The urgency to reach people with the Gospel can,
if the church is not
faithful and watchful,
tempt us to subvert the Gospel by redefining its
We are not honest if we do not admit that the current cultural
raises the cost of declaring the Gospel on its own terms.
Jim Hinch writes:
|The exteriors of Crystal Cathedral. Garden Grove, CA, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The most recent Pew Research Center survey of the nation’s religious attitudes, taken in 2012, found that just 19 percent of Americans identified themselves as white evangelical Protestants—five years earlier, 21 percent of Americans did so. Slightly more (19.6 percent) self-identified as unaffiliated with any religion at all, the first time that group has surpassed evangelicals. (It should be noted that surveying Americans’ faith lives is notoriously difficult, since answers vary according to how questions are phrased, and respondents often exaggerate their level of religious commitment. Pew is a nonpartisan research organization with a track record of producing reliable, in-depth studies of religion. Other equally respected surveys—Gallup, the General Social Survey—have reached conclusions about Christianity’s status in present-day America that agree with Pew’s in some respects and diverge in others.)
Secularization alone is not to blame for this change in American religiosity. Even half of those Americans who claim no religious affiliation profess belief in God or claim some sort of spiritual orientation. Other faiths, like Islam, perhaps the country’s fastest-growing religion, have had no problem attracting and maintaining worshippers. No, evangelicalism’s dilemma stems more from a change in American Christianity itself, a sense of creeping exhaustion with the popularizing, simplifying impulse evangelical luminaries such as Schuller once rode to success.
|California's Crystal Cathedral, now Christ Cathedral (Photo by Wikipedia user Nepenthes)|
Continue reading: Where Are the People? -
Evangelical Christianity in America is losing its power—what happened to Orange County’s Crystal Cathedral shows why