Says theologian Oden, “… finally students got through to me. They want nothing less than … the faith of the apostles …”
Roman catholic scholar James Hitchock says: “Extrapolating from present trends” it is not unlikely that “by the beginning of the 21st century most of what are presently considered the mainline Protestant denominations in America (Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Methodist, along with some branches of Baptists and the Lutherans) will either have ceased to exist or ceased to claim any distinctively Christian character for themselves.”
• James I. McCord, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, acknowledges that “the mainline churches are hurting at the denominational level.”
• Dennis Oliver, a Presbyterian Church of Canada specialist in church growth, said recently that for the first time in Canadian church history, the evangelical option is a bona fide choice for those in and out of the church, and poses a threat to the “mainline.”
• Richard G. Hutcheson, Jr., formerly chairperson of the Office of Review and Evaluation of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, sometimes called the denomination’s “official watchdog,” says in Mainline Churches and the Evangelicals, a book recently published by John Knox Press:
“These have not been the best of times for mainline Protestantism. Steadily declining membership, radically slashed denominational budgets, shrinking agency staffs, waning influence on a secularized society—this has been the picture in every one of the Protestant denominations usually labeled mainline. Sunday school enrollments have plummeted since the flourishing fifties. Youth programs are moribund. The average age of members has climbed steeply. Churches are polarized internally, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more