Viewpoint: In the War Over Christianity, Orthodoxy Is Winning

In an age of secularization, religious traditionalism is surprisingly resilient

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Small wonder, given the harrowing times recently, that news about a long-running property fight over a picturesque church in northern Virginia escaped most people’s notice. But the story of the struggle over the historic Falls Church is nonetheless worth a closer look. It’s one more telling example of a little-acknowledged truth: though religious traditionalism may be losing today’s political and legal battles, it remains poised to win the wider war over what Christianity will look like tomorrow.

On April 18, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld an earlier court decision that a breakaway Episcopalian congregation (now called the Falls Church Anglicans) did not have rights to the historic church there. Instead, the court ruled, the property belongs to the same mainline denomination — the Episcopal Church — that the Falls Church Anglicans had voted to leave in 2006. What’s striking here is not so much the legal outcome, for earlier cases involving other breakaway congregations had also ended without any clear advantage to the rebels. It’s that this episode is exquisitely emblematic of today’s Christian moment.

First, there’s the fact of why the split occurred. Once upon a time, schism was the stuff of doctrinal issues — disputes over the sacraments, or grace vs. good works, or the theological like. Not anymore. The Falls Church dispute concerned something that neither Martin Luther nor John Calvin could have seen coming: sex. In particular, it was the elevation in 2003 of an openly gay bishop that was the last straw in what Falls Church traditionalists and others like them believe to be a rewriting of the Judeo-Christian rule book. So they broke away to become the Falls Church Anglicans, and they lost their real estate in the process.

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But their objections are being heard ’round the religious world, not just in the global Anglican community but also the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and other mainline Protestant churches. The sexual revolution has accomplished what even the fractious Reformation could not. It has divided Protestantism so deeply that traditionalist Anglicans now have more in common with traditionalist Lutherans or even Roman Catholics, say, than with the reformers in their own denominations. And as the proliferation of stricter Anglican churches of Africa go to show, this traditionalism has gone global.

A second fact embedded in this story also has worldwide repercussions. That traditionalist breakaway congregation in Virginia is larger than the one on the legally winning side — as in, much. Membership on the “losing” side, by one estimate, includes some 2,000 souls, as opposed to some 174 in the congregation moving in. And though exact numbers may not always be available, the larger trend is clear: this numerical division between traditionalists and reformers is also seen around the world. It’s the stricter Christian churches that typically have stronger and more vibrant congregations — as has been documented at least since Dean M. Kelley’s 1996 book, Why Conservative Churches Are Growing.

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So, for example, the reform-minded Church of England has closed over 1,000 churches since 1980, with some later becoming discos, spas and mosques. The traditionalist Anglican churches of the Global South, on the other hand, are packed to overflowing and still growing fast. Within the Catholic Church, similarly, the most vibrant renewal movements — Comunione e Liberazione, Opus Dei, Juventutem — are also the most orthodox. Meanwhile, African missionaries from both Protestant and Catholic churches are being dispatched to the West in record numbers — in effect, re-evangelizing the very peoples who carried the cross to men and women of the subcontinent in the first place.

One explanation for the resiliency of religious traditionalism in an age of secularization is demographic. As Jonathan Last shows in his recent book What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, if enough people over time decide not to be fruitful and multiply, eventually their churches will disappear. That’s because secular people have far fewer children than do believers. The flip side of that observation is equally suggestive. In the future, it is the believers of all faiths whose children will appear disproportionately in an otherwise increasingly childless world, as political scientist Eric Kaufmann showed in his 2011 book, Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?

As changing views on gay marriage, among others, go to show, secularization marches on. Traditionalists may be on the losing end of historic real estate, at least for now, as well as booed out of the public square for their views on sex. Down the road, though, they still look to possess something else critical — a growing congregation without which every church, after all, is just a bed and breakfast waiting to happen.

40 comments
JohnNatashaGordon
JohnNatashaGordon

Well, interesting article and a rather offensive use of the word Orthodox.  In a true Orthodox Church, we rarely ever speak of politics as it is not the place for such discussions.  Not that we are by any means perfect or insulated from the effects of sin on our members, clergy and hiearchs.  Better yet, we are required to be humble, nonjudgmental and loving of our neighbor.  I guess I should clarify that I am a member of a Parish of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org).  We do not evangelize for the most part as true Orthodoxy is too difficult for most to follow.  That is, if you try to be a true Orthodox Christian and actually follow the rules.  Funny thing is, we are seeing more and more converts all the time and many other Orthodox jurisdictions are seeing the same.  Yes, we have a 2x4 in our eye when it comes to unity as well.  But, not when it comes to tradition.  For many of our ethnic members, that is why they come.  For converts, it is because our Divine Liturgy has remained virtually unchanged since the 6th century.  So, why do people come when they know we have strict fasts, prayer rules and what the modern world would label archaic practices?  Tradition.  So, I feel like wearing Russian peasant clothes and calling myself Teviah about now.  Those who seek Christianity for more than just status soon find that there is far more to it if you have the courage to dig, or better, knock on the door.  I pray for all those who are not able to see their faith for what it really is and even more for those of you who are not Christians and judge us who are trying to follow the rules and do the right thing as lumped in with, well, to put it in the words of Harvey Cox, Christian Fascists.


So, if you are going to call something or someone, Orthodox, please get the nomenclature straight.  Please take a minute and read something about the Orthodox faith and its tenets.  We are in estimates of 250-350 million of your fellow humans here on Earth.  And, we pray for "All Mankind" in all of our liturgies.  If you pray, please remember me in your prayers.  If you don't and are of another faith or an atheist, please know we do not hate or judge you, but love you as a neighbor.  In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, please forgive me my sins against you.  

somervillechangeling
somervillechangeling

 My biggest problem is that I'm morally conservative (i.e. marriage as first described in Genesis 2:24 is marriage in God's covenants whether noachide, Jewish or Christian and all others are just secular counterfeits); but I'm fiscally progressive. 


I don't like mega churches and prefer my rock to be classic and not Christian (I prefer traditional music in church). As a Jewish Christian, I prefer shul to church but can't attend shul as I believe in Jesus and am not welcomed like the Jewish atheists or Jewish Buddhists. I don't like tea party politics and was horrified when Evangelical Christian coworkers could support either Texas separatism or quote from that public adulterer and worshiper of Mammon Ayn Rand right after telling me what book their men's group read in church.

Satan has his hooks in the liberal churches for sure, but he also has his hooks in the politics of the conservative churches and I'd rather worship Christ, who is the Savior of the world, but especially of those who believe, in the quiet of my own home than in a self absorbed country club atmosphere of the Evangelical subculture.

I'd opt for a conservative Anglican church if there was one near me, because I like very old services over today's church marketing, but all the ones around here are into supporting sexual libertinism as a civil right. The secular world thinks it has history on it's side, but traditional Jews and Christians have eternity on our side and I know how history will turn out (it's in the Bible, albeit described somewhat symbolically).

lazarus00000
lazarus00000

There are other players in this discussion that always seems to be ignored even though the world is wondering why. History supports the idea that Judea was incorporated into the Christian Religion as a matter of maintaing a strong base of control over a population which is the end run/ ultimate goals of all religions.

The dead sea scrolls galvinized the idea that "Scripture "  was edited and filtered by the powerful religions that were vying for power during the first millineum. The History of the Early Christians is the key to understanding the nature of the true Christ and his followers. A notable author has written many books on the subject named Geza Vermes who explains the evolution of the new religion and who were the first Christians.

The conflict over the "One True Religion" has been a deadly contest throughout history as genocide was the goal. The two completed acts of genocide seems to be; one- the Essenes who are said to have dissappeared around the 70 ad (a time of revolution within the Hebrew Community).. The second genocide was performed around the 13th century AD where the Cathars were all killed by the Roman Catholic Church. It took 112 years and 19 Popes to accomplish the task. as the supporters of the pope tortured and then burned thousands of people on the fires(of Hell)?

Oh and lets not forget the reformation where King James assumed the power of God on Earth from the Pope's "Divine Infallibility" where the new religious leader murdered catholics and infadels by the busshel.

The one unifying item in history that brings them all together is that the sinners, heretics, blastphemers, and Pagans were all killed by the believers of the "One true God"

There has literally been hundreds of these purges throughout history, but religion still claims control of mankind and I wonder why? I feel that humanity does not need to fear God...but fear the true believers that would kill in god's name.

Jesus was traded for an agenda as his true teachings were forgotten.

Lazarus

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

Gay, lesbian marriages  singles  and planned parenthood have led to the decline in traditional Christian population in western countries and that is the main reason for empty churches.While traditional Christianity is declining in the West due to decline in population, it is compensated with the blooming of Christianity in incredible ways in Africa and Asia. .There has been a population explosion of Christians in African countries and South Korea. Even in Communist China, house churches are springing up almost every month. In Hindu India, in spite of persecution, Christian population is increasing beyond one's imagination.So, in the war over Christianity, Christianity is winning in other parts of the world. 

Pista
Pista

One gets the feeling this Lame Stream democrat-with-a-by-line drive-by "journalist" ("LSd-w-a-b-ld-bj") was holding her nose and typing this ridiculous piece at arm's length.  As a fairly typical LSd-w-a-b-ld-bj she of course missed the main point, which is that gay-ordaining, Bible-dismissing anti-orthodoxy "reform oriented" (huh???) churches as described by Ms. "journalist" are out of alignment with truth and reality, which is why they are in demographic decline, while "traditionalists" are in harmony with truth and reality which is why people are attracted to them.  


--

"Progress and Development?  I have seen them both in an egg.  We call it 'Going Bad'..."  

tjh1701
tjh1701

I cam think of a rationale for Falls Church Anglican having to turn the property over to the Episcopal Church. But I can't think of any that wouldn't also require the Episcopal Church to turn right around and hand it over to the Church of England.

DanielMorris71
DanielMorris71

Anyone can receive an honorary doctorate for just a $69 donation to a California institute called LADC Institute

LeticiaVelasquez
LeticiaVelasquez

One sultry summer afternoon my family and the large family of orthodox Catholic friends were enjoying the Bronx Zoo. A sudden downpour emptied the Zoo of all but a few people. Those who emerged after the storm were my Catholic friends with nine children, a Muslim family with  seven and an Orthodox Jewish family with eight. I thought that, in a few years, this is what the entire world will look like, just devout people who understand that children are a blessing from God. 

cross_gen
cross_gen

Wait. Didn't the anglican first breakaway from the Roman church over divorce? I'm not sure that that was an issue of orthodoxy.

MarkLamprecht
MarkLamprecht

Too many churches are starting to affirm everything but the gospel.

GelinLooi
GelinLooi

So she is saying that bronze age tribalism and provincialism is winning because it encourages fanaticism and close-mindedness and this is supposed to be a good thing? All the more reason to end this archaic cult masquerading as a force of good when it is really concern about numbers and power.

DBritt
DBritt

Several of the comments below are right on.  The author draws specious conclusions from several correlations that aren't very well explored.  The assertion that orthodox people have more children is a good example.  When people move to cities, on average they become less orthodox and have fewer children.  However, it is my understanding that even the people who remain religious have fewer children than their rural counterparts.  The urbanization is the most important factor in determining family size.  And as the world is urbanizing incredibly fast, recently passing the 50 % mark, the demographics are strongly in favor of the secular.

NoorAlam
NoorAlam

to dcchittagong

to Shirin, Roksana, me

Dear
Ms Mony,

Following your request, we have verified your file within the ICRC. We found an
application form filled in by your mother Jamila Khatoon with number B/10914.
However, there are no documents or photos of the repatriation as such. It is
suggested that the ICRC might not have been involved in the repatriation of
your family in 1982, because these activities in Bangladesh were stopped in April
1978.

We therefore forwarded your request to the Bangladeshi Red Crescent Society,
BDRCS, to verify from their side.

Please could you confirm to us which photos you are looking for. Is it a photo
of the group that was repatriated?

Thank you in advance.

Best regards,

Naile Busemann

Polyvalente Delegate

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

House 72, Road 18, Block J

Banani, Dhaka 1213, Bangladesh

Tel: +88 02 8837461,
Fax: +88 02 8837462

www.icrc.org/bd

NoorAlam
NoorAlam

Honorable Minister

Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP

Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief  


Sub;- our Documents messing I.C.R.C. Reg.no,B10914
Sarddar Bahadur School Camp Pahartali
Bangladesh , Urdu-speaking Biharis REGISTRSTATION NO.B10914 DF DATE.17/10/1982 KARACHI PAKISTAN FORM TO BE FILLED IN DUPLICATEBY REPATRIATES FROM BANGLADESH. To Pakistan,
Date 15/10/1982 camping at Chittagong Bangladesh and 16/10/1982 move Dhaka and 17/10/1982 REPATRIATES FROM
BANGLADESH. To Pakistan,
My Group photo missing pleas to you record is if pleas kindly my help me
I hope Really help group photo Fernds and back said Scan copy send
Thanks
Yours
Miss mony d/o mother name Jamila khatoon
MY E-MAIL nooralam469@gmail.com nooralam469@hotmail.com
Post addres
Miss mony
C/o nooralam
House L-97 Sector 5/c-4
North Karachi
Karachi 75850–pakistan

NoorAlam
NoorAlam

A rare picture of the long march when a hundred thousand stranded Pakistanis attempted to walk across India to Pakistan.
In that way, according Husnain, the missionaries have managed to lure eight thousand children from Mohammadpur camps to their missions over the past five years. Once at the mission the children are put to work making crafts and other things to sell to raise money. What education they do receive is Christian indoctrination.

As for World Vision, it apparently uses the camps to make films used in fundraising for the organization. None of the millions of dollars World Vision raises with those heart-wrenching documentaries ever benefits the Bihari camps.

With the Urdu language banned country wide, only in our schools can they still learn Urdu. But they come also because their children actually score higher in the examinations when they go through our school.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

Given this woman's political background, and what's happening in the Republican party (which is not only NOT going to change any policies, but is going to go even MORE conservative) this "analysis" doesn't surprise me at all.  It's the beginning of another schism between U.S. Christians for whom engaging in "war" (be it violent or non violent) is somehow a good thing and whose who actually live by the word of Christ.  The more orthodox a person's beliefs, the more comfortable with violence they tend to be.  This mirrors the findings about conservatives in general in that they tend to be less reactive to violent imagery and when making decisions, tend to think with the more primitive "fight or flight" part of the brain than others do.

In every falling mythology, the "hard core" gets harder, becomes marginalized and eventually merely a curiosity - like Quakers (With whom I have no beef because they keep to themselves).

We live in a democracy where minorities don't get much of a stage unless they have positive, affirming messages or are seeking things that are in keeping with the goals and ideals of the country as a whole.  The more conservative a message, the less tolerated it is among the majority of people, which means those promoting that message receive less and less of a political voice.  When the GOP's strategy back in the 1980's was to marry their social agenda smokescreen (used to divert attention away from the fact that they're no more fiscally responsible than the Democrats are, and possibly less) to religion, they made a politically fatal mistake.  They changed political discussion into religious dogma to the point where they can no longer be "moderate" (which is to say use their own judgement on issues) without being labeled a heretic and exorcised from the church the GOP has become.

But what's happening is that this marriage to "Christianity" (Quotes used because most GOP'ers who profess to be Christians, from their words and actions,  have never actually read their bibles or what their Prophet said because they are used to being told what to think by their spiritual and political leaders) is speeding up the marginalization of orthodox Christianity and it's eventual extinction as a practiced mythology. Kicking out people from any organization, be it religious or political, in a democracy is merely slow suicide.  The more out of step with the times these folks are, the faster the death of their faith as practiced in society as a whole.

The truly sad part is like the GOP, this woman thinks that by retreating to the Bronze Age, they'll gain followers.  She apparently doesn't seem to realize that Christians are realizing that you don't NEED churches to be a good Christian.  And she doesn't see that people are realizing that you don't NEED to be a Christian (or any other religion) to be a good person.  Like the GOP, she can't conceive of anyone rejecting her concept of realit.  She, like her political bedmates, seems to believe that if that's all that's left, people will be forced to embrace it instead of simply walking away from it.  The either/or fallacy expressed here is mind-bogglingly vast, in essence saying "You'll either be an orthodox Christian or you won't be anything!"  Much like the GOP is saying, "You'll either support everything we stand for or you're out!"  In a free country, there are other options.  And when there are two choices no one likes, they stay home (which is what happened in the 2012 election and why the GOP was so certain of victory - they didn't get 10 million votes they had counted on because those white, middle-class, center-right voter put up their middle finger to both sides and didn't vote for either).

Overall, I applaud the idea here, but what this woman, and the GOP, fail to realize is that other parties and mythologies will replace the one that went radically right.  The majority of "Christians" (So quoted because they actually DID read their bible and know what their prophet told them) will go on believing in tolerance, peace and understanding.  The GOP will become as marginalized as the Green Party and the orthodox Christians (all of whom will have to be Republicans because that's the way they've married their fortunes together) will be merely curiosities one passes in the streets on rare occasions.  Maybe both religions will call themselves "Christians", but it's more likely that those who really follow the word of Christ will actually earn that name in the end, leaving the others to be called "Catholic" or "Protestant" or some name other than "Christian".  I think "Shaker" is available now. But by any other name, they've signed their faith's death warrant.  And this woman doesn't have the capacity to understand that.

oldwhiteguy
oldwhiteguy

Forget the chicken and the egg, this is more like the hen house and the a dozen grade A large.  There are all kinds of ways to say this caused that, but then that caused this which results in what?  To me, the bottom line is: the world is changing in an often-fear inducing way.  To deal with it, people can go in one of two directions, either to the "easy" answers of traditional religion or they can step off the pier and learn to swim. As wandmdave points out, the world is becoming more agnostic.  You can believe in God the Father, but if that's the case, there comes a time when the children have to grow up and figure it out for themselves.

wandmdave
wandmdave

I can't see how the analysis above is the only factor in how these populations grow.  This isn't the first time there have been religious revivals either here in the US or abroad and yet the first world has steadily become more and more agnostic or at the very least secular.

My guess is that the split pulls away a decent chunk of a congregation and what is left is more strict and therefore its standards to accept new people raise as well.  This slows or halts it conversion rate of new followers and so they never replace those that left or were purged in the first place.

FrankLangholf
FrankLangholf

The dynamic of the strength of traditional Christianity within the churches in the US and in the Global south invites a number of questions.  Is it surprising that Christians who are active in their congregations find meaning and connection with God from their traditional practices, theology, and values?  However, are others being drawn to the Christian faith who are not already Christian?   Why is that Christianity is growing in the Global south, especially in Sub-Sahara Africa, yet has not shown tremendous strength in Asia such as India, China, and Japan? As has been pointed out by others Traditional approaches to all religions are strong among those who practice the faith.  I think that is too simplistic to assert as the author seems that the future of Christianity lies with traditionalism.    The question is if Christian will be able to draw those who yearn for an encounter with the divine, but are not currently affiliated, especially those without a Christian memory?

I think the reference to demographics... nontraditionalist are not having enough children... seems to be a tangent to the argument being made.  Reminds me of story of a pastor of a rural church whose members were bemoaning the decline in members.  The pastor pointed out that they had significant few children than 7-10 their grandparents had.  The problem therefore is not evangelism but birth rates.  Christians just need grow more of their own.  It says the little of the power of Christianity to provide a convincing meta-narrative, or an significant encounter with God to those who are  not already within the fold.

centralpa182
centralpa182

The Church of England (Anglican and, in America, Episcopalian) had their beginnings in arguments over sex. Very simply, Henry VIII wanted a son and heir, his wife couldn't give him one, so he wanted a divorce. The Pope said "no;" and Henry said, "Hey I'm the King, I'll just make my own religion." And so it went. Henry went on to have lots of sex with lots of women, many of whom he beheaded. Now, if that's not "deviant," I don't know what is.

jstewart57
jstewart57

I just read the other day that it was during the Reformation that the Catholic Church doubled down and finally said that during communion that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus.  This had not been doctrine.  So, the traditionalists do tend to become more conservative when they are threatened.  It is as though the pressure purifies them.

piki
piki

Perhaps all types of orthodoxy are on the rise. Orthodoxy allows for a mindset of 'common cause', 'belonging', an 'all for one' approach that offers some stability to a marginalized life. Orthodoxy also mandates behavioral patterns that members can monitor, further reinforcing commitment and solidarity. AND all of this for God....who might, if the dance is performed exactly right, save that life.

I am inclined to think that increasing population, food shortages, job shortages, callousness in fact the things that drive fear and hopelessness around the world all come together to push the unrest that conceives Orthodoxy.

The Christian scene in the USA is only part of a wider movement.

Orthodoxy is confrontational by nature and it doesn't take a genious to predict where this could take the world.

msteel271
msteel271

If the religious shall inherit the earth, why is secularism growing?  Why are more and more people claiming themselves as "unaffiliated" to any religion?  It's understandable why fundamental and orthodox sects are able to gain more members (as moderate believers are just as likely to avoid church in the first place), but I think that's a case of winning the battle but losing the war.  Ultimately this is just one more thing that is sharpening the divide between people.

Desi_Erasmus
Desi_Erasmus

@somervillechangeling    Worship is not about you.  Believers enter heaven together, in Christ.  Those who do not enter His rest (and thus do not become known by Him) stagger off to hell alone, nursing their preferences, animosities, and  pejorative classifications. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1Cor%2011:29-30,matthew%207:21-23,%20hebrews%204,%20John%206:41-71,%201%20Cor%2012:12-31&version=ESV


somervillechangeling
somervillechangeling

@lazarus00000  

The claim that religion is just social control is rather outdated 19th century mishegoss. Religion is not perfect. God does not really command religion, but God commanded Biblical morality, Biblical social justice, Biblical business ethics and God required ritual commandments of Jews to keep them separate from the pagan cultures around them.What God does command is that we seek justice and walk humbly with Him; loving our neighbor as ourselves and never adulterating our relationship with our spouse or our relationship with God.


The secular world has the morality Peter Singer; the social justice of the latest cause with the attendant hatred towards anyone who disagrees, particularly traditional Jews or Christian  Bible believers, and the business ethics of mercantilism where poverty is a social virtue as the poor be reliable workers because they have no time for anything else (this you see in the Republican tea party rejection of everything from CHIP to SNAP to the Affordable Care Act).

jim.satterfield
jim.satterfield

@LeticiaVelasquez If that does turn out to be the case then the main question would be how long it will take for disastrous levels of overpopulation to happen.

Pista
Pista

@DeweySayenoffYou said, "The more orthodox a person's beliefs, the more comfortable with violence they tend to be."  When you say "violence"  what do you mean exactly?  Because I see far more "violence" from so-called "secularists" than I ever see from people of faith, especially people who take their faith seriously (i.e. "traditionalists").  You might not think of it as violence but I do, for instance the violence done to the memory and legacy of Margaret Thatcher by Streep & friends, or the violence done to the reputation of the only black man running for the GOP presidential nomination, or the violence done to the will of the American people by the cadre of goons and extremist nutcases that has seized control of the Excecutive Branch...  Maybe you like to ignore intellectual and cultural violence and you only consider physical coercion "violence".  So let's see, in the past few years we've seen a linguistic nihilist commit a public assassination (hardly an orthodox traditionalist), we've seen some radicalized socialist/"moslems" commit public assassination, we've seen a racist black organization with old ties to extremist leftists forcibly deny U.S. citizens the exercise of their right to vote while the new black panthers worked to stuff ballot boxes and commit electoral fraud...   Um...  I really don't think the evidence is bearing out your claims dude. Sorry. 

StephenJohnson1
StephenJohnson1

@FrankLangholf Christianity has shown tremendous growth in India, China, South Korea, and other Asian nations.  The house-church movement in China is estimated at 60-130 million people, up 100 times the number since the 1949 when the country officially banned missionaries and forced churches to come under governmental scrutiny.  Korea went from 2% Christianity in 1945 to somewhere between 30-50% today.  It is also the largest missionary sending country in the world.  With approximately 24 million adherents, India has not seen the same growth as China and South Korea, but it has become the third largest religious group in a country dominated by Hinduism and Islam.  Add what is happening in Africa and Latin America (including Brazil has grown to over 64 million Protestants), and you see that historical Christianity (by which I mean Christianity that affirms the deity of Jesus, affirms his death and resurrection, and affirms the bible as the word of God) is growing in leaps and bounds all over the world.  Even in the US and Europe, the decline in Christianity overall has been stemmed by the rise in historical Christianity.  The churches have not grown fast enough to account for the many mainline and theologically ahistorical churches, but they have kept the numbers from falling off the map (particularly in the US).  What this indicates is that the churches that teach the historical beliefs of Christianity are capable of helping many people who long for an encounter with the divine.

Nathaniel_M_Campbell
Nathaniel_M_Campbell

@jstewart57 Whatever you read, it was false. The doctrine of the Real Presence (i.e. that the eucharistic mystery really is the body and blood of Christ, really present in the sacramental bread and wine) goes all the way back to the early church, and has been continuously believed by both the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglicans and Lutherans.


Where the dispute came in was on philosophical explanations of how, exactly, the bread and wine could *be* the body and blood whilst remaining in outward appearance as bread and wine. There were squabbles about this throughout the Middle Ages; the most famous was the 11th-century case of Berengar of Tours, who supposedly "denied" the Real Presence because he thought it sacrilegious to believe that we both mandicated and defecated the holy Body of Christ. What developed out of the Berengarian controversy was the development of the doctrine of transubstantiation, which is a particular philosophical method of describing how the (spiritual) "substance" of the bread and wine are changed into the (spiritual) "substance" of the body and blood of Christ, while retaining their "accidents" (physical properties) of bread and wine. (This has to do with the ancient Christian notion of sacramentality, in which outward and visible signs effect inward and spiritual graces.) The Third Lateran Council in 1215 formally defined transubstantiation as the appropriate doctrine, thus beating out the Reformation by three hundred years.

Pista
Pista

@msteel271 The short answer is that ever since those British Fabians invented Socialist Conspiracy For Democracies, "secularists" have been frantically infiltrating education and policy-making bodies in order to bamboozle the world. They've done so very impressively in the past few decades. But don't worry. Secularism is merely an anomaly on the historic landscape of human thinking. Far more than 90% of all of humanity has taken it for self-evident that there is a Creator who bears worshiping.  It's only relatively recently that the uber-educated self-styled "intelligentsia" of the world pronounced that God is dead and Collective Man is now God.  The fly in their ointment however is reality itself.  The only historical inevitability is that Truth will never also be simultaneously untrue, completely regardless of how many would-be secularist tyrants and their coteries of demagogues declare the opposite.  Bottom line: it doesn't take a genius to be right and the worst kind of wrong people these days are graduates of our institutions of "higher" education who've weaseled their way into positions of power and influence. (President Ohbummer for instance.)

BryanJensen
BryanJensen

@msteel271 So most "Christians", who called themselves that only because it somehow felt comfortable to them, are changing their affiliation now that society has made it uncomfortable.  Yes, this does sharpen the divide between Christian and Other.  Is this not just clarity of language?  Why is this divide bad?


The primary cause of hurtful division is big government, something practiced by both Republicans and Democrats.

somervillechangeling
somervillechangeling

@Desi_Erasmus  

Are you are a mega church member who likes the style of worship? Worship is about the congregation, not any one member, but the problem many have is the most traditional churches in terms of worship do not have sound Bible based doctrine anymore. Other churches aim to bring in the crowds with music and arena style presentations that have little connection to Christian worship through the centuries. In those churches, it's hard to find out what their doctrine is.

For example, I like Episcopal services but there is no traditional breakaway Anglican church near me. The Protestant churches near me are either doctrinally lukewarm mega church, prosperity Gospel mega church, or stifling tea party fundamentalist (though often doctrinally sound, they treat culture like doctrine).


Salvation is about me, and it's about you, and it's about the church as a whole as the Bride of Christ. We are not saved automatically as part of a community but we become part of a community by being saved. I can overlook political and social differences in a church, because I don't talk politics before, during or after service, but I can't overlook unsound doctrine. I can't overlook politics when invited to men's groups that turn out to be all into Ayn Rand and the tea party and have become practically gun crazy. 

Perhaps the whole organized church today is the Laodicean church? You can find rants by pastors and prophecy teachers against the emergent church, against prosperity gospel churches and against liberal churches but they ignore the planks in their own eyes. They truly think that those who differ from them are part of a vast conspiracy leading up to the End Times.

It all makes me wonder if people are really in a relationship with Christ, as opposed to just believers in this age's competing forms of Christianity?  Christ was radical in his lifetime in being for sinners and against those who misused the temple and refused to make it a house of prayer. A writer on the left has described Him as a hippie, a writer on the right claims He's a capitalist. They are both wrong. Jesus had a balance in His life that was not only because He was God's Son incarnated, and thus was able to resist sin. He had a balance because he taught those who could not resist sin, to go and sin no more.


He taught others to look at the planks in their own eye more than the mote in the other person. It's clear that He's both the narrow that few enter into; yet He's also the Savior of the world, but especially of those who believe. I can accept the seeming paradox, many Christian writers through the centuries could, but I wonder if people can today because they lean towards expecting those who aren't like them to not enter the narrow gate or they are universalists who believe that whatever Jesus meant, it was not the sound doctrine developed within Christian orthodoxy over the centuries (and that worked when it was entirely based on the Bible, and not just musings of theologians).




Desi_Erasmus
Desi_Erasmus

@somervillechangeling @lazarus00000  

 Human government, like the provision for divorce in the Mosaic code, is a concession to the hardness of our hearts, a blemish in the divine order instituted to restrain evil, at the insistence of rebellious humans, not the divinely appointed source of healing and prosperity (despite the incessant promises of office seekers mendaciously offering such benefits, and then leaving future generations to pay the tab or default when the debt burden becomes impossible to service). "Blessed are they who express their charity by picking other people's pockets with a badge and a gun and a fraud-saturated money printing scheme, and distributing the plunder to their favored neighbors," is another thing that Jesus never said. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+19%3A1-12%2C+1+Samuel+8%2C+2+Chronicles+7%3A11-22%2C+Romans+13&version=ESV

jim.satterfield
jim.satterfield

@Pista @DeweySayenoff It's an interesting interpretation to consider anything done or said by anyone who disagrees with you to be violence. And the whole New Black Panther thing is just a lie, plain and simple. This is a really pathetic attempt to defend the "conservative" position by lies and misrepresentation.

GelinLooi
GelinLooi

@Peace_2_All @DeweySayenoff  I have t o say that this "either you with us or against us" kind of mentality is rife during Bush's administration. They turn serious national issues into a sport game where there are only two sides. This mentality is akin to the Pascal gambit that given 2 choices of equal probability  where one result in great gain (god) and other great loss (hell), it is better to bet on the the gainful one. They forgot that they might actually be wrong about being only 2 options available. What if both options are wrong? What if there are many other options  Betting on one seem rather stupid without knowing for sure. Pascal for his brilliance seem remarkably dim-witted when it comes to this religious apologetics. For many Christians, however, that is their worldview and their avow sympathy for the unsaved is no more than a self-righteous pity on the sinful and is utterly insulting. Schism is their MO and conflict is their lifeblood, it creates more divisions of "them vs us," which is extremely useful for corralling the faithful into the cages of doctrinal orthodoxy. Nothing unites a community more than an external enemy.  

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@Peace_2_All @DeweySayenoff Thanks, Peace.  

But I could have been more succinct by just saying that of COURSE Orthodoxy will win out over more modern trends.  After all, Orthodoxy has long since reconciled the hypocrisy of fighting and pressuring people into submission to accept a form of faith that promotes turning the other cheek.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't qualify them as "Christians", though.