A recent headline from Fox News suggests the unraveling of Christianity. It reads, “Marriage collapse, absent fathers ‘unraveling’ Christianity in growing US crisis.” The subtitle says, “Churchgoers in their 30s who never married ranked the loneliest group in new survey.” There’s a lot to unpack in this headline but my first response as a pastor is, “duh.” I’m in my 40th year of ministry, so I’ve had a front row seat to much of what research is revealing. First, Christianity is not unraveling. If anything, genuine Christianity is being revealed.
There’s a huge difference between a professing Christian and a practicing Christian—someone with a biblical worldview and a desire to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. True believers are known by their righteous behavior and obedience to the Father’s will. It’s one thing to claim to know Jesus; but it’s another thing to be known by Jesus.
Jesus said, “So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:20–23).
The Root Causes
I don’t doubt the validity of the research or the magnitude of the problem. But what I find interesting is that Communio, the organization that did the research, and its president, JP De Gance, assert that the Church needs to do more to promote the value of marriage and the sanctity of the bedroom. I don’t think Mr. De Gance grasps the root causes of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
For instance, many churches and their leaders have abandoned the authority of Scripture. A recent Barna study found that 62% of Christian pastors don’t possess a strictly biblical worldview, but hold to a syncretistic (hybrid) worldview. These pastors may prefer sexual purity and traditional marriage but they’re slow to promote the exclusivity of this lifestyle based on biblical authority. Instead, they lean toward being culturally relevant.
The Inevitable Consequences
The crisis described in the Fox News article is simply a consequence. It’s the result of churches being driven more by the number of people who attend their services and finance their buildings than by the nature of Christ. Jesus wants His Church to be distinctive from the world in both belief and behavior.
So, what’s being touted as the unraveling of Christianity is just the wood, hay, and stubble of a cross-less, bloodless, and godless religion that is more about form than Holy Spirit power. That’s why I hold to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. I’ve found that preaching absolute truth—in the spirit of grace, love, and holiness—actually attracts people. Even many lost people recognize the futility of the shameless sexual free-for-all our culture promotes.
The Authentic Church
The authentic Church—the bride of Christ—is not collapsing or unraveling. She is collecting and preparing to be called up and caught up. This church is not known by the crowd she draws but by the crown she serves. And Hell has no answer for THIS church.