Opinion by Daniel Darling, special to CNN
(CNN) - Perhaps you’ve heard that there is trouble brewing among evangelicals.
Younger Christians are weary of pitched cultural battles and are longing for the “real Jesus” – a Jesus who talks more about washing feet and feeding the poor than flashpoint issues like same-sex marriage and the sanctity of life.
If key evangelical influencers don’t listen, we are told, they are about to lose the entire millennial generation. Or, maybe that generation is already gone.
This story has been told with testimonials, chronicled in best-selling books and posted on popular blogs.
Here’s the short version: If only orthodox evangelical leaders would give up their antiquated beliefs, get more in step with the real Jesus, the church and the world would be better off.
Embedded in this narrative are two presuppositions:
• Young evangelicals are fleeing the church at a rapid pace.
• The real message of Jesus looks nothing like orthodox Christianity.
There’s only one thing wrong with these two ideas: They aren’t true.
Let me explain.
First of all, evangelicals don’t have a youth problem. I’ve heard the apocalyptic “leaving in droves” narrative since I was, wait for it, an evangelical young person myself.
But experts who have weighed this data point beg to differ.
Bradley Wright, a sociologist from the University of Connecticut, has thoroughly examined the data that purportedly shows an exodus of young evangelicals and says it doesn’t support the “disaster narrative.”
Wright says the biggest drop of faith in young people happened in the 1990s, and that current levels are about the same as the early 1970s.
Ed Stetzer, the president of Lifeway Research, has also looked at the statistics and has concluded that while religious identity has declined in America, it’s mainly the nominal Christians and mainline Protestants who’ve suffered - not evangelicals.
“The reality is that evangelicals have been relatively steady as a percent of the population over the last few years,” Stetzer writes, and “no serious researcher believes Christianity in America is dying. Not one.”
Of course, there are legitimate concerns about the evangelical church in the United States.
For the last several years, some Southern Baptist leaders have voiced concern about the decline in baptisms and membership.
But nobody is suggesting that orthodoxy is the reason for decline.
If anything, leaders are pointing to a lack of faithful evangelical preaching and intentional gospel witness as the culprit. Church history doesn’t bear out evidence that a mushy, heterodox movement is the cure for stagnation.
What’s more, there is anecdotal evidence that seems to indicate a robustly orthodox evangelicalism is growing among the young.
Networks such as The Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel and others are growing. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, an unflinching bastion of orthodoxy, enrolls more Masters of Divinity students than any other institution accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.
One might argue that young evangelicals aren’t fleeing core conservative institutions, but flooding them.
Perhaps the doom and gloom story seems familiar - if also wrong - because we’ve heard it so many times before. As young scholar Matthew Lee Anderson puts it, the “change or die narrative is presented as a perennial problem.”
Progressive hand-wringers are missing the point, in my view. If history teaches us anything, it is that what dies is malleable, un-rooted faith and not 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy.
But even if the change-or-die narrative is true, even if faithfulness becomes less attractive in this new age, this shouldn’t be cause for worry.
Jesus prepared us for seasons like this, urging his followers to a counter-cultural faith, one that gains the favor of heaven, but earns the antagonism of the world.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me,” Jesus says in the Gospels.
The pop Jesus of progressives sounds less like the Jesus of the Bible and more like a malleable deity who easily aligns with our cultural sensibilities. A mascot for every chic cause, except for that difficult mission to which he called his followers: cross-bearing.
Consider some of Jesus’ statements:
“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”
“If anyone does not hate his father or mother, he cannot be my disciple.”
“If any man will be my disciple, let me him take up his cross and follow me.”
“For this cause, shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.”
What’s more, Jesus praised John the Baptist, that culture warrior, for his prophetic word against Herod, the monarch who committed adultery.
Yes, it is true that Christians should be known more for what they are for than what they are against.
But if you move past the rhetoric, you’ll find that it is often not aggrieved ex-evangelicals who are founding and leading charitable organizations, but the stubbornly orthodox. Faithful Christians are not the only ones in the trenches, relieving human need - but they make up a large percentage.
All over the world, you will find faithful followers of Christ adopting orphaned children, rescuing girls from trafficking, feeding the poor, digging wells and volunteering in disaster relief.
My own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, operates one of the world’s largest relief operations while holding fast to its theological commitments.
And some of the world’s most effective ministries to the poor and marginalized were started by and continue to operate according to evangelical Christian beliefs. They live in the tension of the New Testament, which calls believers to both faithfulness and charity.
In fact, the most effective agents of hope in this world likely don’t have Twitter accounts, have never blogged and might never have even uttered the words, “social justice.”
And yet silently, quietly, patiently they serve the least of these, not because they first jettisoned their quaint notions of orthodoxy, but because they held them tighter.
Daniel Darling is the vice-president of Communications for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the author of several books, including "Activist Faith." The views expressed in this column belong to Darling.
Ever notice how it seems as if every time the subject of religion, God, faith, or any subject even remotely related to them comes up, the conversation always appears to be so "black and white?" It's almost always going to be the so-called Believers vs. the so-called Atheists. Never any middle ground. Very interesting...
I actually like this topic.
I really like the idea of taking any random current local, national, or international news event and just seeing what the Bible has to say about that particular subject; if anything.
I blog at http://isthatinthebible.com
• The real message of Jesus looks nothing like orthodox Christianity.
Nobody is saying that. The Real Message of Jesus ™ looks nothing like *Southern Baptist Christianity* though. Southern Baptists are about as close to Orthodox as they are to Zoroastrians.
As long as parents continue to brainwash their young children into believing in fairy tales revolving around a Jewish Zombie, there will never be a shortage of morons in Jesus' fan club.
This blog is based on the faulty premise that "Jesus looks nothing like orthodox Christianity" when the language is rhetorical trickery. The actual premise is that Jesus looks nothing like fundamental Christianity. Nobody who says fundamentalism is losing the younger generation is suggesting Jesus and orthodox theology are divorced. This is just one of the tricks fundies play – treating fundamentalism and orthodoxy as though they are mutually-synonymous, while they narrowly restrict the broadness of Orthodoxy to their antiquated Calvanistic doctrine of a mean bloodthirsty god who believes in a reward/punishment system based on cause and effect. This is divorced from Jesus, but is not the limit of orthodoxy.
People are waking up to the fact that the revolutionary evolutionary theological theory of Pandeism fully accounts for, and so supersedes, all of the dusty old faiths based on books written by men who thought the Sun orbited the Earth and that diseases were caused by cackling demons. Pandeism reconciles elements of Pantheism and Deism, proposing a Creator capable of having wholly become a Universe wherein everything which we observe has developed evolutionarily, through scientific processes discoverable to man, and indeed where all processes of our Universe (including its pandeistic Creation) are knowable through our gifts of reason and mathematical logic. Since the theistic gods lack the power to create pandeistically, Pandeism is presumptively true against all of them until evidence inexplicable by a pandeistic Universe is presented.
From the article:
"But if you move past the rhetoric, you’ll find that it is often not aggrieved ex-evangelicals who are founding and leading charitable organizations, but the stubbornly orthodox. Faithful Christians are not the only ones in the trenches, relieving human need – but they make up a large percentage."
Baloney! Christianity in America takes in a staggering $100 BILLION a YEAR. Thats right, its no typo.
You know how much goes to charity? Not Enough.
You know what they spend the money on? Neither do I because it is ILLEGAL (Since 1957) to audit the books of Churches!
Also, they pay ZERO taxes.
Christian Charities are a SCAM...I strongly suggest buying some groceries every week and delivering them to poor families every week, or take them to the local SECULAR food bank.
No Christianity needed.
Well, we can't really trust the words of a guy who derives his income from Christianity, this author is fully invested in PRETENDING that Christianity doesn't have a problem.
The Christianity that they feed to the "youth" is not the same as the Christianity of old, today the kids get together and chit-chat and have sleepovers and social camp activities.
But start asking these kids about the bible and they don't know anything except "John 3:16" or some other nonsense that doesn't offend.
Christianity is evolving into a social club, but these kids don't "go to church", they don't donate money, and they don't agree wiht the political agenda of H8 and exclusion.
All of this is good, its what I want, a toothless. politically broken jeebus.
6.Prov 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Prov 3:6: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Rom 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 Tim 3:16: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Heb 11:1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,
Luke 13:3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
What does God say about hypocrites who oppose gay marriage while promoting the "sanct-ity" of their hetero marriages like that?
Are you going to just keep posting the entirety of the bible? Is there some point to it or should I just start posting from another fictional work?
His point is clear. God, not human authorities or standards, are to be followed. Of course, for that to make sense, one would have to know that God exists, and which holy book, which religion, and which denomination have His Truth.
"It's true. I am the Chosen One, only I can destroy him, but in order to do so, I need to know what Tom Riddle asked you all those years ago in your office, and I need to know what you told him. Be brave, sir. Be brave like my mother."
[Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince]
"Hearing voices no one else can hear isn’t a good sign, even in the wizarding world."
-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Darth: "...no Luke....I am your father!"
frank, while you are busily dumping bible bile on us from your horrid Christian book of nasty, let's take a look at the evil instructions in there purportedly from your vicious, murderous sky fairy:
17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.
Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”
Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.
Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.
And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.
So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.
And further, ask yourself why we should have to rely on very stale, thousands-of-years-old, many-versioned old text, that is only reasonably subject to debates over its meaning. Why is it that your pathetic sky fairy can't even get with the past decade and create his own web presence (no, religious shill sites don't count), or push some tweets out? Even the pope, that creepy hider of criminal priests, could do that much, as can most children. After thousands of years of radio silence, reasonable doubt in the existence of your sky creature is easily justified, to say the least. Your absurd "god" is also apparently less capable at communication than any modern 10 year old.
Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
On atheism, why is anything evil?
Sin lies only in harming others unnecessarily.
All other "sin" is invented nonsense, with "heresy" and "blasphemy" fighting it out for the ti/tle of most absurd...
"Sin lies only in harming others unnecessarily."
Says who? On atheism, what is wrong with harming others?
Still DON'T KNOW if you agree with the Bible's morals?
uhh..you realize what the woman is doing and her intention ns when she grabs the gential...it snot merley grabbing it..but to the point o finjury that the man may not be able to produce children anymore....the woman knows it ...as for the hand being cut off....back then that was acceptbale...sure..we have other ways to deal with this..and plus...we are not starting a new community..a new nation as the Jews were
What does she grab them with? Pruning shears?
"...and the woman knows it...
That is the most vulnerable part of the man. If someone is attacking her husband, and she doesn't stop it, her husband may be killed...leaving HER vulnerable. So she tries to get the ASSAULTING, ATTACKING man off her husband. By doing what women do in an assault situation; grab what is vulnerable.
However, if the ATTACKER gets the squeeze, the woman gets her hand cut off?
And that's all fine and dandy, right?
And no one is supposed to question the value judgement of that?
Do you agree with this from the Bible:
(Deut. 25:11-12) “If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the
one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; your eye
shall not pity her.”
What the heck does "on Atheism" mean?
There is no "Evil" ... just willful ignorance, racism, and stupidity...
One mans evil, is another mans search for FREEDOM from tyranny, its all relative.
OT doesn't apply to Christians today. A ten year old can read the Bible and see that. You have anger issues. Don't blame God. Blame the men your surrounded by.
Apparantly NEITHER does the New Testament!
YOu mean that we shod not care for one another...take responsibility for our actions towards one another? That's what a lot of the oT teaches...for example..if your cow gores another persons cow..you got to pay for the damages..etc...
You're always talking about morals and the Bible.
Let's see what YOUR idea of morals are:
(Deut. 25:11-12) “If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her.”
So do YOU agree with this moral from the Bible?
So are you going to write a Bible using your morals?
better to live your life using your own morals, frank, then take the translated, edited hearsay in the bible
Morality and ethics have evolved far beyond primitive books such as the bible. We no longer consider slavery and child exploitation acceptable. We have formulated ethics around modern medicine, finance, and privacy that were never considered even 100 years ago, let alone 2000. Most philosophies and religions have some version of the golden rule – treat others as you wish to be treated yourself – because it has it roots in human empathy, a natural trait that has evolved with our intelligence and predates Christianity (cobbled together from extant philosophies and myths to fit prophesies)
No gods required.
You have been deceived. God exists, Heaven exists, Hell exists, and Satan exists.
Matthew 7:13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."
Why do you believe things for which there is no actual evidence? Are you pretending to know things you do not?
"Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."
God told me the same way He told Peter. .
Ah, the circular logic of The Babble!
hotairace wrote:" Ah, the circular logic of The Babble"
It is a direct assertion of truth. There is no reasoning or inference. It is just the truth being told to you.
no, frankie, your claim is that there is a god because the bible says so
to say it is hgear5say..you have to prove beyond shadow of a doubt that it wasn't eyewitness reports....sure..you may say we don tknow who the authors are..if that's the case..then youre only making an assumption that it is hearsay....
We know FOR A FACT , that ALL of these old testament "stories" FAR predate the Jewish Torah! Every one of these myths and fables were previously told by ancient Egyptians and before them, told by the Sumerians! Since both of those civilizations FAR predate the "tribes of Israel", we KNOW that these fables in the old testament are updated, modified versions of MUCH OLDER myths and stories!
NO..you DONT know for a fact the stories predate....like Noahs story..yes..it may have predated Moses time...but Moses did not get his story from Gilgamish..which is an embellishment of Noahs stoy.....yes..Gilgamish was WRITTEN first.but bening put to paper first does NOT prove the story itself started from anywhere else other than Noah...one must consider the FACT there was much ORAL story passing along before writings
frankbeattys, since you are busily dumping bible bile on us from your horrid Christian book of nasty, let's take a look at the evil instructions in there purportedly from your vicious, murderous sky fairy:
Do you believe objective morality exists (morality independant of personal opinion?)
More brawls and riots last night in Santa Barbara CA, induced by alcoholic beverages which can provoke feelings of anxiety. Anarchy, brawls, stampedes and Riots. Yup no doubt about it!!! ALL who do not Trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's Only Son WILL Panic and get into anarchy, brawls, riots and stampedes.
Those who Trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's Only Son WILL NOT.
Of the 80 people arrested, I wonder how many were Christians.
"If history teaches us anything, it is that what dies is malleable, un-rooted faith and not 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy."
Yeah? Which Christian orthodoxy are you referring to? The Catholic Church? Oh, but there was a bit of a split back in the year 1054, wasn't there? The Eastern ORTHODOX Church claims to be the true continuation of the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."
Or do you perhaps mean Protestant orthodoxy? How many hundreds of Protestant churches are there? Which Protestant "orthodoxy" do you have in mind?
Or maybe you mean the "early church." Back when Paul was going head-to-head with the Jerusalem Church (you know, James and Peter, who, like, you know, actually KNEW Jesus) and trying to whip the various churches around the Mediterranean into line. That orthodoxy?
Christian orthodoxy is in the eye of the beholder.
The gods of Man will die out in a matter of decades or centuries. Hopefully logic, reason, and morality will abound and Humans will then be old enough not to need new gods.
Decades may be too hopeful. Eventually though religion will be washed away. It may take a while but it will happen. Just in my circle of friends and contacts I see less and less people attending church and those that do aren't going with any kind of regularity. I think what will really end up killing churches isn't even differences if opinion but the removal of the "weekends" at most work places. I usually work on Saturday and Sunday so even if I wanted to go I couldn't. I think our need to have everything open 24/7 will actually be what kills churches.
The gods of man are dead. They were never alive to begin with. They were false idols. Only the Christian God endures forever.
I guess if you believe. I would argue there really aren't any gods of man to begin with or false idols. I'd just say there is stuff that people get fixated on and obsess over but really it isn't much different than religion. Some people get fanatical about their religion just like sports fans get obsessed over "their" team. Other people could careless. It is what it is. I wouldn't get too excited about it but I know other people love their team so who am I to rain on their parade that I don't care. I think as long as everyone is happy in the end.
gosh, gopher, more blah, blah, fvcking blah claims......
you are a clown
Sam, why the ad hominem attack? Also, I do not know the gopher individual you are referring to but I wouldn't mind meeting him/her.
You post the same tripe as a former poster known as topher/gopher
i suspect you are him
And why should we consider your god any more valid than any of the other millions of gods humans have worshiped over the course of history? What makes Yaweh any more real than Zeus or Thor?
Global heating makes this all a moot point since in less than a 100 years this planet won't have any living humans.
I have to assume that you are being deliberately insincere with this comment.
Interesting take on the entire thing. I don't ever see myself going to
the church. I am a millennial and I ran the moment I was old enough to
get out of there. I just see churches that use their collected tax free
money as a political hammer. I'm fine with all religions but i'd really
like them to respect the whole separation of church and state. It seems
to be something that churches especially evangelical churches have an
issue with. I just wish they'd be honest and reassign themselves as
political campaigns and pay taxes if they are going to play that way.
The First Amendment says the government has no right to impose religious belief, or favor one church over another. Nowhere does it say that churches are not to engage in moral teaching. So for pastors to condemn slavery, or other injustices, is entirely legitimate, as one example.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.