Showing posts with label "Conservative to Liberal Trend". Show all posts
Showing posts with label "Conservative to Liberal Trend". Show all posts

Evangelicals Concede They Are Losing in the Marketplace of Ideas

"In the next decades we will see a massive decrease in evangelical influence politically, economically, culturally, and financially" writes John S. Dickerson, in The Great Evangelical Recession (p. 26). "260,000 evangelical young people walk away from Christianity each year. Of that number 35% will find their way back, and 65% do not find their way back. Why are they leaving? They don't believe anymore." [Dickerson, pp. 98-102]. "This is not a blip. This is a trend. And the trend is one of decline," said Ed Stetzer [as quoted in Dickerson, p. 32]. Here are a few of the books that are sounding the alarm:

The solutions offered in these books range from becoming culturally relevant to the young generation, committing to serious discipleship, fervent prayer, massive evangelism, and prioritizing the wisdom of God over the wisdom of man. Not one of them thinks for a nanosecond that the Christian faith should be abandoned, that their faith cannot win in the marketplace of ideas. But that is the real problem. In the minds of other evangelicals like Peter Enns, John Walton, Kenton Sparks, Christian Smith, Bruce Waltke, Randal Rauser, Rob Bell and others, they suggest revising and extending their faith to accommodate to the new realities. But when they do this they are conceding their faith is relativistic with no foundation. This is very interesting to watch.

We are watching the demise of evangelicalism!
Don't think so? Here is a page from Dickerson's book:

If Nothing Else Look at the Trend, From Conservative to Moderate to Liberal to Agnostic to Atheist

[Written by John W. Loftus] In Ed Babinski's book, Leaving The Fold: Testimonies Of Former Fundamentalists, published seven years ago, there are testimonies from former fundamentalists who became moderates, liberals, and even "ultra liberals," like Dewey Beegle, Harvey Cox, Conrad Hyers, Robert Price (who now describes himself as a "Christian atheist"), and seven others. We could add other names like Howard Van Till, Valerie Tarico, John Hick, Marcus Borg, John A. T. Robertson, James Wall, Andrew Furlong, and James Sennett. In another section there are testimonies of former fundamentalists who became agnostics, like Ed himself, Charles Templeton, Farrell Till, and five others. We could add other names like Robert Ingersoll, William Dever, Bart Ehrman, and William Lobdell. In still another section of his book there are former fundamentalists who became atheists, like Dan Barker, Jim Lippard, Harry McCall, Frank Zindler, and four others. We could add other names like Hector Avalos, Michael Shermer, Ken Daniels, Ken Pulliam, Jason Long, Joe Holman, Paul Tobin, myself and many many others. I can't remember all the names of the important people who left fundamentalist Christianity because there are simply too many of them to remember! If you read, deconversion stories are posted there almost every day.

Christianity Simply Reinvents Itself Over and Over in Every Generation

One of my problems with the Christian faith is that in every generation it reinvents itself to face the challenges of each generation. One would think that if a faith that was "once and for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) this wouldn't be the case.

Christian theology has changed so much that one would not even recognize the Christianities of the first century or two.

Let me just mention some theological changes:

Creation - Not until around 200-700 AD did the church accept creation ex-nihilo.
Hell - From fire and brimstone to the absence of God to annihilation
Baptism - Probably from Immersion to sprinkling; from adults to infants.
Atonement - From ransom to satisfaction to penal-substitutionary to moral influence to relationship theories
Predestination - Possibly "mixed" to Calvinism to Arminianism to Calvinism back to Arminianism
Christology - From Paul to Chalcedon to Kenotic theories
Inspiration - From who knows what to mechanical to verbal-plenary to inerrancy to neo-orthodoxy.
Women - From servants who obey in quietness to teachers and ministers and professors
Slavery - From Paul (Philemon) to southern Slavery to abolition to anti-racism.

There are other theological ideas not mentioned, and there are many details to fill in about these particular ideas, but I dare say if today's Christians went back in time to first century Christianities they would not fit in, nor would they be considered orthodox in most Christian communities. Most all Christians today would actually reject the Christianities of the past. They would reject their theologies, their ethics, and perhaps their church polity (not mentioned previously). In fact, they would simply reject the Christianities of the past!

But what happened is that the church reinvented herself over and over in every generation in response to the challenges of her day. The church and her theology is like a chameleon to me in this respect. But the point is that it changed so slowly that few notice in today's world these drastic changes. Christians today wouldn't even admit that many of the earliest Christianites would be considered Christianity at all! And I know for a fact that the Christianites that will exist in the future will almost certainly be considered strange to the Christianites that exist right now.

I'm not looking for an explanation here, although I know what Christians will say. I'm simply pointing out that Christianity today is probably so far removed from the earliest Christianities that this is evidence that the church is a human not divine organization, one that flows downstream along with the history of human intellectual and cultural life. And I'm claiming this will continue to be true in the future too. At 54 years old I myself have seen these changes slowly take place inside the evangelical church for instance, with "Open Theism," the "Emergent Church," eschatological "Preterism," and an acceptance of babies out of wedlock, divorce in the church, abortion, homosexuality, and so forth.

So I ask, which Christianity is the correct one? There are a multitude of them which exist today all claiming to be the true church, but most all of the present ones would reject most all of the ones in the past, certainly the earliest ones.

Do church history. Do historical theology. It'll probably change your views about the church being a divine institution. It's not at all. The evidence suggests otherwise. Follow the evidence, okay?