|The New Normal - A time for revival|
John 20:19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
A new study by the PEW Research Center in the US showed that the overall Christian share of the population has declined from 78.4% to 70.6% from 2007 to 2014 over 8 years. This equates to a fall from 178.1 to 172.8 million Christians. (US adult population grew 227.16 to 244.8 mil).
It is a reminder to the church so pre-occupied in their anti-gay movement in one end, and at the other end a denial of the centrality of Jesus and His completed works of salvation.
The liberal mainline has ceased to be mainline with less than 15% of the population. In the 70s, this percentage was well above 30%. Instead of self reflection, online liberal sites such as Patheos were generalising the figures and speaking for entire Christendom instead of being self reflective of the significant contribution by liberal christianity to the fall. They can't save themselves let alone saving the opposite camp.
The results were devastating. The Protestant Evangelicals declined 0.9% despite growing from 59.8 to 62.2 million. The Liberal Mainline declined 3.4% or an actual loss in numbers from 41.1 to 36 million. For the Evangelicals, the steep fall of the Southern Baptist was covered by the rise of the Pentecostals/Independent churches. Unfortunately, all the Liberal churches fell.
The liberals have emphasised that the deep decline in church membership even extended to what they termed "fundamentalist churches." and continue to live in a delusion of a new kind of kindom Christianity clutching their Marcus Borg books.
Online liberal sites like Patheos confused the membership numbers with percentage to claim that the attendance of Protestant Evangelicals has dropped. It has not, the numbers grew by 2.4 million whereas the liberal mainline fell by 5 million in absolute terms.
The evangelicals in return clutching their Old King James bible and the writings of Albert Mohler proclaiming the Old Testament Laws, whom they are inevitably the greatest sinners.
The extreme fundamentalist such as the Southern Baptist lost 1.4% (6.7% to 5.3%) which meant it lost 2.2 million. (6.7% of 227.61 million or 15.2Mil to 5.3% of 244.8Mil or 13 Mil). If the Southern Baptist had not lost any members, the overall Protestant Evangelicals percentage would not be in decline.
However, the alleged overall fall of the evangelicals is exagerated to cover a desperate Liberal mainline collapase. Indeed, the Evangelical and Pentecostals Christians grew from 59.8 million to 62.2 million whilst the more liberal mainline protestants fell sharply from 41.1 to 36 million. Imagine loosing 5 million members.
Only a miracle can save the liberals except they seldom believe in the supernatural. The Episcopal church for example with an average age of 60 can only get far worst. We are reminded of Bishop John Shelby Spong who remarked in 1998, "Why Christianity church must change [to be more liberally thinking] or die" is ironic with the confirmed numerical demise of the liberal branch.
It is the children of the Episcopal churches who had abandoned the church with the average age rising to 60. The decline is however levelling. The Episcopals went from 1.5% of 227.16 or 3.4 Mil to 1.3% of 244.8Mil or 3.18 Mil.
The Mainline Liberal Protestant are replaced by a newer generation of unaffliated because many have taught their children to be free thinkers since in their theology all religions lead to the same God.
The New Normal didn't come overnight. It has the making of a 100 years of liberal theology in the colleges, a charismatic revival in Azusa St in 1906, and a return to blibical fundamentals in the Southern Baptist tradition.
Of the charismatics, the Pentescostals grew from 4.4 to 4.6%, the non denominational grew from 4.5 to 6.2%. In contrast the Episcopalian drop from 1.5 to 1.3%, and the United Methodist from 5.1% to 3.6% The Evangelicals such as the Southern Baptist fell from 6.7 to 5.3%. Hence, the survivors are the Charismatic churches. The Mainstream churches are no longer mainstream.
When the Southern Baptist and Albert Mohler thought that there were doing God's will by shutting the doors of the church against gays, ironically they also closed the gate to let others in.
The rise of the charismatics corresponded to the rise of the unaffliated (Atheist, Unaffliated, Nothing in Particular) from 16.1 to 22.8% with the NIP rising from 12.1% to 15.8%.
The evangelical church has fallen because it is too anti-gay, law and condemnation orientated and prosperity based. The Liberal churches denial of the supernatural, and the Gospel of Salvation in Christ has resulted in a wishy washy nothing in Particular religion.
In the New Normal, the churches are increasingly seen as hypocritical due to their anti-gay crusade. The Gospel message is no longer heard above the voices of legalistic and law based Christians who are in fact also the greatest sinners with their extravagant properity theology. However, we see a beginning of a Charismatic revival with the Pentecostals/Independents growing by 2% of total population or 4.8 million.
In Singapore, we have love Singapore determined to be moral defenders of Singapore whilst having corruption court cases of their main mega church pastors on-going for the last 5 years. The court proceedings have revealed an utter unrighteousness in the name of Jesus that falls way below even the standards of the world let alone any Christian higher expectation of morality for the mega church pastors.
The recent attacks by Amos Yee, who is anti-Christ rather than anti-Christian reflects a general feeling that Christians are hypocrites. Why is Love Singapore not going after the 10,000 abortions per year in Singapore whilst complaining against Pink Dot. When people see Christians as hypocrites, they don't see Jesus.
In a reflection of hypocrisy, the evangelicals have been in rage about gay marriage. But the Pew Centre research stats also indicated that
- 5% of the Baptist were living with a partner and not married (ie sex outside marriage).
- 4% of the Non Denominational evangelicals were living with a partner and not married.
- 14% of Baptist and Evangelicals had been divorced/separated.
For the historically Black evangelical Pentecostals such as the Church of God, over 20% were divorced. There were no abortion statistics.
When the Catholic church in Rome took over power from Ceaser in the 4th century AD, they fell. The Barbarians invaded. The world is at a crossroad.
Who are the new Barbarians? Not the Gay community who are too busy dining, in cafe, shopping, travelling, and doing gym. The Gay Christian community is essentially non existent and could fill a large nightclub on a Sunday night.
There are no Barbarians not even the Nones, but a self destructing Christianity so caught up by making gays the scapegoat for their own sins.
The church whether Liberal or Evangelical should be reflective of the decline and repent of their hypocrisy and repent for teaching a Christless doctrines of men. There is a call for revival, for prayer and hunger for the power of God.
The New Normal is a time when the ears and minds of people will be hardened to Christianity. Christians will be labelled as hypocrites and any good works discounted after years of demonizing gays. Even when we put on the Progressive Label, the Nones or unaffliated is simply not interested. The more dogmatic the theology - extreme left or right, the drop of attendance became more significant.
When Thomas full of the sin of fear and unbelief denied Jesus, 8 days later Jesus appeared, called him by name, and said Peace - Shalom, and showed him the receipt from the Cross, the nail scarred hands and pierced side.
Peace, Shalom, fear not for the days are coming when there will be disasters one after another, economic downturn, and the faith of many will grow vary, but the light of Christ will appear in the midst and the nations will return to Jesus Christ.
In John 20:21, we are sent and commissioned to proclaim the Gospel Good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We first must see Jesus and His nail pierced hands. We are sent out by Jesus and called by name just as Thomas was called by name for such a time as this. For a revival is coming in the midst of great financial and natural turmoil.