Survey shows a Falling Away

Results of the new American Religious Identification Survey were released yesterday and picked up by most major news sources.  Story titles ranging from “America is Becoming Less Christian, Less Religious” to “Non-Religious Americans on the Rise in Every State” littered media outlets nationwide.  I read most of these stories and they all focused merely on the data with very little analysis.  Everyone said the same thing non-religious on the rise, denominations falling off.  If you read Denominational Dangers that I posted last week, you would have already known this isn’t a big surprise.  Here’s a recap of some of the statistical highlights from the 54,000 interviews conducted:

Percentage of people who claim no religion has nearly doubled since 1990, jumping from 8.2% to 15%  

Meanwhile percentage of Christians is on the decline. 86.2% to 76% since the 1990s

Over the past seven years the number of outright atheists has nearly doubled from 900,000 to 1.6 million

Almost all religious denominations have lost ground.

Non-denomination Christians, including Evangelical/Born Again are on the rise from 200,000 in 1990 to over 8 million.

So what’s going on here?  Well we know that the varying denominations within the Christian church are failing to hold on to Biblical truth, as I discussed last week link.  As a result, through the promotion of the homosexual agenda and embrace of liberal theology, mainline Christians are pursuing more Biblical avenues.  One such avenue has resulted in the growth of mega-churches and the increase in Evangelicalism.  But here is where I would like to insert a word of caution.  As I’ve addressed before, I am NOT a proponent of all of the “-isms” and “-ist” movements.  I think they are divisive.  None of these movements are found in the Bible, in fact, sectarianism is expressly prohibited.  I Corinthians 1:10, I Corinthians 3:3-4  These names are created by man and thrown about by the media as all encompassing and I have yet to see one singular definition of Evangelicalism.  To me, this means the process of witnessing and sharing the “good news” of Gospel to the unsaved.  Instead it’s become a diverse and ambiguous term that no one can seem to define.   I’m not going to condemn the Evangelical/mega-church movement, but please do research and ensure they’re following Sound Doctrine.   

The results of the data as a whole really aren’t that surprising.  Hollywood glamorizes Wiccan and pagan beliefs in syndicated shows such as Medium, The Ghost Whisperer, and Charmed.  While they continue to produce unpopular and troubling films such as Religulous, Rock Me (I won’t even finish the name) and a film soon to be released by Sasha Baren Cohen mocking Jesus.  The Bible tells us, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7 Is it any wonder we are experiencing such a falling away? II Thessalonians 2:3

The fact of the matter is we are crossing over the threshold of the Final Apostasy.  Soon we’ll see the denominational wall fall completely as these churches begin to combine through their own false interpretations of the Bible.  I believe we’ll begin to see the atheist/agnostic movement pick up speed as they continue their assault on Christianity and the Word of God.  Look at what’s already going on in Great Britain.  We’ll continue to embrace other world religions as the world seeks an Ecumenical balance.  False movements and leaders will seemingly pop-up over night, much like the Emerging Church movement with people preaching with the Bible in one hand, but not speaking the Truth.  II Thessalonians 2:11-12 “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” 

If the Body of Christ is to survive all of these paradigm shifts, we must unite with one voice with the Bible as our foundation.  We must preach “Christ crucified” and rebuke those who deem it “offensive”.  II Timothy 4:2, I Corinthians 9:18 As the Apostle Paul says, “…We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” I Corinthians 1:23 Our message of Salvation must be clear: repentance of sins, belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and faithful acceptance of Him as Savior.  We cannot sugar coat the alternative, “The wages of sin is death” but through our repentance, belief, and acceptance, “The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 If we as a “church” can do this and I believe we can, we’ll have one final great revival. Onward Christian solider!

What pressure? Believers less likely to feel stress

A story last week in Great Britain’s Telegraph discussed tests that were performed by the University of Toronto on religious people during pressure situations.  Results of the tests showed that those who admitted they believed in God were less likely to panic when being asked to perform various mental tasks and likewise performed better than those non-believers who took part in the test.  The story goes on to say that there was a correlation to the strength of faith and the amount of calmness of the individual.  To record these results, scientists measured and recorded brain activity during a set of mental agility tests.  In those who at least had a belief in God there was less activity in the portion of the brain (anterior cingulated cortex) where anxiety and stress are managed.  Results of the test are published online in Psychological Science journal.  An interesting counter argument made by atheists groups regarding these test results is that it doesn’t prove that God exists, only that having strong beliefs can help, inferring that people could have done just as well if they believed in “Father Christmas.”  Hmmm….really?

Most of us can probably remember taking a test or giving a speech where we just thought, “Lord, just help me make it through this” or “If you let me pass this test God, I’ll do anything you want.”  While it’s funny to think back at how we attempted to rationalize with God, I do believe that this focus on God allows us to maintain our calmness during these stressful times.  Without breaking down the “science” of this experiment of how the born-again Christians performed vs. those who believe in God vs. non-believers, the data did show that those who had stronger beliefs performed better.  These results likely disqualify the atheist’s groups argument, because if merely a belief in something allowed less stress then the results would have been “flat” based on the strength of beliefs.

For us Christians there is a calm that resonates within us.  This calm doesn’t help get an “A” vs. getting a “C” on a test, but rather is an extension of our beliefs in One greater than ourselves, namely God and His Son Jesus.  The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:27, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  So we know that worrying or stressing out about things is not a Godly posture to have.  In Psalms 94:19, we read the words of the psalmist say, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”  I don’t think it was a coincidence that this experiment produced the results that it did.  It’s exactly what we are told in the Bible would happen when we make the decision to trust Christ as our Savior.  This decision doesn’t always prevent stressful situation or trials, but rather helps brings peace to our lives in response to these circumstances.  The next time you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with anxiety or stress, think on the words in the passage from I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Tebow’s charity doesn’t interfere with eligibility

tebowjohn316

Tim Tebow has been cleared to return to the University of Florida for his senior year.  Questions about his eligibility arose from his father’s missionary work and donations made to charity’s namely, Uncle Dick’s home.  The charity, an orphanage in the Philippines, was founded by the Bob Tebow (Tim’s father) Evangelistic Association.   After a brief inquiry into the donations, Tebow will return in 2009 and hope to lead Florida to back to back championships.  After spending the summer on missions trips, the former Heisman Trophy winner and product of homeschooling, led Florida to their second national championship in three years.  During this game, Tebow sported the eye black seen in the picture above leading to John 3:16 being the number one searched item on Google.  Reportedly, Tebow will be flying to the Philippines next week for a missions trip, during Florida’s spring break.  I’ll be praying that Tim Tebow’s witness remains strong and that God finds glory not only in his on-field performance, but likewise his off-field.

Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"