The Real Reason Christianity is Still in Decline

The Real Reason Christianity is Still in Decline May 20, 2015

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The most recent Pew forum study, which show that numbers of people identifying with any brand of Christianity is still in decline, should surprise no one. But as is the case any time such a study comes out, Christians are looking for reasons why.

By now we know a lot of the basic reasons: people are busier, they are more mobile, there’s less social stigma about not going to church, folks don’t trust us, etc. But I’m interested in looking at it from three different perspectives, rather than just from the inside of Christianity. After all, there’s far more at play here than just Christians not practicing what they preach.

Christians never will be perfect, so why do we pretend otherwise? There’s always a big headline whenever a church leader falls from grace. From Robert Tilton and Ted Haggard to Mark Driscoll, they all fall, sooner or later, it seems. And yes, part of the problem is that power corrupts, and church leaders perhaps more than anyone else are too often given carte blanche authority to do what they feel is right. Unlimited trust plus unlimited power – regardless of the person at the focus – is a recipe for big trouble.

But corruption isn’t the only problem. The bigger problem is honesty.

I’m not just talking about leaders lying about their transgressions. I mean that all Christians, as a whole, have a tendency to promote a false veneer of flawlessness to the world, as if somehow once you are a Christian, your hair is perennially straight, teeth are white, and your bodily functions magically smell like roses.

I really appreciate the approach fellow author/blogger Nadia Bolz Weber takes when talking to a newcomer to her Denver congregation. Inevitably, no matter who they are or where they come, a newcomer goes through what we call a “Honeymoon Phase” at any church, where (like in any new relationship) they only see the good in the church, in the pastor, and so on. And a leader who is not onto themselves will play into that, because it feels good. But it’s not real, and it’s a setup for disaster.

In her interview with Krista Tippet for “On Being,” she explains what she says to anyone newly in love with the church. “I’m glad you love it here,” she says “but…at some point, I will disappoint you or the church will let you down. Please decide on this side of that happening if, after it happens, you will still stick around. Because if you leave, you will miss the way that God’s grace comes in and fills in the cracks of our brokenness. And it’s too beautiful to miss. Don’t miss it.” 

Three things happen in this disclosure. First, it helps to set more realistic expectations, both for the church leader and the congregation as a whole. Second, it brings the pastor down off a pedestal where they never should have been in the first place.

But third, and most important, it redirects everyone’s attention toward the opportunity for Grace to enter in. After all, why look for grace, support and healing if we are still trying to convince ourselves we’re perfect? And if Church does anything beyond bringing people together for mutual accountability, support and to help bear witness to each others’ lives, it should redirect our individual and collective attention away from ourselves and toward something bigger than us.

From our signs to our “evangelism” efforts, we’re so focused on what others need to be more like us, that we don’t spend half as much energy or time vulnerably and honestly sharing our own imperfections and messed-up-ness with others. Why do that? Because it assures people we’re no better than they are, that, they’re not alone, and that we all need each other, and just maybe, God.

But beyond that, when we admit we actually really suck sometimes, it assures people they can actually trust us, which is far more important than earning their short-lived admiration.

Find out more about Christian Piatt’s work at ChristianPiatt.com.

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  • Very true.

    ‘We’ have a tendency to be subconsciously arrogant and superior, feeling that it’s bad PR for our faith or our Church, or even for Jesus, for us to display anything less than being totally sorted out.
    Even when we aren’t.

    This is at its worst when Ministers/Pastors act like they know better than trained specialists in complex situations, leading to some very bad counselling, amateur psychology, and risky issues not being dealt with openly or professionally.
    Dangerous.

    Every church should have a good, regular, humble relationship with its local mental health service, alcohol support team, and a qualified professional counsellor.

  • trinielf

    I was a firebrand, constantly preaching Evangelical and I went to a school with a diverse cultural student population and faculty, so there were lots of people outside my particular sect for me to preach to and I did- passionately. But slowly it began to dawn on me that many of the people I was so eager to bring to into the fold of what I believed to be the true religion with superior people were far better people than people in my church and even me. Many came from far happier homes not sullied by divorce, dysfunction and abuse like my “Christian home”. They were happier, healthier in many ways superior to me and perfectly content with their religion and culture.

    This humbled me and opened my mind. Maybe I should listen and stop talking. Maybe there were things I could learn from people who were not part of my religion. From there that led to, “What manner of deity would create a system where people who were admirable and could teach me how to be a better person, would go to hell because they won’t join MY church?” That eventually led to deep depression about what I believed. Once that ego-tistical supremacist thing was gone, the actual theology depressed me. The outcome of the whole saga I had been taught about the universe depressed me. My dear friends, mentors, people who were there for me in so many ways, doomed to hell anyways. Once the religion I was raised in no longer gave me hope, there was no emotional need for it. Once the emotional need was gone, the intellectual and spiritual journey really began.

    • Orwellian_Dilemma

      So basically, your home life was somewhat less than you’d have liked so you’ve become a sarcastic and bitter atheist who is just as evangelical at that as you were while you pretended to be a Christian.

      Got it.

      • liberalinlove

        No apparently you don’t have it. Judge much? Would you keep buying cars from a car dealership which sells you lemons? Hypocrisy is the very thing Jesus addressed. He came for the sick and the hurting, not the spiritually healthy. When churches abuse and the message becomes abusive, it has nothing of value and like salt that loses its savor it is worthless.

        • Orwellian_Dilemma

          Relevance to anything I’ve said?

      • Huh?

        trinielf doesn’t sound sarcastic and bitter to me.

      • Chris Tomas

        I have found that atheists who ‘came out of’ Christianity seem to be fixated with deconstructing Christianity. It’s as if Christianity is the antimatter that drives their atheism.

        • Orwellian_Dilemma

          If Christians put half as much effort into evangelizing as atheists do, churches would be full on Sunday.

        • trinielf

          Who said I was an atheist? I said my spiritual journey continues. Rejecting a PARTICULAR religious sect’s theology does not automatically translate to rejecting the concept of a Higher Power. I am just more interested in seeking that Higher Power through a more universal means instead of defaulting to a narrow, culturally/religiously subjective view of it which automatically translates to an underlying imperialism i.e. “only THESE people ever found out about God or are specially chosen by this God”. This is usually the basis for man asserting their right to have supremacy over man.

          And there is nothing wrong with analyzing all belief systems and cultural mores and historical occurrences.

          How else are we supposed to seek truth?

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            What if the truth is what you’ve so cavalierly rejected?

          • trinielf

            Well then it would be apparent. So far it has not. Nor has anyone been able to make it so through any valid means. Usually their attempts are ridden with critical errors in reasoning or lots of emotional manipulation like appeals to fear , tearing down self-esteem or just flat out intimidation.

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            Interesting. The only religion that is required to prove anything through your arbitrary “valid means” is Christianity. Got it.

            By the way, let’s think this through. So if I see you smoking cigarettes, and I calmly explain to you that smoking causes cancer–am I guilty of “emotional manipulation” or “appeals to fear” by giving you a factual explanation of the results of your smoking?

          • trinielf

            Please show me in my statement where I said the ONLY religion that is required to prove anything is Christianity?

            The smoking analogy is not a good one. It refers to an actual, physical, medically measurable, testable thing which if you made a claim about, I could easily find OVERWHELMING and CONSISTENT evidence for or against and not by any subjective, arbitrary means either. In fact, I all I had to do with just light up one myself and start coughing and realize, “Ick, this can’t be good.”

            It is not the same thing as asserting something that is merely a philosophy or metaphysical concept and using threats of consequences that don’t even happen in this life and asking for trust on nothing else but faith in the words of other humans.

            But indeed the same way I would test your claim about smoking is exactly how I would test all religious claims.

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            I see. So it’s wrong for Christians to warn anyone about the afterlife because they can’t provide evidence sufficient for your taste.

            What it comes down to is that you’re bigoted against Christians. That’s your prerogative. It would just be refreshing if you could simply admit your bigotry and we move on.

          • trinielf

            Once again, please show me anywhere in my statement where I said it is wrong for Christians to share their religious beliefs. By all means if you believe people who don’t convert to your religion will face some afterlife of eternal punishment, you have every right to share it. Not that people are unaware of such beliefs as it has been so ingrained in pop culture and on every street corner.

            What I condemned were certain METHODS of doing so and certain ATTITUDES related to supremacism while doing so. Both of which do not help to inspire trust nor help to honestly confirm validity of the claims being made.

            This makes it THREE times you have made an obvious and unnecessary jump to a premature judgement that was incorrect based on either genuine poor comprehension of what I wrote or just deliberate hostility. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and say it was poor comprehension and reading things based on how it made you feel instead of what was actually said. However maybe I should not assume and let it just be what it is.

            You have provided three occurrences of pre-judgement (prejudice):

            First assuming I was atheist and bitter
            Second assuming I only criticize Christianity.
            Now this.

            It is enough to convince anyone reading this thread that perhaps the bigotry is on your side or your intention is not altruistic dialogue at all but being contentious just for the sake of it or trying to shut down open discussion, which I hope is not the case

          • liberalinlove

            You are arguing with a strife maker. The very kind of person that we are warned to avoid.

          • trinielf

            Well I never spoke with him before (at least I do not think so) so if indeed that is who he is, thanks for the heads up.

          • liberalinlove

            I think the fruit is in the attitude. His contentiousness and assumptions of knowing what we think or believe is kind of evident. James tells us Wisdom from above is peaceable. Quick to listen slow to answer full of good fruit.

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            I’m not trying to shut down discussion. I’m just not a fan of someone saying that her experiences as a child is sufficient to condemn all of Christianity as being this, that, or the other.

            Replace “Christianity” with the name of any other religion in your comments and you might see the problem.

            I haven’t pre-judged anything. Your comments are dripping with derision and hostility toward Christians. That’s OK. I can’t tell you whom to hate or not to hate. I just find it more than a little hypocritical when you attack Christians for not being tolerant as you exhibit your own intolerance.

      • rileyfuzzel

        Exactly what part of trinielf’s well thought out and logical statement is sarcastic or bitter? It sounded very thoughtful and introspective to me. It appears that a different conclusion was reached than you would have liked and you then attacked because of it. I especially love the “pretended to be a Christian” part, because I’m sure you personally know trinielf. (Now THAT was sarcasm)

      • trinielf

        Never said I was an atheist. Nor am I bitter.

        Bless.

      • Rust Cohle

        So basically, you were beaten as a child, and have become a pathetically rabid Christian.

        Got it.

        • Orwellian_Dilemma

          Who said what religion I am? I don’t like bigots.

          • Rust Cohle

            You’re the “Bi-Got,” which comes from your ilk condemning everything with the epitaph “By-God.”

    • liberalinlove

      My story also! Not to mention a few life experiences, which sort of drug our family through the knot hole and helped me realize that God is not opposed to humanist’s efforts to relieve suffering. In fact, he sees the talents we are given and assumes we will stretch towards hope and answers and applauds our creative efforts.

      No more sitting on my hands in the pews waiting for God to fix things. Celebrating HIs magnificence in ALL of Creation. This God cannot be contained in a box. Finally I can love him with all my heart soul and mind and am liberated to truly love my neighbor as myself.

      • Orwellian_Dilemma

        Sitting on one’s hands in the pews “waiting for G_d to fix things” is the orthodoxy of literally no religion.

        But way to really sock it to the old straw man. He never seen it coming.

        (By the way, stealing from those who work to buy the votes of those who won’t really isn’t a Christian thing. It’s more a power grab.)

        • liberalinlove

          Yeah being raised as a preacher’s kid, in a pentecostal home really doesn’t give me much experience to go on.

          Speaking up for justice in the public square is a Christian thing…Your tired old argument of stealing money from those who work, is just really a big yawn.

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            Sorry that your old man was lousy at being a Pentecostal, Comrade. (Although I seriously doubt your story. I suspect he really just didn’t approve of your lifestyle choices so you slander him in death.)

            Never has a liberal spoken out for justice. Not once. Sure, Stalin and HitIer and Mao and Kim speak for “justice”, but as stereotypical liberals, all they’ve ever delivered is death and misery. And let’s be honest, you know in your heart of hearts that you know people won’t vote for your party if they can be made productive and self-sufficient.

          • Rust Cohle

            >Never has a liberal spoken out for justice. Not once.

            Holy fuck, a rabid Republican.

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            What about concentration camps do you find so just?

          • Rust Cohle

            Ask your Christian buddy.

            “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior…I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian…For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.”

            –Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922
            (Norman H. Baynes, ed. (1942 The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939,Vol. 1 of 2. Oxford University Press. pp. 19-20.)

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            Enjoy your prize.

            Meanwhile, run along. Those churches won’t just burn themselves.

          • summers-lad

            There is nothing liberal about concentration camps, or about any of the dictators you named.

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            And yet the only concentration camps the world has ever seen have always been at the behest of liberals.

            And yes, each and every dictator I named is liberal to the core.

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            Wouldn’t putting Jesus in charge of the government be a theocracy, which all you atheists constantly remind us is the worst thing ever?

            By the way, tell us again the benefit of stealing from those who work to buy the votes of those who won’t and killing those who resist?

          • liberalinlove

            Oh sweet man! I’m gonna seriously pray for your soul. God in his infinite mercy often gives us lessons that only we can understand. Hard hearted people often get to learn it the hard way.

            My dad is still alive and still listening to Rush.

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            Cute. A liberal praying. Kind of funny.

            I like Rush. Fly by Night is one of my very favorite albums.

    • Huh?

      Christian theology seems to be a house of cards, with each doctrinal point relying on the one before it. When any one of those cards is pulled away, the whole stack comes tumbling down.

      • Orwellian_Dilemma

        Which means it shares that flaw with every other theory, belief system, machine, or math. But hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of some good old-fashioned bigotry, amirite?

        • Rust Cohle

          You think math is flawed as much as theology?

          HA HA HA HA! Good one.

          • Orwellian_Dilemma

            Reading comprehension is not strong with you, is it, Little One?

          • Rust Cohle

            Psychologically projecting, jackass?

        • Huh?

          Actually, you’re not. If you’ve ever studied any of the Eastern religions you would find that they are more like tapestries, with ideas woven into and circling back to previous ideas — not built on and dependent on previous teachings, like the Abrahamic religions are. In short, if one point is rejected, it doesn’t really effect the whole. In fact, Buddhism can survive without the Buddha, but Christianity can not survive without Christ.

  • Charles Stensrud

    I find this insightful and relevant to us on the “inside.” But frankly, for those on the outside looking in, we are a freaky bunch of apocalyptic idiot haters. Who would WANT to join? Fringe Christians – those who claim Christianity but whose actual beliefs and practices are in diametric opposition to the life of Christ are turning off God’s children in droves. For this reason I and others of the same ilk prefer evangelization by example and not high-pressure salesmanship. I feel that if I can turn just one person by virtue of my lifestyle and actions, I am living God’s purpose. But folks like the aforementioned make it REALLY difficult.

    • Malcom Warner

      It’s not the messengers, it’s the message itself. People aren’t being turned off by Christianity because the fundies. They are simply looking at the Bible carefully and concluding “This makes no sense and I don’t believe any of these things actually happened.” It’s really not more complicated than that. The Bible may be the divine truth to you and your fellow believers, but to the rest of us it’s nothing but a stack of myths. Setting a good example is great, but it does nothing to address the factual claims made in the book, which are extraordinary and lack supporting evidence.

      • Cornhusker

        Believing that everything on this planet and everything surrounding it within a couple billion light years distant somehow made itself out of nothing at all is infinitely more ludicrous than hoping to assemble a Lego set by continually shaking the box it came in until the pieces put themselves correctly and in order…
        …oh, and the box that one is shaking would have to be empty of the Lego pieces…
        …and there would be no box either…
        …and no one exists to shake the box and pieces that aren’t there…
        …but we still end up with every piece in place and the Lego Death Star, right?…

        • Malcom Warner

          That’s not at all what Bing Bang cosmology says. Your analogy makes no sense and you need more science education.

          • Cornhusker

            Of course my analogy doesn’t make any sense. Things always appear from nowhere and arrange themselves into complex, self sustaining combinations with no preexisting outside force to initiate or control the sequence…

            …by the way, what was that nickname for the Higgs Boson particle again?… 🙂

          • Malcom Warner

            Higgs-Boson being nicknamed the “god particle” was a metaphorical turn of phrase coined by the media. It’s not literally a god particle.

  • Runesmith

    As a member of the fastest growing religion today, I have to note that the “people don’t have time for religion” excuse doesn’t wash; they have time for what draws them. And Pagans don’t even have any evangelists.

  • Horace Mack

    This article is pure conjecture, which one can quickly discern by following the link to the actual poll. There is nothing in the poll that supports, or even suggests, the conclusions the author leaps to. In fact, the poll shows that the “more hard-line” religions grew or declined much less than mainline religions that are compromising their doctrine.

  • Red 2

    Western Civilization has moved progressively towards secularism in both government and society. This puts all religion as a personal activity which is very different from other parts of the world where religion is intertwined in most aspects of society. As a result fewer people make the choice to choose religion. There is also the aspect of a greater level of access to information. If you live in a country where everyone belongs to religion X and said religion is tied into the government and culture it’s easy to see why you are likely to belong to religion X. However, if you belong to a society where most people are members of Religion X in one form or another, but not all, and you have access to all information, history, and data on not only religion X but also Y, Z, A, B, C, etc. it’s much easier to question you’re individual religious beliefs. Spirituality within a religion only requires the faith in the basic tenents of said religion. However, belonging to an actual congregation with a minister requires the willingness to adhere to the standards of the community and the message of the designated interpreter, which is much harder the more open the society becomes.

  • Malcom Warner

    People like this author have this bizzare obsession with blaming non-belief on the messengers of Christianity, and never the message itself. Did ever occur to you people that maybe, just maybe the reason Christianity is in decline is that more people are examining Christian theology itself and concluding that it doesn’t make sense? Most atheists are not atheists because they had a bad experience with a mean Christian. They are atheists because they took a look at the foundational stories of Christianity (and other religions) and concluded “No, I do not believe these claimed events actually happened.” Being a Christian requires that you literally believe that the son of god was born of a virgin, performed miracles, rose from the dead three days after being executed, and ascended bodily into heaven. Atheists and other non-Christians simply do not believe any of that ever happened. This isn’t complicated.

    • Exactly, Malcom. I believe Jesus rose from the dead because the evidence is overwhelming. I simply couldn’t look at all the evidence and come to any other conclusion. I tried, but I failed, and I am now a follower of the risen Christ!

      • Malcom Warner

        I’m sorry, but no, there is zero evidence of Jesus rising from the dead, let alone “overwhelming evidence”. It’s merely a story written down in an ancient book. Stories of miracles and ressurection are common in almost all religions. If that’s your standard of evidence then you might as well believe in the miracles Muhammed performed in the Koran, the Greek gods described in The Odyssey, or the Hindu gods described in the Bagavhad Gita. There’s nothing backing any of these stories up beyond thirdhand accounts written down later on.

        • Your ignorance, Malcom, is truly impressive. I don’t mean that to be mean, it’s just you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Cheers!

          • Malcom Warner

            Raised Christian, attended Catholic schools for 17 years from Kindergarten through college. Took countless classes on the subject from some expert theologans and historians I don’t need lectures from the likes of you on what I do and don’t know. The evidence of Christianity is purely textual, nothing more. If you have some additional evidence the rest of the world is unaware of, let’s hear it.

          • louismoreaugottschalk

            malcom nobody is going to ‘prove’ anything to you bc you assert that anyone who believes in god & feels god’s presents is lying yeah? Why come here to a progressive blog and make yourself known as an athiest? Are you just doing it, like most trolls do, to find a victim to get into an argument with so you can get an adernalin high or maybe you are looking for a genuine relationship w the contributers here who activly pursue a connection w a loving god and want to know what their experences are like? Either way I want you to know I am your friend and if there is anything I can reasonably do for you please ask!

          • Malcom Warner

            “bc you assert that anyone who believes in god & feels god’s presents is lying yeah?”

            Never said this once. You completely made that up.

            “Why come here”

            This article was linked to RealClearPolitics, which is a site I read daily. The content of the article was highly insular and I felt it would benefit from an outside perspective. Christians speculating to other Christians why non-Christians are not Christians is a pointless exercise. If you want to know why an atheist is an atheist, ask them and actually listen to the answer. We are not lost sheep or people who need to be “shown the light”. We have perfectly rational and well thought out reasons for our non-belief.

            I’m not going to address the rest of your post, which consists of a bunch of ad hominem name calling completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

          • louismoreaugottschalk

            malcom I can see you are a lost sheep. what happened to you has happened to many others. please keep an open mind. more will be revealed!
            peace and love!

          • Malcom Warner

            I just told you I was not a lost sheep. Are you calling me a liar?

          • louismoreaugottschalk

            now i’m beginning to think you may be arguing for the sake of the high you are getting from your own adrenalin.

          • Malcom Warner

            And you are incapable of answering a direct question.

          • louismoreaugottschalk

            I think I am capable when the question is asked in a respectful friendly spirit of cooperation. I get the hit from you this is more of an interogation or a debate and by not agreeing to your rules on your terms what I say is irrelavant to you. I think it’s a pattern of abuse.

          • “from the likes of you.” I like that! You are creative, Malcom, I’ll give you that. You dismiss textual evidence as if it were minimal, but fine. I challenge you to read David Bentley Hart, both “Atheist Delusions,” and “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss,” not a textual argument in either book. You are willfully ignorant, Malcom. You don’t really want to engage arguments that might actually challenge your sophistry. Or why not read Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.” Or maybe something more broad, like Norman Geisler and Frank Turek’s “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” Even ex-atheist C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” would take apart whatever feeble arguments you might have. Seems, actually all you have are assertions with logic nowhere to be found. I feel sorry for you. All the best . . .

          • Malcom Warner

            Hahaha Frank Turek? Frank Turek? You’re shitting me, right? You might as well tell me to read William Lane Craig while you’re at it. These guys are D-list theologians who get annihilated every time they debate a skeptic. All their arguments boil down to special pleading, which is a common logical fallacy: “Everything that exists needs a creator, and the universe exists therefore it has a creator. And this rule applies to everything, except for god because it just doesn’t apply to him because I said so. But that loophole only applies to him. Nothing else.” It’s a laughably childish argument.

          • No, my friend, you are laughably childish. You wouldn’t read Hart or Keller either because you can’t handle the truth. Your hostility in your certainty is pathetic. Have a good day.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          I feel I understand what jesus did bc I am an alkie who was dying a hidious
          death. God or sombody came to my mind and gave me a timely message; go to AA & work the program. I think god takes one on exactly where one is at in life but I notice this connection to a living god that is generous and responsive happens mostly to marginal ppl who have nothing & are nobodies.

  • DennisLurvey

    ppl are leaving religions because their stories were never true and we can learn that now very easily online. science and education are killing it. we now know who wrote the OT, why and when; most importantly for what purpose. We know how the NT was written, by who and the time span (almost 500 yrs). We know those things through science, dating, reading old text w new methods not available a few years ago, they scan in ancient texts and software can find when writers change, find when the names for god changes, and differentiate between the oldest writing styles to the most recent. That coupled with new archaeological finds give us a broad picture of the facts, not conjecture, about the history of the scriptures.
    And if we compare what the scriptures say with the science, any objective person can dismiss them.

    • Cornhusker

      There are more written accounts (hundreds more) of Jesus Christ and his apostles than there are of almost all of the Greek and Roman philosophers, leaders, and generals.
      As for science disproving history, that’s impossible. Science proves or disproves something by the ability to predict an outcome by recreating it. Lacking something such as a time machine, scientific methods cannot be applied to history.

      • Dennis Lurvey

        please send me links to what you are implying from objective sources?
        also something about archaeology and carbon dating being impossible please?

        • Cornhusker

          Carbon dating on the latest copy of the Gospel of Mark in Egypt showed it to have been written when there were still first hand eyewitnesses alive.

          Also, an archaeologist has used a passage from the Bible to find one of King Solomon’s cities.

          But people believe what they want and ignore what they want, so we will leave it right here. My God doesn’t need me to defend him against people like you.

          • Dennis Lurvey

            Paul’s letters surfaced 7 yrs after Jesus, but Paul never met Jesus. Mark surfaced 45 years after Jesus but it was very short then. From biblicalarcheology.org

            http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/the-strange-ending-of-the-gospel-of-mark-and-why-it-makes-all-the-difference/

          • Cornhusker

            Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, talked face to face with John the Apostle and wrote about Jesus in his letter to the Phillipians. John had been there, done that, and got the Holy Spirit in place of a T-shirt. There are also Jewish writings about Jesus and the Apostles, although they don’t describe them in such a favorable light:-)

            Some believe that Aristotle and Socrates exist, when the evidence for them seems meager in comparison.

            Anyhow, I don’t propose to change anybody’s thought processes and the conclusions thereof. Christ says “seek and ye shall find.”, so that is between you and Him. All I can do is point this out.

            I hope you have a good Memorial Day weekend.

          • Dennis Lurvey

            life expectancy for jewish men at the time of Jesus was 30-35 yrs, so something written 45 yrs after jesus would have been second hand.

            I’m not attacking your god, I was raised Baptist, I’m just saying the stories dont hold up as written. It doesnt mean they arent important in other ways.

  • Orwellian_Dilemma

    “I mean that all Christians, as a whole, have a tendency to promote a false veneer of flawlessness to the world, as if somehow once you are a Christian, your hair is perennially straight, teeth are white, and your bodily functions magically smell like roses.”

    Straw Man Down! Repeat! Straw Man Down!

    • Cornhusker

      I have a problem with the author’s laci of logic of saying, “…ALL Christians, as a whole…”
      If it is all Christians, then why add “as a whole”?

  • liberalinlove

    Sticking around and waiting for God to fill in the cracks can be counter-productive. Sometimes God leads his sheep to greener pastures where he tends their wounds. It can be said that the church belongs to God, but the foundations sometimes need to be reworked before Grace is set free.

  • Huh?

    Maybe Christianity is in decline because people don’t find it relevant to their lives. Talk of sheep and shepherds and crucifixion are not within our realm of experience, so it can be difficult to find deep personal meaning in the stories.

    An as far as living by example, with love, compassion, and gratitude … every religion teaches those virtues. There is nothing uniquely Christian about them.

  • The reason any of this happens is because most Christian have no idea what the gospel is, why it is, and how we are to live in light of it. There is a tendency in every human heart to think we can somehow put God in our debt, that if we do X, Y and Z, or don’t do A, B and C, he’ll like us just a little better. Wrong! Jesus Christ is, as Paul says, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. There is no need to be a phony when God accepts us in Christ, fully, completely, absolutely. Every person in the Church is a sinner saved by grace, period.

  • Jim

    How about the real reason that Christianity is declining is that it isn’t true and lots of people are accepting that fact?

    • louismoreaugottschalk

      jim I wonder what experiences you’ve had personally that prompted you to write that? are you a former fundamentalist? have you been abused by some ppl in a church or someone in your past? Stories like that need to come to the light and be aired in order for the toxicity of one’s pain to be processed so one may recover I think. Otherwise one is prone to more trauma & consequently more isolation, anxiety & paranoia.

      • Jim

        My gosh, can that pseudo-psychology blabber-jabber already, will you? The experiences you ask about include reading science, history, and philosophy and thinking for myself. Drop by a library soon and start the process for yourself.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          Something that I can’t help seeing that is keeping you from understanding the depth of your ignorance is denial.

          • Jim

            You may think that you’ve got some special insight into character, but you don’t. Maybe this “what’s wrong with you” crap works with some stranger at a bus stop, but it doesn’t work with me. It’s a dumb, transparent ploy. Got anything else in your bag of tricks?

          • louismoreaugottschalk

            yes iI do.

      • Malcom Warner

        Why do you assume former Christian atheists are all victims of abuse? Is it really that hard for you to believe that a person could simply examine Christian theology and conclude “nope, I don’t think it’s real”?

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          malcom more than any thing i would like to introduce you to a way of being that connects you expierientially to a greater understanding of what it means to be in contact w a higher power. You already have contact w ppl on this blog who have that experience. do you believe we are lying or delusional? why come here then? I think something drew you here that may be supernatural. Is it out of the question for us to be friends?

          • Malcom Warner

            A billion Hindus claim to have experiences with a pantheon of gods. Are you saying they’re lying or delusional? What makes your god more real than theirs?

          • louismoreaugottschalk

            I only have you in front of me now in my imagination. I am sending you my good thoughts and I will do anything for you I can to help you understand that the spiritual abuse that has happened in the past in your life need never be repeated.

          • Malcom Warner

            There was no spiritual abuse in my life. I have no idea why you keep saying this. I simply thought about the factual claims of Christianity and determined there was insufficient evidence to believe them. It’s really no more complicated than that.

          • louismoreaugottschalk

            I think the traumas we all have to suffer as human beings, at first, creates numbness & fear that reaches into the core of one’s being & one may never recover any kind of faith in the goodness of life again. Do you know what I mean?

          • Malcom Warner

            Another non-sequiter. You refuse to answer direct questions about factual religious claims and instead retreat to emotional appeals and condescending “I hope you see the light”-type comments. You are either unable or unwilling to argue this issue on its own merits.

          • louismoreaugottschalk

            Is the only the way you want things to go in our convo a kind of debating game you know all the rules for? I don’t know these rules. I do not want to compete w you I want to go on an adventure w you to open some new doors of understanding the spirit of the living god who has always loved you and sends you his inspiration to keep you looking for hope in new things to be revealed to you.

        • Cornhusker

          I believe 102% that a person could say that. That’s the first topic covered in Psalm 14…

    • Cornhusker

      You can prove your “fact”, right?…
      My Bible says that few will find the narrow gate that leads to Salvation, which presently covers you and the “lots of people” to which you refer.
      However, the good news is that ALL (as in 100%) who seek will find and the door will be opened for ALL of those who knock.
      So put in whatever time and effort you want in figuring out the truth. I’m hoping you keep seeking, but I’m not the one who can save you from yourself.

      • Jim

        The Bible says that few will find the narrow gate. Is that a fact? What establishes that assertion as a fact? Where’s the evidence that this assertion is true? Do you have data to support this assertion? Statistics? Graphs? What research have you (or anybody) done to prove this assertion or at least to establish its probability? Suppose you are a witness in court and you’ve just said this. Now the opposing attorney will question you about what justifies your assertion. You’ll have to produce evidence, not opinion, not dogma, not belief. Facts. Only facts count in court. What facts have you got?

        • Cornhusker

          I once went hunting with a guy who refused to believe the dogs when they pointed the birds. Because he himself couldn’t smell the pheasants, he refused to acknowledge their existence and usually had his back turned and was walking away when the birds got up. You are that guy in this discussion.

          The dogs didn’t have charts, graphs, they couldn’t have answered your theoretical attorney or even gotten past the swearing in as a witness…but they knew what they knew, and I shot a lot of birds because of that, even though they never provided me with any data.

          I’ll leave you with this:
          “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone…”

          So it looks like we are done here.

          • Jim

            In other words you can’t supply evidence to justify that assertion. You just believe it without sufficient warrant to support your belief. And because you can’t justify your belief, you resort to an ad hominem attack on me in an attempt to divert my attention from your failure. Not hardly, kiddo.

  • gracietalking

    The problem is not that the church fails people. The problem is when the church fails them and then excuses itself and/or blames the people it fails. You can’t preach repentance credibly unless you are ready to repent yourself. This is where the church fails again and again.

  • Others have noted this from the Pew research, e.g., Mr. Mack, that digging into the numbers, evangelical Christianity is on the rise–slightly by my analysis. The “steep” decline is in American Catholic-Mainline churches, a whopping 7%. I think the mainstream press has made hay with a modest stat. Someone else made the point that Christianity is still on the rise worldwide and it tends to be the more conservative-committed varieties. Perhaps conservative Christians should feel heartened by the poles. There are indications in the Bible that the true church will be and always has been a remnant church. I’m also reminded about the “confessing” church in Nazi Germany–we admire Bonhoeffer and others of that era who dared stand against the dark powers. Our time may come sooner than later. God bless.

    • louismoreaugottschalk

      I think so too. Have noticed that poor & minority, immagrants all marginals are suffering loss of support and are being demonized. God is the god of the marginal. Their prayers fly up in crisis.

  • Rust Cohle

    The message is bullshit, so it’s not surprising that you observe that the messengers are bullshitters.

    It’s Not Just the Messengers, It’s the Message, Too
    May 6, 2015 by Neil Carter
    patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2015/05/06/its-not-just-the-messengers/