USA (MNN) — You may be wondering what’s going on in the United States.
A move to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the nation has sent churches into confusion and uncertainty. What’s next?
Barna Group Research and the Pew Forum back up that observation that America is moving toward post-Christianity. In fact, in just two years, the percentage of Americans who are categorized as “post-Christian” accelerated from 37% in 2013 to 44% in 2015. The study, published earlier this month, notes that the highest percentages of post-Christian Americans are living in urban areas of the northeast and Pacific Northwest.
For a country founded on principles that acknowledged God and the Bible, it’s not good news. Biblica CEO Carl Moeller notes, “It’s a dramatic shift in the way in which Christianity plays a role in society and culture. Basically one can look to Europe and the empty cathedrals and churches of Europe as a post-Christian culture.”
That begs the question: how did we get here? Moeller reveals, “Our research at Biblica Institute identified one glaring change in people’s Christian commitment, and that is in terms of Bible reading. The decline in Bible reading has been dramatic.”
So you don’t read your Bible every day. Does it really make that big a difference? In Moeller’s opinion, it does. “It really presents a dramatic problem because, when a culture that has been founded on the biblical narrative no longer recognizes the importance of that narrative in its current state, the culture is open to wild changes.” What’s more, he adds, “If present trends continue, a two-thirds majority of America by 2030 will have virtually no knowledge of any Bible stories or biblical reference.”
How did researchers figure out what Post-Christian America look like? In the survey of 60,000 people over 7 years, respondents were asked about several categories. Some of the factors used to gauge categories included “whether individuals identify as atheist, have never made a commitment to Jesus, have not attended church in the last year, or have not read the Bible in the last week,” explains Moeller.
With the rise of mega churches, he says, “The church, as a celebrity-based church, has substituted the word of these celebrity leaders for the Word of God.” He explains that “we’ve created a culture where Christian books have taken on the role of best-sellers and created a momentum of ‘these are great ideas!’ Unfortunately, as the church has done that, it has also walked pretty steadily away from the authority of God’s Word.”
What’s more, the next generation is disappointed with their preparation for their lifelong journey. It’s personal, adds Moeller. “With the assault on our Christian worldview through this post-Christian America, my kids have come back and said, ‘The churches have not given us what we need. They’ve basically given us a watered-down pop psychology of how to live a better life.’”
But is Bible engagement really the answer to problems like same-sex marriage, ISIS and major disaster? It is. Moeller suggests, “What I’m talking about is simply people understanding that God’s Word has something to say to us today–not reading it in little snippets, but reading it deeply, and reading well, and understanding it, and being taught from the Bible.” Every instruction teaches the follower of Christ how to respond to all of the social ills. Simple, yet complex. “God’s Word is transformative. It does truly make a difference in our lives. It saves our souls, and it saves our culture if we’re spending time in it.”
The problem is how to increase Bible engagement. Biblica has a few Bible reading plans available to help people walk through God’s Word. Another tool is the Books Of The Bible format. Moeller explains, “It actually reflects both historical and literary integrity of the New Testament. Take Paul’s letters, for example. While we still have chapters, and breaks for the natural thought chapters that are there, we’ve taken out the verses.” In the New Testament, for example, the book reads like the letter it was intended to be (Pauline epistles). Moeller reminds us that at its core, the Bible is a story.
When you experience God’s Word in a presentation that honors the original literary form, it can transform the way you read. And, who doesn’t love a good story?
Very saddened. Would like to get Bible reading plan and Books of the Bible format to have for my youngest son busy for us on out of college.
And I thought to skip reading the Bible for a day or a week, or even just glossing over it for the sake of it does not make a difference. It does! Thanks Carl for that mind-opener. God bless.
It is very sad to learn this. America is now worse than any nation on earth in the sight of God and it is easier for God to forgive ISIS than to forgive the Americans who lend voices and mental support to gay marriage. As a Pastor, if I were the head of state of my Country Nigeria, I would severe relationship with America because this to me is worse than blasphemy against God.
‘Biblica CEO Carl Moeller notes, “It’s a dramatic shift in the way in which Christianity plays a role in society and culture. Basically one can look to Europe and the empty cathedrals and churches of Europe as a post-Christian culture.”’
Erm – actually in the UK Cathedral attendance is growing: “In 2014 the average number of adults and children attending Cathedral services each week was 36,000. This has increased by more than a fifth in the last decade.” (Source: https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2015/08/cathedrals-in-england-welcome-over-10-million-annually.aspx)
It might the argument if the opening facts were correct.
The 1960s saw the onset of a sharp decline in church-going in Europe and the U.S. Hugh Mcleod, a historian at Birmingham University in England attributed that to changes in family structure to a weakening of national identity throughout Europe. Subsequent decades the arrival of large numbers of non-Christian migrants forced European states to adapt by cutting state ties to Christian churches. According to a 2005 Eurobarometer poll, only 52% of respondents agreed with the statement “I believe there is a God.” This trend was also noted by a faculty member of the Bonn Germany Campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The data they cite is not 2014, it was reflective of the decades prior to that in explanation of post-christian Europe. Carl Moeller was indicating that as Europe’s church went, so goes America’s if nothing changes.
Pastor, I can appreciate your passion, but just as we can’t lump all the Christians in Nigeria under one banner, we can’t do it with America’s Christians. In both our countries, there are many who name Christ and are walking with Him. There are many who barely have a relationship, and still more who are only Christian because they aren’t something else.
Because of groups like Biblica, they are encouraging more and more Christians to get into God’s Word deeper and better. The simple connection is that the more people know God’s Word, the better followers of Christ they will be. That changes worlds. It is always a battle to speak truth and to be loving and point the way to a better walk with Christ. It is great that your congregation knows and holds fast to Scripture. Let’s encourage others to do the same.
But the point is that the Cathedrals are not “empty” – anything but. What has declined is the cultural religion and the Christian civic hegemony, which really has little to do with Christianity anyway. What is now happening is a growth of genuine belief and adherence, following the decline of cultural attendance.