You are hereWhy Are Christians Losing America?
Why Are Christians Losing America?
This article was published in condensed form in MovieGuide magazine and website (Sept. 2007). It was also a topical question discussed in several small groups of Christians in Indianapolis, IN, in the summer of 2007.1An Amplified Discussion Outline
John Noē, Ph.D. (© 2007)
Two suppositions are contained in this discussion question:
1) America is being lost.
2) Christians are responsible.
Or are we since . . .
- “Four out of five Americans describe themselves as Christians?
- 45% of us attend worship services on any given weekend?
- The popularity of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life?
- America appears to be bursting its seams with vibrant Christianity.”
And yet . . .
“America’s popular culture, its laws, public education system, news media, entertainment industry, and other major institutions have become progressively un-Christian – even anti-Christian.”
On 4th of July we sang “God Bless America,” while much of America is doing everything it can to sabotage that.
The reason Christians are losing America is . . .
“Christians have been seduced . . . hoodwinked . . . sold a bill of goods . . . are operating under a misguided and simplistic interpretation of scripture . . . . Christianity – the deepest, most meaningful and awe-inspiring religion ever – has been dumbed down . . .”
Consequently . . .
- “only 9% of Christians have a biblical worldview.”
- “‘born-again’ Christian adults in the U.S. think and act virtually the same as non-believers . . . almost no difference.” (recent George Barna study cited)
Whistleblower’s answer to how we’ve been “dumbed down” and how “to turn America around – to take it back – ” is . . .
“Take back your churches . . . [as] the springboard to taking back the culture.” They call for laymen to lead a “new pulpit revolution . . . . Think about it. When was the last time you heard a sermon on:
· A great social issue of our time?
· The last time your church engaged in the political debate?
· How many churches are active in the cultural war?
· How many pastors are leading prayers for . . . our nation’s soul?”
“The churches remain the last, best hope Americans have for bringing about a rebirth of Western Judeo-Christian culture.”
Perhaps, Tony Evans has best captured this dilemma thusly:
“Let me put the problem to you in the form of a question. How can we have all these churches on all these street corners, filled with all these members, led by all these preachers, elders, and deacons . . . and yet still have all this mess in America? Something is wrong somewhere!”
“But when we turn the education of our children over to the state, and the state removes biblical ethics from its curriculum, what you get is the mess we have now.”
– Tony Evans, What a Way to Live! (Nashville, TN.: Word Publishing, 1997), 294, 76.
What do you think?
The Church in Nazi Germany
—Are We Repeating the Mistakes of the Past?—
The Christians in Germany learned only too late that the people of God in Christ cannot disengage from the culture in which they live. We cannot withdraw to the comfortable security of our beautiful sanctuaries and sit in our padded pews while the world all around us goes to hell. For to do so is a betrayal of the Lord whose name we bear and is a denial of the power and efficacy of his Word, the Word that He has given us to proclaim.
In Germany, as here in the United States, one of the most clever tools in the enemy’s arsenal used to silence and intimidate Christians, to drive them out of the public square was the lie of the separation of Church and State. . . .
So Hitler called together the most important preachers in the land . . . . to reassure them, and intimidate them, if he could, to silence their criticism so he could go on with his plans for the country . . . . He told them their state subsides would continue, their tax exemptions were secure, that the church had nothing to fear from a Nazi government.
And finally, one brash young preacher who was there . . . had had enough. He was going to tell the truth even if that truth was not popular. And he pushed his way to the front of the room until he stood eye to eye with the German dictator. And he said, “Herr Hitler, our concern is not for the Church. Jesus Christ will take care of his Church. Our concern is for the soul of our nation.” It was immediately evident that the brash young preacher spoke only for himself, as a chagrined silence fell over that room and his colleagues hustled him away from the front.
Hitler with a natural politician’s instinct saw that reaction and he understood exactly what it meant. And, he smiled as he said to himself almost reflectively, “The soul of Germany, you can leave that to me.” And they did. They kept their religion and their politics strictly separate from one another. And as the innocent were slaughtered and as the nation was led down the path to destruction, they looked the other way and they minded their own business. And their country was destroyed [in twelve short years].
I would submit to you today that we in America find ourselves in a frighteningly similar predicament. Once again, the innocent are being slaughtered in a 26-year holocaust [over 40 million boys and girls] that makes Hitler look like a humanitarian by comparison. Once again, a nation is being led down the path of destruction and, once again, by and large, God’s people are looking the other way.
‘War on Christianity’
Bill O’Reilly – ‘Talking Points’
June 2, 2004 – When the anti-Christian campaign by the ACLU claimed Los Angeles County as another victim in forcing them to take a small cross off its seal, Fox News commentator, Bill O’Reilly, had this to say:
“The harsh truth is that many American Christians don’t care about what is happening . . . . Talking Points wants you to know that we are rapidly losing freedom in America. Judges are overruling the will of the people and fascist organizations like the ACLU are imposing their secular will. And, when was the last time you heard a priest, minister, or rabbi talk about this? For me, the answer is simple. . . . Never! And that’s a memo.”
What do you think?
3 Major ‘Dumbed-Down’ Areas
In this section we will discuss three major areas greatly dumbed-down (i.e., diluted, devalued, diminished) by many church leaders and which have dramatically and negatively conditioned Christians into inaction and against cultural involvement.
Agree/disagree? You may be able to think of more areas.
If you become upset with any of this, first, please ask yourself,
Is it possible that I am a victim of this dumbed-downedness?
#1 – Gospel Reductionism –
Question: “What is the gospel?” For the majority of evangelicals the answer is, “the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
But this is not the gospel Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming, nor that of his central teaching.
Fact is, Jesus did not come into Galilee preaching Jesus. Nor did He come preaching and teaching his death so that when we die we could go to Heaven, or offering a “get-out-of-Hell-free” card.
Jesus preached and taught the gospel of the kingdom (Mark 1:15).
· Dallas Willard terms this kingdom deficiency, "the great omission" in his most recent book by this title and the primary reason "why . . . today's church [is] so weak" in his book, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco, CA.: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), 40f.
· Darrell Guder calls it "reductionism of the gospel" in his book, The Continuing Conversion of the Church (Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 2000), xiiif.
· Robert Lynn laments that “the gospel we proclaim has been shrunk” in his article “Far as the curse is found” in Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint Worldview magazine, Oct. ’06, 14.
Rediscovering the whole gospel—a greater gospel.
“. . . not a sub-biblical gospel that simply rearranges my interior and prepares me for a life beyond this world. Rather, it’s . . . a gospel that is a new way of seeing the world and everything in it.”
– Rev. Robert Lynn, “Worldview Church,” Prison Fellowship, www.breakpoint.org., 6/24/07. 3, 4.
“The Gospel of Christ and His kingdom [is] the centerpiece of our every endeavor.”
– T.M. Moore, “Worldview Weapons,” BreakPoint Worldview
(Oct. 2006): 9.
“the gospel is not how to escape the world; the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world . . . . ‘If he’s not Lord of all, he’s not Lord at all’.”
– N.T. Wright, “Mere Mission,” Christianity Today (Jan. 2007):
“the cultivation of Christlikeness . . . and the transformation of culture . . . . personal holiness and social transformation.”
– Douglas C. Minson, “Religion & Society,” Prison Fellowship, www.breakpoint.org., 6/24/07, 2, 3.
“the gospel is about how the world will be saved from human sin and all that goes with it—human greed, human lust, human pride, human oppression, human hypocrisy and dishonesty, human violence and racism, human chauvinism, human injustice. . . . I believe the gospel of Jesus is that the Kingdom of God is at hand and is open to all . . . . The Kingdom of God integrates . . . personal and social, private and public, secret and visible, spiritual and political, historic and eternal, earth and beyond . . . . could our preoccupation with individual salvation from hell after death distract us from speaking prophetically about injustice in our world today?”
– Brian D. McLaren, The Last Word and the Word after That
(Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.: 2005), 69, 111, 149. 84.
Objection: “But we preach Jesus and the Bible. That’s the same as
preaching the kingdom.”
Response: Jesus did not do it this way in hopes his followers would catch on to the kingdom message indirectly or via osmosis.
“Jesus made careful and appealing use of words to entice His followers to desire the life of beauty they saw in Him . . . . to communicate the values . . . and the truths of the kingdom of God. He never simply assumed that people world ‘get it’ . . . . He knew He world have to use words to teach them well, and teach them well He did.”
– Mark Earley, “A Life of Beauty,” BreakPoint Worldview
(May 2007), 4, 5.
The better and more insightful translation of Matt. 6:33 is:
“But seek first his kingdom and his justice, and all
these things will be given to you as well.”
This closer translation introduces a different understanding of this often-quoted but little-followed verse. That is, every earthly endeavor should be considered kingdom activity—the obvious outworking of “thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
My working definition of the greater and whole biblical gospel is:
The establishment of the everlasting and final form of God’s kingdom on earth and his salvation . . .
(And in this order, because that is how Jesus both proclaimed and accomplished these two distinct but interrelated realities. The Apostle Paul, too—see
Acts 28:31; 19:8; 20:25)
. . . As well as. how we enter into each, receive its blessings, and become obedient to our responsibilities therein.
Problem is, most modern-day Christians are ignorant of or confused as to the timing, nature, and scope of the kingdom.
Moreover, how are we to seek something we don’t understand or really know what it is?
· We’re basically kingdom illiterate.
· Haven’t been raised in a kingdom-oriented tradition.
· Most Christian colleges and seminaries don’t teach it.
· They also lack an effective and sound theology of the kingdom.
· It is foreign territory and, therefore, frightening.
What do you think?
#2 – Fatalistic, False Views of the Future –
The current and dominant worldview in American evangelical-ism is that the world will, and is supposed to, get “worse and worse.”
Produces a “why fight, we’re on the next flight” mentality.
But how does this fatalistic view match up with Isaiah 9:6-7’s description of the future of the messianic kingdom? (It doesn’t.)
“This faulty religious teaching, says John Chalfant, is the only way to explain why so many well-meaning Christians are paralyzed into inaction.” (WB, 17):
“It comprises what is left today of the militant, power-filled, full-dimensional Christian faith of America’s Founders after decades of erosion, watering down and trivializing of God’s action mandates by America’s Abandonment Clergy.”
“Much of the clergy, along with their millions of victimized American Christians following their pastors’ lead, have retreated from the battlefront to the social, non-confrontational, non-controversial reservation [i.e., their church]. They say that Christians should confine their religious activities to politically non-controversial roles and keep their Bibles out of the political process. They also say that based on prophecy these are the ‘last days,’ and any efforts we make to restore righteousness to this nation will be in vain and need not even be undertaken.”
– John W. Chalfant, Abandonment Theology (Winter Park, FL.: America – A Call to Greatness, Inc., 1996, 1999), 5 and 117-118.
“For this type of ‘Christian,’ there’s no need to stand up to evil, because they’re ‘saved by grace, not works’ (despite repeated biblical admonitions that ‘faith without works is dead’). No need to obey God’s commands, because they’re already saved, so why bother? No need to try to help make it a better world, because they’re going to be ‘raptured’ soon and those who remain behind can sort out the mess. Is it any wonder the church–and America–are in such trouble?” (WB, 27)
Why the Moral Majority failed after only twenty years.
Moral Majority Founder, Jerry Falwell, summarized the failure and demise of this activist organization in this manner:
“I see things getting worse and worse and worse. All we’re doing—all we’ve ever been able to do—is to have the church put its thumb in the dike, but it’s inevitable that it’s going to come out. We are supposed to keep it plugged up as long as we can, be a restraining influence. We prevent spoilage . . . . But we’re kidding ourselves if we think there’s any program, any third party . . . or anything we can do to straighten things out right now . . . . these things that we have in the country are beyond repair.”
– From Cal Thomas, Ed Dobson, Blinded by Might (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1999), 276.
The problem of sounding “an uncertain sound”—“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound [i.e., message], who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8). Perhaps, the Moral Majority did not have a sound or strong enough theological foundation that would support the level of activism to which it aspired?
What do you think?
#3 – Life in Heaven
What is eternal life in Heaven really going to be like?
Rarely, if ever, is the doctrine of eternal rewards, loss, and punishments for believers taught or preached. Therefore, “there are countless ‘Christians’ who believe they have a ticket to Heaven, and nothing else really matters.” (WB, 22)
So, why is this biblical teaching rarely if ever taught? Here’s a short, recent, and true story that might shed some light on this omission.
The senior pastor’s sermon that Sunday was on the topic or “Universal Judgment.” Confidently, however, he assured the large congregation that if they are believers in Jesus Christ, they have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about, concerning judgment, because Christ has taken care of it for us.
In a follow-up conversation, I asked this pastor if he was familiar with the doctrine of eternal rewards, loss, and even punishment for believers in Heaven. He said he wasn’t interested. I mentioned that there are twenty or so verses that speak of this and I’d be happy to send them to him. He responded that there are many more verses that speak of God’s grace and love and of setting people free. He would focus on these and not the others, thank you.
No doubt, this pastor is both a victim as well as a perpetrator of a dumbed-down version of Christianity.
These comments from Brian McLaren speak frankly and directly to this area of dumbed-downedness:
“What could be more serious than standing in front of your Creator—the Creator of the universe—and finding out that you had wasted your life, squandered your inheritance, caused others pain and sorrow, worked against the good plans and desires of God? What could be more serious than that? To have to face the real, eternal, unavoidable, absolute, naked truth about yourself, what you’ve done, what you’ve become? . . . . Nothing could be more serious than that . . . . We cannot select out comfortable passages and ignore those that make us uneasy.” – McLaren, The Last Word, 79, 80, 96.
Yet McLaren reminds his readers that he is “not denying salvation by grace . . . . I’m just advocating judgment by works,” and that “being judged isn’t the same as being condemned and that being saved means a lot more than not being judged.”
– Ibid., 138.
What do you think?
So Here We Are . . .
“The compartmentalization and trivialization of Christianity . . . has ushered in a generation of shallow, ineffectual, and invisible Christians . . . . America’s churches have been subverted” (WB, 29)
Consequently, thousands of American evangelical churches are culturally neutralized and comfortable and content with a dumbed-down version of genuine Christianity. Thus, they are committed to:
- presenting a kingdom-deficient gospel
- marketing mediocrity
- laboring in lukewarmness
- and being culturally impotent
In short, according to Jewish secularist Alan Wolfe, Christianity has been “tamed” and “culture has triumphed.” (In his book, The Transformation of American Religion (New York: Free Press, 2003), inside flap, 3.)
“As a result, Christian faith [has] become increasingly personalized, privatized, and marginalized” (McLaren, The Last Word, 169). Even worse, if possible, Christians are not only losing America but we are also losing our kids in droves. And many Christians and churches don’t even want to talk about it.
So who is responsible? We are! And we are not being properly and scripturally led. (A few exceptions do exist.) It seems, that once again, the traditions of men have nullified the Word of God in this area (Mark 7:13; Matt. 15:6).
Our Options: What Can We Do?
1) Nothing . . . business as usual?
2) Brow beat – moral exhortation?
3) More prayer – al a 2 Chron. 7:14? – But it takes more than prayer to meet God’s requirements for national blessing here!
Big problems call for big solutions.
Only one practical and effective way out of this cultural, moral, and spiritual morass.
4) Transformational Imagination – an educational and missional process of enticing, following the model of Jesus’ central teaching and the heart of his earthly ministry.
5 STEPS FOR RESTORING . . .
the preaching, teaching, and practice of the kingdom-of-God worldview (in its fullness) to the Church and to the world.
Step #1 – Unlearning popular misconceptions.
Step #2 – Grounding the kingdom theologically—the timing, nature, and scope of its everlasting form.
Step #3 – Applying the kingdom to today’s world—i.e., the transformation of both self and society.
Step #4 – Confirming why it is so important for every believer to be active and fully involved in advancing God’s kingdom (seeking justice), here and now, on this earth.
Step #5 – Prioritizing this calling as the Church’s TOP, No. #1 agenda, because . . .
· It was for Jesus (Mark 1:15; Matt. 6:33)
· It’s why the Church and Christians are here on this earth
But what do you think?
“The eschatology of abandonment is being succeeded by
an engaging gospel of the kingdom.”
“We Christians cannot continue to avoid knowing what we already know: that something is rotten in the state of our religion.”
“True prophets (those who bring a new word from God to assist in the current process of emergence) are crucified; false prophets (those who promise shortcuts that will cause regression or stagnation) are made rich and famous.”
Brian D. McLaren, a Generous Orthodoxy
(Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 2004),
237, 268, 285.
For More on John Noē’s restoration and unification ministry, and his speaking, teaching, and writing topics, please visit:
New academic journal article
New theological breakthrough article
New book now available
Three theological papers for restoring the kingdom of God worldview
New big-screen Hollywood movie
“9.5 Theses for the Next Reformation”
Information button articles
To order copies of this booklet, contract:
John Noē, Ph.D.
Prophecy Reformation Institute
5236 East 72nd Street
Indianapolis, IN 46250
Ph. # 317-842-3411
 An excerpted transcription from: Laurence White, For Such a Time as This, (Colorado Springs, CO.: Focus on the Family, BR292/22119, 1998, 1999), audio cassette, side 1.