A few days ago I wrote about the worldwide growth in Christianity. How the decline of the church in the west is more than offset by growth in developing nations.
But what has caused the decline. In Anglicanism (the tradition I know best) in the UK it is not all decline. Evangelicals seem to be holding their own. It won’t be long before the Evangelicals make up half of all Anglicans.
Yet it is not long ago that Liberal theologians were making the news, The Myth of God Incarnate was largely written by Anglican scholars, but where are they now? What happened to their influence? You hear more about the Alpha Course these days than what the liberals are saying. In short the liberal experiment has been tried and has failed. How much of the decline in Anglicanism is down to the liberals haemorrhaging members?
It’s a shame really that liberal Anglicanism has lost its crusading spirit. Because although not liberal theologically myself (although I’ll confess to be liberal politically) I have a soft spot for some liberal ideas that have strengthened my faith.
Take, for example, the idea that the I am passages in John’s Gospel were not actually spoken by Jesus. Heresy to someone who lakes every word literally, but when you look behind what they are saying, it is that the writer if John’s Gospel (yes they doubt that too, bit that’s another issue) put words like I am the light of the world and I am the good shepherd into Jesus mouth because the writer and other Christians of that time experienced Jesus in those ways.
It is more fun to engage with liberals not by telling them they are wrong by denying Jesus actually said these things but by asking them that if the passages point to experiences of Jesus, just how do they experience Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. Don’t make it about theology, make it about the experience of knowing Jesus.
Pause for a moment and think. How do you experience Jesus as the vine?
Intellectually the liberals have got it sewn up. That could be the problem. Lokk at this I recently saw on Twitter:
Is that the problem, reaching out for people’s minds rather than hearts?
It is good to appreciate Jesus intellectually. There is a lot to think about what he did and said, but how much do you experience the love of God? Do you love him back?
I do not think that all the decline, or most of it is down to liberal theology, there’s the secularisation of society for a start, But the liberals do not seem to have done anything to stem the flow from the churches.