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Millennials and the false 'gospel of nice'
Jesus confronts the money-lenders in the temple.
April 3rd, 2014
10:29 PM ET

Millennials and the false 'gospel of nice'

Opinion by Daniel Darling, special to CNN

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(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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Culture wars • evangelicals • Opinion • Protestant

soundoff (1,027 Responses)
  1. revrickm

    Quoting from the article:

    "• The real message of Jesus looks nothing like orthodox Christianity."

    Actually, you have that backwards – Orthodox Christianity looks nothing like the real message of Jesus.

    Add to that we actually have almost no scripture that indicates what Jesus originally taught because we no original written scripture. None. We have copies of copies of copies of scripture, written by those who never met Jesus, and could only write down the oral traditions of what Jesus said and did, but even that scripture was written decades after Jesus died. For some reason, evangelicals don't want to accept that as historical fact, and they want to gloss over Biblical contrad.ictions and inconsistencies by proclaiming that, because scripture is divinely inspired, it must be therefore be inerrant. I actually have no problem with someone who wants to believe in divinely inspired scripture, but that's not the same as factual and accurate.

    April 4, 2014 at 11:13 am |
    • colin31714

      That is very true. The earliest account of Jesus' life is the Gospel According to Mark. It was written in Greek in about 70 AD. This is about 40 years after Jesus' execution. There is good evidence of an earlier manuscript, the "Q" manuscript, which was likely a collection of Jesus' sayings.

      But, a cold, hard fact remains. In the 40 years between Jesus death and Mark being written, it is highly, highly likely that the stories about him changed and became more exaggerated as they swirled around the superst.itioous Greco-Roman Mediterranean before being capture by the author of Mark and reduced to writing. There is simply no way around this.

      April 4, 2014 at 11:41 am |
  2. Brandon Ivey

    First off, a fantastic Op-ed by Daniel Darling.

    Not that Christians need a reminder, but here are some good scripture verses that serve as a reminder to continue to do good.

    Acts 20:35
    In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

    Hebrews 13:16
    Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

    Luke 21:1-4
    Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

    2 Corinthians 9:7
    Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

    1 John 3:17
    But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

    Being a Christian is a great calling! A calling that includes showing love to fellow mankind.

    April 4, 2014 at 10:40 am |
    • sam stone

      You need a book to remind you to do good?

      April 4, 2014 at 10:41 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        no, they need the threat of hell to remind them to do good.

        April 4, 2014 at 10:49 am |
        • idiotusmaximus

          Lololol.....right you are Dyslexic doG....they constantly walk on their tip toes of fear, guilt and shame.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:00 am |
        • new-man

          mr ddog & mr im,
          it's not a believer's obedience that saves them- it's Christ's obedience. It's not their right standing or righteousness that declares them perfect, it's Christ's right standing and righteousness.

          A person redeemed by the blood of Christ is made and declared perfect in Christ by Father. They are already what God made them to be once they become born-again.
          Right believing leads to right living... has nothing to do with a believer's "work" at "trying" to become what he already is – perfect in Father's eyes.

          A person who boasts in their own "good works" or "obedience" because he believes his good works and obedience is sufficient without the need of Christ is self-righteous.

          Adam & Eve covered themselves with fig leaves (symbolic of self-righteousness) because they didn't see the gravity of what they had done. God, Himself had to sacrifice an animal and cover them – showing that only innocent blood can redeem the guilty.
          Jesus cursed the fig try and proclaimed no more will any man eat of its fruit – What was He doing? He cursed self-righteousness.
          So I would say, declaring ones self-righteousness by touting ones good works and obedience outside of Christ is just folly.

          It's Christ in You, the hope of glory. – very simple, but very profound.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:48 am |
      • kudlak

        How about some Post-It notes with helpful reminders like "Don't Murder Anyone Today"?

        April 4, 2014 at 10:51 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          those 10 commandments that the christians copied from earlier civilizations are a help to them too.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:54 am |
        • kudlak

          I've seen a guy with those tattooed on his inside forearm, like a cheat-sheet, I guess?

          April 4, 2014 at 10:57 am |
    • Billy Bob

      Not sure if a reminder to give is better than be told that you don't have help another who is paying back for their 'karma' – what a lame excuse to not give.

      April 4, 2014 at 11:15 am |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      Funny, me bucko, but the self-advertising "Christians" I see need those reminders constantly...

      April 4, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
  3. thefinisher1

    Why doesn't the all powerful force of atheism do something to help our world? Is atheism unloving? Does atheism even exist?! I guess it doesn't. Atheists shout how atheism produces the most logic and reason but it's all a lie. A sad childish lie.

    April 4, 2014 at 10:06 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      asinine

      April 4, 2014 at 10:18 am |
      • thefinisher1

        It's ok, child. The truth is had to accept! 😜😄😄😜😄😜😄

        April 4, 2014 at 10:20 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          asinine

          April 4, 2014 at 10:22 am |
    • Rynomite

      You should change your name to "nevergotstarted".

      April 4, 2014 at 10:21 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        his wife nicknamed him "the finisher". "1" is the number of seconds.

        April 4, 2014 at 10:23 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Don't wish this thing on any woman...that's simply not kind to all the decent educated women out there.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:27 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      If your god is so real, why is it being so damn evasive?? Could it be that it doesn't exist (kind of like your education)?

      April 4, 2014 at 10:21 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Your atheism doesn't actually exist. It's all made it in your head!

        April 4, 2014 at 10:24 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Wow such blatant ignorance!! I'm surprised you even know how to get on a computer!!!

          April 4, 2014 at 10:25 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Ignorance? Atheists claim everyone else is wrong but them. That's not ignorant to you? Grow up you ignorant child!

          April 4, 2014 at 10:36 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          What's so good about the god you believe in? What is ignorance is denying the facts and using your belief to hate and deny rights. I'm guessing you've never actually picked up a copy of Gullibles Travels (aka the bible) or you would also be an Atheist-oh wait, you are one-you deny all other gods but your own!
          Stop spewing so much hatred about something you obviously know nothing about.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:48 am |
        • thefinisher1

          You don't care about all other gods but one. Your point? Most of your life's obsession is aimed towards one faith leaving the other 99.999% of all gods. You only want evidence of one god. Why? Why waste time on one when you claim to deny all? You pick the one you know exists and leave all others out. Deny that and yeah, you are an ignorant child.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:00 am |
        • Doris

          thetroll1

          "...You pick the one you know exists..."

          Asinine

          April 4, 2014 at 11:08 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          oh you poor troll, no evidence for any god. How do you live with yourself being such a hateful uneducated fool??? I really don't see what possible cheap thrill you get by hating so much unless of course you're a sadistic monster (kind of like the god of the bible).

          April 4, 2014 at 11:08 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      T is for the way you troll at me
      R is for the rhetoric you speak
      O is very very inane but kinda scary
      L is for the laughter that we stifle ever after
      Losers like you keep troooooooolling

      April 4, 2014 at 10:29 am |
      • thefinisher1

        That wasn't a trolling statement dumb troll. Your atheism is being questioned and you don't like it. You can't fool people dumb troll!

        April 4, 2014 at 10:31 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Nuh uh!
          You're a towel!

          April 4, 2014 at 10:40 am |
        • thefinisher1

          LOL!!!!! I take you hate it when your precious atheism is questioned. You are a weak and ignorant child!

          April 4, 2014 at 10:47 am |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          I love it when atheism is questioned. That is the whole idea behind science searching our universe, to boldly go where no man has gone before without preconceived notions of what he will find but with an open mind, one looking for truth and not validation of some previously held opinion.

          Atheism has nothing to fear from the honest exploration of the universe because it does not state that no being may be found out there in the universe some day that humans may define as God, it simply states that so far in our exploration there is nothing to directly indicate some intelligent universal creator. Therefore to believe in one takes faith which is not a valid method of exploration, it is merely reaching a conclusion because you find searching for or waiting for the evidence to difficult.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:14 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Let's look at the content of your posts, shall we?

          "Change you name to dumb dyslexic dog"
          "Lol dumb troll denies the truth. Awwww poor baby!"
          "you worship non-belief like its a god. Duh."
          "You're still a child."
          "Atheism is indeed the source of all the evil, pain, and suffering."
          "Atheism is indeed a stupid cult"
          " they are just jealous spoiled brats. Nobody listen to atheists."

          So which of us makes childish, inflammatory and deliberatly contentious statements as a matter of course?

          April 4, 2014 at 11:30 am |
        • colin31714

          Doc Vestibule debating with thefinisher1. Now I've seen everything. One might as well watch a nuclear physicist debate quantum mechanics with a corgi. Why bother, doc?

          April 4, 2014 at 11:46 am |
        • believerfred

          neverbeenhappieratheist
          "Therefore to believe in one takes faith which is not a valid method of exploration, it is merely reaching a conclusion because you find searching for or waiting for the evidence to difficult."
          =>Actually you have it backwards. It is by faith we reach limits beyond boundaries limited by self imposed realities. Until 1954 the 4 minute mile boundary was not possible to break. Once it was broken new limits were visible.
          Man thought he could fly and made some real dumb attempts until science came to the rescue. Hawkings has faith that a unified theory will finally put to rest any remaining thought that god or any supernatural causation is needed.
          =>Jesus said to each is given a measure of faith yet it only takes a very small amount to move mountains. That statement is true as are every last one of His Words. Even in Stephen Hawking faith is evident. You simply have lost faith in the promise given to Abraham, Moses, David right on down to you. Are you suggesting you have zero faith?

          April 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
    • kudlak

      Since the majority of the world is religious, aren't they the force that you should blame for not doing enough to help?

      April 4, 2014 at 10:42 am |
      • thefinisher1

        I don't see atheists doing any better. All you do is whine and complain.

        April 4, 2014 at 10:43 am |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          First, any good thing done on this planet is done by a person who has denied the existence of Gods. This is a fact because as of yet no one believes in every God/god that's ever been imagined. We atheists just take it one step further and deny your God as well.

          As for the "whining and complaining" yes, I do hear that from some atheists but the fact is that is common for the victims of discrimination. Once it was men saying "Why all the whining and complaining women? God made us the head so you don't need a vote!" or those same men also saying "Quiet down blacks, we passed laws to prevent mistreatment of our slaves, isn't that enough to silence your whining and complaining?" and then later "So after giving them their freedom now they want a vote? Why those whining complaining ungrateful...!" and then later "What? We free them as slaves, give them a vote, now they whine and complain about not being able to marry our white women?" and then "What? Why should the gays get the same rights as I enjoy and be able to be in a legal loving committed relationship and call it marriage? They should be happy we don't run them out of town, though trust me, plenty of us have tried..."

          As you can see, the only whining and complaining that needs a good slap in the face is the whining and complaining those in the majority who have been doing the discriminating deserve.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:05 am |
        • kudlak

          You have to take a step back and take a good look at all the secular charities out there. Atheists participate in those, and we even participate in some of the lesser evangelistic of the religiously run charities out there, whatever seems to be doing the most good in a particular area.

          Have you ever considered that we just have different motivations? That atheists may be more interested in actually helping people in the background where others might be doing charity mainly for the purposes of self-promotion, and creating future customers through spreading "The Word"?

          April 4, 2014 at 11:06 am |
        • kudlak

          Yup! That's what Martin Luther King is most noted for, his "whining and complaining".

          Wasn't MLK an evangelical Christian? I wonder what he would think of this crusade to keep equal rights from gays?

          April 4, 2014 at 11:12 am |
    • hotairace

      I've decided not to engage in "conversation" with the azzhole known as "thefinisher1" as I would hate to be one that pushed him "over the edge," creating the USA's next mass murderer. I truly hope he seeks help for his mental illness, and stays away from guns, sharp objects and children.

      April 4, 2014 at 11:44 am |
  4. reardonrob

    Can't say that I agree with you completely – yes, Millennials are drawn to orthodoxy, but not evangelicalism. Evangelicalism is mired in a mix of American patriotism and religion. Millennials want an authenticity that is rarely found in Western churches. They're looking for the real Jesus and unfortunately, he is not easily found in American evangelical churches that are more inclined to prop up a particular denomination than share the Gospel, free the oppressed and help the poor.

    April 4, 2014 at 10:02 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      "the real jesus" ... LOLOLOLOLOL ... comedy gold!

      April 4, 2014 at 10:21 am |
    • LinCA

      @reardonrob

      Millenials are the first generation to have come of age in the information age. They are the first generation to have had easy access to outside views while they were still young enough to have those outside views shape their own. Quite a few of them, but by no means all, realized that the religion of their upbringing didn't mesh very well with their own views. Some will simply look for a different religion, some will simply abandon it altogether.

      The difference between the people that switch to a different religion and those that abandon religion is likely in the parts of their religion they question. Those that are able to, and allow themselves to question the core beliefs are likely to shed it completely. Those that can't quite shake them (or won't) are more likely to pick a different interpretation.

      April 4, 2014 at 10:48 am |
      • Stephanie Scott

        That was a kind and thoughtful response. And I do see millennials and those just in the gap of millennial and gen x, seeking more liturgical denominations rather than the non-denomination churches they grew up with (or more common with what I've personally seen, leaving AoG and "charismatic" faiths for more liturgial orthodox or lutheran branches). The politics are defiintely a factor. I pulled my support for Focus on the Family in the mid-2000s after the focus left the family and centered around political agendas. It was sad, I knew people in CO who worked for them.

        April 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
  5. Dyslexic doG

    Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.

    - Isaac Asimov

    April 4, 2014 at 10:01 am |
  6. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    " it’s mainly the nominal Christians and mainline Protestants who’ve suffered – not evangelicals

    Not according to Pew and PRRI.

    ………………………….....……Pew-07 .... Pew-12 .... PRRI-12
    Evangelical Protestant ………. 26.3% .... 19% ........ 19.9%
    Mainline Protestant ………...… 18.1% .... 15% ....... 14.9%
    Historically black Protestant …. 6.9% ....... 8% ......... 8%
    Catholic ………………….….… 23.9% .... 22% ........ 22%

    Just keep telling yourself Daniel that everything will be OK in your bubble of evangelical protestantism. The reality is different. People of all ages are sick of the judgmentalism of Evangelical Protestants.

    April 4, 2014 at 9:58 am |
    • Theo Phileo

      Which is of course right on track to fulfill eschatology.
      2 Thessalonians 2:3 – Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first...

      April 4, 2014 at 10:40 am |
    • kev2672

      No...the old mainline denomination are bleeding members while evangelical churches are growing. The old Denominations have embraced many of the ideas progressives push, yet they are shrinking. Embracing progressivism (which is really regressive) is generally deadly to a church or denomination.

      April 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Your claim is not evident in the facts.

        The boom in Evangelical Protestantism with the mega church fad is long over. According to Pew and PRRI the numbers of both Evangelical AND mainstream Protestants are declining by about the same amount. It is the "nones" who are increasing.

        "Nones" of course means not-affiliated. This is different from atheist/agnostic, though it does include atheist/agnostic.

        If you have new data from a reputable source that is later than 2012, please provide a reference.

        April 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ GOP:
      you might find this article from patheos.com interesting. it cites the GSS statistics, which somewhat counter yours.

      and note well the accompanying article discussing *how* one assesses the label "evangelical"...
      as the author points out, if "born-again" is growing while "evangelical" isn't, what delineates the two & what is actually happening here?

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/blackwhiteandgray/2013/03/how-many-americans-are-evangelical-christians-born-again-christians/

      April 4, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        @Russ,

        thank you, but do consider the source there.

        That source claims 23% – 24% for Evangelical which is still down from Pew-2007. (Plus I suspect some selection bias with patheos.com data.)

        The Born-Again totals (~35%) include people from mainstream and black Protestant and Catholic affiliations.

        Relative to this article (where the author draws a distinction between Evangelical and Mainstream Protestants) the born-again metric is entirely irrelevant because it includes some Mainstream and Black Protestants and Catholics who claim a born-again experience.

        Either way a decline in Evangelical Protestants is present, though the decline is less in the patheos.com data.

        April 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
        • Russ

          @ GOP: did you read the accompanying article on defining evangelical?

          if one defines 'evangelical' merely along denominational lines, is that an accurate appraisal of the meaning? or are the beliefs that follow the "born-again experience" (as you put it) what define evangelical?

          it's much easier to make your argument using the denominational criteria, but that chooses organizational labels over particular beliefs... when the debate itself seems to be primarily about particular beliefs.

          i also found it very interesting to note that – when using 'born again' – the largest decline was in the 90s, and yet there has been a rally more recently (as he put it: back to the 40 yr avg). that also would appear to stand in contrast to your take here that there is some sort of accelerating decline.

          April 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          @Russ,

          from the article:

          "Ed Stetzer, the president of Lifeway Research, has also looked at the statistics and has concluded that while religious identi.ty has declined in America, it’s mainly the nominal Christians and mainline Protestants who’ve suffered – not evangelicals

          The discussion here is about the "normal" definiton of Evangelical Protestants, which your article claims to be 23-24% of Americans.

          Counting "born agains" (who include some Mainstream and Black Protestants and Catholics but not all Evangelicals) as meaning the same thing as Evangelicals is moving the goal posts and is something you can't do when comparing poll data.

          A "born again" Catholic is simply not an Evangelical Protestant and you can't count them. When you include Evangelical Black Protestants (like Baptists for example) in the total of Evangelicals, the 23%-24% numbers are quite likely VERY consistent with the Pew and PRRI data.

          April 4, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Let's say of the 8% (Black Protestants) 5% are Evangelical. (Conistent with the 67% of Black Protestants who also identify as born again.)

          Add that to the 19% White Evangelicals and you get 24% which is on the money for the patheos.com data. With this cursory analysis, this data looks consistent.

          You can't compare apples and oranges. Pew, PRRI and this article talk about affiliation, not the born again experience. Here's what your article says:

          "... not all evangelicals say they are born-again (perhaps those raised in the church?) and not all born-again Christians are evangelicals."

          How can I possibly make this clearer?

          April 4, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
        • Russ

          @ GOP: i agree with you regarding the use of denominational affiliation as the criteria. i'm not challenging that.

          but my point was that the ultimate outcome here is based on *beliefs* – right?
          if the belief is holding steady while some of the denominational labels decline, what does that indicate?

          in that regard, the 'born-again' designation still has bearing (especially since being "born again" is so intimately tied to evangelism/sharing such "good news"/the Gospel)...

          and isn't it intriguing to you that while the classic denominational labels may be in decline, the belief/self-designation probably *most* synonymous to 'evangelical' is not? if the 'evangelical' label (as self-designation & political clout) fades, but the underlying beliefs persist, isn't that just the same thing under a different name?

          April 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
        • observer

          Statistics on religious affiliation can have little meaning since they don't reflect the depth of the belief. You can bet that nearly all of the people who only show up for Easter services say they are religious.

          April 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          @Russ,

          the patheos.com data doesn't suggest that the number of believers is increasing, just that the number of believers who have a born-again experience has increased slightly.

          The total number of affilliated believers is decreasing. This is indisputable. It is mathematically possible that there is an increasing number of born-again "nones". I find that outcome to be implausible, as I think do most of the professional surveyors. I am quite convinced that the big rise in the "nones" is really in the "spiritual but not religious" category. These people don't consider themselves to be "born again".

          April 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          @Observer

          Don't forget Christmas – hence "Chreasters" the affilliated who attend church at Christmas and Easter.

          While I agree that the absolute numbers are pretty meaningless for the reason you point out, trends in affilliation are relevant.

          April 4, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
        • Russ

          @ GOP:
          i agree that the 'nones' are largely "spiritual but not religious" (instead of irreligious) as well as that "trends in affiliation are relevant" – including their underlying *beliefs*.

          that is not the point i was making. for all the statistical data to which you are pointing regarding declines in denominational affiliation & the rise of the 'nones', isn't it intriguing that the designation 'born-again' has held steady while others have faded? and isn't it interesting how that crosses denominational lines?

          here's historian rodney stark on those claims (i think i've given you this article before, though now it's four years old):
          http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Not-a-Time-of-Slumping-Religion-An-Interview-with-Rodney-Stark

          April 4, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        @Russ,

        note the decline from 1990 (at the peak of the mega church boom) to today in the graph. Even this data shows a ~5% decline. Newer data (from what are to me more reliable sources) shows an accelerated decline.

        April 4, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
  7. kev2672

    Great article...so true.

    April 4, 2014 at 9:27 am |
  8. Camden

    "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."

    — We can surely say, amen to that!

    April 4, 2014 at 9:26 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You'll find humanists of all stripes doing the same thing with secular organizations like Kiva, The Red Cross, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, United Nation's Children's Fund, Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, Oxfam, The Mercy Corps, The Atheist Centre for India, EARTHWARD Inc, Fellowship of Freethought, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Atheists Helping the Homeless, American Humanist Association, Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Effort (SHARE), Humanist Insti/tute for Development Cooperation,Secular Center USA etc.
      Faith in miracles, divinity, resurrections, and other fantastical flourishes isn't required to live a life of pacifism, charity and humility.

      April 4, 2014 at 9:32 am |
    • Camden

      That list means nothing, come back with the religious affiliation stats for the donor base in,

      The Red Cross,
      United Nation's Children's Fund,
      Amnesty International &
      Oxfam.

      April 4, 2014 at 9:49 am |
      • colin31714

        Actually, that list means quite a lot. There are also innumerable Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and other faith based charities. Belief in the Judeo-Christian god is not a pre-requisite for charitable works and charitable works by Christians is not evidence of the validity of their supernatural beliefs. This isn't hard stuff.

        April 4, 2014 at 9:58 am |
      • Camden

        The list itself means nothing, back up your claims with the donor base stats for the charities listed.

        April 4, 2014 at 10:04 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        The Wikimedia Foundation is ranked as the best NGO worldwide. It is not religious in any way.
        The other 9 of the top 10 – Partners in Health, Oxfam, BRAC, International Rescue Committee, PATH, CARE International, Médecins Sans Frontières, Danish Refugee Council and Ushahidi – are all expressly secular.

        In fact, should a member of Doctors Without Borders so much as hint at religion while in the field, they are summarily excused from their duties.

        April 4, 2014 at 10:04 am |
        • Rynomite

          I lost my house in the November 17th Tornadoes that hit Illinois. While Christian churches were certainly out helping with clean up and recovery efforts, so were many people of different other faiths. The Peoria Humanist Society spent countless hours on debris cleanup. The largest monetary donation I received came from Tzu Chi, a Bhuddist org. Their donation pretty much exceeded all other donations combined.

          When it comes to helping others in need, most good people will do it regardless if they are organized as a religion or secular based charity.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:19 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          sorry to hear you went through that ordeal Ryno.

          Best wishes to you.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:26 am |
        • Stephanie Scott

          Rynomite: sorry to hear of the tornado destruction. I searched out charities to donate to that would specifically aid in relief for tornadoe victims and Illinois and donated to that. I am a Christian and I donate to non-religious charities like Red Cross and food pantries.

          April 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
      • kudlak

        There's also the issue that many Christians consider the volunteer work and money they donate towards initiatives against things like gay marriage and family planning to be part of their "charity" work. Many also consider direct efforts to convert people sans aid, things like Bible schools, a charitable cause when it's actually a corporate effort to create new clientele.

        To me, charity is offering aid without strings attached, or blatant self-promotion. How many Christian charities do that?

        April 4, 2014 at 11:49 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      why do Christians claim to be so selfless when their religion makes them purely selfish. EVERY thing they do is for their own self interest ... to get to heaven after they die. When they give to others ... it is to get to heaven. When they follow their rules ... it is to get to heaven. It's all for their own good so that they'll not just cease to exist at the end of their time but go to this magical place in the sky where they will always be happy and healthy and surrounded by those they love. Pure self interest.

      Humanists and atheists do the same giving and helping people and adopting children ... all for the general good. SELFLESS!!!

      April 4, 2014 at 9:54 am |
      • joey3467

        I never understand when they say that Christianity is about personal responsibility since the entire religion is based on letting someone else be held responsible for their sins.

        April 4, 2014 at 10:03 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Atheists such as yourself do it to boast and brag. Hypocrite dog!

        April 4, 2014 at 10:08 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          ummm ... nope.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:19 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Ummm...yeah, you do. You brag and brag how you "do it without needing a reward" but your reward is feeding your ego. Stupid dumb troll thinks he can fool people! Ha! You're still a stupid dog!

          April 4, 2014 at 10:22 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          the: Such an ignorant child you are!! Tell us, how many times now have you failed manners class??

          April 4, 2014 at 10:24 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Dog is a dog. He has to be trained manners. Sit doggie sit! Sit boy! Change your name to "dumb dyslexic dog". Seems fit for doggie!

          April 4, 2014 at 10:28 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          LOLOL

          April 4, 2014 at 10:52 am |
    • Camden

      Christian charitable organizations rank highest in terms of using donor money toward charitable projects and services, according to a recent study.The study ranked the 200 largest U.S. charities based on three criteria: fundraising efficiency (the difference between income and expenditures), charitable commitment (amount of funds directly diverted to charity) and donor dependency.
      Four out of the five charities that received a perfect rating in both fundraising efficiency and charitable commitment are Christian organizations. The average for fundraising efficiency for the whole list is 90 percent; 86 percent for charitable commitment.

      April 4, 2014 at 10:47 am |
    • ssq41

      Gotta love a post like this from a Christian like Camden....

      pats himself on the back and praises his Body of Christ for doing such a bang-up job...but then one is directed to a website...a Christian website... where Focus on the Family lists kids who need to be adopted by state in the US (using US government stats) and then....

      adds their own column of the number of churches in each of these states and asks:

      "The powerful point illustrated in the chart below is this: with the number of churches in the U.S., why should we have any waiting children in U.S. foster care?"

      Focus on the Family gets few things right...but bravo to them for this chart!

      Christians...caring very little for the living.

      Here's the link:

      http://icareaboutorphans.org/consideringadoption/waitingkidsinyourstate/

      Such dishonesty, Camden. Shame, Shame!

      April 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    If there's one thing to be learned from Orthodox Jews, it's that the fundamentalists never disappear entirely.
    The science denying, ho/mophobic, self-righteous evangelicals will forever be pointing their condemning fingers from a fiery pulpit and crying out that the sky is falling.
    It's up to the rest of society to keep them from unduly influencing academia and government.
    Don't let "the moral majority" control the wheel. They'd seem to like nothing more than to drive us straight back into the bronze age.

    April 4, 2014 at 9:23 am |
  10. Elijah

    Christianity is not about "popularity" as the world sees popularity.

    Christianity is about staying true to God's word.

    A meaningful post, well done, Daniel.

    April 4, 2014 at 8:57 am |
    • colin31714

      Well, that's just it. Every single Christian denomination, sub-denomination, sect and individual believes they "stay true to God's word." Ever heard a Christian say, "what I believe is NOT God's word?"

      But, let me guess, what God REALLY wants is what you believe, right?

      April 4, 2014 at 9:01 am |
    • Elijah

      Speaking of God's word, here it is:

      "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,"

      2 Tim 3:16

      April 4, 2014 at 9:05 am |
      • colin31714

        Well, actually, it isn't. 2 Timothy is a forgery. It was not written by Saint Paul. It was written pseudopigraphically under his name in the Second Century. Biblical scholars are virtually unanimous on this point. It is one of the three pastoral epistles. The way the ofrger tipped their hand was be referring to events that occurred well after Paul's death.

        April 4, 2014 at 9:08 am |
      • Tim

        A lesson on who authored, what.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXKc0rgzVa0&feature=player_detailpage

        April 4, 2014 at 9:14 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Except for Leviticus.
        And Deuteronomy.
        And pretty much the whole Old Testament if you're trying to teach it as fact.
        Revelation is a good teaching tool for how to write a monster movie, I guess.

        April 4, 2014 at 9:28 am |
      • sam stone

        You seem to have an issue confusing man's writings with "god's word", elijah

        April 4, 2014 at 9:34 am |
      • kudlak

        Elijah
        You do know the history of how the biblical canon was authorized by committee in reaction to Marcion gathering together the first set of Christian scriptures, right? The Rome-based Church in the 300s basically looked at all the available books, and there were maybe three times as much as are in the NT now floating around and being used by various Christian sects, and judged appropriate only the ones that happened to match their theology at the time.

        They, of course, simply KNEW that their theology was the correct one. Sound familiar? So, instead of the Bible directing theology as most "bible-believing Christians" like to believe, it was actually theology that hand-picked a Bible to support it. Ironic, isn't it?

        April 4, 2014 at 11:39 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      You can call it gods word all you wish and keep fooling yourself but until you provide evidence for this god it is safe to say it is man's word you are following.

      April 4, 2014 at 9:25 am |
    • kudlak

      Still, from what I've seen of evangelical concerts aimed at youth, I can't help but feel that the light shows, movies, heavy metal Christian bands and snazzy, colourful Bibles aren't an attempt to tap into popular culture. There's also something particularly popular with setting yourself up as the underdog fighting the evils of the world.

      Evangelicals like portray themselves as a small band of heroes who work tirelessly to fight evil in a world that despises them. Sounds like the X-Men to me, except that all the leaders are like Magneto, set on destroying everyone who isn't a mutant. Maybe what you evangelicals need are some Xavier-like leaders who want to live in peace with the rest of the world. It would be nice if you even had a few new leaders like Billy Graham who are at least uncomfortable with passing judgment on others ... in public, anyway.

      April 4, 2014 at 11:29 am |
  11. lookatuniverse

    Mary & Jesus in Quran (Islamic Scripture)

    “Mention in the scripture Mary. She isolated herself from her family, into an eastern location.” [19:16]

    “While a barrier separated her from them, we sent to her our Spirit. He went to her in the form of a human being.”

    “She said, "I seek refuge in the Most Gracious, that you may be righteous."”

    “He said, "I am the messenger of your Lord, to grant you a pure son."”

    “She said, "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me; I have never been unchaste."”

    “He said, "Thus said your Lord, `It is easy for Me. We will render him a sign for the people, and mercy from us. This is a predestined matter.' "”

    “When she bore him, she isolated herself to a faraway place.”

    “The birth process came to her by the trunk of a palm tree. She said, "(I am so ashamed;) I wish I were dead before this happened, and completely forgotten."”

    “(The infant) called her from beneath her, saying, "Do not grieve. Your Lord has provided you with a stream.”

    "If you shake the trunk of this palm tree, it will drop ripe dates for you.*

    "Eat and drink, and be happy. When you see anyone, say, `I have made a vow of silence, [to the Most Gracious]*; I am not talking today to anyone.' "

    “She came to her family, carrying him. They said, "O Mary, you have committed something that is totally unexpected.”

    "O descendant of Aaron, your father was not a bad man, nor was your mother unchaste."

    “She pointed to him. They said, "How can we talk with an infant in the crib?"”

    (The infant spoke and) said, "I am a servant of God. He has given me the scripture, and has appointed me a prophet.

    "He made me blessed wherever I go, and enjoined me to observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and the obligatory charity (Zakat) for as long as I live.

    "I am to honor my mother; He did not make me a disobedient rebel.

    "And peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I get resurrected."

    “That was Jesus, the son of Mary, and this is the truth of this matter, about which they continue to doubt.”

    “It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is.”

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    April 4, 2014 at 8:51 am |
    • colin31714

      Thank you, but I read everything I need to know about Islam in the New York Times on September 12, 2001.

      April 4, 2014 at 8:58 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        hear, hear!!!

        April 4, 2014 at 9:58 am |
  12. Elijah

    Excellent article!

    April 4, 2014 at 8:51 am |
  13. Ryan

    In line with the talking points in this article, the scripture also reminds us, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

    April 4, 2014 at 8:45 am |
    • ausphor

      Ryan
      It does, where?

      April 4, 2014 at 8:51 am |
    • Elijah

      Indeed!

      April 4, 2014 at 8:53 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      "Do not conform to the pattern of this world"

      That just proves that some christians don't care about saving our world, they care about their invisible unproven vindictive god. While you keep fooling yourself and remaining blind to what is happening around you and foolishly thinking your imaginary friend will save your sorry ass in the end, the rest of us will work to do it. Remain lazy and foolish!

      April 4, 2014 at 9:31 am |
    • kudlak

      Yet, part of the "pattern of this world" is the medicine and technology that they sure seem to appreciate, and which is only possible through the science they like to disparage. They also seem to like the music, film and theatrics that they copy into their services.

      Sure, the Kardashians, Big Brother, Hangover movies, rap music, dropping f-bombs, and even hockey aren't to everyone's taste, but we're all different, and wouldn't you be rather narrow-minded to think that, just because you don't like something personally, nobody should be able to enjoy it?

      April 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
  14. ausphor

    Daniel Darling, if you can delude yourself into believing in a mythical god and worse believing in the dogma of the SBC, you can certainly delude yourself as to what is happening with evangelical youth. Hell you can delude yourself on almost anything.
    PS: I have some pictures I created on a photo site showing Moses and his followers riding through the gap in the Red Sea on Triceratops. They would be a great addition to the Creation Museum, for a modest fee I can provide you with them.
    PPS: An unfortunate name for an SBC member, when male friends address you as Daniel darling, guys like Theo may get the wrong idea. Your lot although amusing are at the same time frightening.

    April 4, 2014 at 8:39 am |
  15. Ryan

    This article is nicely written!

    “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

    April 4, 2014 at 8:21 am |
    • colin31714

      Yes, passionately held religious convictions can be a powerful force in warping one's perspective.

      April 4, 2014 at 8:57 am |
    • kudlak

      Ah, Lewis! The great Christian apologist who argued that, of course the Christian story of Jesus rising from the dead was a myth, but it was also a true myth?

      Amazing!

      April 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
    • ssq41

      Oh, Clive! Didn't you get the word? The sun doesn't "rise." The earth orbits the sun while it spins on its axis.

      The things we humans learn as we progress away from our desperate fixation on the mythologies of our past.

      April 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
  16. colin31714

    I expect that future historians will see the survival of Greco-Roman Judean mythology into the 21st Century as one of the greatest paradoxes of 21st Century Western civilization.

    “As late as the 21st Century, large numbers of Europeans and North Americans still believed in the mythology of the Greco-Roman Jews, including a god that supervised them every second of their lives for the purposes of reward or punishment in an afterlife, the ability to influence future events by silently praying to this god and the notion that this god created not only the entire World, but the observable Universe. This is quite remarkable for a culture and a people who were, otherwise, quite educated and advanced.”

    April 4, 2014 at 8:20 am |
  17. kudlak

    Perhaps the author is right, and young evangelicals aren't fleeing the church at a rapid pace. Maybe they're just becoming more closeted liberals? The board over at World Vision might have been an example of this, right? The young folks wanting to bring change and the old folks putting their foot down. Is that what happened?

    April 4, 2014 at 8:17 am |
  18. markblock

    Reblogged this on Mark Block.

    April 4, 2014 at 8:17 am |
  19. colin31714

    Nothing in history has proven itself more capable at reducing church membership, any church membership, than education. The more ignorant a person is of the natural world, the more appealing supernatural explanations become.

    April 4, 2014 at 8:16 am |
    • toleranceofall

      The only question I have is this.

      In the article, it states, "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."

      In the past 40 years, even with the invention of things like the Internet, cell phones, with record numbers of people going to higher education – the number of youth has remained consistent in religion. So it seems to me that things are staying the same course. You might see a few spikes now and again, a la the 1990s, but things remain relatively even keel.

      April 4, 2014 at 9:06 am |
      • colin31714

        The evidence that education reduces religious belief is pretty wide spread. It comes from a vast number of studies that show;

        (i) a drop in the % of people who believe in God as education increases in any given locality. For example, (and these are not actual figures) in any given town or city in the USA 80% of those who never finished high school believe in God; 65% of college graduates do; 50% of those with advanced degrees do etc.

        (ii) secondly, the more educated, on average, a country is, as measured against other countries, the less religious it is and less of its people believe in god.

        (iii) Thirdly, as an individual ages and becomes more educated, their religious beliefs tend to decline; and

        (iv) Those highly educated in the sciences – the American Academy of Scientists and the British Royal Society, have atheism rates in the mid 90%

        April 4, 2014 at 9:16 am |
        • toleranceofall

          Interesting. Can you provide sources to this data, please?

          April 4, 2014 at 9:27 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          "The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

          In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%)"
          (http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/)

          April 4, 2014 at 9:59 am |
        • colin31714

          As cited by realbuckyball on p 1. http://doczine.com/bigdata/2/1385623463_21cd64bdeb/average-intelligence-predicts-atheism-rates-across-137-nations-lynn-et-al.pdf

          April 4, 2014 at 11:27 am |
  20. Theo Phileo

    Dwight L. Moody, in speaking about those bound up in worldly systems, had this to say about individuals who would leave churches over orthodoxy...

    "You can never reform anything by unequally yoking yourself to ungodly men; true reformers separate themselves from the world. But you say to me: ‘If you talk that way, then you will drive the members... out of your meetings and out of your churches.’ Well, what if I did? Better men will take their places. Give them the truth anyway, and if they would rather leave their churches..., then the sooner they get out of their churches, the better. I would rather have ten members who are separated from the world than a thousand such members."
    D.L. Moody

    April 4, 2014 at 8:07 am |
    • Ryan

      If there was one article on BB we can all say "Amen" to, it's this one.

      April 4, 2014 at 8:32 am |
    • ausphor

      Theo
      Spot on, reduce the numbers to a small cult of bigoted fanatics with little wealth and nothing but the power of delusion, hurry up now.

      April 4, 2014 at 8:49 am |
      • sam stone

        But, you got to remember that they speak for jeebus. They are the ones who will be spending eternity in heaven with their big vindictive pr1ck god. Yet they refuse to rush the process.

        April 4, 2014 at 9:45 am |
    • sam stone

      Theo shows once again why evangelicals should be ridiculed whenever and wherever they preach in public

      April 4, 2014 at 9:40 am |
      • Theo Phileo

        Why is that? Because we tell people that they can't live any way that they want to and expect there to be no consequences?

        People don't mind the idea of a creator God who puts the planets into motion and then steps away. People hate the idea that there is a God to whom they will one day be accountable for every thought, word, and deed that they have ever done.

        April 4, 2014 at 9:57 am |
        • QuestionsEverything

          I disagree. I think people are confused on which god they should revere and be beholden to, considering the numerous of gods throughout the history of mankind. Why should they hate the idea of one specific god when a that idea is nothing new?

          "Whatever has happened, will happen again; whatever has been done, will be done again; There is nothing new on earth" – describes beliefs in gods very succinctly, only the names have been changed.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:05 am |
        • joey3467

          That is because there is zero evidence to support the idea of a god who did anything more than start the universe and walk away. It has nothing at all to do with hating the idea of a god, but it instead has to do with a complete lack of evidence to back up your position.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:09 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "I disagree. I think people are confused on which god they should revere and be beholden to, considering the numerous of gods throughout the history of mankind. Why should they hate the idea of one specific god when a that idea is nothing new?
          ------------------
          That's why in the search for cohearant answers it becomes necessary to apply a systemmatic approach for determining truth. Questioning everything is a great start.

          Any legitimate belief system must have:
          1) Logical Consistency
          2) Empiricle Adequacy
          3) Existential Relevancy

          We then apply this framework to answer these questions:
          1) Origin – where did we come from?
          2) Ethics – how should we live?
          3) Meaning – what is the purpose of life?
          4) Destiny – where is manking heading?

          Then ask these questions:
          1. Does absolute truth exist?
          2. Do reason and religion mix?
          3. Does God exist?
          4. Can God be known?
          5. Is Jesus God?
          6. Does God care about me?

          April 4, 2014 at 10:46 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "That is because there is zero evidence to support the idea of a god "
          ----------
          False statement. The law of causality applied to the argument from contingency proves that a creator God must exist. There is no way that the physical universe could be its own cause.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:49 am |
        • sam stone

          No, because of the implied authority. If someone were to come up to you and evangelize about a different god, would you listen? What if they tried to codify their holy book's pronouncements into your civil law, would you object?

          April 4, 2014 at 10:52 am |
        • joey3467

          Theo that could be a god that walked away and hasn't been heard from since. Can't disprove that, and it meshes with reality. Your Christian beliefs, however, don't and there is no reason to believe that much of what the Bible says is actually true.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:55 am |
        • sam stone

          The idea of a creator does not imply "a god who will hold people accountable for every thought, word, and deed that they have ever done."

          You jump from a creator god to a moral judge. That is a huge leap of logic

          April 4, 2014 at 10:59 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "No, because of the implied authority. If someone were to come up to you and evangelize about a different god, would you listen? What if they tried to codify their holy book's pronouncements into your civil law, would you object?"
          -----------
          But that's a different question altogether. A creator God is a logical necessity to explain the existence of the physical universe. WHICH God that happens to be is another, more lengthy discussion, but nonetheless is one that can be decided through a systemmatic approach.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:06 am |
        • ausphor

          joey..
          Don't get Theo started on his illogical proofs, please.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:08 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          ausphor
          There's nothing illogical about deducing that a painter exists because a painting exists. That's why the argument from contingency works. Your only retreat position against deducing the logical necessity of a creator is just to say that you don't know.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:12 am |
        • sam stone

          A more systematic approach? I have read your systematic approach. I am not impressed

          April 4, 2014 at 11:14 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "A more systematic approach? I have read your systematic approach. I am not impressed"
          -------------
          You don't have to be impressed. You just have to look at reality and what is being stated for any belief system, and apply the law of non-contradiction. It's more than what I've given here in condensed form, but it works.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:16 am |
        • QuestionsEverything

          @Theo

          Any legitimate belief system must have:
          1) Logical Consistency
          2) Empiricle Adequacy
          3) Existential Relevancy

          So if a belief system does not include all 3 of these it is not a legitimate belief system, correct?

          1) Logical Consistency
          – in the span of 600 hundred years the god of Abraham went from being malevolent to merciful, from jealous to loving; not really consistent . After the crucifixion story Peter and Paul disagreed on whether or not Gentiles had to observe Jewish laws and traditions, in order to become members of the new religion; still, not very consistent.

          Then ask these questions:
          1. Does absolute truth exist?
          2. Do reason and religion mix?
          3. Does God exist?
          4. Can God be known?
          5. Is Jesus God?
          6. Does God care about me?

          Since the majority of these answers would not be in the affirmative, what is the point of asking them?

          April 4, 2014 at 11:19 am |
        • sam stone

          "Any legitimate belief system must have:
          1) Logical Consistency"

          And you consistently violate that when you make the leap from a creator to a moral judge

          April 4, 2014 at 11:19 am |
        • QuestionsEverything

          @ Theo

          "A creator God is a logical necessity to explain the existence of the physical universe." This is not accurate; just because you cannot explain something does not mean that a god did it. By your logical reasoning, it would be just as accurate to state that an unknown alien race is responsible for the universe's creation.

          April 4, 2014 at 11:24 am |
        • sam stone

          The law of non contradiction? That's funny

          April 4, 2014 at 11:32 am |
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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.