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Rick Phillips on Parenting and the Collapse of Evangelicalism

14 September, 2009

Some provocative thoughts and useful links from Rick Phillips, in a March 2009 article at Reformation21 available here.

I’m sure many of our readers have seen or heard about Michael Spenser’s article, picked up in the Christian Science Monitor, “The Coming Evangelical Collapse.” I strongly agree with his overall perspective, while perhaps quibbling on some details.  Michael Bell has followed up with some useful statistical analysis here, largely confirming the thesis.  If we ask, why is evangelical America collapsing, there are a number of reasons which all amount to its abandonment of biblical Christianity in any meaningful form.  But the most revealing statistics may be those that pertain to parenting.  Not long ago I saw a study stating that 88% of evangelical youths abandon the faith by the time they leave college.  Whatever evangelical faith is, it must not be very impressive if we can only pass it on to 12% of our own children. More recently, I saw this study, that shows that only 14% of evangelical parents consider faith in Christ to be a significant success indicator for their children.  Well, there it is folks!  Evangelical churches are not distinctively Christian and evangelical parents are not evidently Christian, so what a surprise that “a generation arose in Israel that did not know the Lord” (Jud. 2:10).

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One Comment
  1. 14 September, 2009 1:29 pm

    There needs to be more than mentioned in this article to save us. Specifically, the article concludes: “How essential is it that we renew our commitment to biblical ministries and to the preaching of God’s Word. If we do, then there will be Christians who think that faith in Jesus is vitally important to their children and whose lives will have a compelling effect on the faith of their offspring.” I have been in a wide range of churches from Assembly of God to Baptist to Calvary Chapel to Methodist etc. All of these churches emphasized faith in Jesus and did a good job in “commitment to biblical ministries and to the preaching of God’s Word”.

    We don’t need a renewal of these things. We need repentance and a reformation to sound Reformed doctrine that starts with God’s sovereignty (compared to man’s alleged free will) and TULIP – the Reformed doctrine of salvation.

    In a word, the problem with Evangelical Collapse is “Arminianism”. The Evangelical Collapse is the fruit of the infatuation with the focus on man whether it be Billy Graham’s altar calls which focus on the free will choice of man to accept Christ or whether it be Joel Osteen’s Best Life which focuses on man’s self-improvement. Neither Billy Graham nor Joel Osteen are solely to blame; they are just clear examples. The problem is much broader. There is no fear of God in our churches. There is only fear of hell or earthly problems. The only solution to these problems that is being presented in these churches is “more from man” such as “Man needs to focus on Jesus more. Man needs to read the Bible more. Man needs to do a better job of preaching. Man needs to do a better job of witnessing.” No wonder, there is the Evangelical Collapse. The solution is not in man doing more.

    When Christ is presented by the church as the gentleman knocking on the door of your heart, the totally depraved man will shut that door. When Christ is presented through the cross by the church as the power of God for salvation, those Elect whom God intends to save will irresistibly be saved through God’s grace.

    Christ will build His church. Those who build their own church on Arminianism will see their church collapse like the house built on sand. Christ will build His church through those who truly focus on Him and His words and work. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

    In conclusion, if we could save the church whether by better emphasis of Jesus, better Bible studies, or better preaching, then man would deserve and could get the glory. “but, God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31. (Emphasis added.)

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