Vanishing Religion?

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I caught this article in the Christian Science Monitor.  It is written by Michael Spencer, who describes himself as a post evangetical christian in search of a Jesus-shaped spirituality. (Whatever that is).  I’m commenting in red, and first let me say that Jesus has never been hard to find, so I already had a problem from the get go.  The problem with this and all other writings about the death of Christianity have not embraced Christianity, or it wouldn’t be dying as they say:

We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. Not necessarily so, a collapse of belief, maybe. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.  I still believe there will be honest Christians who will never change their beliefs.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the “Protestant” 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.  I will say here that if they desert, then they never were truly Christians.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.  The Bible tells us that Christians were sacrificed because of their beliefs, and we should be as lucky.  What an award to die in belief of the Living God and His Son for His cause!

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I’m convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close. And their reward at the end will be recompense.

Why is this going to happen?

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society. What was said of apostles?

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith. No, what we believe is the word of God, it has never changed like tolerance has.

2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. AMEN! Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Second Timothy 2:15 will cure that. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures. Wouldn’t be if they studied their Bibles, and also their Constitution.  Both would give them insight to straighten both out.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself. All of this can be laid at the feet of political correctness and settling for what we’re told, instead of learning for ourselves.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to “do good” is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive. What was told would happen to lukewarm churches?

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith. Correct, if we allow it to happen.

7. The money will dry up.

What will be left? A lot of weeping when the Lord returns.

•Expect evangelicalism to look more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth oriented megachurches that have defined success. Emphasis will shift from doctrine to relevance, motivation, and personal success – resulting in churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith.

•Two of the beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue, with more efforts aimed at the “conversion” of Evangelicals to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. I don’t see this happening, but I do see “comfortable” churches.

•A small band will work hard to rescue the movement from its demise through theological renewal. This is an attractive, innovative, and tireless community with outstanding media, publishing, and leadership development. Nonetheless, I believe the coming evangelical collapse will not result in a second reformation, though it may result in benefits for many churches and the beginnings of new churches. (Signs of the apocolypse.)

•The emerging church will largely vanish from the evangelical landscape, becoming part of the small segment of progressive mainline Protestants that remain true to the liberal vision. Mainline Christians have never been true to a liberal vision, they have been true to a taught doctrine that was revealed at the cross.

•Aggressively evangelistic fundamentalist churches will begin to disappear.

•Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism. Can this community withstand heresy, relativism, and confusion? To do so, it must make a priority of biblical authority, responsible leadership, and a reemergence of orthodoxy. (Back to the Bible? Who would have thunk it?)

•Evangelicalism needs a “rescue mission” from the world Christian community. It is time for missionaries to come to America from Asia and Africa. Will they come? Will they be able to bring to our culture a more vital form of Christianity?

•Expect a fragmented response to the culture war. Some Evangelicals will work to create their own countercultures, rather than try to change the culture at large. Some will continue to see conservatism and Christianity through one lens and will engage the culture war much as before – a status quo the media will be all too happy to perpetuate. A significant number, however, may give up political engagement for a discipleship of deeper impact.

Is all of this a bad thing?

Evangelicalism doesn’t need a bailout. Much of it needs a funeral. But what about what remains?

Is it a good thing that denominations are going to become largely irrelevant? Only if the networks that replace them are able to marshal resources, training, and vision to the mission field and into the planting and equipping of churches. The basic thing that they need is to open the book, follow the rules and live the life.

Is it a good thing that many marginal believers will depart? Possibly, if churches begin and continue the work of renewing serious church membership. We must change the conversation from the maintenance of traditional churches to developing new and culturally appropriate ones.  AMEN!

The ascendency of Charismatic-Pentecostal-influenced worship around the world can be a major positive for the evangelical movement if reformation can reach those churches and if it is joined with the calling, training, and mentoring of leaders. The problem with the majority of so-called leaders is they have a power problem.  The only leader we should worry about is God. If American churches come under more of the influence of the movement of the Holy Spirit in Africa and Asia, this will be a good thing.

Will the evangelicalizing of Catholic and Orthodox communions be a good development? One can hope for greater unity and appreciation, but the history of these developments seems to be much more about a renewed vigor to “evangelize” Protestantism in the name of unity.

Will the coming collapse get Evangelicals past the pragmatism and shallowness that has brought about the loss of substance and power? Probably not. The purveyors of the evangelical circus will be in fine form, selling their wares as the promised solution to every church’s problems. I expect the landscape of megachurch vacuity to be around for a very long time.

Will it shake lose the prosperity Gospel from its parasitical place on the evangelical body of Christ? Evidence from similar periods is not encouraging. American Christians seldom seem to be able to separate their theology from an overall idea of personal affluence and success. One’s success will be a reward in Heaven…after all, you can’t take it with you.  Your riches should be stored in Heavenly things.

The loss of their political clout may impel many Evangelicals to reconsider the wisdom of trying to create a “godly society.” That doesn’t mean they’ll focus solely on saving souls, but the increasing concern will be how to keep secularism out of church, not stop it altogether. The integrity of the church as a countercultural movement with a message of “empire subversion” will increasingly replace a message of cultural and political entitlement. We don’t worry about saving souls, God does that, but we must be examples as the Bible teaches us to cause those souls to turn.  All the other things are unimportant.  The message is so simple, it’s things like this overanalysis that cause the problems.

Despite all of these challenges, it is impossible not to be hopeful. As one commenter has already said, “Christianity loves a crumbling empire.”

We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century.

We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture. Again, it’s the culture that has always been the problem.  We are told as Christians not to worry about things of this world, and when we do…it’s always a problem.  Man will not save us, man will hinder us.  Things of this world will burn, and as long as we want to be a part of it, we’ll burn as well.

I’m not a prophet. My view of evangelicalism is not authoritative or infallible. I am certainly wrong in some of these predictions. But is there anyone who is observing evangelicalism in these times who does not sense that the future of our movement holds many dangers and much potential?

I suppose those in Sodom and Gomorrah thought they were just “expressing their rights”.  It’s a hard lesson to learn from a God who is both a loving God, but yet a jealous and righteous God.  If you understand that statement, you will be just fine…

Steve

Way to Go RINO!

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Where are fiscal Republicans?  Wait, where are Republicans period.  They had to have gotten beaten bad in the election, because there may be one or two up there, but that doesn’t seem to be the ones who are in power:


(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama is expected to sign a $410-billion omnibus spending bill on Wednesday, one day after the Senate passed it.
 
The vote to cut off debate was 62-35, with eight Republicans voting to let the bill advance.

The Republicans who helped pass the spending bill – which is padded with pork-barrel spending — are Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Kit Bond of Missouri, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Those Republicans all used the spending bill to bring money home to their congressional districts.
 
The three Democrats voting against the omnibus spending bill are Evan Bayh of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
 
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, called it unfortunate that a majority of senators “voted against fiscal responsibility and decided to keep thousands of egregious earmarks in the Democrats’ massive omnibus spending bill.”
 
Pence said it is clear that Democrats support more government and more taxes.  “Families across the country are tightening their budgets, and Washington should do the same,” he said in a news release after the bill passed on Tuesday.
 
Pence and other Republican leaders want President Obama to veto the “irresponsible legislation.” But despite his recent pledge to Congress to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs, Obama is expected to sign the bill.  Administration officials describe it as “last year’s business.”
 
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said a recession is no excuse for politicians to spend taxpayers’ money recklessly.
 
“By vetoing this bill, the President can send a powerful message that he intends to keep his promise to fight for spending discipline and fiscal transparency at a time when such things have never mattered more to American families,” Boehner said.
 
“This legislation is loaded with 9,000 unscrutinized earmarks – the kind of secretive spending the President promised to oppose – and includes the largest non-emergency discretionary spending increase since the Carter years,” Boehner said.

“It comes just weeks after enactment of a trillion-dollar spending bill that Washington Democrats are already admitting will fail to meet the President’s goals, and just weeks before Congress votes on a budget that spends, taxes, and borrows far too much when our nation can least afford it.”
 
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), an advocate for fiscal discipline, voted against the bill because it contained 9,287 earmarks totaling more than $13 billion.
 
“Americans are suffering in this economy, but Washington appears to be recession-proof, with billions wasted on politicians’ pet projects,” said DeMint.
 
He noted that the bill contains earmarks for tattoo removal, swine odor, midnight basketball, museums, bike paths, a “Totally Teen Zone,” and the controversial liberal advocacy group LaRaza.  “Combined with the spending bills already passed last year, it will drive up the number of earmarks in Fiscal Year 2009 to a total of 11,914 at a cost of $28.9 billion,” DeMint said.

 

Stupid is as stupid does….there were those that told me not to vote against Lamar Alexander…and now, are you wondering why I did?  A wolf in sheeps clothing.  I bet he secretly has a feeling going down his leg when he looks at Harry Reid.

Steve

Why Does Obama Want Vets to Use Private Insurance for War-Related Injuries?

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As you read this ask yourself why in the world would Obama want to do this?

Senators slam Obama’s plan for wounded vets to use private insurance

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance.

But the proposal would be “dead on arrival” if it’s sent to Congress, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said.

Murray used that blunt terminology when she told Shinseki that the idea would not be acceptable and would be rejected if formally proposed. Her remarks came during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs about the 2010 budget.

No official proposal to create such a program has been announced publicly, but veterans groups wrote a pre-emptive letter last week to President Obama voicing their opposition to the idea after hearing the plan was under consideration.

The groups also cited an increase in “third-party collections” estimated in the 2010 budget proposal — something they said could be achieved only if the Veterans Administration started billing for service-related injuries.

Asked about the proposal, Shinseki said it was under “consideration.”

“A final decision hasn’t been made yet,” he said.

Currently, veterans’ private insurance is charged only when they receive health care from the VA for medical issues that are not related to service injuries, like getting the flu.

Charging for service-related injuries would violate “a sacred trust,” Veterans of Foreign Wars spokesman Joe Davis said. Davis said the move would risk private health care for veterans and their families by potentially maxing out benefits paying for costly war injury treatments.

Eleven of the most prominent veterans organizations have been lobbying Congress to oppose the idea. In the letter sent last week to the president, the groups warned that the idea “is wholly unacceptable and a total abrogation of our government’s moral and legal responsibility to the men and women who have sacrificed so much.”

The groups included The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

At the time, a White House spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the option was being considered.

Read at CNN.com

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