Friday, September 25, 2009

Will Christianity Evolve?

(I read an interesting R World posting about the decline and fall of the medieval church. It got me thinking about the state of Christian churches today, so I wrote a comment that became so long that I decided to post it here.)

I'm wondering if a radical move away from fundamentalist Christianity is not too far away, due to the aging of its adherents and the blossoming of many new information sources that challenge many of its long held precepts.

I recently read that membership in the Southern Baptist Convention, which has been growing for many years, has fallen for the first time. This follows major declines in the mainline protestant churches. If you visit any one of these churches you are likely to see a lot of grey hair. The younger folks are not buying into the religious message.

At the same time, the youth seem to be responding to sources that advocate peace, justice, and care for the earth and its inhabitants of all species - all of which have been part of the Christian outlook for centuries. So, it may not be the message but the messenger that's the problem. Old fashioned liturgies and hymns, or even more contemporary dreamy-eyed "praise" services just aren't cutting it. The kids seem to want "reality" shows, and churches haven't yet identified the new approach that will bring them in.

While the churches are faltering, audiences for The Science Channel, The Discovery Channel, and similar educational sources are growing rapidly. Evidence supporting evolution, and clear explanations of the formation and development of the universe are now commonplace. Humanity's short tenure in the overall scheme of things is becoming common knowledge. Given this information, it's hard to believe that God is homo-centric.

At bottom, one must believe either that there is a purpose to creation, or not. Understanding the workings of the universe does not shed much light on this question - it is a matter of faith. Will the Christian church evolve such that it can deal with this mystery and attract the next generation to a new understanding of what practicing religion should be? I hope so.

3 comments:

Ron said...

LH,
Revelation and transformation is deeply personal. Religion so often becomes prescriptive for groups, which seems the antithesis of what animates the founders. Jesus and Buddha broke from tradition and what was imposed on them to be true to what was personally true to them and, of course, became new traditions that were imposed on people.

thimscool said...

"it's hard to believe that God is homo-centric"

Of course it's hard to believe. Do you think that God didn't care about proto humans? Or any other species in our chain? Or any species that affected our chain?

Or any future species that we evolve into, on our path to being like gods?

How else do you think He's gonna get the job done?

Sheesh. This is what comes from thinking that we are alone in a petri dish, and the other aliens might be better off in their petri dish. God is in our petri dish. That is faith.

I see your own gray-haired view as so faint as to be quaint. Get with the program, old man.

Lifehiker said...

Thimscool, I agree with you, I think. God cares about everything God has created, wherever that happens to be. That includes you and me, but does not exclude anything, anywhere. Have a nice day.