Monday, June 14, 2010

The Decline of Christian America is a Good Thing

Dan Harris with ABC sits down with five young American evangelicals, in this ten minute interview, to discuss how they view the future of Christianity in America (thanks Roy). It is in response to this Newsweek article in April 2009. Here's the opening question/statement:
DH: You have said that the death of Christian America is a good thing.

Gabe Lyons: Yeah, what I mean by that is this moving on from where people just assume that Christian ideas govern everything in our world, and Christians rely on that almost as a basis for their ideas and their thoughts and no longer have to qualify them to just an average person who might be skeptical or cynical. That new environment is challenging for Christians and that's a good thing for the faith. Christianity historically has grown when it's been under pressure, when it's not been under this dominant power position...It's not a bad thing for us to be in a place where it's not just assumed that everyone is a Christian. It forces us to go deeper. It forces us to go back to our roots. And I think that's a good thing for the movement of Jesus.
I also came across this post from a year ago as the author responds to the Newsweek article. He says some things that I believe are dead on:
"There never was such a thing as 'Christian America.' And the Christians in America shouldn't worry about that.

There cannot be such a 'Christian America,' in fact, because citizenship and discipleship can never be synonymous terms. Christians owe an allegiance to Jesus Christ above the allegiance to the nation. And that means that a Christian's primary frame of social reference is not society at large but rather the church.

If we, as Christians, are really worried about declining numbers of the faithful in this land, we should practice a more robust form of discipleship. Ultimately, it is not by baptizing secular institutions or passing 'Christian' laws that we practice fidelity to God. It is rather by preaching the word of God, celebrating the sacraments, forming disciples of Jesus Christ, and witnessing to the love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through our works of piety and mercy in the world.

It is good when Christians exert an influence on the society in which they live. Their participation in the larger world can lead to greater civility in social life and more compassion in the legislation and execution of laws. But the telos of the practice of Christian faith is not to make the world Christian. That makes no Scriptural sense. It is instead to spread the gospel and build up the church. And yes, there is a real difference.

So we shouldn't worry about trying to Christianize America. We should just be concerned with Christianizing the church."

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