The End of Religion?
Is Christian Faith Really Dying Out?
There are those who would say that the end of religious belief is near. These are people who think that religion has caused all of the problems of the world, and they think that life would be better off without it. From what I have seen, what they mean by religion specifically targets the Christian religion. I can and have argued that the Judeo-Christian worldview has caused a great deal of good in this world and that they don't know what they are asking for when wishing for religious belief to be taken out of the world.
For instance, since 1964, the crime rate in the United States has more than tripled. This coincides with the June 17th, 1963 Supreme Court decision not to allow prayer and Bible reading in the public schools.
But despite the naysayers and those who want to perform a funeral dirge for faith, I am here to let them know, as well as everyone who reads this article, that Christianity is alive and well on planet earth, and is here to stay.
I. The Decline in Europe and the United States
The sad truth is that in Europe and the United States, religious belief is on the decline. A recent survey indicates that in Europe, Italy is the only country where there is a majority who believe in a supreme being. And the young are less religious than the older people. In the United States, a Pew Research finding discovered that 1 in 5 people 18-25 say they have no religious affiliation. Of that generation that goes to church as children, nearly two-thirds leave it as adults.
Europe and the U.S. are clearly in trouble and we Christians who love our country should be warned that if something isn't done, God will judge our culture. We clearly need revival. But if God should wipe out our culture, and that of Europe, tomorrow, Christianity will go on. As a matter of fact, it is!
II. Christianity's Move South
The picture isn't as bleak as some would have us think. Professor Phillip Jenkins of Penn State University, says that outside the West, Christianity is having explosive growth. In the Continent of Africa, for instance, in 1900 there were approximately 10 million Christians. By 2000 there were 250 million. By the year 2025, if things continue like this, it is predicted that there will be roughly 633 million. According to those same estimates, the number of Christians in 2025 in Latin America is expected to be 640 million, and in Asia, 460 million.
Professor Jenkins also says that the percentage of Christians in the world by 2050 will be the same as it was in 1900. And that is saying something since the population of the world continues to grow with each passing year. At the moment, there are around 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christian. It is still the world's largest religion. By the middle of this century, there are expected to be 3 billion. This is one and a half times the number of Muslims.
Continuing to project into the near future, by 2050, only one-fifth of the world's Christians will be white and non-Hispanic. Jenkins estimates that by this time, the typical Christian will be a woman living in a Nigerian village, or a Brazilian shanty town. He calls those living in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia, "Southern Christians." The interesting thing is, as the church moves farther South, it will also become more conservative. In other words, both theologically and morally, the church will become more biblically orthodox than the church in the West is currently.
There is a lesson for us all here. God has chosen to use the West in a great way over the past few centuries. But He doesn't need us. The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to spread throughout the world at astounding rates, despite its decline here. And it will continue to move ahead, either with or without us.
Of course, it is my prayer that the Lord will grant us revival in the United States and Europe because I believe that our future welfare depends upon it. It is the Judeo-Christian worldview that has made us what we are today. But, even if we keep going the way we are going, the Gospel will continue to move forward throughout the world.
Christ continues to change lives and cultures, just as He did when He first died on the cross and rose again. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him as such.
For those predicting the doom of religion, they have little ground to stand on. Someone has said that man is incurably religious. That is because he was designed for relationship with the living God, and nothing will ever change that.
Christianity is growing. My only hope is that everyone who reads this will become part of that growth by accepting the claims of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and become a member of His ever-expanding family. Because to find Christ is to find life. Please choose life today!
© 2011 Jeff Shirley