’t done its job.” Richard Rohr
- The organized Christian church is in decline. (-5 million, 7 years)
- Having lost authority, organized Christianity desperately clings to ‘answers’ demonstrating ill-conceived concepts of God.
- A person’s concept of God is more about them than God.
- The Christian church exists for one reason; to draw people to Christ. (“If I be lifted up I will draw all people…”)
From ‘Rot’ To Right
- “No one is good—except God alone. Luke 18:19
- …God is love. 1 John 4:8
- God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
- The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11
This Week’s “To Do” List
- When others are not good, don’t judge, criticize; look inside of you.
- When others do not love, don’t judge or criticize; look inside of you.
- Earnestly and actively seek God. Figure it out.
- Remind yourself often of the fullness of God’s compassion and mercy toward you.
Pastor Dan Burchett ~ Open Door ~ June 26, 2016
ODM website: opendoorlongbeach.org