Mainline Decline, Part 5

From Dave Shiflett, Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity (New York: Sentinel, 2005).

Shiflett wonders what accounts for the diverging growth rates of liberal (on the decline) and conservative (on the rise) churches in America.  He quotes approvingly from Mark Tooley, of the Institute on Religion and Democracy: "Churches that are faithful to their historic teachings, that offer transcendent truth to their congregants, that demand something morally of their people, and that believe in the need for personal conversion have a strong incentive to grow. Churches that allow themselves to be defined by the secular culture's definition of 'inclusivity' and 'tolerance' really have little to offer that will change hears or inspire great loyalty, much less create membership growth."

In his own analysis, Shiflett contrasts what he calls the "30 percent God" that is popular with the progressives -- "a deity who would have a difficult time fixing a parking ticket" -- with "the 100 percent God" -- the great I AM of the Bible.  In other words, the liberals and progressives are children of a lesser god, and many people eventually reach the right and obvious conclusion that such a god is not worth their time to worship. 


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