Guest Post by Ikki Soma
Have you heard the quote, truth is stranger than fiction? Well, recently I read The Last Christian by David Gregory. It is a fictional book, but what it depicts could eventually be TRUE in America (so perhaps in this book, fiction is truer than truth). It is a page turning thriller in which a Christian missionary emerges from the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea in the year 2088 and finds that Christianity has all but disappeared from America. The church buildings in America have now become like the nearly empty church buildings in Europe today.
All the recent stats and projections seem to indicate that what is written in The Last Christian WILL eventually come to pass in America. Currently, about 20% of Americans are a part of a local church. By the year 2020, it is projected that less than 15% of Americans will be part of a local church (over 85% of the over 300 million Americans will be unchurched). Today, America is the third LARGEST mission field in the world (behind India and China). My wife and I know most of the neighbors on our street (about 20 families/homes) and only two families are a regular part of a local church (the Collin’s and the Barrick’s). So even on our typical Bible belt street, less than 15% are a part of a local church. It is estimated that only 1 in 10 Christian college students are a part of a local church. And 70% of people raised in the local church as children and youth will fall away as young adults (some come back, most don’t).
So here are the five trends outlined in The Last Christian that lead to the disappearance of Christianity in America:
(1) Scientific trends that promoted a materialistic worldview – Rather than confront the theory of evolution intelligently, Christians continued to exercise blind faith. The Intelligent Design proponents did not garner respect from the scientific community (too little too late) and thus their cries fell on deaf ears (and it seemed like they were pushing a religious agenda, rather than pushing a scientific agenda).
(2) The rejection of the evangelical culture war by the larger society as secularism’s grip on society tightened – This came mostly through Christians desire to influence the culture through politics (like the Moral Majority). Rather than putting their effort into making disciples of Jesus Christ, Christians put their efforts into swaying people towards their political agendas.
(3) The backlash against religion in general due to Islamic fundamentalism – After 9/11 Americans became more and more suspicious of anyone who claimed allegiance to a specific faith. Christians were seen as fundamentalists and extremists.
(4) The rejection of the notion of absolute truth and morality as postmodernism became entrenched in the culture – The Bible claim to be truth and God to be true became increasingly unpopular. People who held to absolute truth were viewed as ignorant and narrow minded (how can anyone with half a brain believe in absolute truth?). Christians were not able to articulate their beliefs (or did not believe in absolute truth themselves).
(5) The church’s lack of distinctiveness relative to the culture around it, thus diminishing its potential appeal – This last trend seems to be so true. Christians were not distinct from the non-Christians around them (so there was no appeal to become a Christian). And that’s what the stats seem to show (divorce, having abortions, cheating on taxes, values, how we spend our money, etc). If Christian claim to have the Holy Spirit living inside of them and to be born-again, then why aren’t Christians more distinct from their “dead” neighbors?
4 thoughts on ““The Last Christian”by David Gregory”
Thanks Ikki. It is possible in my mind that today’s religious system is the modern day Tower of Babel. Many are busy “doing” good things to build religion and few are busy “being” the person in Christ we were designed to be.
If I were to guess, I’d say the future of churches in America will include financial failure and the government stepping in the save religion. It will be a needed nail in the coffin.
At the same time believers will be drawn to an intimate knowledge, understanding and relationship with the true Jesus. They will find themselves worshipping in places suitable to avoid persecution and God will smile.
People seek God today like never before, problem is Church is often not the place to find God and will never be.
As long as there are “church” rules and dogma, such as the idiotic concept of celibacy for Catholics and preventing women from attaining equal status on the heirachy of things, it won’t happen.
Evangelicals like Benny Hinn and Haggarty abuse the intelligence and senses of common man. After watching their sales seminars it is obvious.
All these people who “follow” Christ’s teachings do so little of what Christ taught.
I’ve been to services where people were saved by a pastor who did not have the right or authority to “save” anyone.
You don’t need to cry and be on your knees in front of a crowd to be “saved”.
The “Church” in its current state of flux is a good place to stay away from as they teach their members that all humanity is not alike and therefore discrimination is born.
No, the “Church” better look hard in the mirror. It has caused a lot more damage throughout history and now. Mosques and synagogues are not exempt from what I say.
It doesn’t matter how we came to being. We are here, that is what is important.
I do not think the strength of Christianity can be measured by church attendance anymore.
Churches have failed many people, and to many mature in the faith, there is really not much offered there anymore.
For those that are newly saved, or in need of “milk” of the Word, Churches provide this milk, along with some sense of community.
For those who need more, what is needed is just not there.
The unchurched are not lost. They are not necessarily fallen away. Many are just looking for more than what the church has to offer.
I agree America has turned it’s back on our Christian roots and has become more and more a blend of different religions, however; I don’t believe the church will die out entirely as there is currently an emergence of churches that are active and growing. I find this particular read an interesting fictional perspective. I just finished a great book on this very topic by author Ray Barnett called, “The Gathering,” which thoroughly explains the history and roots of the church and how the church can be more effective.