There have been those who have been blasting away at contemporary "prophets" who have been attempting to call attention to the deepening "shallowness" and superficiality of the contemporary American Church. Most often those voices have been marginalized or ignored as people dismiss them as supposed cynics or pessimists. With the release yesterday of the Pew Forum Study, many of the ignored prophets can find some justification. Here is ONE quote from a professor at Rice University that ended up on the front page of the local paper here in Idaho:
"Religion in America is 3,000 miles wide but it’s only 3 inches deep. The issue is not that Americans don’t believe in anything. It’s that they believe in practically everything. It’s impossible for Americans to hold together contradictory beliefs at the same time".
My oh my! Let me turn the clock back…since I’ve been around for a while, I’ve heard the stories of older generations and their "Deep" faith…it was deep, personal, sometimes even hidden but it was embedded in their soul. Previous generations KNEW what they believed…they had a more substantial knowledge of biblical teaching and theology…they knew more than the "steps to heaven" and the practical and relevant lessons ("simple applications") that come regularly from pulpits across the country. Could it be that modern Evangelicalism and "local church" has focused SO much on getting people on the "bus" of eternal life that we haven’t instructed them on the deeper issues of the faith that actually transform a life? It seems that it is getting extremely clear by analyzing people’s actions that are NOT in line with faith and hearing people’s beliefs that are nothing more than pluralistic and syncretistic that there appears to be a need in American culture for some spiritual clarity and challenge. Here’s a question for you to consider – could it be that our rush for big and popular and mega and relevant and more and attracting could be actually destroying the power of the Gospel? Isn’t the Kingdom of God more than simplistic understanding on how to get eternal life? Of course it is! No doubt in my mind…the American Church has GOT to start teaching people not just truth that gets them their "ticket to heaven" and what makes "their life work"…practical principles, simple steps, pure application isn’t deepening anyone’s experience of the faith and the research is showing that is surely isn’t clarifying how Christ-following is unique over against any other faith system. More to come…bottom line, we’ve got some work to do!
Want to look at the entire study? The link is here – read it and weep! It does break the heart of those who love God and are called according to His purposes!