It's interesting how these two different articles tie together:
Much has been made of the recent Pew poll that highlights America’s religious landscape. What has drawn the most attention is the apparent decline of Christianity in the U.S. “The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining,” began the piece. Many liberals took gleeful notice. The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Mark Tooley noted, “Secularists and their fellow travelers are ecstatic. The secular utopia about which John Lennon crooned is impending. Christianity is finally dying!”
Of course, this is far from the case, as Tooley later reveals. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, points out that it’s not Christianity that’s dying, but rather “near Christianity” that is teetering. “Good riddance,” Moore concludes.
The denominations that have lost the most “near Christians” are Catholic and Mainline Protestant. According to the Washington Times, “for every person who joined the Roman Catholic Church, six others were departing.” Additionally, in the last 50 years, the proportion of Americans belonging to one of the “Seven Sisters of Mainline Protestantism” has plummeted from one in six to one in sixteen.
So this begs the question, why have the Catholic Church and Mainline Protestantism seen such a collapse? Moore reveals the answer when he notes that, what the Pew poll really reveals is that we have “fewer incognito atheists” in America. “Those who don’t believe can say so -- and still find spouses, get jobs, volunteer with the PTA, and even run for office. This is good news because the kind of ‘Christianity’ that is a means to an end -- even if that end is ‘traditional family values’ -- is what J. Gresham Machen rightly called ‘liberalism,’ and it is an entirely different religion from the apostolic faith handed down by Jesus Christ.”
Of course, it would be the denominations most infected with liberalism (Is there anything liberalism can’t corrupt?) that have seen the most decline. As Tooley put it, “Mainline Protestantism lost its way when it forgot how to balance being American and being Christian, choosing American individualism and self-made spirituality over classical Christianity. Nearly all mainline seminaries had embraced modernism by the 1920s, rejecting the supernatural in favor of metaphorized faith integrated with sociology and political revolution.”
Such watered-down theology has produced ear-ticklers like John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Gene Robinson and the like, along with heretical nonsense such as the Jesus Seminar. For decades men (and women) like Spong and Borg made quite a name for themselves by rejecting the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, His atoning death and resurrection, every miracle recorded in the New Testament, and so on. In other words, in a tragic attempt to make themselves “relevant,” such men and women rejected virtually every tenet of the Christian faith, all the while still calling themselves “Christians.”
Unsurprisingly, it’s heretics such as these who’ve overseen such a precipitous decline in their denominations. After all, who wants to attend a church that rejects the supernatural and offers little more than worn-out platitudes and self-help advice? Who wants to attend a church that doesn’t talk about the forgiveness of sin (much less the existence of sin) and the hope of eternal life? Instead of pointing people to eternal truths, these liberal congregations have concerned themselves with “social activism.”
As Paul Rahe put it, many years ago the American Catholic Church “fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States – the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity – and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor.”
Just as with its promotion of government healthcare, or a litany of other programs that push state paternalism over personal responsibility, for decades now the American Catholic Church has shown “indifference” toward eternity and judgement. Thus, anyone fervently seeking the truth on such matters is drawn elsewhere.
By and large, the churches that are growing in the U.S. are those that unapologetically present the truth. Of course, a large or a growing church isn’t always a measure of a healthy and holy church, but when one is sincerely seeking the spiritual truths that we all at one time or another crave, most of us “seekers” know the truth when we hear it and see it. This doesn’t mean that the majority of us will embrace such truths. Jesus Himself warned us that this would not be the case.
Don’t be surprised to see the decline of Christianity continue. As it becomes more difficult and dangerous to be a follower of Christ, more and more people are going to find the “wide road” described by Jesus quite appealing. This is especially the case when so-called “Christians” are pointing the way.
Adding insult to injury, the day before Israel's national holiday (May 17th) commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six Day War, the pope presented Palestinian leader Abbas with a bronze "angel of peace" medal and reportedly Abbas an "angel of peace." (Or he may have said, "May you be an angel of peace." It really doesn't matter.) All this was done as the Vatican readies itself to sign a historic treaty officially recognizing the sovereignty of the State of Palestine – which technically has no borders and doesn't exist.
The following day, Jerusalem Day in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the world one more time: "Jerusalem shall never again be divided."
Simultaneously, the Pope was conferring sainthood on two "Palestinians," both of whose lives and work were associated with Bethlehem. It was widely seen as both a "religious and political gesture" by the pope. Certainly the timing was not coincidental.
Former Congressman Allen West, when asked about the Vatican recognizing the State of Palestine, said:
"This is horrific. At a time when Islamic terrorists are slaughtering Christians, Catholics, all over the Middle East; for the pontiff to recognize a terrorist organization, which is really either Hamas or Fatah…this is unconscionable…It just goes to show the level of propaganda success that the Palestinians have, and the level of disdain and anti-Semitism that there is out there; it's even coming from the Vatican now."
Pope Francis is simply fast-tracking what the powers in Rome have been lobbying for all along: The division of Jerusalem. And if Christians want to be theologically precise, that would necessarily mean the Vatican is also lobbying for the rise of the Anti-Christ. What other conclusion can be reached when the Catholic Church turns its back on the word of God in favor of dividing the land of Israel?
To be clear, the last thing we need to do is start hating on the Catholics. There are many courageous conservative Catholics who are fighting to preserve Christianity here in America – and we need them. There are even more dying for their beliefs in foreign countries. And to be sure, this papacy is fracturing the Catholic Church itself, in what some are calling a civil war.
But the influence of this radical pope – in these radical times – can no longer be underestimated. He has forced many of us to speak-out concerning his aggressive anti-Capitalist, Socialist agenda; his stance against the eternal capital of Israel; his false edicts on the climate change lie; and recent moves by the Catholic church to embrace sodomites. The blasphemies are many and overwhelming.