Monday, January 16, 2012


Last week I read an article in USA TODAY that 'tripped my trigger.' I was preparing to write a response when I received this piece from my former mentee and long time friend, Barry Cameron. He and I were thinking alike, but he said it first.... I would have written it myself. Pastor Ken


In an article entitled, God, religion, atheism ‘So what?’ – That’s what many say, USA TODAY columnist, Cathy Lynn Grossman addressed a growing number of people in our society who look at all things spiritual and say: “So what?” She pointed out a number of statistics that reveal just how widespread this problem has become:

Researchers have begun asking the kind of nuanced questions that reveal just how big the So What set might be:

• 44% told the 2011 Baylor University Religion Survey they spend no time seeking "eternal wisdom," and 19% said "it's useless to search for meaning."
• 46% told a 2011 survey by Nashville-based evangelical research agency, LifeWay Research, they never wonder whether they will go to heaven.
• 28% told LifeWay "it's not a major priority in my life to find my deeper purpose." And 18% scoffed at the idea that God has a purpose or plan for everyone.
• 6.3% of Americans turned up on Pew Forum's 2007 Religious Landscape Survey as totally secular — unconnected to God or a higher power or any religious identity and willing to say religion is not important in their lives.

Grossman continued, “When church historian Diana Butler Bass researched her upcoming book, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, she found the So Whats are ‘a growing category.’

Says Bass, ‘We can't underestimate the power of the collapse of institutional religion in the first 10 years of this century. It's freed so many people to say they don't really care. They don't miss rituals or traditions they may never have had anyway.’

‘For them, the Almighty is off the radar, like some tiny foreign country they know exists but never think about.’”

With all due respect to Ms. Bass, I don’t think “the collapse of institutional religion in the first 10 years of this century,” is the real “power” behind this issue. It may be a contributing factor. However, I believe there are at least two other issues that have had an even greater impact: (1) A serious lack of Bible preaching and (2) A serious lack of Bible living.

Since I’m a preacher, let me address the preaching issue first. For the past 20-25 years, in many churches, including evangelical ones, there’s been a move away from Bible preaching to almost anything but. In many churches, preachers don’t preach “sermons” anymore. Instead they give “talks” or “monologues.” Or the weekend services are devoted to a Jimmy Kimmel-style interview of the latest and greatest “celebrities” they can afford. Which, in turn, draws bigger crowds. They are also careful to avoid any mention of sin or its consequences, and there is little or no mention of being held accountable or of a coming judgment and that keeps people coming back for more. But more of what? Whenever we preach a “whatever” gospel or a watered down gospel why be surprised when the response is, “So what?”

The second issue goes hand in hand with the first. When we fail to preach the Word of God how can we complain when the people who come to our churches fail to live the Word of God. All they are doing is “practicing what we’ve been preaching.” (Read that line again.)

Cathy Crossman concluded her article in USA TODAY with the words of a man that serve as a stinging indictment. He’s not a preacher but his words comprise a powerful sermon the church needs to hear:

“I try to live my life and do the best I can. I figure if I do good, good things will happen. I'm not at all worried about the afterlife. How could they turn me down when people do whatever they want during the week. They go to church all the time then they come home and they gamble, they party, they use God's name in vain.”

“So either it will be like a switch turned off and it's done or, if there is a heaven, I'm going have to do some talking to get up there.”

Until then, every week, he faithfully drives to a Catholic church where, he says, “I drop off my mother-in-law, get back in the car and drive home.”

© 2012. Barry L. Cameron

Quotes from: USA TODAY, Tuesday, January 3, 2012. “God, religion, atheism ‘So what?’ That’s what many say,” by Cathy Lynn Grossman. (Nation section, page 9A)

No comments:

Post a Comment