Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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The Secularization of America

By Dennis Pollock


The Pew Research Center has recently declared that Christianity in America is in a steep decline and predicted that before the end of this century, Christians will no longer be in the majority. This slide is not the result of Christians moving toward other religions, they tell us. It is simply that many who formerly called themselves Christians are now labeling themselves as having no religious preference. Essentially, Americans are becoming increasingly secular.


Another poll tells us that the number of Americans who say they do not believe in God has doubled, increasing from 10 percent of Americans to a current 20 percent, which is an all-time high. Church attendance is falling drastically, and Americans are embracing a secular, value-less mindset and lifestyle that would have appalled their grandparents. The polls reveal that the younger you are, the more likely you are to be irreligious and non-Christian. Over 80 percent of baby boomers call themselves Christians, while only around 55 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds identify as Christians. 


Almost nobody can deny this. Our great nation, once the center of Christianity in the world, is becoming secular with every succeeding generation. And this is not merely an American phenomenon. Europe has fallen further and faster than we have. Why is this? What is creating this sad secularization in our world? 


I would like to suggest several reasons for this depressing turn of events. Since I know America best, I will focus on our nation, but much of this could apply to the European nations as well. The first reason has to do with our almost entirely secular media. We live in a media-driven culture, and for some reason, the vast majority of men and women that populate the media are without any kind of deep religious beliefs and values. The people who tell us the news, the actors who entertain us, the comics, the singers, the pundits, the TV producers and writers, the app creators, the social media gurus… almost none of these folks are Bible-believing, church-attending, praise-singing, evangelical Christians. And when children are not being taken to church regularly, these folks become the surrogate mentors for America's children. 


Learning the Wrong Things


What the children hear and see and laugh at on their smartphones is creating a complete set of values, convictions, opinions, and perspectives, and you can be sure that they are not learning the values of Moses, David, Jesus, and the apostle Paul. Without solid Christian teaching coming from the home, and without attending church, it should not be a surprise that our youth are becoming increasingly secular. It's only surprising that it is not happening any faster than it is.


We live in a society where it has become cool to be irreligious. To use curse words, share jokes with sexual innuendos, and engage in sex by the second or third date are now par for the course. Without the restraints of the values of the Bible, we have a culture where everybody does what is right in their own eyes, and they learn what is right from godless media heroes who could not quote two Bible verses if their lives depended on it.


The Anemic Church


Sadly, another reason for our ever-increasing secularization is the anemic church of America. Many Christian churches have decided it is better to be cool than godly. They de-emphasize the gospel, and major on slick productions instead. Feeling that church growth depends entirely upon telling people how to be successful in this life, they ignore the preaching of the cross and the importance of sound, Christ-centered theology.


I believe that things are not quite as bad as they seem, however. In past generations, many would identify as Christians, not as a result of being born-again, but simply because this is what was expected. They would have checked the box for Christian in any poll, not due to a deep love for Jesus or as a result of a profound new-birth experience, but simply because it was bad public relations to suggest you were anything other than a Christian.


Today things are different. Being a non-Christian will not hurt you in your business or your career or almost any other endeavor. In fact, it is the reverse. To talk like a serious Christian who believes in the inspiration of the Bible and embraces the morality of the Scriptures could hurt you quite a bit. And it is most definitely not considered cool. And so, we have large numbers of people who drop the pretense of being a Christian, but who never were Christians in the first place.


The truth is that real Christians, those who are born-again, Bible-believing, church-attending followers of Christ have always been in the minority, and always will be. We have this on good authority. Our Lord Jesus said:


Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)


We've Never Been the Majority


Real Christians, genuine followers of Jesus have probably never been in the majority in America or anywhere else. It is a very wide gate that leads to eternal destruction, and the majority of Americans, the majority of businessmen, the majority of schoolteachers, the majority of carpenters, and the majority of nearly every group of people from every nation have always taken that broad and terrible path. It is a narrow gate and a difficult way that leads to life and Jesus tells us only a few find it.


So, will Christianity eventually dwindle to nothing in America? No, that will never happen. Jesus tells us that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. We cannot convert everyone, but we have some powerful weapons on our side, and we can move at least some people, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to receive eternal life through Jesus. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful, and it changes lives, regardless of how secular our culture is. When pastors and Christians stop their efforts to be cute and clever and take the apostle Paul's advice to "know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified," we will see results.


With all our worlds glitz and coolness, and glamor and humor, there are several realities they can never escape, which continually pull on the souls of men and women, moving them to consider Christ. First, is the utter meaninglessness of secular life. If there is no God, there is no meaning in life, there is no purpose. Our lives are just cruel, cosmic jokes. We try to grab a few pleasures in our short seventy or eighty or ninety years, and then we cease to exist and are placed in the ground as a feast for the worms, while our friends and family go and have a meal and try to pretend that they are not heading toward the same fate.


That Uneasy Feeling


Second, in the souls of all, there is a sad, uneasy feeling that all is not right. Regardless of how much money we make, how many friends we have, and how many awards we have gained, something is off, something is wrong deep within us. And that something is the fact that we are alienated from our Creator. Sin has separated us from God, and unless that issue can be resolved, our lives will never be truly OK. The good news is that Jesus has come from heaven to fix that sin issue. He has died on the cross as a divine payment for our sins and has been raised from the dead. It is only when we repent, trust in Jesus, and receive Him as our Lord and Savior that this sense of alienation and awkwardness is resolved.


And the fact that every unsaved person in America and in our world carries this alienation with them morning, noon, and night mean that Jesus Christ will always be relevant. And He will always be attractive to those whose hearts are touched by the Holy Spirit and the message of the gospel. The gate to eternal life may be narrow, but it is wide enough for you, my friend, and on the other side is all that you have been missing and yearning for all the days of your life.





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