Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first - rock n’ roll or Christianity.
-John Lennon (1940-1980)
Protestantism has the method of Jesus with His secret too much left out of mind; Catholicism has His secret with His method too much left out of mind; neither has His unerring balance, His intuition, His sweet reasonableness. But both have hold of a great truth, and get from it a great power.
-Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
The Jesus described in the Bible is scandalous. He is not portrayed as the founder of a world religion, but the challenger of all religions. He is a subversive, anti-institutional revolutionary. Now, when I say “anti-institutional,” I am not suggesting that Jesus opposes all forms of organization, but that he opposes dependence on any one organization for our connection with God.”
-Bruxy Cavey, Author of ‘The End of Religion.’
MIDDLE EAST, April 25, 2011 — In his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Ronald J. Sider (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2005; ISBN 0801065410) writes:
“Once upon a time there was a great religion that over the centuries had spread all over the world. But in those lands where it had existed for the longest time, its adherents slowly grew complacent, lukewarm and sceptical. Indeed, many of the leaders of its oldest groups even publicly rejected some of the religion’s most basic beliefs.”
“Scandalous behaviour,” Sider goes on to say, “is destroying American Christianity.”
“By their daily activity, most “Christians” regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate allegiance to money, sex and self-fulfilment.”
Sider completely misses the point that simple faith in Christ almost certainly started to diminish when following Christ became a popular religion termed, “Christianity.” Christianity is geographically restricted as being “Western,” or “American,” and now increasingly, “Asian” (mainly China) or “African,” with the church shifting in importance away from America and the West.
According to the American Religious Identification (ARIS) 2008 Survey, (third in the landmark series,) which collected answers from 54,461 respondents in the U.S., the challenge to Christianity does not come from other religions but rather from a rejection of all forms of organized religion.
The American population self-identifies as predominantly Christian but Americans are slowly becoming less Christian. 86% of American adults identified as Christians in 1990 but only 76% in 2008. Historic mainline churches and denominations experienced the steepest declines while the non-denominational Christian identity has been trending upward particularly since 2001.
The ARIS survey indicates the U. S. population is becoming less religious, with one out of every five Americans failing to indicate a religious identity in 2008. The “Nones” (no stated religious preference, atheist, or agnostic) increased from 8.2% in 1990, to 14.1% in 2001, to 15.0% in 2008.
One sign of the lack of attachment of Americans to religion is that 27% do not expect a religious funeral when they die.
John Lennon may have been naive when he observed Jesus was less popular than the Beatles. He could probably have speculated whether the Beatles were more popular than Christianity – not Christ. One could easily argue many of his fans who made the Beatles famous were followers of Christianity.
Beatle-mania with its free sex and drugs obsessed lifestyle of the sixties would have dissuaded many authentic followers of Christ.
Bible based writing on faith undoubtedly comes primarily from the West, but one deviously crafted word pollutes all inspirational writing and most Christian authors have been oblivious to its impact down the ages.
It is the one “religious” appellation that has infected true faith in the West and spread the infection far beyond.
Frank Raj belongs to an extended Indian-American family; he is based in India and the Middle East where he has lived for over three decades. He is the founding editor and publisher of ‘The International Indian’, (www.theinternationalindian.com) the oldest magazine of Gulf-Indian society and history since 1992. Frank is listed in Arabian Business magazine’s 100 most influential Indians in the Gulf and is co-author of the upcoming publication ‘Universal Book of the Scriptures,’ and author of ‘Desh Aur Diaspora.’ He blogs at www.no2christianity.com
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