The President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention says that the Pew report showing a raise in people who claim no religious affiliation could be “good news” for the church.
Russell Moore focused on the “increasing strangeness” of Christianity.
“Christianity isn’t normal anymore. It never should have been. The increasing strangeness of Christianity might be bad news for America, but it’s good news for the church. The major newspapers are telling us today that Christianity is dying, according to this new study, but what is clear from this study is exactly the opposite: while mainline traditions plummet, evangelical churches are remaining remarkably steady,” Moore said in a statement.
Moore said that people are rejecting the forms of Christianity that throw away the truth of the Scriptures to fit in with the whims of the secular society.
“The churches that are thriving are the vibrant, countercultural congregations that aren’t afraid to not be seen as normal to the surrounding culture. This report actually leaves me hopeful. The Bible Belt may fall. So be it,” he continued.
“Christianity emerged from a Roman Empire hostile to the core to the idea of a crucified and resurrected Messiah. We’ve been on the wrong side of history since Rome, and it was enough to turn the world upside down.”
Moore said in a posting on his personal blog that he sees many people refusing to call themselves Christians because of society.
“In the Bible Belt of, say, the 1940s, there were people who didn’t, for example, divorce, even though they wanted out of their marriages. In many of these cases, the motive wasn’t obedience to Jesus’ command on marriage but instead because they knew that a divorce would marginalize them from their communities. In that sense, their ‘traditional family values’ were motivated by the same thing that motivated the religious leaders who rejected Jesus—fear of being ‘put out of the synagogue,'” Moore offered.
“Secularization in America means that we have fewer incognito atheists. Those who don’t believe can say so—and still find spouses, get jobs, volunteer with the PTA, and even run for office. This is good news because the kind of ‘Christianity’ that is a means to an end—even if that end is ‘traditional family values’—is what J. Gresham Machen rightly called ‘liberalism,’ and it is an entirely different religion from the apostolic faith handed down by Jesus Christ.”