Can the Church Hit the Big Free Throw?

10 01 2006

In his book, “Exodus,” author Dave Shiflett outlines how all across America people are leaving liberal churches for conservative Christianity. Such a trend has been well-documented for quite some time now.

According to an article by Matt Kaufman, in Citizen’s January 2006 issue, Shiflett is a self-described “itinerant Presbyterian. He is not even a “particularly avid churchgoer” and is not “entirely comfortable” with people who understand the Bible. While he is obviously not able to provide the in-depth analysis of an educated theologian, he often hits center target, such as when he points to the sheer hollowness in the liberal version of Christianity.

“The progressive clerics are talking themselves out of a job. Their admonitions that we should all be nice to one another – be accepting, tolerant, hospitable and open – are welcome enough in a harsh world. Yet they are not giving the world anything it cannot get from television chat shows, movies, op-ed pieces, and the other soapboxes where contemporary sages gather. Their advice is much the same, if not identical, and sofas are much more comfortable than pews.”

The author chides liberals on their attempt to seize on the harshest of biblical passages and rip them out of context to undermine all inconvenient verses – all so they can claim that “opposing homosexuality is no less extreme than stoning annoying children.”

Most of the book is dedicated to exploring conservatives – because that, he has realized, is where the action is among Christians. Shiflett interviewed evangelicals and southern baptists. Catholics and Orthodox. He found several common themes. Absolute truth is revealed by God. All believe in Christ’s divinity and God’s supernatural activity throughout history. All take sin very seriously. And all believe that modern society is sunk deep in sin, especially abortion and the many assaults on family life. The more Shiflett talks to such people, the more impressed he is. He is impressed by their intelligence, their learnedness, their thoughtfullness. They demolish sterotypes of Christians as uneducated, easily led religious-right Bible-thumpers.

I only hope that we don’t have to have that “Caught with your hand in the cookie jar” look on our faces if people start noticing the Church now. It seems as though there has been a lot more bickering and badgering back and forth over small details instead of figuring out how to improve our influence. Now, the other team (ie. liberals, feminists, humanists) is fouling us with the score tied and 2 seconds left on the clock! All we have to do is stand on the stripe and hit a free throw. Let us work our differences out later so we can welcome these migrants to our church families. They have been infused with humanist ideals. Tolerance. Evolution. Relevance. There is no room for error. Take your time, envision the ball in the net, and release…

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2 responses

12 01 2006
Conservative4life

Nate,
I haven’t read the book. It looks interesting, and I certainly hope it is true. I have seen some evidence of migration back to the mainline, orthodox and/or conservative churches. On the other hand, if you read Barna’s research on Church attendance and knowledge of the Bible, I think the overall trend is that the U.S. population has been decreasing steadily in church attendance and Bible reading and knowledge. And overseas, especially Africa and China (where I have two siblings respectively), there has for some time been a broad dilution of orthodox theology and even basic tenets of the faith. There is a true mysticism emerging that combines elements of Christianity with other religions and/or mere superstitions. It allows people to go to very emotional Christian churches on Sunday and then live how they like from Monday to Saturday. My brother who has been in Nairobi, Kenya for the past year and a half, says that calling oneself a Christian has lost most of its meaning there; those who call themselves “born again” are much more likely to understand the true Gospel message. I mention this because these fertile mission fields are so large and growing so much faster than the U.S., that they could accurately be called the Church’s new epicenter in many ways. That is good in that millions are coming to Christ. It is exceedingly dangerous in that it runs the risk of diluting the message of Christ to a point where it is wholly unrecognizable.

13 01 2006
Country Mouse Lois

An interesting thought is this:

Liberal Democrats are pro-choice abortion supporters, no? If liberal Democratic women get abortions, aren’t they reducing their own voting population by killing off potential Democrats?

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