There has been some interesting discussion this week in the wake of the Episcopalian’s decision in regards to blessing Same Sex unions. The discussion has led to the discussion of the demise of Liberal Christianity. The United church made the same decisions with similar results This is an interesting article here.
While it is quite obvious that the attendance has declined in some of these churches , it is interesting to note that while it may seem like the mainline conservative churches are going, a closer look would indicate it’s not as strong as we would like to believe. Most church growth has been transferred church growth which means people are switching churches, more than new believers coming to church.
This leads me to some thoughts and observations.
More and more, I’m meeting people that quite simply cannot find a fit in a church. There are various reasons, but I think in my opinion, it seems to have more to do with community then theology. That being said, there is some fair concern about theology and critical thinking. The church has developed into an informational session and we have a generation that would like to do a more discussion. The idea of questions and answers is important. One of my personal struggles with church has lots to do with this very issue. I’m working on a book about it.
I also have found that unfortunately, there has been some church leaders within some Conservative churches that have quite frankly, been insulting in their approach towards the Liberal churches. One for example, did not consider the Catholic church a “church”. This has unfortunately lead to some ignorance and lack of information about Liberal churches which has caused some hurt. (Not that the Catholic is necessarily a Liberal church, but some would not consider it Christian) I even had a discussion with someone on Twitter about how he feels that progressive liberal churches would not be considered Christian. Again more hurt and division.
One thing that is also happening in church culture, which I’d like to think I’m pretty observant of, is that in may of the conservative denominations, is there is a move to a more liberal or moderate point of view. If you examine the big four moral issues, i.e. abortion, homosexuality, capital punishment, euthanasia, it’s not a clear win that one going to this church would be pro-life or opposed to same sex marriage.
Perhaps the bigger question going forward is not the demise of a section of Christianity, but perhaps the demise of the idea of church. For some, the idea of going to a building to celebrate God or some would use the word Devine, is becoming outdated and irrelevant. They seem politically driven, and insincere to some.
And perhaps the best answer is from Paul in 1 Corinthians 1: 10-13.
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?