In a column of 1/5/22 titled The Truth Factor: A Major Reason for the West’s Declining Christianity Is Rarely Recognized, Mr. Selwyn Duke presents his opinion that, in short, the reason for declining Christianity in modern times is people. People are to blame because of cultural relativism, lack of belief in objective truth, and a few other things. However, if this is correct, how in the world did Christianity spread and flourish in the first few hundred years of a “cultural relativistic” Roman empire after the Resurrection of the Christ?
The Empire’s pursuit of hedonism (pleasures of the flesh) and narcissism (self-worship reflected in idolatry) were certainly as prevalent and mind-numbing as they are now. Yet Christianity was accepted by huge numbers of Jews and Gentiles even at the threat of death. The culture, or more accurately cultures, was about in as bad a shape as it (they) are now. The people didn’t like objective truth, rejected any constraints on immorality, and generally were as jaded and seared of conscience as people nowadays. How, if Mr. Duke is right, did anything about Christianity ever get traction with anyone?
I put the blame squarely on the Church. The problem isn’t Christianity, the problem is how it is taught and lived by those who say they are Christians. If there is any moral or cultural relativism, and obviously there is, it was birthed and watered and fertilized (can I get an amen on the fertilizer?) by the leaders and teachers of the Church. By Church, I mean the collective, visible, entirety of every organization claiming to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The so-called “Church” has modeled and force-fed a sort of Churchianity that looks like Christianity but only in name. It has appropriated some of the wool of what looks like Bible teachings while denying the One who bought them. They do this by sitting in judgment on the Bible, cutting out sections they don’t like while blowing those they do like all out of proportion to the rest of the Bible. They use deceptive words such as “Jesus, Jesus Jesus” just like many in Israel said of the Temple in Jeremiah 7. Israel said “The Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD” like they were rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot.
Israel thought that just because they had the Temple that God would always protect and nourish them. They could live however corruptly they wanted, do a couple sacrifices, and keep living corruptly. Now the Church uses Jesus as the same kind of a lucky rabbit’s foot. Go to Church on Sunday, say the Name a few times, then go out and live like they want to anyway.
The reason Christianity is declining is not the condition of the hearers of the message but the fact that the Church message isn’t any different than the world’s. They aren’t teaching (or living) the Word, which makes Christianity as different from the world as the Garden of Eden is from a landfill. The Church just looks like a bunch of social clubs, with varying rules of behavior mostly coming from confessions, creeds, by-laws and statements of faith that might contain some of the Word rather than the unchanging and undying whole Word of the Most High.
Jesus told His followers to “make disciples, baptizing them…and teaching them to observe all that I commanded you (Matthew 28:20).” Since the misnamed New Testament wasn’t created at the time, that meant all of the also misnamed Old Testament words of God. “All I commanded you” was all in the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. He didn’t command anything new, He just cleared away the commandments of men that had come to obscure the Word.
His Word has been obscured again. The Church teaches “commandments of men” as commands of God (Isaiah 29:13) just as other religions do. So it just doesn’t look any different compared to the world. The commands of men are the same relative, permissive, sappy, weak, banal, lame, narcissistic junk that is the hallmark of the world. Their Jesus is a caricature of the Jesus of the living Word, nutritionally lacking in the power to change not only oneself but the world.
The problem is not the hearers of the Word It is in the ravenous wolves wearing sheep’s clothing who substitute their own opinions for a whole Bible.