Our current Christian Status as a Nation
The pandemic impacted the church, as it did all social interaction. It forced the faithful to disconnect from intimate fellowship, teaching, and accountability with fellow Christians and God Himself. It accelerated “deconstructionism”, the establishment of an anemic form of Christianity. It offered a pathway and a rationalization to form new, bad habits on Sunday mornings, underpinning a departure from our closeness with the living God. These trends have been forming for decades, COVID just aggravated them.
So, where are we, as “a Christian nation” today?
Gallup Polling of American Adults
Last week, Gallup published their survey of the state of American Christianity. The headline accompanying the results succinctly summarized what should be no surprise to anyone…
“Belief in Five Spiritual Entities Edges Down to New Lows”
From Gallup’s results of American adults…
- 74% believe in God, down from 90% in 2001.
- 67% believe in Heaven, down from 83% in 2001.
- 69% believe in angels, down from 79% in 2001.
- 59% believe in Hell, down from 71% in 2001.
- 58% believe Satan exists, down from 68% in 2001.
Of course, the timeline of these trends extend well beyond the impact from isolation created by the pandemic. However, there is no question that Satan could not have picked a better strategic methodology to subtly undermine Biblical Christianity than to isolate its adherents from a support structure that God ordained, the Church. Add to that the divisive nature of our polarized culture, corruption, lawlessness, homelessness, virtue signaling, illegal immigration, burgeoning child transgenderism, and on and on.
Jake Meador, in the Atlantic magazine, recently offered his perspective on current trends in Christianity. It began…
“Nearly everyone I grew up with in my childhood church in Lincoln, Nebraska, is no longer Christian. That’s not unusual. Forty million Americans have stopped attending church in the past 25 years. That’s something like 12 percent of the population, and it represents the largest concentrated change in church attendance in American history. “
The author goes on to admit that, “This change is also bad news for America as a whole: “Participation in a religious community generally correlates with better health outcomes and longer life, higher financial generosity, and more stable families—all of which are desperately needed in a nation with rising rates of loneliness, mental illness, and alcohol and drug dependency.” He references an upcoming book by Jim Davis from The Gospel Colation that presents historical trends in church attendance in America. Titled, “The Great De-churching”, Davis makes the claim that,
“We are currently experiencing the largest and fastest religious shift in US history. It is greater than the First and Second Great Awakening and every revival in our country combined but in the opposite direction.”
There is a Correlation Between Physical Church Attendance and Spiritual Maturity
America is no longer a Christian nation. Biblical Christians (those who believe in Biblical inerrancy and traditional theology) are increasingly rare. When we as a nation stop attending Christian churches, our spiritual armor atrophies. And, online church is a poor substitute. To that point, I received the following comment from a reader, defending online vs. physical church attendance. He wrote…
“I mostly agree with you, brother Jeff. I am active at an inner city church… every Sunday morning, and wouldn’t miss it for anything! Still, there are a lot of Christ believers out there who have stopped attending church due to having strongly negative experiences with churches in their past. That’s where online churches come into the picture. My online church is…. where I currently have well over 10,000 subscribers, friends, followers or business contacts. Those individuals who go to church online are people who normally won’t attend traditional church due to distrust of religious authorities and bad experiences, including abuse of various kinds, with churches they have encountered in their pasts. So I maintain that there is something to be said for brick-and-mortar churches as well as those online. We’re all still in the business of reaching out to lost souls, and that’s what matters most.”
What is Church?
Interestingly, Webster defines the word “church” as, “a building for public and especially Christian worship”. Of course, most Christians, well versed in our terminology would jump up and down on this definition by saying “we are the church”, not a physical structure. And, they would be correct. The church is the body of Christ and not a physical building. However, in saying that, we need not discount the value of the body physically meeting together rather than hiding behind a Zoom computer screen.
Responding to the commentator above…
My response to the reader quoted above was that an online Biblical Christian church is much better than no church at all. I don’t dispute the “won’t attend church” and “distrust…. bad experiences” with conventional church attendance. However, the solution we arrived at during COVID, (not attending church physically at all), falls short of what God intended.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Lesser of Evils
We live in a world where we are often forced to decide on the “lesser of evils” and, in that vein, online is better than nothing, but far from the ideal. Perhaps the pastor quoted above would be hard-pressed to advocate to his online flock that the best choice would be for those who distrust or had bad experiences with their last in-person church should gracefully “get over it” and find a place to fellowship directly with other believers. Serving an unreached community, as he is currently doing, is a blessing to those who “attend” I am sure. However, if the physical Biblical Christian church down the street from home is a better choice, should he not be promoting forgiveness AND physical attendance as a better alternative to his online “congregation”?
It is a matter of recognizing that we are all sinners and direct fellowship, accountability and teachings in a formal in-person, format is much better once one accepts the fragility (read sin nature) of mankind… This, rather than hiding out at home in isolation.
Who among us truly grew in our Biblical Christian faith during the isolation of COVID? Some may rationalize they did, but upon more detailed review, I suspect the vast majority did more deconstructing than Biblical Christian reconstruction while tuning in to the internet.
We are living in a time of deterioration of those who call themselves Christians (Gallup poll).
We are living in a time of deterioration in morality as defined by the Bible.
There are many reasons for this trend. One of which may be God closing out this old world of ours to bring in the New Heaven and the New Earth. However, as Biblical Christians, we need to recognize that deconstruction and the internet church are not going to bring about a God-centered awakening. We need to get back into the habit of physical attendance on Sunday mornings. We need to reestablish our participation in Bible studies, prayer, regular reading of God’s word, and, all other disciplines that draw us back toward a holy and loving God. Further, we need to show our sons and daughters where our priorities lie. Otherwise, we will be the generation that witnesses a future Gallup poll that drops BELOW 50% of those who believe in the existence of Hell, Satan, angels, Heaven, and, even God Himself.
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