Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Church in Danger!!

Back in the 18th century conservative Anglicans flew the bloody flag and cried out that the church was in danger. Dangerous liberals like Gilbert Burnet and John Tillotson, both bishops within the Anglican church, threatened the church from the inside with dangerous ideas -- such as the king didn't rule by divine right. But that's another story.

Recently I started reading about a new crisis. The National Association of Evangelicals and others have begun to warn that hedonistic American culture is threatening to destroy the church (evangelical church that is). Using culture war lingo, they warn that whereras 34% of adult Americans are Evangelical, the coming generation will likely be 4% evangelical. Now such predictions are notoriously unreliable, but the "problem" is interesting. It has been said that the reason why evangelical churches, unlike the graying mainline, has grown is that they have kept their youth. Well it seems that they are likely to loose their youth. The question is, where will they go? Will they end up as secularists or join up with that amorphous group of religious but not spiritual. Or, could they find their way to the Mainline -- much as I did. Mainline Protestantism recognizes and affirms women, allows for ambiguity in theology and reading of scripture. It's concerned about the environment and seeks peace in the world -- oh there is a progressive evangelical subgroup -- but in many ways they are closer to the mainline than conservative evangelicalism. It will be interesting to see where things go.

I will admit that these are difficult times, but I find it disingenuous that a movement that has the ears of the president and congress should feel so threatened. But threatened they are. With an organization with the name of Battle Cry and a web site -- www.battlecry.com, they announce that "the enemy has launched an attack and an army is rising to respond. Yes, this is a movement full of militaristic images and ideas. Evangelicals are called upon to raise the battle cry, make their battle plans, and fight back. They can join together in Battle Cry Leadership Summits and hear the great generals rally the troops of faith -- so that they can rescue the coming generation.

As for me, I think I'll take the road laid out by Jesus. He didn't lead an army of Christian soldiers into battle against the cultural enemies. Instead, he suffered and died and empowered generations of Christians to be the church in the world.

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