Jesus and His Love First Touched Me Here—and I Am So Glad
Allen Downey, Professor of Computer Science at Olin College in Needham, Massachusetts, has a new article in the well-known and venerable magazine Scientific American. It contains some new statistical and computer modeling results on the current and projected trends in American religious preference. It predicts that by the year 2030 a full one-third of all Americans (33.33 percent) will have zero religious preference—in other words—they will be members of the group known today as the “Nones.” That is only a piddly 12 years from now. You may read the article by clicking on the following safe link:
The bad news is that all current American churches will be losing members and failing to gain new members. While that might look like thoroughly bad news on the surface, there is actually some very good news here—a silver lining around the edge of a dark cloud.
What is this good news? We think it is as follows:
(1) Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches will be the big losers in this trend across the next 50 years. Why? We know that many children raised in hardline Christian fundamentalist churches want out and are already leaving them in large numbers when they become young adults. If it is not that way already, we strongly suspect that this trend will soon engulf numerous conservative evangelical churches whose doctrines and belief systems are very similar to those of the hardline fundie churches. This means that Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism will become more and more weakened across the next 50 years.
(2) A large increase in the number of “nones” in the American population will further weaken Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and their churches. How will that happen? The large numbers of “nones” and unbelievers in American society will greatly diminish fundie influence in our voting booths at election time and shut off all fundie hopes of establishing an American theocracy to replace the current constitutional government of the United States. The most evil and pernicious items on the fundie national agenda will slam into an extremely thick steel wall with the words “NO GO” painted on it. Like Persian King Cyrus in the Old Testament, God will use the “nones” and unbelievers to shackle the hands and feet of the fundies and guard the true essence of the traditional Christian faith until Jesus completes a New Christian Reformation of the American church.
(3) We believe the American church is now beginning to undergo a Jesus-led New Christian Reformation for the 21st century that will sweep Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism into the ash bin of American history. The keystone of the Christian faith, the classic message of repentance and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone will remain the same that it has always been since the 1st century A.D. That will be the strong trunk of the new Christmas tree. However, many of its branches and the ornaments hung on them by fallible men since the Protestant Reformation will change—and rightly so.
The ridiculous, man-invented doctrine of Biblical inerrancy and literal reading of the Holy Bible will disappear from American churches. The Bible will cease being an idol. John Calvin’s little 16th century invention known as the Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement will disappear. The American church will embrace the findings of the physical sciences and social sciences rather than be hostile to them. The American church will no longer attempt to revise American history into a set of self-serving lies. The new covenant established by Jesus, his 12 disciples, and the apostles in the New Testament will finally triumph over the covenant in the Old Testament. The LOVE spoken of so much by Jesus and the Apostle Paul in the New Testament will finally triumph over legalism and moralism in the American church. The many evils of conservative Republican politics will no longer be strangling the church. The Church will cease to be a “hate center” that uses the worn out saw: “Love the sinner but hate the sin” as a cover for dealing in hatred, racism, prejudice, and bigotry in the name of Jesus. Many other similar changes will occur in the American church as a part of the New Christian Reformation, and those changes will be based on truth, facts, and Jesus-based LOVE rather than lies and man-invented fantasies.
With so many “nones” and unbelievers resting out on the American landscape, a new and enormously large mission field will become available to the newly reformed American churches. People will come into those churches in very large numbers because everyone wants to be truly loved in church. Church will no longer be a place of profound fear, anxiety, and abuse every Wednesday and Sunday. People will be magnetically drawn to these churches like they were to Jesus on the hills of Judea in ancient times. People will experience true love, be built up, and be truly edified. Many people will come because they no longer have to make a ridiculous choice between science and faith—meaning both can be embraced in the church. Jesus, all of his words, and all of his deeds will be at the center of the church.
While the American church (writ large) will never be perfect in this world, because it contains imperfect people, the reformed American church of the 21st century will be a much better place than many American churches are now. It shall be light years better and more loving than the pathological and pathetic Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches of today. Let us end this with some hope and something special: