Thursday, June 16, 2005

A New Exodus

The title link leads to Al Mohler's review of a book titled Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity. The review is an interesting read, and he does a good job summarizing the content of the book. He spent too much of the review summarizing the statistics and then telling us the book isn't just about statistics. Nevertheless, here's a good section:
Shiflett's instincts as a reporter led him to see a big story behind the membership decline in liberal denominations. At the same time, Shiflett detected the bigger picture--the decline of liberal churches as compared to growth among the conservatives. Like any good reporter, he knew he was onto a big story.

"Americans are vacating progressive pews and flocking to churches that offer more traditional versions of Christianity," Shiflett asserts. This author is not subtle, and he gets right to the point: "Most people go to church to get something they cannot get elsewhere. This consuming public--people who already believe, or who are attempting to believe, who want their children to believe--go to church to learn about the mysterious Truth on which the Christian religion is built. They want the Good News, not the minister's political views or intellectual coaching. The latter creates sprawling vacancies in the pews. Indeed, those empty pews can be considered the earthly reward for abandoning heaven, traditionally understood."

Taken alone, the statistics tell much of the story. Shiflett takes his reader through some of the most salient statistical trends and wonders aloud why liberal churches and denominations seem steadfastly determined to follow a path that will lead to their own destruction. Shiflett also has a unique eye for comparative statistics, indicating, for example, that "there may now be twice as many lesbians in the United States as Episcopalians."

The whole thing is worth a read.

Interestingly, the statistics quoted say that the United Methodist Church, to which I am a member, has declined 6.7% in the last decade. To be honest, the talk of decline in the Methodist Church has always been rather foreign to me, as my church here is very conservative. From the way I've understood it, the UMC is mainly conservative, but at some point the liberal factions gained enough seats of power in the seminaries, and began training pastors and other church workers who abandoned biblical Christianity. Since then, the conservative majority has been fighting back, but it's not an easy process when the seats of power are occupied by liberals. This can be seen in the multiple battles over homosexual unions and pastors the Church has seen in the last decade; everytime the issue comes up, the conservative and liberal elements of the Church become clear and wage very unfortunate wars. But that's just how these things have been presented to me, in a brief way.

On another note, it often seems that the liberal elements like to win their battles through the media, by rallying their plight for equality and modernity. It seems not just sad, but unbiblical, that rather than going through the church and through Christ's teachings, these people would bring their cases before the world allow "public opinion" to weigh in on the issues.

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