Monday, November 15

Our changing Christian world

> In "Global warming and American Christianity" Martin Marty basically says "get real" ~ link

> Barna says that the rise of a neo-Calvinist movement is an illusion. The percentage of pastors who identify their churches as "reformed" is actually down (likewise with those who self-identify as "Arminians"). I suspect that there are just more loud obnoxious Calvinists than before. How do the pollsters measure that? ~ link

> There once was a world...
Christendom refers to a period of time when the Christian faith profoundly informed the culture. And, in turn, the culture carried the traditions, symbols, and rituals of the Christian faith. Another often-used term—post-Christian era—captures the reality that the importance and influence of Christianity in North American society has been in decline for at least three decades. In a "post-Christian" world, the church cannot expect favorable treatment or higher visibility. 
One could say that a gathering storm—a confluence of factors—has assailed the church and its dominant perch on the societal ladder. None of this has to do with the church's internal functioning. The sea change is external or contextual. There once was a world that was eager to be hospitable to Christian churches and supported "blue laws," soccerless Sundays, eating fish rather than meat on Friday, public prayer in schools and at nodal events, deferring to clergy by way of discounts, weekly religion sections in urban newspapers, and greeting others with "Merry Christmas." Now, suddenly, with steep changes happening in our society, congregations have to ask themselves whether they are responding to a world that no longer exists. 
The loss of members, influence, and a sense of mission—the church's misfortune of the moment—resembles the experience of Israel's exile. The lesson of the present dislocation is clear, if still not learned. The era of Christendom is gone. No longer is culture subsidizing and supporting churches... 
We are living in a new context where old certainties are disappearing, old institutions are less dependable, old assumptions are questionable, and old neighborhoods are less cohesive. Logically, if not spiritually, we may even have to allow for the possibility that these dislocations could be part of God's new creation. It may be God working through the unknown that contributes to the destabilization of the world. God is no stranger to Eden's deportation, Babel's scattering, the exodus, the exile, and crucifixion. God can be surprising, mysterious, taking history into unexpected turns. 
~ Peter L. Steinke
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