The Decline of Evangelical America


#1

Thought this article BY an Evangelical pastor might be of some interest here.

Prescott, Ariz.

   IT hasn’t been a good year for evangelicals. I should know. I’m one of them.        

In 2012 we witnessed a collapse in American evangelicalism. The old religious right largely failed to affect the Republican primaries, much less the presidential election. Last month, Americans voted in favor of same-sex marriage in four states, while Florida voters rejected an amendment to restrict abortion.
Much has been said about conservative Christians and their need to retool politically. But that is a smaller story, riding on the back of a larger reality: Evangelicalism as we knew it in the 20th century is disintegrating…


#2

White evangelicals were only 23% of the electorate in 2004, 24% in 2006, 25% in 2010 and 26% in both 2008 and 2012

If anything Evangelicals are growing


#3

That may be due more to better communication technology in getting out the vote. It looks more like it’s leveling out.


#4

The demise of evangelical Christendom is a popular perennial in the garden of ideas that fail to bloom. Apparently, some even within its churches see a decline in political power as indicative. Which is to miss the point that evangelicals, almost uniquely, don’t go to church for politics. As for those purported empty pews, you can bet they were full today in Newtown, Connecticut and they’ll only get fuller as the nation otherwise slides into the abyss.


#5

So America not choosing an Extremist Liberal Mormon with a history of swearing to respect legalized abortion and honoring earth worshipers means Evangelical Christians are having a bad year?

Yeah, that makes about as much sense as anything else the Extreme Left comes up with.


#6

Since no one seems to have checked, the author and his church really are in the Evangelical mainstream, not theological liberals posing as - or pretending to themselves to be - Evangelicals. I have not read the NYT article - don’t have time at the moment. But the author’s message in his book seems to be that Evangelicals have significant problems that need to be dealt with and that dealing with those problems means being more like and better at what we’re supposed to be. And if that is done, the current stagnation/decline can be reversed.

Guess what? I agree! I’ll go a step further (though he may also have made this point and I haven’t seen it). Too many members of Evangelical churches have such a spotty knowledge of the Bible that they have a very incomplete knowledge of what they should be!


#7

[quote=“RET423, post:5, topic:37514”]
So America not choosing an Extremist Liberal Mormon with a history of swearing to respect legalized abortion and honoring earth worshipers means Evangelical Christians are having a bad year?Yeah, that makes about as much sense as anything else the Extreme Left comes up with.
[/quote]Too bad we couldn’t get a real “conservative” like Reagan who flip flopped on abortion


#8

`

The article referenced in the OP is by John Dickerson and is reflective of the contents of his book mentioned below.
Link to OP’s article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/opinion/sunday/the-decline-of-evangelical-america.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Here is one short review of John Dickerson’s book titled,

  • “The Great Evangelical Recession: Six Factors That Will Crash the American Church … and How to Prepare." *

** The Short Review Sayeth:**

"An investigative journalist and evangelical pastor, Dickerson is acerbic in his first book, identifying six alarming aspects of evangelical Christian decline in the United States.

He asserts that the greater evangelical bloc has:

(1) inflated its statistics,

(2) is going bankrupt,

(3) attracting hatred from society,

(4) dividing internally,

(5) losing young members,

(6) and sputtering in making new followers of Jesus.

After addressing these pressing problems, he identifies six counter-measures to resurrect the movement. He suggests that re-valuing ministry for the 21st century; making churches financially solvent in a changing economy; doing good; uniting diverse streams of evangelicalism; and healing wounds by re-igniting individual discipleship will transform the current bleak landscape.

While his facts may be accurate, he relies too heavily on only one or two research organizations.

He takes a myopic view of Christianity in the U.S., equating Christianity as a whole with evangelicalism and neglecting minorities in favor of statistics on white evangelicals.

** Additionally, he makes too much of homosexuality, framing it as the cultural issue that evangelicals must address. **

While the latter half of the book is prudent and he has some good observations, it lacks even-handed ministerial insight. Agent: Wes Yoder (Jan.)"

(Text rearranged to number the 6 “factors” and bolded, and sized by Jack)

Religion Review: The Great Evangelical Recession: Six Factors That Will Crash the American Church%E2%80%A6and How to Prepare by John S. Dickerson. Baker, $14.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8010-1483-3

The Sovereign God alone knows the exact number of His people that are living in America, and He alone knows how many of His people will be born into America in the coming decades. Whatever that number, its the precise number needed to accomplish His purposes in any given time period.

The Sovereign God alone knows how many of His people are in North America, Central America, and South America and how many will be born into this huge land area and what political influence they will bring to bear upon the political issues in the coming decades. Whatever that number, its the precise number needed to accomplish His purposes in any given time period.

** Large numbers are not necessary to win. **

King David made the very serious mistake of “numbering the troops” and was punished for doing that because God had told him not to number the troops.

Numbering the troops sent the message that the Sovereign God needed large numbers of troops in order to get His work done, when the very opposite was true.

Numbering the troops also sent the message that it is “the size of our army, not the Person and power of God, that will deliver us”, thus King David’s numbering the troops sent an anti-Faith message throughout Israel.

That was a big sin, and David paid a high price for committing it. He was Israel’s leader-king-guardian and he sent a spirit-crushing message to the people that God had placed in his care, the entire nation of Israel, and the surrounding pagan nations heard about it too, about Israel’s lack of faith in God. (Btw, David repented and was restored.)
See 1 Chron. chapter 21

Why was it a sin that David numbered Israel


John Dickerson has written a book that doesn’t recogonize God as Sovereign over the affairs of men and does not recogonize that God has a time table and a plan that is being worked out.

Remember Dickerson starts his book by warning about the small “numbers” of evangelicals not being as large as we have previously been told, in other words: we have not got army enough of Christians to win this political and culture war.

I read his opening pages here: Great Evangelical Recession, The: 6 Factors That Will Crash the American … - John S. Dickerson - Google Books and John Dickerson has got numbers strong and central on his mind.

Imo, John Dickerson’s great First Principle is MAN. John Dickerson’s great First Principle is most certainly NOT “God is Sovereign over the affairs of men and has a Plan being worked out.”


Dickerson is concerned about: “(1) inflated its statistics, (2) is going bankrupt, (3) attracting hatred from society, (4) dividing internally, (5) losing young members, (6) and sputtering in making new followers of Jesus.”

** My Replies to Dickerson’s (1) through (6): **
( Dickerson’s Evangelicism does not equal the Christian Church in America.)

(1) The Christian Church in America does not number it’s “troops”, we don’t have to do that.

(2) The Christian Church in America is not going bankrupt, we have money galore.

(3) American society does not hate the Christian Church in America, but even if it did, so what?

(4) Regarding “dividing internally”: Great! Let the “Evangelicals” “divide internally” IE on the political issues (which is what Dickerson meant by dividing). I plan to “prepare” for that by throwing a Family Backyard Party with “thick rib eyes on the barby” (7 minutes each side). Add French Fries and Iced Cold Mountain Dew/Pepsi/Coke.

I also plan to “prepare” for John Dickerson’s coming “Six Factors That Will Crash the American Church” by taking the wife out for an evening of fine dining, followed by a couple of hours enjoying the songs of Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli.

(5) and (6) :

“All that the Father gives me will come to me.”__The Lord Christ (John 6:37) …

… AND "you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”__The Lord Christ (John 10:26-30) …

… AND “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)

Cheers.

PS
Btw, as America’a moves further and furthur into the abyss created by the Left’s Sexual Revolution and Economic Policies ** (and you are blind if you don’t know by now that the Left’s Sexual Revolution and the Left’s Big Government Economic Policies are forever joined at the hip) **America will not need the Christian Church to remind them that practiced sin and liscense has a large human wreckage price tag attached that is going to be paid.

Then there is the matter of money. Don’t forget the money!

The Left’s Sexual Revolution has been devouring their children (what few they have) for decades and will devour more and more as the sown seeds come up and sprout, and now the economic price tag is beginning to increase more and more, in a futile attempt to clean up this social mess created by the Left’s political, social, and economic policies where Big Government becomes the Nanny State and the Family substitute and the Father substitute and the Husband substitute for tens of millions of females and children and other dependant types as well, as debt and dependance becomes the norm and gradually increases in the Left’s America.

:cool:


#9

Our church is doing one specific thing (among many others) that is the one most needed thing - we are concentrating on prayer. Prayer meetings have, over the years, devolved into Bible studies, with less emphasis on prayer. Although I don’t go to church at night any more, I understand that Wednesday night prayer meeting is now really “prayer meeting.”

Another critical item I see is getting into God’s Word. If people knew what is in the Bible, we wouldn’t have to worry about them getting drawn away by false teachings. There have been many films put out to show what is “wrong” with many cults - what we need to do is not worry about what the cults believe, but make sure that we know what Christians (should) believe. That will preclude the influence of the cults.


#10

Blessed Susanna, you have hit on the the situation we have today. As I looked at snippets of Dickerson’s thesis, one thing stands out. Being part of the world. The Church has NO PLACE in the world. The Church is responsible for the souls seeking God, not what the world expects the Church to be. To conform to the world is to break the relationship with God. The Christian MUST stand on Faith and IN FAITH against the worlds temptations.
As the ACLU has slowly eroded the spector of Christ from the town, school, courts, the reliance of people on the Church and it’s teachings has waned to almost nonexistance. The family unit stands alone and weakly at that.


#11

`
Dickerson does not understand what liberalism actually is and he does not understand the mission of the Christian Church in the world. He may be the pastor of a 500 member church, but he is only 30 years old and his pool of acquired wisdom has not yet reached it’s brim.

He actually believes that the Christian Church has the potential (and has been given the job) to defeat liberalism and turn America into a strong-right Conservative nation.

Dickerson opens his article with this statement:

“In 2012 we witnessed a collapse in American evangelicalism. The old religious right largely failed to affect the Republican primaries, much less the presidential election. Last month, Americans voted in favor of same-sex marriage in four states, while Florida voters rejected an amendment to restrict abortion. Much has been said about conservative Christians and their need to retool politically.”

So its obvious Dickerson sees the Christian Church as having the potential (and having the job) to turn America into a politically conservative nation.


** I have 2 points and 1 conclusion ** in furthur response to the John Dickerson’s book titled, “The Great Evangelical Recession: Six Factors That Will Crash the American Church … and How to Prepare" and his article referenced in the OP:

** First, ** the job of the Christian Church in the world is to preach the message of the Bible to those willing to listen to it. Do not cast your pearls before swine means exactly what it says, and remember it was the Lord Jesus Himself that told His church to NOT cast their pearls before swine.

Another important point is that the Lord Jesus said clearly that His Christian Church preaching the message of the Bible would results in this: “All that the Father gives me will come to me.”__The Lord Christ (John 6:37) …

… and He also said of those that refused to come to Him: ** "you do not believe because you are not my sheep … **

… and He also said regarding His sheep that He would NOT lose a single one of them: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”__The Lord Christ (John 10:26-30).

So the Christian Church IE the Lord Jesus has never (permanently) lost a single one of His “…sheep…” regardless of what John Dickerson thinks or says about the fluxuating rolls in the so-called “evangelical” church. (Btw, those 2 verses up there are just the tip of a huge Bible-berg of verses that say the same thing in different words. I can dig them out in an hour or two.)

( Why is the above relevant? Because Dickerson, you recall, was heavily concerned about the Christian Church “losing members” and “failing to convert new members.” He must think that the Christian Church is like Netflex where people can join and un-join at will.

Or like signing up for an email news letter. Click here to subscribe. Click here to Un-Subscribe. LOL )


** Second, **only the Left can destroy the Left. The Christian Church cannot destroy the Left and the Republician Party cannot destroy the Left and the Conservative Movement cannot destroy the Left, because only the Left can destroy the Left. Why is that true?

Because the Left is out to give as many people as they can find, the money somebody else worked for and they are going to insist doing that is true love and genuine fairness, and human nature is selfish and greedy and they “ain’t gonna turn down the money” and they’re gonna keep voting for “them that will give it to them” until the system that gives it to them self-destructs.

Because the Left will always be perceived as the do-good-party out to get rid of “social injustice” and out to “fix the world” and out to get rid of “discrimination” and “prejudices” and “racism” and out to get rid of “homophobia” and out to get rid of “Mysogny” and out to get rid of “Intolerance”, and out in strong support of “Women’s Rights” and “Gay Rights” and out in strong support of “Equalitarianism” (Equality), and Equality is an easy sell to fallen human nature …

… and the left will always be perceived as being in support of your rights to commit any sin you want to commit as long as you do not commit a sin against Life, Liberty, and Property (as defined by them, they don’t count tax theft as a sin against Property), or in other words the Left is the Party-Of-YES, the party that says “Do your own thing, and feel good about it, who are we to judge you?”

They are known to say an effective YES! to almost any sexual sin people want to commit. Their YES! comes in the form of their Leftist doctrines of NonJudgementalism and Moral Relativism, but the end results is the same, you get a “Yes, its okay” from the Left if you want to commit fornication with your girlfriend, or commit any other sexual sin. The Left will always give you a cheerful NonJudgemental “Yes!, its okay, go right ahead, who are we to judge?”

And its not only the sexual sins the Left will give you a Yes to do, its other suff too. As long as you leave their Life (Flesh), Liberty (Freedoms) and Property (Money) alone the Left will give you the green light of Endless Tollerance to do almost anything you want to do.

Another reason that only the Left can destroy the Left is that in a safe and affluent society such as America there are zero pragmatic reasons to justify the level of harshness that would be required to enforce any strict moral code. At the present time, America’s perception is that they have zero compelling pragmatic reasons to say an effective No to the Party-Of-Yes. (Well, they ain’t saying no to the Party-of-Yes, and thats a fact.)

Human nature will follow the line of least resistence and it is much easier for the electorate and the citizenry and the politicians to just say Yes to the demands of people who want more and more freedom to do whatever they want to do, or freedom to NOT do what they do not want to do.

And all this includes saying Yes to making the Federal Government the Nanny State Big Government that creates mountains of debt and dependancy.

All this includes saying Yes to accepting more and more of Big Government’s tax dollars whether its in the form of actual monthly checks or in the form of a locked-in-for-life government job that pays twice as much as that same job would pay in the private sector.


**My Conclusion: **(my view)

Does anyone really believe that the Christian Church can politically destroy or defeat all that up there?

Does anyone really believe that the Republican Party or the Conservative Movement can politically destroy or defeat all that up there?

My position is NO they cannot.

My position is that: Only the Left can destroy the Left.

Question: Will this happen? Will the Left end up self-destructing? Yes, of course they will. Its merely a question of how long it will take. How can I be so certain? Because the political, social, and economic policies of the Left are not pragmatically workable longterm.

That means it utterly impossible for the Left’s policies to continue to work on and on here in the real world. That means that the Left denies reality and lives in a utopian dream world based on their idealistic hopes and dreams, and that no system based upon illusion and fantasy can survive the onslaghts of time.

The U.S.S.R. was an example of a utopian system that self-destructed. (Reagan said from the get-go that the Soviets had a system based upon contradiction and based upon the impossible. Reagan was right.)

Likewise, Father Time will provide the Left with enough rope and they will at some point hang themselves.

Imo, the GOP is not going to destroy the Left and in fact some say that the “Democratic Party and the Republican Party are the two wings of the same bird of prey.”

And I can assure you that the Christian Church has not been given the job of destroying or defeating the Left in America.

Again, the Left will at some point destroy itself. What then, after the Left has destroyed itself? Simple, the Left-Right cycle will start again and the cycle will repeat itself with temporary fixes followed by the eventual political self-destruction of the Left, by which I mean a political restructuring back to more fiscal Conservative policies for the sake of economic survival.

Mother Russia and the other nations in the Soviet bloc suffered economically and physically, but they survived by a political restructuring, and today while not economically booming, are at least economically surviving nicely as independant nations.

A political restructuring can seriously hurt, but it is always surviviable. At some point the American Left will self-destruct followed by a political re-structuring along more Conservative fiscal policies.

There are plenty of “temporary fixes” but there are no longterm political or economic solutions to spiritual problems. You can “fix it” in one place, but it will always pop out in another form in another place, so that you have the same problem, this time just in another form.

(Btw, what about America’s founding? Was that not a true genuine fixing of many things? Yes, it was and America’s founding was the work of Christians. There are notable works that argue John Calvin and the Reformers were the true Fathers of the American Republic’s founding documents and main ideas.)

Anyway, the job of the Christian Church is to proclaim the message of the Bible to all who “have ears to hear”, our job is NOT to shut down Disney
World ( one of Dickerson’s pet peaves in his book, that “Evangelicalism” did not have the numbers to shut down Disney World, LOL ) ** and our job is NOT to defeat the Left either, except as a by-product of carrying out the Great Commission where men become true Christians regenerated by the Holy Spirit and then taught by the Holy Spirit the truths of the Bible, and then proceed to vote accordingly, for example, to get debt free and stay debt free.**

:santa:


#12

Nailed it. Prayer and Bible study. As they rightly say: You talk to God and God talks to you. Those are the two mainstays of the Christian life. No true Christian will ever rise above the simplicity of these two mainstays. On my last day on Earth, I plan to go out of this world doing exactly those two things: Praying and reading the Bible, or at least quoting Bible verses from memory.

:smile:


#13

Njc, many good points up there. Its amazing how many true Christians forget that there are two seperate kingdoms down here, the Kingdom Of Darkness and the Kingdom Of Heaven (the Christian Church) and proceed to think and act as if those two seperate kingdoms were really just one kingdom.

For example, how many times do true Christians speak of “the American people” as if we were all “in this thing together” and as if we were “unified into one people”?
Answer: Frequently.

Often the very best Christians forget that there really are such things as the goats on the left and the ** sheep ** on the right …

… and that The Goat Kingdom and** The Sheep Kingdom ** are two seperate kingdoms …

… and that the Sovereign God both ****now **

… ****[COLOR="#B22222"]*and in the future [/COLOR] ** deals with them as two seperate kingdoms.

******“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish”

***** ** “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (Mt. 25:31-33)

PS

Btw, I have always thought it amusing that the Bible says the goats will be on the left, and the sheep on the right. LOL

:santa:


#14

You know, I’m just gonna give my layman opinion on why the Religious Right is foundering. Put bluntly, as a whole, with the exception of the pro-life movement, it’s essentially centered around being a prudish jerk. I’m not saying that this is what every single religious conservative is, but taken as a whole, social conservatism is the party pooper movement of America.

Social conservatives come across as the people who try to have everyone’s favorite song removed from the radio, who call the cops on inoffensive parties, the people who take away kids’ skateboards and break them in half, who try to take videogames off the shelves, who see attack harmless children’s fantasy books as Satanic, who want to get all up in people’s sexual lives. Basically, sucking the carefree joy out of life. While life certainly should be about more than chasing physical pleasures, for anyone who does not strictly adhere to this ideology, the Religious Right as a whole comes off as very mean-spirited and autocratic.

Again, this does not describe all individuals, but talking to a wide variety of people of different political persuasions, many people are turned off by the rhetoric and actions of the Religious Right that almost always seem to be focused on getting into people’s business and degrading one group or another. Not saying that other political movements don’t do this, but the public face of Evangelical America seems to be mean-spirited jerks, and no one likes a jerk.


#15

Please, if ever a group could be defined as the “fun police” it is Liberals.

Every food with flavor better than grass is terrible and laws should be passed to punish those who eat them
Every piece of furniture, tool or consumer item must be plastered with “warning stickers” and be made so safe that a baby could be thrown at it without sustaining injury.
All playground equipment except a ground level plastic tunnel is “unsafe” and must be removed, no more swings, monkey bars or high slides.
Movie theater popcorn cannot be made with evil peanut oil because it does not taste like cardboard.
Children must ride in ridiculous car seats until they are 25 years old and 200 lbs.
No adult can decide for themselves whether they where a helmet or seatbelt.
No child can wear a piece of flair on their clothing if what they like is religious.
No person can say anything that someone else could imagine might be offensive to a hypothetical person.
No person can decide for themselves what kind of toilet they want in their house.
No person can decide for themselves what kind of light bulbs they want in their house.
No person has a Right to their own property decisions beyond what the government says they can have at any given time.
Toy guns are evil, real guns are evil, anyone who likes guns is evil.

I could do this all day, it is the Left that never ceases to ban, regulate or discourage everything fun or even things that might lead to having fun.


#16

I see a lot of accusations here that are subjective at best.

>- I do believe that some efforts to remove songs on the basis of suggestive or offensive content. I imagine some of the songs targeted were a poor choice of target. I am less than sure about what percentage of conservative Christians in a given area were involved. I’m also not aware of any illegal or immoral means applied to the effort. “Everyone’s favorite” is certainly subjective. And I believe that “come across as” is also.
>- Uncertain as to what you’re talking about. I do know that I call the cops about obnoxiously loud stereos. If that makes me a killjoy in the eyes of society, then that’s their problem.
>- I’ve never even heard of the skateboard thing, and am unsure as to what it’s about.
>- Not sure what you mean about the video games, unless it has to do with protesting graphic violence and sexual content. Especially in the latter case, I support such protests. If being a killjoy means not wanting everybody to do whatever they want without regard for the consequences- either to themselves or others- then it is a shallow definition.
>- If you’re referring to the Harry Potter series as “harmless,” to a fundamentalist Christian, they are not.
>- The sexual issue is there, and often is handled badly. But it’s in response to genuine serious issues that I submit cause people pain (and not just themselves) that more than offset the very temporary thrill of an orgasm.

Another factor about the “mean-spirited jerks” is that this is the way the leftist media paints us. People often find out differently if they give a church a try for a while.


#17

You make a good point; there are many liberal and conservatives who actually react very similarly in regards to things like censorship and often push for the same causes. At the end of the day, censorship is censorship.

Alot of what I said, such as the skateboard thing, is more about perception than reality. That being said, they often are at the vanguard of pro-censorship movements. As to the Harry Potter thing, I fail to see anything harmful in it. It’s important to note than a number of people who have attacked Harry Potter have also attacked Lord of the Rings and even sometimes the Narnia series, despite the authors being strong Christians and putting Christian themes in their works. All three series have very positive messages that are in no way harmful to anyone, and attacking them is stupid and takes away energy from going after things in society that are actually bad.


#18

Probably because they’re not “carefree” dingbats who think the western liberal tradition, western culture and civilization, which is responsible for the forming of the American experiment in self-governance, and lays as well at the root of all western tenets on freedom and the rights of man, did not just form itself out of thin air and is not predestined to survive absent attention to the details underpinning it. They’re boring killjoys because they’ve got jobs they go to, communities to maintain, and an obligation to leave the blessings God has bestowed upon their nation intact for their heirs. For some odd reason, they don’t view western civilization as some gussied up version of Wayne’s World for the perpetually adolescent.


#19

WOW!!! They sound like fun people. I bet Jesus was a lot like that. He wasn’t a rebel at all.


#20

Nah, you seem quite mean spirited. While trying to act like you’re protecting society. Quite the double play.