|Is Evangelical America in decline?|
Mat 16: 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Mat 16:16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The NYTimes article “Decline of evangelical America”, Dec 12, proclaimed that gay marriage had won due to the decline of Evangelical Christianity. Perhaps it succeeded despite the rapid decline of the mainline liberal Protestant churches. The rising mega churches were not playing to the anti-gay tune of the mainline evangelical churches such as the Southern Baptise Church (SBC). It was also a failure of the Catholic and Mormon churches and not only the evangelicals.
The church has in many ways always had an evangelical heart of baptising people who were of other faiths, to repent and instead believe in Jesus to enter into the Kingdom of God. Peter understood the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, and Jesus in return declared that Peter would lead the early church which Satan would not overcome because it had the power against spiritual darkness.
The church grew because the early Christians were not ashamed of the Gospel Good news, and declared it with a supernatural power with signs and wonders.
What happened in the 21st century is a tragedy when the Good News is replaced by being anti-gay in the name of morality and pro-family, against a small group of people less than 5% of the population. Alas, the gates of Hades is near when Christians do the work of the devil and do harm.
The evangelical gospel message has been linked to an anti-gay movement. This is a tragedy and not reflective of the ministry of Christ that the church has ordained for a lost world. When our eyes are not on the Gospel, then we lose our saltiness and purpose of existence. We too are in danger of decline.
This has become a test match not of defending morality or the family as deceitfully claimed but of maintaining the Protestant cry of Sola Scriptura or Scripture alone. As a result we have forgotten the Gospel Good news, and the remaining cries of Reformation which should be read in its completeness:-
Sola Scriptura, by
Whilst not falling to the convenient escape by progressives of making the bible metaphorical, we often forgotten the pagan background of the bible, with her anti-pagan worship and her idolatrous practices. Sex, especially anal sex is a religious practice of people of faith not because they were gay. The greatest commandment is not to worship other gods for which the abomination of anal sex in demon worship and demon possession signifies.
The church is so out of the scripture concerning gays that we wonder whether deception has come into the church. We are deceived by our fears of not putting the scripture first, and vary of the attacks by the Progressives, hence fail to open our minds and hearts to a grave error of biblical interpretation. This fear of the liberal threat is unfounded as Liberal churches have long been declining leaving behind empty dry ancient Cathedrals and replaced by mega churches with their emotional exuberance and promised of living waters.
We leave behind tattered and destroyed lives, their ruined lives a damming condemnation of the church of Jesus Christ. Many gays have died, their blood cries out to God for justice which surely cannot be denied any longer.
At the end as if divine justice was demanded, none could stop the fast streaming waters of change. It is a reminder of Micah 5:24, of God bringing justice rolling down the mountains, a small pool of water at the mountain top coming down and becoming a large river torrent with increasing volume and strength. Some US mega churches were insightful enough to see the torrent of water coming down.
The SBC (from 6 million attendance in 2011 to 5.9 million in 2012) has indeed declined but pales in comparison to the Episcopal church whose attendance has declined to less than 679K in 2012. America Evangelical Christianity is declining slowly to the loud sounds of the charismatics. Perhaps Gay marriage will hasten the decline.
The popular John Shore’s liberal blog equated the rise of gay marriage to the ““Inevitability of the Rise of Progressive Christianity”. However the “Y” and “Z” generation supporting gay marriages ain’t flocking to the progressive churches. The Episcopal church fell from 823K domestic attendance (2003), to 640K (2012) over the decade where Gay marriage gained majority support in the US.
Jefferts Schori, the presiding Bishop when interviewed by Times Magazine, denied Jesus being the only way to the truth and the life to Father God claiming that it would put God in an “awfully small place”. In 1964, the Episcopal church (3.4 million members) was 6 times bigger than AOG (572K). By 2007, the Episcopal church was 2.1 million whilst AOG 2.9 million (2008). This is indeed getting to be an awfully small place.
After 50 years, the Episcopal church came from being 6 times larger than the AOG, to being 3 times smaller. The “win” on gay marriage did little to reverse the downward trend. But liberal Christianity lives on in the legacy of a more humane society with social welfare for the less fortunate.
Gay marriage won because it was an issue of morality and basic justice and equality. The evangelicals lost because their message was self-centred on their own special rights to hate and discriminate and was deceptive.
Ironically, the mainline evangelicals were weakened by the evangelical mega churches which were not particularly anti-gay as compared to Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Their focus was evangelism, church growth and a common prosperity.
Some examples are Lakewood church by Joel Osteen with attendance of 43,500 (in 1979, their attendance was only 5,000), Andy Stanley’s North Point Ministries (attendance of 24,000, founded in 1995), and Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community Church. They stayed away from the anti-gay ruckus.
The evangelical SBC was so perturbed by the mega churches’ lack of opposition to gays that Mohler of SBC questioned “Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism” in May 1, 2012 in his blog.
We have no major liberal denomination/churches in Singapore. Perhaps some mega churches such as NCC and CHC have become the “New Liberalism!”.
The evangelical Gospel message has been linked to being anti-gay and this is a tragedy. When our eyes are on the Law with a Spirit of Condemnation, we breathe in self-righteousness until we are blinded forgetting our purpose to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The only family that Jesus had was the 12 disciples!, for His ministry of reconciliation was to bring those outside into the Family of God. Jesus was pro-family, the family of God and not your traditional family unit per say.
The only morality is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, the Father God of Israel personified in Jesus Christ. We have all sinned, the only sin that Jesus condemned the Jews were their unbelief rather than something innate such as sexual orientation.
The anti-gay crusade by the evangelical churches in Singapore has brought in unbelief and distorted the image of Jesus Christ! It has caused harm, and the blood is on the hands of the National Council of Churches as it calls for continuous criminalisation of gays. It has made people law minded instead of seeing God’s truth and grace in Jesus Christ.
The fears of Evangelical Christianity has ironically come to pass. Our anti-gay agenda wielding the bible as the sword against the innocent has all but undermined our morality, and the bible as the carrier of the Good News regarding the way, the truth and the life to God through Jesus Christ. It is not the decline of Evangelical Christianity per say, but a decline in our Word and Message which has been misused to come against gays.
And yes, it is true that evangelical Christianity is in decline. It declines when people could only see us carrying the 10 commandments instead of seeing God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ crucified at the Cross of Calvary. And even then, being gay was not mentioned in the Ten Commandments.
Maybe, the redemption for the evangelical church is being more liberal with the mega churches going out to the byways to seek out the victims of injustice, the hungry, the sick and the wounded. The greatest prosperity is in Jesus Christ, to give out those who has very little that we can become the channels for God’s grace and mercy.
We come back to Mat 16:16-19 of the keys given to the church to bind the forces of darkness. The key was all along Jesus Christ. As long as we preach Christ, His love, Grace and Mercy, and His resurrected power to save and to heal, the gates of Hades will not overcome the church.