New Exodus: Americans Exit Liberal Churches

New Exodus: Americans Exit Liberal Churches
Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

“We have figured out your problem. You’re the only one here who believes in God.” That statement, addressed to a young seminarian, introduces Dave Shiflett’s new book, Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity. The book is an important contribution, and Shiflett offers compelling evidence that liberal Christianity is fast imploding upon itself.

Shiflett, an established reporter and author, has written for The Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Investors’ Business Daily, among other major media. He is also author of Christianity on Trial and is a member of the White House Writers Group.

Shiflett’s instincts as a reporter led him to see a big story behind the membership decline in liberal denominations. At the same time, Shiflett detected the bigger picture–the decline of liberal churches as compared to growth among the conservatives. Like any good reporter, he knew he was onto a big story.

“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.”

What makes Shiflett’s book unique is the personal narratives he has collected and analyzed.Exodus is not a book of mere statistics and research. To the contrary, Shiflett crossed America, interviewing both conservatives and liberals in order to understand what is happening within American Christianity. Shiflett’s interviews reveal fascinating insights into the underlying realities and the personal dimensions of theological conflict. Exodus is written in a very direct style, with Shiflett providing readers anecdotes and analysis of his personal interaction with those he interviewed.

One of Shiflett’s interviewees was the Reverend Bruce Gray, Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. In an interesting comment, Shiflett recalls that this was the very church where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech in 1775–the speech in which Henry cried: “Give me liberty, or give me death!” As Shiflett notes, “The Episcopal Church, by freeing itself from many of its traditional beliefs, sometimes appears to be well on its way to achieving both.” Revered Gray supports the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, and he told Shiflett that the biblical condemnations of homosexuality had been considered by thoughtful people who had decided that the texts do not mean what they appear to mean. He cited his own bishop, who had issued an episcopal letter arguing, “Many people believe any homosexual activity is purely prohibited by Scripture . . . . But other Christians who take Scripture seriously believe that the Biblical writers were not addressing the realities of people with a permanent homosexual orientation living in faithful, monogamous relationships, and that the relevant scriptural support for those relationships is similar to the expectations of faithfulness Scripture places on marriage.” That is patent nonsense, of course, but this is what passes for theological argument among those pushing the homosexual agenda.

21 Comments

  • Reply June 29, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    happening in a city near you Philip Williams no matter how Steve Maxwell would like to mask it with growth or not

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day the mega churches are often exit stages for those raised in the faith. A place where they might meet friends.

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      You better have a church that’s relevant to your flock or they’ll find greener pastures or in this case Pastors ?

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Steve Maxwell indeed the case!

      Matthew 7:3 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      Philip Williams the path to salvation is relevant. I recall being on the steps of the church after a tough sermon, hearing an old guy say that sermon was tough on him but he needed it.

      A pastor who is walking in the Spirit all week, can deliver a tough sermon and not run his flock off. Unfortunately, a lot of the tough sermons are just that and delivered with no hope of redemption.

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Steve Maxwell Do tough sermons still exist?

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      Philip Williams I suppose you think that a bevy of tough sermons do a better job of keeping us on the straight and narrow than walking in the Spirit.

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Steve Maxwell if you are bothered by prophetic criticism, you aren’t walking in the Spirit. Instead, you want the false prophets to say smooth things to tickle your ears.

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Steve Maxwell

      “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
      ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4:3-4‬ ‭

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      I totally reject your “prophetic” criticism that you hide behind. I’ll stick with the word of God and ignore people claiming to claim prophetic wisdom….ppppft.

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Philip Williams MEGA churches or however one calls them area actually growing Not so with AG in the US since 2017 as we’ve shown Steve Maxwell Nevertheless, a church growth cannot be considered by the numbers only And even more so, what Steve said for the church to reflect the people or something is not nearly NT or Biblical – church and people should be the same thing not one reflecting the community of visa versa Not even sure when one could get such idea except from some startup seeker church like Charles Page pointed out

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Steve Maxwell you would have said the same of John the Baptist and especially Jesus who said of those like yourself:

      ““Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

      “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Matthew‬ ‭23:13, 15‬ ‭

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      wow Joe Absher Alan Smith seems like Philip Williams just went OT on Steve Maxwell daydream is OVER

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      Seems like you ignored the “woe to you, teachers of the law” part of the verse.

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Steve Maxwell people are leaving the churches WAKE UP

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      Troy Day, as one of your post indicated, they are leaving the liberal churches. Pentecostal churches may not be growing as they are world wide, but they are growing at last count. They are just leaving lousy Pentecostal churches to good ones, like mine. We are making a difference in our community and drug addicts, etc are coming to know Jesus.

    • Reply June 29, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Steve Maxwell not my post – BARNA group and YES – if you read it liberal are the seeker friendly churches especially the ones in AG that have emerged from the FL revivals and have gone astray with liberal non-Pentecostal theology ie remain Pentecostal in name only – many of those are in NM, AZ and even more so in AG – to put it simply I believe you were gone for a while when I showed Daniel J Hesse the new official stats showing decline in 2018 – actually started in 2017 If you cant dig them up in the posts I surely will when there is a bit time Growth is here no more 2019 will confirm it sadly

    • Reply June 30, 2019

      Jevan Little

      Steve Maxwell I wish I could go to NM and visit your church

    • Reply June 30, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      Jevan Little, I love to visit yours as well, Jevan. I travel so much that I get to visit a lot of good a d not so good churches.

  • Reply June 30, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Thanks for wisdom Philip Williams I would suspect most churches Steve Maxwell has been to a pretty liberal – which ones are they BTW ?

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