The decline of America is something that all of us see happening around us, and we all have different opinions on why it is happening and how to stop it. The reason why it is happening in my opinion is that Church has failed the country. I hate to say it, but it’s true. The church has simply failed to be the salt and light that we were commanded to be.
It seems that every day our culture hits a new low. We are increasingly living in a world that glorifies almost every kind of sin, and society is simply falling apart because of it. We have a militant effort to get America to accept homosexuality [update: since writing this same-sex marriage has been upheld by the Supreme Court]. Millions of viewers are captivated by a new music video by Nicki Minaj, titled Anaconda, which is nothing more than pornography. As I write this (September 2014), it has been viewed more than 180 million times on Youtube since its release about a month ago. A couple months ago there was liberal outrage over a young woman who hunts big game in Africa and who posts pictures of it on Facebook, yet at the same time liberals praised another young woman for getting an abortion and filming it. In their world, it is bad to hunt animals, but it is a wonderful thing to kill a baby. It is also almost impossible in our society to have an intelligent conversation with anybody. Most people can’t say a single sentence without uttering some kind of obscenity.
It would be an understatement to say that we are living in a time of moral anarchy. We are living in a time very similar to the book of Judges, where Scripture tells us that “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (21:25). Perhaps people in the future will look back on America and say, “In those days America had no king [God]; everyone did as he saw fit.” We live in a society of moral relativism – every person does what is right in their own eyes. And it’s not just the secular culture that is like this. Take a look at the following examples concerning the current state of the church:
- Joel Osteen’s wife, Victoria, recently came out to say that when we worship God, it is not about God, but is instead all about us. When confronted with her blasphemy, she is unrepentant.
- This does not even touch upon the false teaching of her husband, Joel Osteen.
- More and more Christians are supporting homosexuality. Liberal churches are even working hard to convince conservative Christians to accept it.
- There is the widespread belief that God used evolution (see below for more).
- A Christian musician, who has come out in favor for evolution, has also said that Jesus was wrong about Adam, Eve, and Noah. He even says that Jesus may have lied about it.
To make it even worse, a majority of Christian youth are leaving the church behind for other spiritual endeavors such as New Age, Islam, atheism, or a host of other religious beliefs. Two-thirds of all young people in the church will eventually leave. For years, Christian ministers, youth pastors, parents, and others believed that these young Christians lost their faith because of college. However, a recent study has completely contradicted this idea.
Out of all the Christian youth that leave the church and no longer believe the Bible only 10.6% of them had their first doubts about Christianity during college. An astounding 39.8% had their first doubts during middle school and 43.7% had them during high school. The study also showed that students who regularly attended Sunday school are actually more likely to not believe that the entire Bible is true, more likely to defend abortion and premarital sex, more likely to believe God used evolution, and believe other things that contradict Christianity.
What is going on?
I believe that there is a connection between the decline of America and the decline of the Church, and I think that the Church is at least partly to blame for the former. Let me explain why. The fact is that most Christians are simply not engaged with the gospel. Instead, they are more concerned with the culture. Many Christians know more about Peyton Manning or some other professional athlete than they do about the Bible. Most Christians go to church every Sunday and take part in many different kinds of church activities, yet a vast majority of them cannot tell you anything about Scripture. For crying out loud, how many churches even speak about sin anymore? Not very many.
James Patrick Holding, founder of Tekton Education and Apologetics Ministries, gives a good list of the problems that face the Church. First, the Church simply does not teach their congregations the basics of the Christian Faith. Many Christians simply cannot carry on a conversation about the basics of the Christian faith. Most call themselves “Christians” simply because they were born to “Christian” parents.
Second, because of this lack of education, when Christians (especially youth) are questioned about their faith, they are caught “flat-footed.” They do not know how to answer questions that a skeptic will ask. How many Christians can answer questions concerning creation-evolution, supposed lost books of the Bible, the trinity, alleged Bible contradictions, or the authorship of the Bible? What about a question like “Where did the Bible come from?” Many Christians probably do not believe that these things are important, but they are (keep reading).
Third, whenever a Christian asks their pastor, or youth pastor, about these kinds of questions, the pastor or youth pastor typically cannot give a good answer. They will usually say something like “just have faith.” This answer just makes things worse. This is part of the problem with the way things are. So many Christians just answer “just have faith.”
Yes, faith is important, very important in fact. However, Scripture also commands Christians to be able to defend their faith and to always give an answer whenever we are questioned about our beliefs (1 Peter 3:15). Acts 17:2, 17 says that Paul reasoned with those he was giving the gospel to. He didn’t just walk up to people and say, “hey everybody, believe in this dead guy who has rose from the dead.” He reasoned with them from the Scriptures. Later in the chapter (17:11), it is said that the Bereans “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” The Bible even says they were noble because of this.
Fourth, this lack of education also extends out into the public, secular world. Most people, whether Christian or not, do not know how to think logically. A vast majority of people, Christian and secular, will simply go to Google and look at the first thing that they see. There are a lot of good things on the web, but also a lot of bad.
Fifth, because of this lack of education, most people cannot comprehend the simplest defenses of the Christian faith. This makes it very difficult to explain Christianity to anyone who doesn’t understand it or is hostile to what Jesus Christ stands for.
Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, who authored Already Gone, which gave the results of the study on Christian youth that I mentioned earlier, say, “We are one generation away from the evaporation of church as we know it.” This is an extremely sad statement, but it looks more and more true every day. Scholar Daniel Wallace says the same thing:
“Even with the proliferation of Bibles today, Christians are reading their Bibles less and less. I believe the evangelical church has only 50 years of life left…because of marginalization of the Word of God. We need another Reformation! The enemy of the gospel now is not religious hierarchy but moral anarchy, not tradition but entertainment. The enemy of the gospel is Protestantism run amuck; it is an anti-intellectual, anti-knowledge, feel-good faith that has no content and no convictions. Part of the communal repentance that is needed is [repentance] about the text. And even more importantly, there must be [repentance] with regard to Christ our Lord. Just as the Bible has been marginalized, Jesus Christ has been ‘buddy-ized.’ His transcendence and majesty are only winked at, as we turn him into the genie in the bottle, beseeching God for more conveniences, more luxury, less hassle, and a life without worries or lack of comfort. He no longer wears the face that the apostles recognized. … The God we worship today no longer resembles the God of the Bible. Unless we return to him through a reading and digesting of the scriptures—through a commitment to the text, the evangelical church will become irrelevant, useless, dead.”
What can we do to change all of this?
So, how do we solve this? J. P. Holding makes a good “don’t do” list:
- “Taking your church through ‘Purpose Driven Life’ won’t solve this.
- Reading ‘Left Behind’ novels won’t solve this.
- More contemporary music programs, ‘extreme’ skateboard demonstrations and ‘seeker-friendly’ techniques won’t solve this.
- Joel Osteen will DEFINITELY not solve this by his pandering to what are perceived as ‘needs,’ which is really a part of the problem, not the solution. There is a broad failure to distinguish between ‘needs’ and ‘wants.’
- Your average Sunday [school] materials, which strain mightily to make passages like [Isaiah] 42 somehow relevant to the average working person, won’t solve this.
- Building a new church gymnasium won’t solve this.
- Youth programs involving gimmicks and games won’t solve this.
- Passing out tracts won’t solve this.
- Simplifying the sermons even more and not mentioning sin won’t solve this.”
I can add other things to this list. Getting out to vote for a conservative won’t automatically solve this and public, or private, education will not solve this (this includes primary, secondary, and the university). Understand that I am not saying that you should not vote at all or go to school at all. More education, which is something our society pushes constantly, will not solve anything if it is not the right kind of education. A vast majority of Republicans, and Democrats, have no clue what is going on. Ted Cruz or any other conservative does not know how to solve this. Stopping President Obama and his policies on homosexuality, abortion or anything else will not ultimately solve this.
Why? The answer is simple, because all these things are symptoms of the problem. Going after the symptoms does not solve the disease. The disease is a hatred for God (something the Bible calls “sin” – a “bad word” in today’s society) – a disdain for the gospel. It is something that is taught to us every day on TV, in movies, in video games, and at school. Do you really think that going to church once or twice a week will solve this when our youth go to secularized schools five days a week? Do you really think that church is going to counteract what we are watching on TV or playing in video games? Remember that churches barely teach anything about Biblical Christianity.
Why should people behave themselves if we are taught that we are random mistakes formed by evolution (even though evolution contradicts the teachings of Jesus, the nature of God, and the gospel itself)? Why should people follow God if the Church does not give them a reason to do so? Why should individuals believe the Bible when so many Christians do not believe it? The Church has simply failed America. If there are no absolutes (like what Jesus teaches) than why shouldn’t people behave anyway they want?
How do we stop this? Quite simply, Christians need to start acting like Christians. The place to start is education. The public, and most private, schools are not going to do this (and most teachers would not be able to do this anyway), so we need to teach our youth at home and at church. Adults can start by actually studying Scripture and knowing more about it than their favorite NFL or NBA team.
The world is sinful and when the gospel is not presented it is naturally going to love doing what is evil. Only the gospel will save America (and the world). It is the only thing that will defeat the disease of sin.
What do you think? Is the Church to blame for the decline of the United States? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.
 Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, with Todd Hillard. Already Gone (Green Forest, Master Books, 2009). 32, 39.
 Ibid. 25.