This year’s Consider Christianity Week is March 9th – 15th and is rapidly approaching. The recent release of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey shows that it is definitely needed as much now as ever. According to the report, “Religion in the United States is often described as a vibrant marketplace where individuals pick and choose religions that meet their needs, and religious groups are compelled to compete for members. The Landscape Survey confirms that, indeed, there is a remarkable amount of movement by Americans from one religious group to another.”
One key finding is that “44% of Americans now profess a religious affiliation that is different from the religion in which they were raised.” Thus the key question is, how prepared is your church to compete in the marketplace of religious ideas that now exists?Recently we have seen whole series of challenges enter the religious market place to lure people away from Christianity from bestselling books, such as Harris’ “The End Of Faith,” Dawkins’ “The God Delusion,” and Hitchens “God is not Great” to movies such “The Golden Compass”, and “Zeitgeist the Movie.”Now atheists writing books attacking the truthfulness of Christianity is nothing new. But these threats are different in that they not abstract works aimed at a largely academic audience. They are popular works reaching large audiences, and in fact have been best sellers. They also tend to be different in that they portray Christianity as not just wrong, but as dangerous; Not just as something the educated person should scoff at, but something everyone should not only avoid, but which should be resisted.Zeitgeist the Movie has made quite a stir on the Internet and is behind the upcoming Z-Day which will have hundreds of events around the world to promote its message, a portion of which is strongly anti-Christian. The latter is particularly dangerous as it is aimed directly at a younger U-Tube audience and as an Internet movie has gone largely under the radar.Fifteen years ago when we started Consider Christianity Week, it was already apparent that not only was the culture was becomes increasingly secular and hostile to religion in general and Christianity particular, but that the church was ill equip to deal with the growing threats and focusing on other efforts.That the church’s response has been ineffective is clearly seen in a recent study by the Barna Group, which showed “one of the most significant shifts [in American culture] is the declining reputation of Christianity, especially among young Americans.” All the attacks are having an effect.
To address these new challenges, Christians more than ever must “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). The main goal of Consider Christianity Week is to equip Christians with the knowledge and ability to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do so with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet 3:15).
This equipping is vitally important, not only for sharing and defending the Gospel in the marketplace of ideas, but it is also vitally important for our own walk with the Lord. As noted in another recent survey, by the Barna Group, only 50% of Evangelical had a Biblical world view. Other Christian groups faired even worst and for the population as a whole it was only 5%. How can we ever hope to proclaim the truth of God’s word, if we don’t even know what God says?
Another aim of Consider Christianity Week is to promote an interest in Christianity among the general public by correcting many of the lies and myths about Christianity and stressing the positive contributions that Christianity has made to our culture. This is done in the belief that Christianity is not an out dated religious belief, or a belief concerned only with eternity. Christianity is a rational, reasonable, relevant religion. It is not just of historical interest, it is a faith that addresses issues that concerns our daily lives. The solutions that Christians provide are worthy of consideration.
In short, Consider Christianity Week is devoted to the ideal that Christianity is not just a belief founded on wishful thinking, but a faith solidly grounded in fact. So what are you and your Church doing to counter these attacks? If you are unsure participating in Consider Christianity Week is a good way to start, and you can find more information at www.consider.org.
This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.