This morning I saw the results of another survey showing the steep decline in people identifying themselves as Christian. While I am skeptical about putting too much faith in polls and surveys in general, this is still a disappointing trend.
The results of any survey depend upon the representational accuracy of the sampling polled, and I don’t know where these responses came from, but I’ve seen similar results published for decades. As a Bible-believing Christian I am concerned and wonder what could be driving this trend.
I believe a major influence is the increasingly hostile environment toward Christianity in our culture. For most of our history as a country, being American was practically synonymous with being a Christian. As our culture, and especially the education system, have become more progressive, the values taught in Christian homes are often undermined and overwhelmed by what is taught in the classroom. Today, being Christian has gone from being “not cool” to being a target for all sorts of spurious attacks. When surveyed, it takes courage to declare oneself a Christian in such an atmosphere. The survey may claim to be anonymous and confidential, but we’ve all seen what technology has done to confidentiality.
When you add to this the lukewarm nature of many of our churches, the lack of involvement of parents in their children’s religious training, and the years of the media treating Christians as either ridiculously deluded or dangerous, it is not hard to understand the declining number of declared Christians.
On the other hand, is it possible, as I suspect, that the actual percentage of true Christians has remained fairly stable throughout the years? There have always been cultural Christians, as there are cultural Jews, Muslims, and others who simply go along with the dominant culture, without believing the tenets of their faith. There was a time in the U.S. when to many people being Christian simply meant being an honest, upstanding citizen, not that you believed the Bible or had placed your trust in Jesus Christ. That is no longer true.
Is it possible that the sixty-something percent result on today’s survey reflects the number of dedicated Christ-followers; those unashamed of their faith? If so, it would probably be an increase. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.Luke 12:8