The Demise of Christianity?
If perchance you missed it, the news that was shouting, “read all about it”, featured what might be perceived as shocking news, declaring that Christianity will be in the minority by 2045. These statistics gathered from the Pew Research Center indicate a precipitous drop from the ninety or so percent just a few decades ago. Those who no longer consider themselves among the church now identify themselves as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular. I certainly would not disagree with these numbers and honestly, I am not particularly shocked or surprised. Just as “all that glitters is not gold” neither are all who identify as Christian truly Christian.
When a society begins to call the things which are evil good and the good as evil, be aware that we have entered a new paradigm. This is a world that “demonizes” those who hold to the transcendent moral law of God while praising those who adopt and promote ideologies that contest these established fundamentals. The opposition to these moral laws is not unique to our time having occurred on a worldwide scale such as in the days of Noah. I would point out that in Noah’s world, there were only eight persons who truly feared God: hardly even a percentage point of the population! But there comes a time when rebellious humanity having been exposed to the obvious works of the Creator, His indelible laws and the testimony of His dealings must be judged since God is a holy and a just God. In Noah’s time the known world was so filled with evil, vice, violence, and misery that judgment was no less than merciful considering that God held this judgment in check for a hundred years before His patience had diminished! So likewise, it should be of no surprise that the reversal of God’s values today compels His judgment. We have long been sowing to the wind and are already reaping a whirlwind of consequences stemming from foolish ideologies and false religions.
So, what does this mean for the demise of Christianity, the sobering numbers? For one thing it demonstrates that “Christendom” as we knew it was not self-sustaining. It may also indicate that God is judging the visible church along with the world for reasons that the “true church” (or those who hold fast to the gospel, His Word, and practice) are brought into sharp distinction from those who merely mimic the faith. The apostle Peter made it clear in I Peter 4 that judgment begins with the true church. Most likely those who fail this disciplining will be appraised in communities as pointless and ignored while those who remain genuine will be hated by all because they identify with an unchanging God. This is certainly what Jesus Himself clearly meant when He said that “if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Jn 15:20 The fact is that while the true church was critical in influencing a “Christian world”, it has never itself been truly represented as a dominant culture. The period of “Christendom” over the previous years was never the sum of those with authentic faith but was merely the stepchild of the true church. As such, it held to a fear of God, recognized His laws, and lived within its disciplines and boundaries. However, unlike the true church, it lacked the kernel of authentic faith and a genuine conversion from death to life through Christ that would have sustained and prospered it in the face of mounting antagonism.
So, let’s turn a corner and consider what this means for followers of Jesus Christ today. It’s important to recognize that Jesus once said that concerning the church the “gates of hell will not prevail against it”.
That is to say that opposition to Him and even His death could not stop Him from building His church, and neither can this present world’s opposition adversely impact what God is doing. The fact is that God is always in complete control, accomplishing His perfect will through His church. You can also be assured that as God judges this world, He simultaneously is disciplining His own whom He loves and secures. With all this in mind we have every reason to face as a remnant the challenges and the mission for which we have been born while keeping in mind, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Ro 8:31 Remember that God paired down Gideon’s army for the purpose of displaying His power, so likewise don’t be discouraged, but consider Christ’s words to the church at Philadelphia who had but little influence, “I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut”, therefore, “we press on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”! Rev 3:8a, Phil 3:14