The Pew Research center is saying that the Christian faith is going to become a minority religion if trends continue on their current trajectory. A report released last year revealed those who claim to be Christians to be 63%, down from 75% a decade ago. That is quite a change in just ten years.
While statistics are a valuable tool to show the direction trends are headed in, they are not always helpful in determining the reasons, as in this case, for the decline. And often there is more than one reason; typically, there are many that seem to work in concert to bring about such a change. I think there are at least two influences at work here.
The first, and I think the foremost reason, is according to a recent study by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University a nationwide survey showed that only 37% of Christian pastors have a biblical worldview. Almost two thirds of America’s pastors do not hold to a scriptural perspective of what we should believe and how we should live.
Some do not believe the Bible is infallible and teach a person can go to heaven by being good and do not see Christ’s sacrifice as necessary for salvation. Is it any wonder when the shepherds of God’s flock are misleading “His people and the sheep of His pasture,” Psalm 100:3, that there is a decline among the Christian flock?
I can remember over the years two experiences that cause me to believe there are instances where shepherds are misleading God’s people. I remember a discussion I had with a seminary professor who denied that Jesus fasted for forty days and that He walked on water. He seemed irritated when I told him I would believe the Word of God before giving into his reasoning regarding what the Scriptures taught.
The other experience was a conversation I had with a young man who had recently been ordained into the Gospel ministry. When I congratulated him on being ordained he confessed to me that he did not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, and yet the ordination council and our pastor recommended him to be ordained and did so. I told this young man all they did was ordain an infidel.
These two experiences confirmed to me that heresy can infiltrate the highest level of religious academia, the seminary, and at the local level of the church. This is one reason there is a decline in Christianity in America, failure among the spiritual shepherds to teach biblical truth.
The other reason rests with the “sheep of His pasture.” There has never been a time in the history of the church when the Word of God has been more available in more versions and formats, and yet biblical literacy is at an all time low.
If the members of a local congregation are biblically illiterate, how will they know if a prospective pastoral candidate is biblically literate? How would they recognize a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Paul warned us, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” First Timothy 4:1.
If the Christian faith continues to decline in America the fault will lie with the shepherd and the sheep; abandonment of biblical truth in the pulpit and biblical illiteracy in the pew.