A Post-Christian and Uncharitable Society
That’s what we’ve become and are fast becoming even more so
The decline in mainline churches over the past decades has been widely noted. It is no longer socially advantageous to be associated with a church, particularly in ‘blue states’. The very association is starting to invite social opprobrium.
Many within the church have welcomed the development. They have dismissed the decline because it effects a greater distinction between the cultural Christian and the genuine believer. The church, it is said, is better equipped to witness to the light of Christ now that those who were mere adherents have departed.
Have churches been more effective in evangelism? There are some statistics that suggest that evangelical churches are more successful than mainline (or liberal) churches, but these seem to be most often amongst first-generation immigrant churches. There haven’t been the conversions those hoping for a more focussed church had anticipated.
This ought to be creating some real soul-searching.
Furthermore, the dismissal of the ‘cultural Christian’ may contain a dangerous error. Those remaining within the church might regard their task to be more devoted to the church as something that resides within the four walls of a specialized building, and to be less engaged with their culture.
This understanding of the church wholly severed from culture is mistaken, because God’s church is wherever God’s people are. God’s kingdom is not reducible to the congregation that inhabits church buildings on a Sunday. And more worrying than the decline in the numbers in church buildings is the willingness of the Christians who have remained to act and speak as Christians in public.
It is true, as the article notes, that:
‘As Liberals have left the church, their Christian charity has left with it. There’s a benevolent tolerance one holds when one sees personal fallibility and is reminded of it weekly. Self-awareness tends to take the fire out of one’s self-righteousness…. Has the culture softened as the Left has left the church? There’s much talk of #LoveWins but little actual love and less charitable giving, too.’
But it is also true that although the darkness has intensified, there are far too few lights shining in the public square. The charitable voices of Christians need to be heard in public, not just in hushed tones in holy huddles.
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