Friday, May 22, 2009

Mark Driscoll describes the reduced number of Christians as not a bad thing

Here's an article by Mark Driscoll about the well-documented drop in religious identification. He makes a good point that in and of itself, this drop is not necessarily a bad thing for Christianity; in fact, it might even be a positive.

"Subsequently, the Newsweek report simply confirms the fact that, just as Christendom has died in Europe and the major American cities, it is now dying in the suburban and rural areas of America as well. With the social benefits of professing to be a Christian no longer in place and the social stigma of not professing to be a Christian now lifted, those who were part of Christendom America are simply no longer pretending to be part of Christian America.

Since those who professed faith but did not practice faith were confusing to account for, this is actually a good thing. Now, it is more likely that if someone is a Christian or non-Christian, he or she will state so plainly.

Therefore, the number of Christians has likely not diminished as much as has been reported, but rather we are seeing an increasingly accurate accounting of actual Christian America. The ARIS study confirmed this by saying that the number of people who claimed to be Christians decreased, while the number of people who claimed to be evangelical increased. This fact is not discouraging, but rather clarifying."


Jim said...

I continue to drop by here quite often, but seldom comment although I enjoy your site for a number of reasons. There is probably much truth to what Driscoll suggests since, when you really come down to the nitty-gritty, the status of any individual's faith remains a personal matter between them and Christ. The graph you presented on an earlier post showing movement between denominations, both to and from a profession in the faith, but spoke to me of the hunger so many within our ranks yet possess to know the reality of God's gift unto us. Sitting on a church pew doesn't mean you have, in fact, connected with the risen Savior. It's very possible to be busy in good works, in ministry, and yet either never have "hit water" in the first place or have let the fountain you struck run dry. Then, again, while the sanctuary ought to be an oasis to which we run, too often what we find there is little more than a stumbling block representing the old adage about an army that shoots its own wounded...

Brad Wright said...

Good point, Jim, that going to church and experiencing the depths of Christianity are not the same thing (though, it seems reasonably that there's a lot of overlap).

Sociologists spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to measure and what's important to measure, and some of the problem comes from the distinction that you point out.

Thanks for commenting!