Today’s guest post from Jeremiah (not that Jeremiah), is a case study on churches that try to accommodate the world for a little popularity, but inevitably collapse instead. Go woke, get broke. As he says

struggling to be accepted of the world and to gain the praise of man, is not only the opposite of what Christ taught, it also doesn’t work!


Knightwick - church for sale © Peter Whatley :: Geograph Britain and Ireland

What Profiteth It a Man if He Gain Nothing


by Jeremiah


Many people, including even some Christians, have increasingly latched on to an incorrect view of what it actually means to be Christian. As I pointed out in a previous post in this space, for many people being “Christian” is synonymous with being infinitely tolerant. This is a heresy and a particularly pernicious one at that. To begin with, as I pointed out in that previous post it completely undermines the principle of repentance. If all behaviors are accepted what need is there for any change of behavior? But beyond that this ideology has the effect of destroying the authority of any church which adopts it. Eating it from within so to speak. As evidence for this effect we need merely examine what has taken place in the many protestant denominations who have adopted this policy of vastly increased tolerance.

While this tolerance covers all manner of sins, it’s most apparent with respect to what’s currently known as LGBT rights. Ideally, at this point, I would love to be able to direct your attention to a graph showing memberships in various Christian denominations with obvious decreases among those exercising the most tolerance. For example blessing same-sex unions, ordaining married gay preachers and otherwise embracing everything an LGBT advocate might request. Unfortunately it would be difficult if not impossible to compile this graph. There are very few denominations who are as unified and as scrupulous as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at least when it comes to tracking and making available membership numbers. However in the absence of a broad survey of many denominations we can at least examine one which was an early adopter of this sort of tolerance, the Anglicans/Episcopalians. From a 2008 Pew Report:


When leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion gather in Canterbury, England, in mid-July for their decennial Lambeth Conference, they will deliberate over the future of a church that is experiencing deep, and perhaps irreconcilable, internal conflicts. Already, about a third of the 38 Anglican primates, or regional leaders, have announced that they are boycotting the conference to register their opposition to the sanctioning of gay unions and the ordination to the priesthood of non-celibate gays and lesbians. In addition, theologically conservative Anglicans have organized a separate summit, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), to be held in Jerusalem the week of June 22nd. It is expected to draw around 1,200 senior church leaders (including some 300 bishops) from provinces that represent nearly half of the world’s roughly 80 million Anglicans.


You may argue that this was 10 years ago, and in any case it doesn’t say anything about the number of adherents. I’ll get to that in a second, but I wanted to illustrate what I meant by being eaten from within. As an interesting side note since that time Africa has been sending “reverse missionaries” to the United Kingdom in an attempt to bring Christianity “back”. Also, in case you’re curious, the first Lambeth Conference since 2008 is scheduled for next year, and it looks like it will be even more contentious than the last one.


But the key question is how has this affected the adherents? It’s one thing for the leadership to be at odds, but ultimately a church’s strength comes from the ordinary men and women who attend church. What’s happening there? From a 2017 article in the Guardian:


The Church of England is facing a catastrophic fall in the proportion of young adults who describe themselves as Anglican as data shows an acceleration towards a secular society.

For the first time, more than half the population say they have no religion, and the generation gap on religious affiliation is widening, according to the British Social Attitudes survey.


Only 3% of adults under 24 describe themselves as Anglican – fewer than the 5% who identify as Catholic. Almost three out of four 18- to 24-year-olds say they have no religion, a rise of nine percentage points since 2015.


Among the next age group, 25-34, only 5% identify as Anglicans and 9% say they are Catholic. The presence in the UK of young European workers may be a factor in the relatively high proportion of young Catholics.


Among all adults in Britain, only 15% consider themselves to be Anglican, compared with almost one in three at the turn of the century, according to BSA data. Nine percent overall identify as Catholics, 17% as “other Christian” and 6% say they belong to non-Christian religions.


Several things jump out from this article:


First, from 2000 to 2017 the number of Anglicans in the UK dropped by more than half. That’s an almost unimaginably rapid decline.


Second, note that the people who care the most about tolerance, the people for whom the Church of England is presumably doing all of this, young people, have not responded at all to these efforts. If anything they seem to be falling away faster, as illustrated by the next point.


Third, despite it being essentially the state religion, the Anglicans are outnumbered in England by the Catholics, who it should be noted, are not nearly as tolerant on these issues as the Anglicans.


I understand the appeal of tolerance, it’s easy, people celebrate you for it, and you’ll never get called a transphobe. (Actually that’s not true, almost no one is safe from that accusation.) But all of these qualities just end up putting it squarely on the same side as essentially all sins. I understand it’s harder call out sin for what it is. And I know that it can hurt your feelings to be called a bigot.  But struggling to be accepted of the world and to gain the praise of man, is not only the opposite of what Christ taught, it also doesn’t work!

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