If you haven't seen it, find Newsweek's Jon Meacham's article, The End of Christian America, here.
Before you erupt, read the whole article. This article is based on the recently released survey, the American Religious Identification Study. Its nexus conclusion: that self-identified Christians had fallen 10 percentage points since 1990 from 86 percent of all Americans to 76 percent.
Troubling, yes. Catastrophic for American Christianity, no. In the first century of the Church, Christians were very much in the minority. Persecuted, discriminated and even murdered by the state, today's culture would appear to them as a garden of eden.
Here are three conclusions to ponder:
-Our nation is shedding much of its institutional Judeo-Christian heritage for what I fear will be the worse. This trek into a social wilderness, guided by post-modern thoughts and beliefs, may lead our nation into a cultural and social train wreck. The very liberties we enjoy: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and freedom of or from religion all stem from the Judeo-Christian worldview that our culture seems so eager to ditch.
-More than ever, America is a cornucopia of religious faiths and beliefs. Every world religion has found our shores and is flourishing-and that is good news. Cultures with strong religious values tend to flourish. America's resiliency against the trends of post-Christian socialist Europe is due to our religious bulwark. Nonetheless, America is at a low point in terms of Christian influence in the public square and the societal sense that Christianity offers the best solutions to the problems of life. My concern though is not so much with the political sphere or cultural influence but with the role of evangelism for the hearts and souls of men and women who are now more than ever distant from the Gospel.
-Finally, let's not lose hope. In his article, Mr. Meacham also suggests that this new situation is perhaps healthy for the church. To this extent I agree – the church's mission clarifies any time the distinction between the church and the world is made more evident. Our witness is to lovingly show non-Christians that they are not Christians and that believers need to be reminded that what sinners need is the Gospel of Christ, not merely the lingering morality of the Christian memory.
The great news for the Church is that God is responsible for fruit of our labors. Our role is to till the fields and sow the seed.