That is the question asked by Ross Douthat of the NY Times.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/opini … saved.html
Even as the Episcopal church has made liberal reforms (such as tolerance for homosexuality), its decline has continued. Average Sunday attendance has fallen 23% in the last 10 years.
Christianity seems to be diverging between a hardcore conservative wing resistant to modern secular culture, and a hollowed-out liberal wing shot through with relativism and a distaste for much of traditional dogma. I have written that Christianity is declining significantly in the modern world. Both of these tendencies--a shrinking population of intensely devout believers, and a large population of secularized believers, itself ceding adherents to the secular world--are part of the pattern of decline.
"But if conservative Christianity has often been compromised, liberal Christianity has simply collapsed. Practically every denomination — Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian — that has tried to adapt itself to contemporary liberal values has seen an Episcopal-style plunge in church attendance. Within the Catholic Church, too, the most progressive-minded religious orders have often failed to generate the vocations necessary to sustain themselves."
"Today... the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism. Which suggests that per haps they should pause, amid their frantic renovations, and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world."
Perhaps the question should have been:
Can liberal Churchianity be saved?
Christ and His believers are doing just fine, as always, but Churchianity is failing, as it always will, because they have abandoned Christ and replaced Him with their own version of everything Holy, which is also predicted.
2 Thessalonians 2:3
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.
So I would say Gods plan is right on target and getting ready to play out the end times scenario we have been told about.
Apostasy is essential to the process.
Let me ask you this: does a more secularized world help or hurt the cause of actual Christianity? I thought the idea was to get as many followers of Christ as possible.
But if the world is so secularized that few people ever hear about Christ, isn't that a bad thing?
No at all, the apostasy is just part of the process, it attracts those who want to rule themselves, and if you are a scam artist what better place to hide than behind a pulpit, getting rich as you tell folk what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear.
Numbers of believers are not important, God has no need for our help, so all that is happening is the sifting of the wheat and tares, separation of the sheep from the goats, whatever you like to call it, it's happening, and it's each individuals task to determine which side of the divide they stand.
The 'gospel' has been taken to all the corners of the world, and very few people groups have not been reached, so the 'Great Commission' is almost finished, and God is near to calling time (though of course Gods concept of time is not like ours) and wrapping the whole thing up.
So an increase in secularism is actually aiding the end-times scenario, by illustrating that despite having heard the gospel, the majority of humans have ignored or rejected Christ.
Apostasy is the order of the day.
Paying 'lip service' to God through Churchianity does not count as faith and confession as to who Christ is, and we are told clearly to study to be approved:
2 Timothy 2:15
Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
and to be like the Bereans....
Now these were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
So the choice is there for each individual, apostasy or faith, and the default position is apostasy.... we need to make the decision to turn to God through Christ, or make our own fate.
So this would be the shrinking, hardcore, rejectionist element I mentioned above, lol.
One has to wonder though, how long will this devout community of yours remain in existence as the years pass by with no end times? 100 years? 500 years? Will it shrink as more and more people give up hope that the end times are actually going to happen?
It's already been two millennia, with countless failed end times predictions from the day Jesus died, through the mania around the year 1000 AD, through the "Great Disappointment" in 19th century America, to Harold Camping today. The world just keeps on spinning.
I am a devout Christian one who is seeing the watering down of God's Holy Word and God's teachings.
I take every word of God's Holy Word, The Holy Bible, literally. This is a book "Authored by God" Inspired by God, written by the Hands of Man. There is no reason to believe that every inspired word should not be taken literally and viewed as God's knowledge and wisdom and teachings, passed down to assist man in life.
Many so called religions including those denominations of Catholic, and Protestant faith are choosing to dilute or ignore or twist God's teachings in His Holy Word in order to placate a handful of objectors, and quite possibly those objectors are the larger financial contributors so the church caves. WOE! to thos churches that follow the almighty dollar instead of the teachings of God.
Dave if you read the bible literally then you will be missing out on deeper truths that are revealed by analogy, parable, and symbolism. Also you'll be expecting a ten headed dragon beastie to walk up the local beach and order an ice cream.
Reading it and taking it literally allows me to see the deeper truths without having to sift through meaningless dialog and getting to the facts.
So if you take the Bible as literally truth and historically accurate, then you must believe that the earth is flat, less than 6000 years old, talking snakes, it's okay to sell your daughter into slavery, forgive a rapist for raping your single daughter by having him pay you off and allowing the rapist to marry her, kill someone for working on Sunday, and all the other BS. There needs to be a disclaimer on the Bible that reads, "Any person(s) or events depicted in this book, whether living or dead, is purely coincidental". The Bible is meant to promote faith, not history or fact. Anyone with half a brain could easliy dismiss the Biblical stories by doing some simple research.
I agree with you (to a point).
If I'm not mistaken, you'd love to see all Christianity be obliterated.
However, there is God's (version) Christianity, that will survive irrespective of culture, education, wealth etc. It's not our call as to which version is best/right, but His.
I just want to be the best me, that I can be. !!
There is one true church which is definitely God's own and which is not a part of mainstream Christianity, it is set apart by God Himself and will survive irrespective of culture, education, wealth.
I would like to add here some more of that article I found very interesting and which I for the most part agree with:
"What should be wished for, instead, is that liberal Christianity recovers a religious reason for its own existence. As the liberal Protestant scholar Gary Dorrien has pointed out, the Christianity that animated causes such as the Social Gospel and the civil rights movement was much more dogmatic than present-day liberal faith. Its leaders had a “deep grounding in Bible study, family devotions, personal prayer and worship.”
Today, by contrast, the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism. Which suggests that per haps they should pause, amid their frantic renovations, and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world.
Absent such a reconsideration, their fate is nearly certain: they will change, and change, and die.
People want to believe in a G/god, regardless of how irrational it is and admit it's irrational, but they must feel comfortable in their own skin with it, then no problem. My biggest gripe is these same people refuse to keep it in their own life and use it against others for selfish reasons.
Jesus' teachings of love, mercy and compassion, I don't have a problem with and even agree it would be helpful to the world if more people walked the walk with regards to it.
But, the belief Jesus is/was a G/god? Not needed to achieve the teaching.
It's the job of God to decide who gets saved. If you wonder who gets saved, you are worrying about the thing that you have no business of worrying about. It would be better to leave the question to God alone. Unless, of course, you want to play God yourself.
I agree with aguasilver. Some people have got this idea that Christians are running around to make as many people as possible, Christians. That is not the idea at all. There are people who are receptive and it is find them alone that we preach.
As far as the question goes my answer would be 'No'.
Not all people who follow Christ belong to a church.and many churchgoers are not following his teachings about helping the poor etc......
people used to be coerced into going to church,now they are free...and in any case other religions are also a valid way of connecting to God...like Judaism for example,
Just so what you should so and leave it to God...the fundamentalists are in many ways half crazed.
Does liberal Christianity need to be saved? Perhaps after 1800 years the Church is waking up to the idea that Conservative Christianity is barking up the wrong tree.
The conservatives get their knickers in a twist because the liberals question the NT. Which when one considers how the NT came together; by manmade committtees of bishops, it's a valid question to ask. It is on faith alone, not evidence, that the NT is the literal breath of God.
So perhaps 1800 years of erroneous beliefs and doctrines are catching up. Perhaps there is no apostasy except towards the Church. Perhaps Christians are just waking up, throwing off manmade doctrines, chains, controls, and choosing to believe in Jesus for themselves and live in accordance with their good conscience, rather than the institutionalise Church. The Church has never wanted people to think for themselves, so they resisted bible translations in the people's vernacular and invented creeds.
Perhaps the Church is not of God at all. It is a manmade invention that wasn't instituted by Jesus. Perhaps God is behind the decline of the Church; after all who is the Whore of Babylon?
"Perhaps Christians are just waking up, throwing off manmade doctrines, chains, controls, and choosing to believe in Jesus for themselves"
Perhaps. But the statistics point to the conclusion that Christian adherence and belief is declining generally. Declining church attendance and identification are part of that process. But so are non-church-related things, such as actual belief in God, self-identification as "Christian" or frequency of Bible reading. All of these aspects of Christianity have been declining for years.
Since the rise of science..but actually that should not happen for Science and Religion are dealing with totally different aspects of life..
We are just stupid sometimes!!
Science and religion do not necessarily have to clash, but in reality they do because religion chooses to address topics that science has a perfectly good handle on.
If you reverse that statement.......
Science is a five year old with an elementary chemistry set in Gods terms, it's good that the 'nino' is showing an interest in how 'Dad' did things, but there will be a long way to go before the child grows up and can understand their Fathers ways.
That's because they focus on what they can do, rather than how God did it.
Romans 1 16:25
I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,
For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.
For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.
For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.
For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],
Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].
And by them the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God were exchanged for and represented by images, resembling mortal man and birds and beasts and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their [own] hearts to sexual impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin],
Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever! Amen (so be it).
This is where we need to differentiate between cultural viewpoints and universal viewpoints. Paul was speaking to his contemporary culture, not the 21st century, although we can still gain something from what he wrote. In his time men were without excuse because there was no alternative explanation for the natural world. Today we have scientific research which to many yields perfectly rational explanations without the need for God. Thus today men do have an excuse. Also "knowing" the truth Paul's contemporaries would invent gods and idols, and we are told that God abhors idolatry. Today people in advanced societies do not invent gods and thus there is no idolatry. Choosing to engage in Earthly pastimes rather than "spending time with God" is not idolatry. Idolatry is worshiping false deities and nowhere in the bible when idolatry is defined is it defined as spending time occupied in some Earthly pastime such as the Hebrew version of football.
My point remains that science, that wonderful institution, is seconds old in historic terms, and modern science is less than 150 years old.
The following show what I mean....
Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis[Note 1] (July 1, 1818 – August 13, 1865)
A Hungarian physician now known as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. Described as the "savior of mothers", Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics.
Puerperal fever was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal, with mortality at 10%–35%. Semmelweis postulated the theory of washing with chlorinated lime solutions in 1847 while working in Vienna General Hospital's First Obstetrical Clinic, where doctors' wards had three times the mortality of midwives' wards. He published a book of his findings in Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever.
Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis's observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings.
Semmelweis's practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory and Joseph Lister practised and operated, using hygienic methods, with great success.
In 1865, Semmelweis was committed to an asylum, where he died, ironically, of septicemia at age 47.
That's science and 'scientists'.....
Here's Gods version.....
Amplified Bible (AMP)
For they had seen that some of His disciples ate with common hands, that is, unwashed [with hands defiled and unhallowed, because they had not given them a ceremonial washing]
For the Pharisees and all of the Jews do not eat unless [merely for ceremonial reasons] they wash their hands [diligently up to the elbow] with clenched fist, adhering [carefully and faithfully] to the tradition of [practices and customs handed down to them by] their forefathers [to be observed].
And [when they come] from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions [oral, man-made laws handed down to them, which they observe faithfully and diligently, such as], the washing of cups and wooden pitchers and widemouthed jugs and utensils of copper and beds.
If one looks at scripture, God gave us clear instruction thousands of years before 'science' could accept the fact that unwashed hands = danger from disease.
Science is in it's infancy, maybe in the future science may get to know a minute amount of how God works and what God has already told us in scripture.
But mankind prefers science to God, worshipping the creation, rather than the Creator.
Science allows for new knowledge based on evidence, observation and deduction. Religion does not allow for new knowledge; it instead relies on revelations from thousands of years ago.
If you want to talk about timescales, "worshipping the creation" seems to have delivered in a few hundred years what the religious world could not muster a fraction of in 5,000 years--cures for disease, advanced communication, international travel, understanding nature and how it works, safety and security for billions of people (as opposed to incessant war), democracy and freedom for billions of people (as opposed to tyranny by Christian, Jewish, Muslims rulers, and others).
Imagine what the Apostles could have done with cell phones and Skype.
What I am talking about is the fact that science is a babe in arms and just as ignorant of the truth as any babe is.
It shows potential, but it also illustrated by my example above that it will take a long time to realise what God told us thousands of years ago.
I dare say the Hebrews had no idea WHY they needed to wash their hands, they also probably had no clue as to why they needed to defecate outside the camp, or stay separated for 7 days when they touched dead bodies, they trusted God, and as a result had hygienic standards which much of the world still lacks.
Just a small illustration as to why science, keen and eager as it is, still has no idea WHY certain things happen and refuses to accept anything until they have the 'evidence' (as they define).
And why women continued dying in childbirth when they could have been saved, if science had tried to work out WHY God told us these rules, rather than try to explain why God was no longer required.
When science rids itself of ego, we may start really being shown some truths.
It's funny, the only people I ever hear talking about an ego in science are the religious puritans, lol. If you actually read, watch or listen to actual scientists, you see that they are the most humble people around. They are constantly qualifying and hedging everything they say until it becomes all but certain (much to the chagrin of news reporters and political activists).
The same cannot be said of the most ardent followers of religion, who loudly and arrogantly declare from their pulpits that they, and they alone, have the absolute, unchanging "truth" about the most mysterious and impenetrable aspects of human experience.
"science is a babe in arms and just as ignorant of the truth as any babe is."
Absolutely. We are ignorant. The difference is, the world of science admits it. Religion does not.
Oh, and on this:
"I dare say the Hebrews had no idea WHY they needed to wash their hands..."
Indeed. I'm sure they also had no idea WHY they were prohibited from wearing clothes that were constructed of two different materials, why they had to cut off a part of the male anatomy, or a truckload of other pointless customs supposedly from the mouth of God.
It's all well and good to point out when "revelation" gets lucky. It's quite another to be fair and acknowledge the good, the bad and the weird.
It's also worth noting that countless cultures from Japan to Africa to the Americas organically developed customs related to cleanliness and hygiene, independently of the "chosen people." They too did not benefit from modern science.
But clearly a culture that valued hand washing and isolating their dead would last longer and multiply quicker than a culture that did not, for obvious reasons.
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