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S Wesley Mcgranor
Reactionaries of Prptestantism, though the institutional churches have abandoned you; God has not. Do not fall to the deception that Protestantism was inadequate, or otherwise inept. Realize that man's will has lead him astray. He has mistaken his will for God's. As man has corrupted and dismantled Mainline denominations since the Counterculture era of infiltration. You and i have the the ability to regain what has been lost. If there is any one here that came of age in the 90's; you know that the transition to Judaizing, to Emergents, and ecumenism with Rome was not that far away. So having not been rooted, you can pull it out by the roots. The weed among the wheat might be popular; but it clearly is destructive. If it comes down to rejection and shunning by society, as it already has. Then realize that you reject them with Christ. We must at every level take a stand against those that have turned these institutions into secular-humanists clubs, punk rock nihilism and Catholic bait.
J Thomas, ITA with this statement you made (among others): "They [liberal radicals] view the church as political enemies who need to be divided and conquered." I have noticed that several regular posters here (at least one of whom professes to be a believer) have the same mindset - they view conservative Bible-believing Christians as politically-minded and politically-motivated. When Bible-believing Christians address topics from a purely Scriptural viewpoint, they reply with political statements and accusations. I have wondered why this is so, and your statement here has helped me to understand it better. IMHO, it has ALREADY become socially unacceptable to be serious about Christianity IF THAT MEANS believers hold to God's Word as their standard of truth. This is where the rubber meets the road, is where and why dissension develops.
Amen, Rick. I echo your "PTL" for what God is doing around the world. As for us here, there is coordinated social pressure being applied to the church by progressive causes: progressive 501c4's, Hollywood, media institutions, and progressive political parties. The church is being put to the sword of the Alinsky tactic of rule 12 (Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it), and rule 5 from his "Rules for Radicals", which serves as the progressive political tactical manual. They view the church as political enemies who need to be divided and conquered. So, as they continue to "freeze the target", "ridicule" Christians, and "polarize" them, it is inevitable that those who may not be serious about their faith will fall away. The progressives continue to illustrate Christians as morons who do nothing but sexually abuse children, get rich, hate gays, etc, etc. and the inevitable result is that it will become socially unacceptable to be serious about Christianity.
A couple of things Rick Dalbey said are quite true: "I think the point of the statistics is there has been a great shaking out in the churches" and the numbers being down can be deceiving because perhaps "faith is real and vibrant once again." I know a few churches here in Toronto where their numbers are going down, not because they aren't preaching the Gospel, but because they're preaching the Gospel and expecting people to actually live it out--nominal Christians often get uncomfortable with this and leave. Statistics gurus could come and say these churches need a new church growth plan to get numbers up, but at least for these churches, they're pruning the dead branches off so that the healthy ones can grow. My point: When you have a lot of nominal Christians in a congregation, you should not always expect any real growth to occur. Obviously this isn't the case with all churches who are seeing a decline, but for me, numbers don't always tell the whole story.
I think the point of the statistics is there has been a great shaking out in the churches. No one is "nominally" a Christian anymore. As it says, even among 18- to 29-year-olds, evangelical identity and church attendance are up, according to the General Social Survey. I know Dan is down on Evangelicals, but it means though numbers may be down, faith is real and vibrant once again. The Church is recapturing its identity as the Body of Christ, not just a warehouse for nominal Christians. Including Catholics. The church worldwide is not declining, it is growing rapidly. 32% of the World's population of 7 billion claim an affiliation with Christ. And most of that growth occurred in the last 50 years. PTL!
I really believe part of the problem today, is the millions who follow the false teachings of the, Jesus wants you rich bunch. Instead of teach about the love of Christ and the saving grace he gives, they want money and don't care about souls. I heard one say, when asked about preaching Jesus and winning people to the Lord, they said that is not what Jesus called me to do. That is what everyone is called to do. Other things as well but evangelizing is no. one.
Very few have a strong base to stand on when the storms come. It isn't because of a lack of faith.
@Dan: If we'd put the Catholic number in here it'd look pretty flat in terms of identity. As you noted, it went from 25.1% in 2008 to 25.5% in 2010. But all in all, pretty flat since 1972, when it was 26.3%.
But Catholics are really hurting on church attendance. I mean really terribly. Among Catholics, weekly attendance was 54.9% in 1972. It was 24.9% in 2010. (It's 45.3% for evangelicals; 28.8% for mainliners.) And among younger Catholics, it's even worse: 17.6% (ages 18-29), down from 24.9% in 1972. Granted, it's also up a bit (only 9.9% in 1998!), but if the chart of Catholic church attendance were a ski hill, it'd be a double diamond.
What this means, in short, is that among Catholics the nominals aren't becoming nones. The devout are becoming nominal.
Being that Christianity Today primarily serves the readership of evangelical protestants, it doesn't surprise me they would be fixated on the growth or decline of JUST Protestant churches. As such, this article only provides a small slice of overall declines or growth. The article doesn't mention that while mainline Protestant denominations might be declining, the Roman Catholic Church, which is still the largest in the U.S., has actually experienced a modest growth of up 0.57% (Pew reporting February 2011).
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