Christian America and Christendom America

Pastor Mark Driscoll responds to the Newsweek article on Christianity declining in America by distinguishing between Christian America and Christendom America. (And he does it on the Fox News website?!)

Christian America is comprised of those people who have had a truly transforming experience with Jesus Christ and are living new lives as practicing Christians. Experts such as sociologist Bradford Wilcox at the University of Virginia have well documented the fact that those who practice Christian faith by reading their Bibles regularly, attending church, praying, and so forth are far less likely to engage in acts such as adultery, divorce, substance abuse, and the like.

Christendom America is comprised of those people who have not had a truly transforming experience with Jesus Christ and are living lives virtually indistinguishable from those who are non-Christians. The confusion is that it was common in Christendom for people who did not practice Christianity to profess Christianity. This was often done for social reasons, such as living in a culture that expected church affiliation, being born into a religious tradition and assuming it was simply part of one’s identity (like a cultural or racial connection), or personally, socially, and vocationally benefitting from being connected, even loosely, to a church or denomination. Researchers such as George Barna have documented the fact that, as Jesus himself said, not everyone who says he or she is a Christian is in fact one.

Subsequently, the Newsweek report simply confirms the fact that, just as Christendom has died in Europe and the major American cities, it is now dying in the suburban and rural areas of America as well. With the social benefits of professing to be a Christian no longer in place and the social stigma of not professing to be a Christian now lifted, those who were part of Christendom America are simply no longer pretending to be part of Christian America.

Since those who professed faith but did not practice faith were confusing to account for, this is actually a good thing. Now, it is more likely that if someone is a Christian or non-Christian, he or she will state so plainly. Therefore, the number of Christians has likely not diminished as much as has been reported, but rather we are seeing an increasingly accurate accounting of actual Christian America.

Jon Meacham wrote the original Newsweek article on The End of Christian America. He defines his terms a little differently, and you can read his follow-up on the difference between Christian America and Christianity here.

HT: Between Two Worlds

1 Comment

  1. David Webb says:

    Hello Brothers and Sisters, Do we truly understand what it means to be a Christian? When I speak of this on here, I need to make sure that we look at the life that Jesus led. Christianity has gotten some really bad views and I often wonder if those that claim to be Christian truly know that we are to be kind, and loving and non-judgmental, having compassion, comforting the sick and the brokenhearted, giving those that are Fatherless, the hope and the message of our Saviour. Do we help the widows or do we condemn and judge them. Leave the judgment for our Lord. We are the seed planters, but do we avoid those who may not dress according to “Church Standards”? Do those in need of Christ stink and we avoid them? I understand the tares in the wheat principle who are those who have been coming to church for the last 5, 10, or 20 years but have never been saved. They have never grown spiritually. Are there times when someone new comes in and those are the people they encounter? How warm of a welcome are the new people given? Are they given a person to contact and study with? and does that person lead by example? For me being a Christian means sometimes doing things that I may not want to do for one reason or another, although it won’t hurt me physically, it bruises the pride that may creep in from time to time. I watched one Christian Reformed Church who had some of the reformed gang members come into speak and for the life of me and I can’t remember the groups name. However, they were made to sit in a separate room to eat a meal I had cooked for them and I always wondered why???? That bothered me, There was no fellowship. To me that was just wrong and it goes to show that, that’s not what being a Christian is all about. It was downright rude! Out of 400 church members not one would sit with them! In my Bible, Jesus Christ sat down and ate with publicans and sinners! I hope to do the same. Are we reaching out to those kids who may have parents incarcerated or are we judging them too? Are we truly forgiving as Jesus is. Probably not by a long shot. I have discovered that the church is just a building of materials, brick wood, drywall etc… The real church is within our heart that is in alignment with the Will of the Father. There would be a great rejoicing if everyone could wake up to that thought and drive that point home. It’s not about bickering or what kind of clothes you wear, the car you drive, the puffed up status of a title. Remember the man in the bible who was waiting on Jesus to come to dinner and turned away what he thought was a stranger. How many of us will refuse to help someone? Remember that denial of the chance to do some good and you lacked the courage because your heart wasn’t in the right place of a loving manner. Watch out for that truck that comes later. Don’t pass up the opportunity to show the compassion. God Bless.

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