According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Where is Christianity headed? The view from 2019


The global distribution of Christians: Countries colored a darker shade have a
higher proportion of Christians. - Wikipedia | ANALYSIS (19 December 2011). "Table:
Religious Composition by Country, in Percentages". Pewforum.org. Retrieved 17 August2012. 

My world religion class last year pointed out 3 of every 4 immigrants coming into America are persecuted, asylum-seeking Christians. Moreover, the fastest growing churches in America are non-white as they spread Jesus to their cultural segments. Pentecostalism is here to stay - empowering and providing meaningful social transformation. The Nones, Dones and Millennials have declared any spirituality must be actualized, consistent with Jesus' love, and full of good earth care. That many non-growing church congregations are not reaching the youth, have become time-dated capsules of church culture and beliefs, or have Americanized the gospel or bible in someway.

When I started Revelancy22 ten years ago I had to work through all these trends, and as I did I began to realize that my dissatisfaction with Christianity began with many of the issues I was not seeing addressed within my brand of Christianity. At which point I started to re-write a more cohesive gospel narrative which embraced as many factors as required conscious thought and discussion. In essence, I wanted to provide helpful navigational aides to fellow Christians similarly burdened as I.

Though unpopular, ignored, or dismissed I see today the help my-and-other similarly engaged bloggers have provided many during recent troubling times - that Jesus is relevant, His gospel of love and salvation effective, His healing ministry meaningful, His obedient, discerning church socially relevant and engaged, and Spirit-driven hope may be real, inspiring toward ethical action, and overcoming to a secular society full of wind and Jesus-less words. The following survey shows the same as has every previous survey this past decade. Peace.

R.E. Slater
January 16, 2019

* * * * * * * * * *



For 400 years, Christianity has been molded by the largely European culture that came out of the
Enlightenment, but it is recentering its footprint and becoming a non-Western religion. Image
by Bernd Thaller/Creative Commons

Religion News Service

Where is Christianity headed? The view from 2019

by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
January 10, 2019

(RNS) — As 2019 begins, the world is becoming more religious, not less. Faith from diverse traditions grows as population expands throughout most of the Global South. Last year, nearly 50 million more Christians were added in Africa, making it the continent with the most adherents to Christianity in the world, 631 million.

In the U.S., a narrative of religious decline and growing secularism is now culturally popular. The percentage of “nones” — those claiming no religious affiliation — is growing, particularly among millennials. But what are the deeper trends and challenges, beneath the headlines, that are likely to shape the future of faith?

White U.S. congregations are withering. From 1991 to 2014, the number of white Protestants declined by a third, a trend that will continue as they age: Though 20 percent of Americans are 18 to 34 years of age, only 1 in 10 white Protestant congregations reflects that in their attendance. As a result, more than half of U.S. congregations now have fewer than 100 members. Hundreds will close this year.

Where there is growth in American Christian denominations, it is driven mostly by nonwhites, whether Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or mainline. Over the past half-century, 71 percent of growth in Catholicism, for instance, has come from its Hispanic community. In the Assemblies of God, one of the few U.S. denominations to show overall growth, white membership slightly declined while nonwhite membership increased by 43 percent over 10 years.

Multiracial congregations are also expanding to draw 1 in 5 churchgoing Americans, and surveys report a higher level of spiritual vitality among them compared with racially homogeneous congregations.

Globally, thanks to dramatic geographic and demographic changes, Christianity is recentering its footprint and becoming a non-Western religion. For 400 years, the faith has been molded by the largely European culture that came out of the Enlightenment. But today its vitality is coming from emerging expressions of Christianity in Africa as well as in Asia and Latin America.

These new influences are raising new questions about the relationship of the individual to the community, rational versus nonrational pathways to perceiving truth and the interplay of the spiritual and material realms.

As the yearning for authentic spiritual experience moves from the head to the heart in this new environment, spirit-filled communities are flourishing. Today, 1 of 4 Christians in the world identifies as Pentecostal or charismatic, with Pentecostalism growing at roughly four times the rate of the world’s population itself.

The popular image of Pentecostals as television preachers extolling a prosperity gospel and flitting around on private jets obscures the real causes for much of the movement’s explosive growth: small Pentecostal communities among the marginalized in the Global South that are providing empowerment and social transformation.

In wealthy Western countries, a strong spiritual driver is the visible impact of climate change. After centuries of a Western Christian cosmology that empties the material world of spiritual value, care of creation is becoming a foundation of Christian faith and practice, as Pope Francis proclaimed in his prophetic encyclical “Laudato Si’.” Saving the Earth has become a spiritual calling.

But the West, particularly the U.S., has to open its eyes to startling developments in the rest of the world. The “Trump Effect” has undermined the integrity of Christian witness in America in the eyes of the global church. Most non-American church leaders can’t believe the public support given to President Trump by some conservative U.S. church leaders and cannot understand the deafening silence of others.

Trump’s own statements have scandalized the non-Western church, in referring to African nations as “s—hole countries” and in proclaiming an “America first” policy that sounds in many places like a theological heresy that puts the Bible second. American Christianity across all traditions faces the imperative of de-Americanizing its witness if it is to have any global integrity. The world won’t give any credibility to versions of the gospel that baptize American power, wealth and global reach with notions of spiritual blessing, especially under the leadership of Trump.

It is also essential to confront culture wars in the church at home and abroad. The division in the church over ethical understandings of sexuality will persist for decades, since no action of a denominational general conference, synod, assembly or council will change the sexual orientation of its members. While the church in the Global South mostly holds to strong conservative views on this matter, diversity also exists there and will slowly grow.

The key question ahead is whether the core of the gospel is declared to be at stake in these differences over same-gender covenanted partnerships, and divide us, or whether they will be seen as ethical and pastoral challenges that should not undercut the unifying call to follow Christ’s mission in the world.

Meanwhile, “belonging before believing” is reshaping pathways of discipleship. The thirst for authentic community, evident in the appeal of Taize to young people and countless other small initiatives, demonstrates a need to rethink how we welcome others into our faith or tradition. The demand that outsiders first adhere to specific beliefs expressed in creeds or confessions is giving way to inviting them first to explore and share in worship, reflection and service. Eventually this will alter traditional ecclesiology and understandings of discipleship.

If there is a theme in what lies ahead for the church as we enter a new year, it is that the white Western Christian bubble that has powerfully shaped Christianity for the past four centuries is now beginning to burst. Future expressions of Christian faith will be shaped by its interactions with non-Western and nonwhite cultures. This will present challenges to the established church in the U.S. but may hold the keys to its revitalization.

- WGM

(Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, whose latest book is “Future Faith:Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century,” served for 17 years as general secretary of the Reformed Church in America.)