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Is Christianity Dying in the 21st Century?

Is Christianity Dying in the 21st Century?
Is Christianity Dying in the 21st Century? More are leaving in Europe and America, but the Gospel is growing rapidly in the 3rd world.

Sometimes it looks that way! Enemies of God have been hard at work to destroy God’s Word and have had a visible effect. The Gospel marched forward from Jesus’ time, first conquering the Roman Empire and then saving the barbarians from paganism.

By the 16th century Christianity was firmly established in Europe and soon too in the Americas. It had challenged the prevailing cultures and beliefs and come out on top, but in the 18th century CHRISTIANITY AND CHRISTIANS began to come under attack.

Enemies of Christianity

The rationalists of the Enlightenment, evolutionists of the 19th century, Marxists and modernists of the 20th century have had a big impact. At first, they planted doubts about God and His Word. Soon they were denying the existence of the supernational and the need for such a thing as salvation.

Secular humanism grew and became first the preferred and then dominant world view of the intellectual leaders of the West. As a result, many have compromised their faith, and mainline churches and other Christian institutions have been corrupted.

But for every attack, God has raised up a “deliverer,” a stalwart champion of the faith.

Defenders of Christianity

Read how Kierkegaard defended against atheism. Charles Spurgeon against evolution, and J. Gresham Machen fought modernism. See too how God raised up men and women of God like Dwight L. Moody, Lillian Trasher, Aimee Semple McPherson and Billy Graham to preach the Gospel and evangelize.

Who will the 21st century champions of the faith be? Benny Hinn? Nicky Gumbel? Chris Tomlin? Matt Chandler? Tim Tebow? Maybe you? Praise God! He will raise up MEN AND WOMEN to lead his army “from vict’ry unto vic’try ‘til Christ is Lord indeed!”

The Current American Scene

Today, the picture in America is dark. It looks like Christianity is dying. Our culture has turned its back on Jesus, the Bible, and the Church and exalted the culture of “drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll” built on an agnostic/atheist philosophy that is blind to the Gospel and dismissive of its Believers.

As a Believer I often think that “no” is the answer to Jesus’ question: when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8

Of course, it depends on how we look at it: THANK GOD, AMERICAN CHURCHES ARE DYING, says a bold Wall Street Journal headline (February 20, 2020) followed by the subtitle, As thousands close across the U.S., lively new congregations are taking their place. The Journal goes on to state:

“nondenominational evangelical churches are growing in number, from 54,000 in 1998 to 84,000 in 2012” Praise God!

But What’s Behind These Numbers?

My view is that as the mainline denomination churches have abandoned the Bible and its teachings, they are dying, and rightly so. They lost between one one-fifthfifth and one-third of their membership between 1965 and 1990 according to a study from First Things, which supports this view:

In our study, the single BEST PREDICTOR OF CHURCH PARTICIPATION turned out to be belief, "orthodox Christian belief, and especially the teaching that a person can be saved only through Jesus Christ. Virtually all our baby boomers who believe this are active members of a church."

Among those who do not believe it, some are active in varying degrees; a great many are not. Ninety-five percent of the dropouts who describe themselves as religious do not believe it. And amazingly enough, fully 68 percent of those who are still active Presbyterians don’t believe it either. No wonder it looks like Christianity is on its last legs!

Praise God for His goodness and the power of the Gospel in the hearts of believers!

But what going on in the rest of the world that God so loved and sent His Son to save?

The Demographics of Christianity Are Changing Remarkably.

When I was a boy, the United States and the United Kingdom were the centers of the Protestant Christian faith. Europe was also largely Christian with nations split between Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism. According to Pew research, 27% of the world’s Christians were in North and South America, 66% in Europe and just under 7% in the rest of the worlds.

Today, 37% of Christians are in the rest of the world, with the Americas also at 37% and Europe down to 26%. Sadly, far more are leaving the church than being saved in Europe and America, but the Good News of the Gospel is growing today in the 3rd world, especially in Africa which will soon have more Believers than any other continent.

The Gospel is also gaining in Asia, the Middle East, and Moslem countries. Even in Communist China, there is significant growth:

Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology and the Director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University tells TIME that there are about 116 million Protestant Christians in mainland China in 2020.

“It is almost certain that by 2030 there will be more CHRISTIANS IN CHINA than any other country in the world,” Yang says. Christians in China are predominantly Protestant, he adds. Time, January 2020

What kind of Christians are we talking about?

Christianity is still the world’s largest religion, with well over 2 billion adherents. But that number includes different groups of people who may or may not meet the standard cited above: that a person can be saved only THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.

Only born-again Christians believe that. The rest are either nominal or cultural Christians. Nominal means in “name only,” choosing Christian as an alternative to Hindu, Moslem, Buddhist, or Atheist. Cultural Christians love the trappings of Christianity, its language, ceremonies, philanthropy, and history.

Famous atheist Richard Dawkins refers to himself as a cultural Christian, as do many classical musicians and other performers.

Born-again Christians have seen the kingdom of God and committed their lives to Jesus. I count the 600 million charismatic/evangelical Christians as belonging here. Of course, only Jesus knows the hearts of His people, and while He is not willing that any should perish, He has clearly told us:

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mar 16:16

What will the future of Christianity Be?

The Bible teaches a “blessed hope,” the return of Jesus, and the establishment of His eternal kingdom on earth. Praise God. The bad news is that the first event of his return will be JUDGMENT AND THE DAMNATION of those who refuse His gift of salvation.

In reality, Christianity can never end. St. Paul teaches

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal – 2 Corinthians 4:18

The purpose of Christian history is to point people to those eternal things!

As Believers and disciples of Jesus, our call is to obey His command:

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. …. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Jesus in Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:20

That is what this blog is all about. Join us as we share the GOOD NEWS here. Be a part of this ministry with your thoughts, comments, and testimonies in the comments section.

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