For some time I’ve been thinking about writing an article about the state of the Christian faith in America. Especially since the Republicans have been defiling the air waves with their negative attitudes about the sorry condition of our government.
I feel qualified to voice my views based on practical experience and academic observations. I have been an ordained minister since 1952-64 years-and a graduate of two Seminaries, with a Master’s degree and a Rel. Doctor of Religion.
I have pastored four Nazarene churches, three Methodist churches and two Congregational churches. The last church was Congregational where I was the minister for twenty two years.
I have studied extensively the history of the Trump family, from Donald’s grandfather, through his father and to Donald and his three wives and five children.
There is no evidence of a significant Christian influence in any of their genealogies. Donald’s ignorance of the Bible is reflected in his reference to Second Corinthians as the “two Corinthians.” Trump brags that he’s never smoked, used alcohol or drugs. But so did Hitler. His filthy and profane language does not enhance any Christian profession.
The Republicans and Democrats can battle over their political differences, but my focus is the State of Christianity in the United States today.
In my opinion the Christian faith is stronger today, in every respect, than it has ever been since the founding of our nation in 1776.
In the dawn of the 1900’s there was a great revival spirit that stimulated several new denominations. The Nazarene Church, Free Methodists, Pilgrim Holiness, Wesleyan Methodist, Church of God, Four Square, Christian Missionary Alliance, Assembly of God, Mormons, Jehovah Witness, Seventh Day Adventists among others. Outstanding preachers like Dwight L Moody, Billy Sunday, Amie Semple McPherson, C.H. Morrison, and Buddy Robinson swept the country.
The 30’s, 40’s and 50’s saw the birth of several new Seminaries and the influence of men like Harry Emerson Fosdick. Liberalism became a companion to Fundamentalism. Christianity really flourished.
A great change came about in Christianity that is seldom recognized. In my mind, tolerance is number one. Mainly between Catholics and Protestants. Intolerance was prevalent until it began to diminish during World War II. It is evident only in extreme denominations. Religious tolerance has followed social tolerance.The Civil Rights movement has also affected religious intolerance.
What about today? While many of the mainline churches are declining in membership, others are filling the void. For instance, consider the Inland Empire. I have visited several churches with thousands of members, each. The Emmanuel Baptist, the Rock Church, the Way Church, the Ecclesia Church, the Packing House Church. They each have dynamic ministers, exciting programs and stimulating music programs. They are all growing.
The Christian influence is booming beyond the local confines. I know of three churches that have over 30,000 members and still growing. In Houston, Texas, Joel Osteen’s church is huge. He’s on television and radio. Rick Warren’s church is another one in Southern California. A Methodist church outside of Kansas City has well over 20,000 members.
Among the fastest growing Christian Churches are the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Assembly of God and the Seventh Adventist Churches. Ever since Pope Francis became Pope, there has been a renewal among Catholic Churches.
He is the complement to Catholics what Billy Graham was to Protestants. His views have radically changed many centuries old traditions.
His life prior to the priesthood was not traditional. He was a world class tango dancer and a bouncer in a bar. He even admits that he had several girlfriends. Stella and I have even been attending the local Catholic Church
My overall viewpoint of Christianity in America is very positive. I am reminded of Scripture that says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Atheism and agnosticism cannot compete with Christianity. They are sterile. Christianity is alive and well.
Amen. Selah. So be it.