Every year, we seek to assess the happenings of the past year, and then try to extrapolate some conclusions. It seems like a good thing to do. I was reading a little bit about “The State of Christianity.” This is a tough one. I’m not sure what I learned.
For one thing, I’m pretty sure that “The State of Christ” and “The State of Christianity” are two very different things. Christ is doing well. His first mission was a success. He was born, lived, and died, according to divine plan. The devil was defeated. Redemption was accomplished. Sinners are being saved and sins are being forgiven. Jesus is ascended and glorified in heaven, at the right hand of the Father. He is preparing a place for His followers, and, when ready, according to plan, He will return to gather these to Himself and render judgment and exercise justice in a kingdom in which there will be no sin or evil. The State of Christ is excellent!
Christianity, - we’re not really sure what that even is. The Bible admits that followers of Jesus were called Christians, and though it most likely was not intended as a compliment, it fits. But the Bible doesn’t speak of Christianity as an abstract concept. It speaks of believers, and the churches in which they gather. Without a Biblical faith in Christ; and without churches in which these Christians gather, there is no Christianity. The Bible acknowledges no such thing as a Christian radio station, or a Christian camp, or a Christian nation. Just believers, and their assemblies, doing what they do.
So when an assessment on “The State of Christianity” speaks of the growing trend among younger generations to pursue Christianity without theology and apart from church, they must be talking about something different than I know. It seems that they are reaching into the realm of subjective experience, undistracted by the hard edges of beliefs defined as doctrines, and safely separated from having to deal with older generations whose convictions are born out of painful battles. This sounds like youth group - which may or may not be good for youth. But if you are 30 or 40 and still in youth group, something is amiss.
G.K. Chesterton is famously quoted: ‘The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.’ The State of Christianity will be just fine as believers actually believe, and as churches work hard at making disciples.