Wednesday, February 02, 2005

791 A Scolding for Christians

If you are not a Christian, you can skip this entry. Ronald J. Sider, sort of a perennial scold, has a real tongue lashing for Christians, particularly the "born agains" (larger group) and evangelicals (smaller group). He uses a number of statistical reports, particularly those done by George Barna, the one with which I'm most familiar. But he weaves together a pretty discouraging basket of bad news in the January/February 2005 issue of Books and Culture.

"To say there is a crisis of disobedience in the evangelical world today is to dangerously understate the problem. Born-again Christians divorce at about the same rate as everyone else. Self-centered materialism is seducing evangelicals and rapidly destroying our earlier, slightly more generous giving. Only 6 percent of born-again Christians tithe. Born-again Christians justify and engage in sexual promiscuity (both premarital sex and adultery) at astonishing rates. Racism and perhaps physical abuse of wives seems to be worse in evangelical circles than elsewhere. This is scandalous behavior for people who claim to be born-again by the Holy Spirit and to enjoy the very presence of the Risen Lord in their lives.

In light of the foregoing statistics, it is not surprising that born-again Christians spend seven times more hours each week in front of their televisions than they spend in Bible reading, prayer, and worship.(32) Only 9 percent of born-again adults and 2 percent of born-again teenagers have a biblical worldview.(33)

Perhaps it is not surprising either that non-Christians have a very negative view of evangelicals. In a recent poll, Barna asked non-Christians about their attitudes toward different groups of Christians. Only 44 percent have a positive view of Christian clergy. Just 32 percent have a positive view of born-again Christians. And a mere 22 percent have a positive view of evangelicals.(34)

Evangelicals rightly rejected theological liberalism because it denied the miraculous. In response, we insisted that miracle was central to biblical faith at numerous points including the supernatural moral transformation of broken sinners. Now our very lifestyle as evangelicals is a ringing practical denial of the miraculous in our lives. Satan must laugh in sneerful derision. God's people can only weep."

It is quite long and well referenced, summarizing his points in The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience (Baker, 2004). Sider is a professor at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

1 comment:

Sally said...

good article. It's very sad though. I think he hit the nail on the head tho in the last paragraph. I think Christians somehow think the daily practice of the presence of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives to overcome sin, isn't a miracle. And so they don't practice it and live in it and expect it to happen. They just say 'I'm human and so I sin', no. You have the HS who helps you not to sin if you are in touch with him. Very sad. But it isn't surprising, and it does have to happen - the Bible talks about the 'great falling away'.