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September 27, 2007

Re: How Christianity is Viewed

I'm evidently late to the party, but there's a great discussion taking place under Regis' post on Barna poll results. Mike Perry, of Inkling Books, has a particularly insightful comment about the reasons why the Church appears to be losing relevancy in the U.S. He gives two reasons for this trend, and I think his first of the two is especially right on point (and particularly relevant to the discussion about what we can learn from Gore, by the way):

There's no surprise about this. There are two primary causes for this change.

1. Those dreadful people on religious TV channels. Who in their right mind would want to be like such people? Shallow, vain, hysterical, materialistic, and (in the audience) easily conned. No thanks! ...

...Of course, no problem should be reduced to what others are doing to you. "Victim" is just another word for loser. Problems also exist because of what you're doing in response.

Number 1 is a problem because Christians are not cleaning house, denouncing in some effective way the buffoons and scoundrels who fill the airwaves and claim to speak in the name of Jesus. And that's because for all too many Evangelical leaders numbers are all that matters. Integrity doesn't run a poor second, it's not in the top ten.

...In today's Evangelicalism, all too many believers seem to be focused excessively on themselves, their petty needs and their even pettier sins. Evangelicals may have knee-jerk reactions for or against the Iraq War, but they have no thought-out views on what is a just war or what we should do about Islamic terrorism. Nor do they know anything--anything at all--about the long series of clashes between Islam and European Christianity. If the typical Evangelical physician or lawyer practiced his profession as shallowly as he practiced his faith, he'd be out of work in a matter of months and probably sued for incompetence.

When Perry says that we are the problem because we don't "clean house," I think he's right on. It seems to me that most of Evangelical America is reticent to criticize the "buffoons and scoundrels" among them, and particularly among their leaders, because they don't want to break rank. And why don't they want to break rank? I'd like to think that it is an inadvertent mis-prioritization of Unity over Orthodoxy. But I often fear that the real purpose is to maintain political unity and, thus, coalition power.

I hope that fear is misplaced. Whether it is or is not misplaced, however, this still begs the question: What should we, the Church in America, do? How should we "clean house"?

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I am rather new to blogging so forgive me if I break any rules and feel free to set me straight. The reason the Church seems to be losing relevancy today is that it is
sacrificing Biblical principal for trying to appeal to the world. We are moving away from a society that was heavily influenced by Christian values. I can remember when stores were not open and liquor was not sold on Sundays, for example. Today's culture is narcissistic and relativistic, not believing in absolute Truth and preachers are not teaching the Truth contained in the Word. Rather than teach, they are trying to entertain a congregation that finds it hard to sit still for barely 20 minutes to hear a sermon.
We need to get back to expository preaching on the entire Word of God, pray to overcome the self-centered mindset and become others focused. Die to self and live for Christ.
Biblical truth will never be irrelevant because people will always be born into sin and in need of salvation. If we as the Body of Christ get more of the Bible into our heads and hearts by study and memorization, we will be fully relevant to all the world.


While I agree with what you say, SueW, in the past I've been in the position of working with new Christians who sincerely want to do as you say, but who lack the necessary skills. (They were raised on Sesame Street, and never developed the ability to listen to a lecturer dissect a topic for 20 minutes because they never went to college.) Do you think it's their responsibility to develop those skills, or the Body of Christ's responsibility? And if it's our responsibility, how should we proceed? (This is a sincere question from one who's seeking an answer.)


Great blog. Raises great questions for the Christian community and our future.

As one who works as a Christian minister in Europe, I have found that they were where America is today back decades ago. There was a cry from Billy Graham to go to Europe with the gospel in the 50's that was ignored for the most part. I think that the departure of Europeans was not due to "Baffoons and scoundrels" upon the waves of media, as they really weren't prevalent or accessible back then.
I do agree that God's house needs cleansing and that there are those who are abusing the Church consciously and unconsciously(maybe subconsciously as well), and that there needs to be a call to orthodoxy no matter the cost. Why? Because Christ is returning for a bride without spot or blemish, so we must hasten the coming of the day of the Lord. How that looks is unknown to me, especially when one looks at history and periods of "cleansing" performed by the church that were out of scriptural bounds.
God gave us brains and common sense. We are called to be spiritual and thinking people. We are not of this world but live in it. We are spiritual, not merely natural any more. Therefore we must use the brains God gave us, led and taught by the Spirit, and forge ahead together to usher God's workings into our daily lives, political lives, and social responsibilities.
Whereas there is need for an emotional response to God's goodness and mercy, as well as intellectual stimulation and honor given in view of the cross, resurrection, and abundant life Christ came to give, to err on either side is to err. Most Christians are on either side of the fence, and pointing at the others speaking ill. where is the spirit of encouragement, exhortation to live the high life God's called us to, and to love thy neighbor as thy self? Has the body of Christ abandoned these basics for a mere social gospel, evangelistic crusade, or "happy" life? Certainly there are many signs pointing this direction.
Where will leadership come from that crosses all lines and petty doctrinal issues to bring together the people of God that the world who longs for the revealing of will see? Certainly not from those who are only spending time complaining about the problems.
May the Lord give us wisdom!

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