Losing our religion

Worldview Item of the Day

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,  just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 1:16-17

The recently published American Religious Identification Survey (.pdf) reports that many American people’s self-identification as being associated with a certain religion has declined significantly since 1990 and 2001. While religious self-identification is not a measure of faith, the survey serves to reinforce an idea that has been anecdotally obvious to faithful people who are paying attention for some time: the number of faithful are declining.

Many people who oppose faith, the practitioners of the atheistic, postmodern dogma that has infected most levels of education, government, and society, will cheer such news. They will claim that the decline in adherence to religion is evidence that their program of forcing our society to evolve is finally working and that we are finally moving toward their vision of a future devoid of God and all of the restrictions a belief in God unnecessarily imposes. They are right that they are succeeding, to the detriment of us all.

As Bradford Wilcox notes at Real Clear Politics, the demise of religion also helps bring about the demise of the institutions that are part of religion (his argument is that big government kills religion), particularly the charity and socialization that gathering together with fellow believers inherently encourages. Without religion, people seek out other ways to fulfill their needs, and often that fulfillment comes from big government. I believe this trend also reduces true individuality by reducing a person’s ability to understand himself as part of a group because he no longer has a connection with a group to which to compare himself.

The most troubling aspect of this decline in religion must be that it means a decline in faith, which means a decline in the things faith brings to an individual.  Faith means the promise of heaven for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their savior. Faith means (should mean) a greater and growing sense of morality, charity, hope, and investment in the well-being of others. Without faith, people have no promise and no reason to do the things that promise will prompt them to do.

Without faith, people have no reason to indulge themselves in their more basic tendencies toward selfishness. Without moral boundaries, the means of fulfilling that selfishness has no real limit. The fraying edges of our own society can be seen in the decline of faith and the rise of the faithless mob.

There is only one answer to this problem, and I fear it is an answer too many Christians flinch away from. The answer is the Gospel, unabridged and unfiltered, that we are all sinners in need of a savior and that Jesus Christ, the carpenter for Nazareth in Galilee, was that savior, who died and rose again to save us and grant us eternal life. We cannot be ashamed of that message, and when we preach it boldy, no force can stand against it.

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