A tiny band of far outnumbered Christians once turned the world upside down. But in more recent years, the churches have often wandered into the trap of thinking that might makes right, so if we ever reached the time when there were more of “us” than “them,” we would really begin to see things happen. First came the post-World War II upsurge in religious interest and church membership, then the big evangelistic crusades, and next the “Jesus movement” of the late sixties. Right along came the boom in Christian publishing, education, missions, music, audio-visuals, camping, retirement centers, and so on. Then, for some, the proof that Christians had finally turned the corner and made the world sit up and take notice came in 1976, when Time Magazine called the country’s bicentennial year the “year of the evangelicals.”
The facts reported in the CHRISTIANITY TODAY—Gallup Poll in this issue confirm the conclusion that more and more people are affirming evangelical Christianity as their personal religious commitment. That in itself is cause for rejoicing, even as evangelical revivals in the past have been, because of the long-term consequences for the overall good of church and society. There is also ample cause for thanksgiving because of the confirmation of biblical truth that says, in effect, that when Jesus Christ is confessed and proclaimed as Lord and Savior, people recognize that he is indeed the way, the truth, and the life. No Christian dare be defeatist about the inherent power of God’s gospel of grace.
On the other hand, the facts about evangelical growth in the population as a whole may also stir up considerable skepticism. People always want to know if religious professions are genuine. Again, we need not apologize ...1
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