Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Individualism Trumps Christianity, For Now

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

The Barna Group, a Ventura, California organization that researches cultural change and spiritual development through surveys, has released their January 12, 2009, Barna Update titled "Christianity Is No Longer Americans' Default Faith." It is both disturbing, yet confirming.

Barna reports that according to their research, Christianity for the first time in over 200 years of American history has lost its place as the default religion of the country. The report begins, "half of all adults now contend that Christianity is just one of many options that Americans choose from."

Of the 1,004 adults surveyed, "50% of the adults interviewed agreed that Christianity is no longer the faith that Americans automatically accept as their personal faith, while just 44% disagreed and 6% were not sure." Of that group, two-thirds (64%) of them were evangelical Christians professing salvation and classical Reformation doctrine! Clearly, Christians as well as non-believers feel confirmed that Christianity is no longer the default faith of the American people. America, finally, is truly post-Christian in its majority.

What's the new flavor?

Contrary to the waning of Christianity as the religion of choice in America, the report shows religious emphasis in people's lives is still very strong. "74% to 23% — adults agreed that their religious faith was becoming even more important to them than it used to be as a source of objective and reliable moral guidance."

So what has replaced Christianity in America? Barna reports "that a huge majority of adults pick and choose what they believe rather than adopt a church or denomination's slate of beliefs… (71% to 26%) adults noted that they are personally more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church.

In another words, the religion of choice is the one you make up. It's called "individualism."

How does individualism play out?

The first is an increasing comfort in "picking and choosing what they deem to be helpful and accurate theological views and have become comfortable discarding the rest of the teachings in the Bible." The Bible becomes a smorgasbord that people, plates in hand, can wade through and choose what they feel best fits their own definition of moral standards. Inerrancy of the Bible to individualism is unthinkable. For those who still hold to both individualism and inerrancy, they exist in a world of contradiction.

The second result is relativism. Christianity becomes just one table in the buffet line along with Buddhism, Islam, New Age and any form of religion — even secularism.

Thirdly, individualism results in ignorance. Barna reports "With people spending less time reading the Bible, and becoming less engaged in activities that deepen their biblical literacy, faith views are more often adopted on the basis of dialogue, self-reflection, and observation than teaching. Feelings and emotions now play a significant role in the development of people's faith views." Education is out, and feelings are in as the litmus test for deciding what is right and wrong.

Where does individualism take you?

The answer is humanism, with "you" as your own god. It's an idolatrous religion where the "you" is the center and reality revolves around its core.

The reality of this deluded condition is to live a lie. Adam and Eve fell to that lie when Satan convinced Eve in Genesis 3:5 that "you will be like God." Adam and Eve acquire the ability to know the difference between good and evil, but their sin separated the whole human race from God, and we learned quickly we're not "God-enough" to handle living on our own.

That lie also has eternal consequences, as a life that hasn't accepted Jesus forgiveness for its sin is destined to God's ultimate punishment – the Lake of Fire, also called Hell. Humanism terminates always in eternal death (Matt. 25:46).

Where does Christianity take you?

If humanism teaches people they can become their own god apart from Jesus, and we know from the Bible that it's a lie, then how infinitely better that God teaches us the truth in the Bible that we can become "sons of God" (John 1:12). That we who have accepted Jesus as Savior are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Pet. 2:9). And, that we are "children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). Instead of eternal death, as God's children we receive eternal life (Matt. 25:46).

Is it worth giving up Christianity so one can live a lie, when reality in Jesus is so, so much better?

20 comments:

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

Perhaps i'm mistaken but isn't individualism and humanism going to play a huge role in the religion of the anti-christ? And after the rapture with christians gone wouldnt individualism take over?

Nathan Jones said...

You bet, hart_thizzle10_9! Humanism wrapped in some form of "religiosity." When Jesus returns, all false religion and self-agrandizement will be wiped out.

Anonymous said...

MARANATHA!

jon said...

Amen!! Come quickly!

son of thunder said...

The really sad part is that a lot of that nonsense is taught is supposedly evangelical churches.

"For the time will come when [Christians] will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." 2 Tim. 4:3-4

Paul said...

I don't think not blindly accepting every doctrine taught by a particular church or denomination is necessarily a bad thing. I believe WE are responsible to try every spirit and examine every doctrine by the bible. I used to have a Pastor who told us that if we believed everything he taught us we deserved to be fooled.

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

excellent point paul, however there is a difference between blindly accepting every doctrine (as even denomination pastors do)and having a make it up as you go doctrine. or relativism

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

by the way i got so fed up with denominations i feel i'm not going to learn anymore from them. If i ask a pastor a question i get the "denomination party line answer" we have too many "assembly line" preachers. Denominations are corrupt

Paul said...

After many years in a SB church, a new Pastor changed the theology of the church from "whosoever will" to "whosoever God decides to save to the exclusion of all others" I have moved to an independent church. On a Tee shirt was the phrase "Island Theology".
I had to ask what that meant. The definition is, If you were stranded alone on a desert island with nothing but your bible, What would you believe?

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

the whosoever will to whosoever god decides is a very tricky doctrine. Man is to evil to decide himself. I believe God intervenes in free will, i just dont know how much

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

you have to be very careful with "island theology" bible teachers are a gift from God

son of thunder said...

I don't think there is a perfect denomination (gasp!), they all have the peculiarities. Like the one I attend uses the KJV, which I enjoy immensly, but I prefer the NASB.

But, you have to be careful with independants, too.

The church I grew up in eventually started bringing the "Purpose Driven Life" and the "Purpose Driven Church", which, if you're unfamiliar with them, are very humanistic. "What's my purpose?" According to Ecclesiastes, it's to worship God. Rick Warren implies something else.

If it ain't Bible it ain't right.

Anonymous said...

YOU SHOULD TEST WHAT YOUR PASTOR TEACHES AGAINST TH BIBLE. THE SECRET SERVICE TEACHES IT'S AGENTS TO SPOT FAKE BILLS BY TEACHING THEM WHAT THE REAL THING LOOKS LIKE. IF YOU STUDY THE REAL THING YOU CAN SPOT THE FAKE. I WAS ALMOST PULLED INTO A CULT. BUT ONE NIGHT I PRAYED AND ASK GOD TO SHOW ME THE TRUTH AND TO MY AMAZEMENT I QUICKLY FOUND AND UNDERSTOOD WITH THE HOLY SPIRITS ILLUMINATION THE TRUTH I HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR. THE BIBLE TALKS ABOUT WORKING OUT YOUR SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING, AND IT IS RIGHT. I NEW IN MY HEART THAT I HAD TO FIND THE TRUTH OR BE SPERATED FROM JESUS CHRIST FOREVER.AND I DID FEAR THAT. I DANT AGREE WITH EVERYTING MY CHURCH TERACHES, BUT I DO KNOW THAT WHEN IT COMES TO THE CORE TEACHINGS THAT THEY ARE TEACHING THE TRUTH. I GO TO A NON-DENIMINATIONAL CHURCH. MY PASTOR IS A GRADUATE OF DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SIMINARY. ALWAYS LET THE HOLY SPIRIT LEAD YOU INTO ALL TRUTH. I HAVE EVEN FOUND THAT HE LETS ME KNOW WHEN SOMETHING IS WRONG EVEN THOUGH I MAY NOT HAVE EVER STUDIED THE SUBJECT BEFORE. IN CLOSING I WANT TO SAY YES THE ANTI-CHRIST WILL USE RELIGION BECAUSE HE SETS HIMSELF UP AS GOD IN THE REBUILT TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM. AND CAUSE PEOPLE TO WORSHIP HIM.

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

i realize churches and denominations are not perfect. Perhaps i shouldnt have made such a blanket statement. HOWEVER i do have a problem with "denominational party line" answers i once asked a pastor a question about a certain doctrine and i got a lame poorly thought of textbook answer.

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

that was an insult to my intelligence. Another doctrine was the rapture. I was brought up to believe in a pre-trib rapture and one day i started questionig it. I heard some VERY good arguments against it and i asked my "assembly line " pastor. Textbook answer so i set out to proove AGAINST o rapture and almost succeeded. I even convinced other people against it

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

after VERY INTENSIVE study i found too many contradictions so then i KNEW there was a rapture. The pastor should have known why he believed it instead of preaching what his denomination told him to preach. Can a person who's been in church his whole life still learn? NOT FROM A DENOMINATION.

son of thunder said...

hart_thizzle, I agree totally. Party-line denominationalism is a deterant to growth, in my opinion.

son of thunder said...

Oh yeah, and I only went gasp! because people put so much emphasis in denomination. That was for them.

Jake said...

Apparently, you've never read Soren Kierkegaard.

SPMcCurdy Blog said...

This article hit the spot. Our mega-church (McLean, VA) uses this 252 (http://www.252basics.com/) material for the kids. It is usually allegorical, and this month, stresses - you know it - "individualism." Listen to video 2 on the 252 site and you will see where this has taken "us."
The video shows that the idea has, already, led to humanism. The church is reduced to a good-will organization. I'm not even sure it is intentional per-se, but it is insipid and slippery. Boil the frog.
I am not going to be on-board with this curriculum any longer and it should be reviewed asap! God made us, supernaturally transforms us, and calls us to band together as a body, sacrificing for others - all according to the instructions of the Bible.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ....All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,