Bonnie Alba
Erosion of the Good News
By Bonnie Alba
February 26, 2009

The Southern Baptist Convention has reported a drop in membership in the latest church annual report, "Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches." They're now in company with all the other mainline denominations who have steadily lost members over the last decade.

Barna Group's latest poll provides some clues. Half of those who responded no longer believe that Christianity is "the Religion" of America. More startling is the mixed bag of beliefs residing in the minds of those claiming to be Christians, evangelicals and born again Christians.

** 50 percent believe that Satan does not exist;

** 33 percent believe that Jesus sinned while he was on earth;

** 25 percent do not believe the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches.

An overwhelming 74 percent agreed that their religious faith was becoming even more important to them. But 71 percent noted that they are personally more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs versus a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church.

Is this Bible illiteracy? Or, is there something more going on beneath the surface of these statistics? With over 200 U.S. Christian denominations upholding various theologies, have we reached saturation? Much like walking down a grocery cereal aisle, do we choose what we like and discard what we don't like? Particularly if it affects our desired lifestyles?

The Oprah Winfrey show is an example with its many-flavored approach to religion and spirituality. Leading us to selectively pick a little of this and a little of that, we follow the rosy-looking path of whatever pleases us and not God.

The effects of our modern thinking is woven throughout our narcissistic culture. Naming God as just a "higher power" and adopting the "all human beings are born good" stance is ignorance of who God is and what he says about himself through his Word.

This poll also determined that the majority no longer adhere to a particular denomination. Instead of identifying themselves as Baptist, Methodist, Catholic — they now pick and choose their belief system from a menu of both Christian and non-Christian spiritual philosophies.

In his conclusions, Barna stated that "This has resulted in an abundance of unique worldviews based on personal combinations of theology drawn from a smattering of world religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam as well as secularism."

We can see the contradictory beliefs all around us and even in ourselves. It is now possible that a "Christian" might adhere to beliefs that we shouldn't step on a bug or spider; that we must save the animals; and also believe that it's perfectly okay to murder a human being in the womb.

In his book, "Christless Christianity," Michael Horton argues that America is well on its way to parting with Jesus Christ and the Good News. He says that it's "not that evangelicalism is becoming theologically liberal but that it is becoming theologically vacuous."

What is replacing "...the old, old story" is the culture's self-centered "I do what pleases me" mindset. Even in churches. Many Christian churches have departed from God's story to solely the human story. We're becoming a sin-free, guilt-free society intent on instant gratification, individual convenience and keeping self-esteem above all else.

There is a tug of war between between the culture and the churches. Forgetting that Jesus said, "...I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" churches have ceded to the horizontal humanistic pull of the world and narcissistic desires of people over and against the Good News.

Many people have proffered the "What would Jesus do?" axiom. Horton contends the question should be "What has Jesus done?" — for you and me. It's not about us, it's about God.

As Horton rightly asks "Is Christianity all about spiritual and moral makeovers or about death and resurrection — radical judgment and radical grace?"

© Bonnie Alba


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Bonnie Alba

(Editor's note: Bonnie Alba passed away on February 12, 2017. You can read her obituary here.)

Bonnie Alba is a "politically incorrect" researcher-writer. Since 1995, her articles have appeared in California newspapers. Previously she served in various Department of Defense positions for over 16 years... (more)


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