That “Nones” May Not Perish

by Bob Perry

The church is facing ominous times. Science, culture, and politics are conspiring to silence the gospel and render God’s bride impotent. You can see it in the numbers: less than one half of 1 percent of eighteen- to twenty-three-year-olds hold to a Christian view of the world.1More than 80 percent of young adults are spiritually “disengaged” by age twenty-nine.2 In society as a whole, the number of those who profess no belief in God (the “nones”) more than doubled between 2007 and 2014.3 Though statistics show an overall worldwide increase in the numbers of religious believers, that phenomenon is almost solely attributable to growing numbers in places such as Africa and China. In Europe and America, the numbers of the faithful are declining as younger “nones” replace their more religiously affiliated elders.4

Let’s admit it, we live in a dire, post-Christian climate where an archaic call to faith seems to be getting drowned out by a bugle sounding the church’s retreat to isolation. In such an environment, it seems improbable that we might heed the hope-filled exhortation of an evangelist reminding us that God communicates “the mystery of eternal life…through the epochs of a people’s history, as through the successive stages of a man’s life…to raise them from the temporal and the visible to an apprehension of the eternal and invisible.”5

If you’ve been tempted to accept the popular view of ecclesiastical catastrophism, know that Augustine wrote those words in AD 426 during a time when the Roman Empire was crumbling, societal ills were being blamed on the church, and Augustine offered good evidence that church clergy, in their collaborative efforts to gain the good graces of the state, actually had been complicit in the active persecution of their fellow Christians.6

So much for rationalizing present-day evangelistic pessimism in the face of a hostile world…

That “Nones” May Not Perish


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