New York Times colum-nist Ross Douthat recently described the collapse of liberal Christianity in America, pointing to a 23 percent drop in Episcopal attendance over the previous decade as evidence of its demise. While Douthat and others single out the Episcopal Church, the rapid decline is shared by other mainline denominations, including my own, the Presbyterian Church (USA).
This collapse is all the more startling in light of the current global success of Christianity. Historian Philip Jenkins observes that African Christianity is growing at 2.36 percent annually, and the number of Christians on the continent is expected to double in less than 30 years. According to Jenkins, the growth of African Christianity represents the largest quantitative religious change in history….
In my own denomination, I have witnessed the casual dismissal of essential truths of the faith by pastors and professors. One Presbyterian pastor in Tennessee has gone even further, rejecting the idea that Christ died for our sins ”” claiming the idea is “absurd” and stating that the cross “doesn’t even make sense.”
Without orthodox biblical truths guiding and protecting the church, liberals have become immersed in religious pluralism, leaving the church with a weakened message of tolerance and theological relativism. Yale theologian Richard Niebuhr described this situation back in the 1930s, asserting that liberals preach a “God without wrath who brings human beings without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a bloody cross.”
Read it all from the local paper’s Faith and Values section.