Read two articles today about the sorry state of religion in America and, unfortunately, I basically agree with both. Stephen Prothero laments the overall religious illiteracy of Americans in the LA Times, while Ron Sider writes a scathing indictment of American Christianity in Christianity Today.
Sider offers up many solutions to the problems he discusses, but he comes closest to the mark, I believe, with this paragraph explaining that Christians need to gain a proper understanding of what obedience to Christ really means:
Obedience means unconditional submission to Jesus as Lord as well as
Savior. It means abandoning our one-sided, unbiblical conceptions of
sin, the gospel, salvation, and conversion, and returning to the
full-blown biblical understanding of these glorious truths. It means
recovering the biblical reality of the church as community. It means
living the truth that orthodoxy and orthopraxis—right theology and
right behavior—are equally important.
Amen. It is exactly those one-sided (read wrong) views of sin, the gospel, salvation and conversion that are hampering the Church. I am convinced that American Christianity is weak because most people who think themselves Christians simply are not. That is to say, although they think they are right with God and on their way to Heaven, they simply are not. They don’t understand that being a Christian means actually leaving all and following Christ.
Many will show up on That Day expecting a pass through the pearly gates only to hear Jesus say, "I never knew you." (Matt 7:22) For my sermon on this subject, click here and listen to "The Peril of False Assurance."