The Shift to Conservative Churches
Albert Mohler, host of his own daily radio show and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, recently reviewed David Shiflett's new book, Exodus: Why Americans Are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity. Mohler points out how Shiflett, an author and a reporter who has written for publications such as The Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, National Review and The Wall Street Journal, uses his journalistic skills to dig into the story as to why conservative Christian denominations are growing while liberal church membership is down: . . .
"Americans are vacating progressive pews and flocking to churches that offer more traditional versions of Christianity," Shiflett asserts. This author is not subtle, and he gets right to the point: "Most people go to church to get something they cannot get elsewhere. This consuming public--people who already believe, or who are attempting to believe, who want their children to believe--go to church to learn about the mysterious Truth on which the Christian religion is built. They want the Good News, not the minister's political views or intellectual coaching. The latter creates sprawling vacancies in the pews. Indeed, those empty pews can be considered the earthly reward for abandoning heaven, traditionally understood."
The numbers are telling, as Mohler reveals:
Citing a study published in 2000 by the Glenmary Research Center, Shiflett reports that the Presbyterian Church USA declined by 11.6 percent over the previous decade, while the United Methodist Church lost "only" 6.7 percent and the Episcopal Church lost 5.3 percent. The United Church of Christ was abandoned by 14.8 percent of its members, while the American Baptist Churches USA were reduced by 5.7 percent.
On the other side of the theological divide, most conservative denominations are growing. The conservative Presbyterian Church in America [PCA] grew 42.4 percent in the same decade that the more liberal Presbyterian denomination lost 11.6 percent of its members. Other conservative denominations experiencing significant growth included the Christian Missionary Alliance (21.8 percent), the Evangelical Free Church (57.2 percent), the Assemblies of God (18.5 percent), and the Southern Baptist Convention (five percent).
As Mohler notes, Shiflett doesn't rely on these figures alone. He crossed America collecting personal narratives from both liberal and conservative Christians that confirm the Glenmary study. In one such interview, a former student at a liberal seminary who left school after he felt that he was the only one there who believed in God told Shiflett, "Mainline Protestantism will reach a certain point where it will appeal only to Wiccans, vegetarians, sandal-wearers, and people who play the recorder. No one will feel at home there if they believe in God."
Hat tip to Chuck Colson's BreakPoint via Townhall.com.