HUFFPO: CHRISTIANITY HAS ONLY ITSELF TO BLAME FOR ITS DEMISE? A Rebuttal, Pt 1

A LINE-BY-LINE RESPONSE TO A HUFFINGTONPOST ARTICLE BY BYRON WILLIAMS–MY RESPONSES, IN CAPS.)
 
The number may vary but the trend line is consistent: The Christian church is in decline. From church attendance to those who identify as Christian, all numbers are heading south.
 
NOT TRUE.  CHRISTIANS WILL CONTINUE BEING THE LARGEST GROUP THE NEXT FORTY YEARS. SOURCE. THIS IS ONLY A PROJECTION, JUST AS THE PREDICTION CHRISTIANS IN THE U.S. WILL DECLINE FROM 75% TO 66% IN THE NEXT 40 YEARS. STILL, IF ACCURATE, 66% IS A SUBSTANTIAL MAJORITY.   IN SOME PLACES REVIVAL IS EXPLODING.
 
Is Christianity the new middle class? Has it become an amorphous term to describe something that most assume they understand but carries no real meaning?
 
MAYBE IN THE MINDS OF LIBERALS IN NEW YORK AND LOS ANGELES.  
 
OTHERWISE, OBAMA’S POLICIES ARE DESTROYING THE MIDDLE CLASS.  HE CANNOT CLAIM THE SAME CREDIT WHEN IT COMES TO CHRISTIANITY.  THE SCRIPTURE PREDICTS IN THE END TIMES MANY WILL LEAVE THE FAITH FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS.  OBAMA ISN’T MENTIONED.  HOWEVER, THE THINKING THAT DRIVES OBAMA IS INCREASINGLY TRANSLATED INTO ANTI-CHRISTIAN BIAS IN PUBLIC POLICY, DEMONIZATION IN MEDIA, AND OUTRIGHT PERSECUTION IN VARIOUS WALKS OF LIFE.  HOWEVER, PERSECUTION OFTEN LEADS TO INCREASED EVANGELISM AND CONVERSIONS, SO OBAMA AND HIS FRIENDS MAY ACTUALLY BE HELPING THE CAUSE OF CHRIST BY TRYING TO DESTROY IT.
 
There are myriad reasons for Christianity’s downward trajectory. My focus is the public face of Christianity.
 
THE “PUBLIC FACE” OF CHRISTIANITY?  WHAT IS THAT?  CONSIDERING THE VAST DIVERSITY WITHIN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY (AND SOME OF THEM CHRISTIANS IN NAME ONLY), JUST WHAT IS THE PUBLIC FACE OF CHRISTIANITY, MERE OPINION DERIVED FROM LOOKING AT ONLY ONE FACET OF CHRISTIANITY?
 
FURTHER, JESUS TOLD US THE WORLD WOULD HATE US JUST AS IT HATES HIM.  THIS IS NOT A POPULARITY CONTEST AS SO MANY ASSUME.  THE BATTLE ON EARTH IS A REFLECTION OF THE SPIRITUAL WAR IN THE HEAVENLIES.  THIS WRITER SEEMS TO BELIEVE THE CHURCH SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT POLLS, LIKE POLITICIANS.  THAT IS JUST RIDICULOUS.
 
Ironically, it has become a faith defined more by its willingness to exclude.
 
EXCEPT THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IS FAR MORE INCLUSIVE THAN ANY INSTITUTION ON EARTH.  WE SERVE WITHOUT ASKING ANYTHING IN RETURN.  THE FAR LEFT MAY ENJOY EMBRACING THE ILLUSION WE EXCLUDE PEOPLE, SINCE IT LIVES IN ITS OWN ECHO CHAMBER, AN ADMITTEDLY HUGE ECHO CHAMBER THANKS TO A COMPLICIT MEDIA. 
 
MEDIA CASTS CHRISTIANS AS ANTI-WOMAN FOR BEING PROLIFE, THAT PAINTS A PICTURE OF EXCLUSION, WHEN IN REALITY, IT’S A INCLUSIVE APPROACH, SINCE ABORTION IS BABY MURDER, AND IT IS VERY HARMFUL TO WOMEN IN MANY WAYS.  IT IS AN ACT OF LOVE AND INCLUSION TO STAND AGAINST ABORTION, BUT YOU WON’T HEAR THAT ON MSM. 

LIKEWISE WITH THE ENTIRE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA.  THE LIFESTYLE IS EXTREMELY UNHEALTHY.  STANDING AGAINST IT IS AN ACT OF LOVE.  EXPLOITING PEOPLE TRAPPED IN THE LIFESTYLE AND PROMOTING UNHEALTHY PRACTICES ARE NOT ACTS OF LOVE.  SO IN TRUTH, CHRISTIANS ARE NOT EXCLUDING ANYONE, BUT RATHER, ACTING IN LOVE TO SAVE THEM, BOTH HERE ON EARTH, AND FOR ETERNITY.
 
EVEN NOMINAL THEOLOGIANS UNDERSTAND ONE CAN LOVE THE SINNER AND REJECT THE SIN WITHOUT EXCLUDING ANYONE, FOR THE LORD HIMSELF DOES NOT WISH THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH. 
 
If one reads the Gospel narratives, the teachings of Jesus clearly indicate love, inconvenient love, is at the epicenter of the faith. Observers of the faith are placed in a paradoxical bind in that its difficulty is rooted in its simplicity — the simplicity to love burdened by the difficulty to achieve it.
 
MAJOR THEOLOGICAL PROBLEMS HERE AND MISSTATEMENTS.  THE CENTRAL MESSAGE OF CHRIST INVOLVES THE KINGDOM OF GOD, REPENTANCE, SIN AND JUDGMENT.   JESUS PREACHES LOVE, BUT IT’S NOT HUMAN-GENERATED LOVE.  JESUS POINTS TO THE LOVE OF THE FATHER SHED ABROAD IN THE HEARTS OF HUMANS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.  JESUS STATES:  “APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING. “  WE DO NOT ACHIEVE ANYTHING APART FROM THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT.   RECEIVING DIVINE LOVE BY AN ACT OF FAITH IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARD SHARING THAT LOVE WITH OTHERS. 
 
As a result, Christianity is dominated, at least in America, by an ethos of oversimplification that seeks not a self-reflective inconvenient love, but one that places its focus on the other.
 
THIS IS JIBBERISH.  THE GOSPEL IS SIMPLE:  LOVE GOD WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE, LOVE OTHERS MORE THAN SELF.
 
“OVERSIMPLIFICATION”? NOTHING PRECEDING THIS STATEMENT DEMONSTRATES SUCH TENDENCIES IN AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY.  IF ANYTHING, THE CHURCH HAS TOO OFTEN IGNORED THE ADMONITION OF CHRIST: “UNLESS YOU BECOME AS LITTLE CHILDREN, YOU’LL NO WISE ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.”  INSTEAD, THE CHURCH HAS LISTENED TO “THEOLOGICANS” LIKE THIS MAN, TENDING TO OVER COMPLICATE AND THUS ELBOW GOD OUT, WHILE INCREASINGLY RELYING ON MERE HUMAN ‘WISDOM.

IN FACT, THIS SHIFT SERVES TO EXPLAIN MUCH OF THE LACK OF CHURCH ATTENDANCE.  MANY PEOPLE HAVE LEFT CHURCHES BECAUSE THEY’VE BECOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTERS, OR SELF-HELP ORGANIZATIONS, BOTH FAR REMOVED FROM THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL.  FURTHERMORE, THE PHRASE “SELF-REFLECTIVE INCONVENIENT LOVE” CARRIES NO MEANING UNLESS SCRIPTURE PROVIDES GUIDANCE.  IF THE AUTHOR MEANS SACRIFICIAL LOVE, FINE.  IF HE MEANS SELFLESS LOVE, GREAT.  IF HE MEANS CHRIST-LIKE LOVE FROM THE HEART OF A SERVANT, EXCELLENT.  BUT IF HE MEANS A KIND OF TOUCHY FEELY LOVE MANIFEST FROM SHEER HUMAN WILL, NO DICE.
 
Historically, Christianity’s post Enlightenment participation in the public square is a mixed bag. The church was on both sides of slavery, the Civil War, women’s suffrage, Jim Crow segregation, the Holocaust, and South African Apartheid.
 
COMPLETE FABRICATION: THE CHURCH HAS BEEN PREDOMINATELY, PUBLICLY, AND FORCEFULLY OPPOSED TO SLAVERY, SEGRGATION, THE HOLOCAUST AND APARTHEID.   NO FORCE ON EARTH HAS BEEN MORE EFFECTIVE IN LIBERATING WOMEN FROM THE STATUS OF PROPERTY TO FULL CITIZENSHIP, BOTH IN THE WEST, AND IN THE KINGDOM TO COME.  CHRISTIANITY’S POST- ENLIGHTMENT PARTICIPATION FREED THE SLAVES, CONFRONTED JIM CROW, PROMOTED CIVIL RIGHTS, CONDEMNED AND DEFEATED THE NAZIS AND ENDED APARTHEID.  INDEED, THE ENTIRE FOUNDATION OF WESTERN CIVLIZATION LEADING TO LIBERAL, TOLERANT SOCIETY AND FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ALL IS FOUND IN THE PRINCIPLES ARTICULATED BY THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS GIVEN LIFE BY TRUE BELIEVERS PARTICIPATING IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE.  SOURCE.  SOURCE.  SOURCE.
 
We’ve recently witnessed for profit corporations hiding behind the veneer of the amorphous term Christianity seeking laws that come uncomfortably close to the type of dehumanization that necessitated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
 
APPARENT ATTEMPT TO COMPARE RACIAL BIAS TO OPPOSITION TO SAME SEX MARRIAGE OR ABORTION PILLS. THERE IS NO CONFUSION IN THE SCRIPTURE.  ABORTION IS MURDER.  SAME SEX MARRIAGE IS NOT MARRIAGE.  HOMOSEXUALITY HAS BEEN REJECTED AS MORALLY REPUGNANT BY MOST EVERY HUMAN SOCIETY FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME, AND THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURE IS VERY SPECIFIC AND CLEAR.  CHRISTIANS SEPARATE THE SIN FROM THE SINNER, AS DOES GOD, CALLING ON ALL SINNERS TO REPEAT, AS DOES GOD, FOR THEIR OWN GOOD. 

DEHUMANIZATION IS ACCOMPLISHED BY SECULARISTS TRYING TO SEPARATE HUMANS FROM THEIR CREATOR.  THE FALSE NARRATIVE PROMOTED BY SUCH SECULATISTS SEEKS TO CONTRADICT GOD, DECEIVE SINNERS, AND THEREBY CONDEMN EVERYONE TO MISERY.  TRULY CRUEL.
 
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which some describe as a law that opens the door to discriminate against same-sex couples, while others offer that it would give people more freedom to follow the dictates of their faith.
 
SINCE WHEN DO FAIR-MINDED PEOPLE DECRY THE EFFORTS OF ANY AMERICAN TO DEFEND HIS GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS?  THIS AUTHOR SEEMS TO THINK SUCH SELF-DEFENSE IS TO BE CONDEMNED, AND THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS TO BE GRANTED MORE POWER TO CRUSH THE RIGHTS OF CHRISTIANS.  HOW ON EARTH DOES OUR EFFORT TO PRESERVE CIVIL RIGHTS FOR ALL PEOPLE TRANSLATE INTO A BLEMISH ON THE CHURCH?
 
Evangelical leader, Franklin Graham is calling on Christians to boycott gay-friendly corporations. Graham recently announced that he is moving all the bank accounts for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association out of Wells Fargo because of its ad featuring a lesbian couple.
 
RADICAL LEFTISTS AND JIHADISTS ARE APPLAUDED FOR THEIR ADVOCACY, REGARDLESS OF METHOD, BUT LET A CHRISTIAN STAND UP AND ADVOCATE A POSITION, AND IT IS HELD UP AS A REASON THE CHURCH IS IN DECLINE.  DIETRICH BONNHOEFFER, A REAL THEOLOGIAN, CALLED ON CHRISTIANS TO CONFRONT ALL EVIL IN THEIR DAY.  HE WAS ONE OF THE FEW PASTORS TO CONFRONT HITLER, AND LOST HIS LIFE IN THE EFFORT.  HIS SACRIFICE INSPIRES TRUE BELIEVERS TO THIS DAY. 
 
However these issues are adjudicated in the short term, the long term prospects can only do additional harm to the public face of a faith already in decline.
 
BS.  THE TRUTH IS A MAJORITY OF PEOPLE OPPOSED ABORTION AND SAME SEX MARRIAGE, AND A COURAGEOUS LEADER LIKE GRAHAM IS INSPIRING AND STRENTHENING THE FAITH AND ACTIVISM OF MANY MORE.
 
A nation committed to a “more perfect union” must to some degree be in a constant state of flux. History has proven unequivocally the trite use of biblical justification is a less than worthy adversary when one decides to drink from the well of equality that was originally dug by the Founders.
 
WE FOCUS ON LIBERTY, NOT EQUALITY.  THIS AUTHOR APPARENTLY DOES NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE. FURTHERMORE, THE FOUNDERS WERE IN THE MAIN CHRISTIANS WHO DID KNOW THE DIFFERENCE, AND THEY ALSO KNEW THE SCRIPTURE GUIDED THEM IN MANY WAYS AS THEY DECLARED INDEPENDENCE, AND AS THEY CRAFTED THE CONSTITUTION.  MAN’S WISDOM IS TRITE, AS EXEMPLIFIED BY THIS AUTHOR.

(To Be Continued…)

Image: http://theysmell.com/creepy-churches-that-have-been-abandoned/

Allan Erickson

About the author, Allan Erickson: After college, Allan Erickson enjoyed an 11-year career in journalism. He then turned to sales and marketing for a decade. Fourteen years ago he started his own recruitment company. Allan & wife Jodi have four children and live in Oregon. He is the author of "The Cross & the Constitution in the Age of Incoherence," Tate Publishing, 2012. He is available to speak in churches addressing the topics of faith and freedom. To contact him, email: allanlerickson@gmail.com. Promote unity, confront our enemies, tell our story! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1204782612/divided-we-stand-small-town-folks-fight-terror-wit View all articles by Allan Erickson

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