Prayers in school and in public ceremonies are out for Americans. Funding for a Boy Scout group was dropped when someone objected to the Scouts’ oath, ‘to do my duty to God and my country’. And a promotion of the popular television show The Simpsons has Bart Simpson mocking a family giving thanks for a meal: ‘Dear God,’ he says, ‘we pay for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.’
In case you hadn’t noticed, the God of the Bible has been pushed aside in recent years. He is being replaced by a god more in line with the modern world’s thinking.
At the first Australian census in 1911, 96 percent of Australians said they were Christians. In 1976 the figure had dropped to 78.6 percent. A Bureau of Statistics report published in February 1991 noted that by 1986 the figure had fallen to 73 percent. On current trends there is no reason to think the number will climb back.
The problem is not so much in the percentages. If all those who said they were Christians were truly evangelical, born-again Christians who wanted others to know the God they had found, the number of Christians would be increasing daily. That’s what happened in the early Christian church (Acts 2:47). The problem is that many who say they are Christians have let a new god take their allegiance. Like the Israelites who began worshipping a golden calf when Moses delayed his coming, many Christians have begun worshipping a god of their own making as the church waits for Christ’s return.
Society’s new god is not the Creator God described in the Bible. He is a trendy god who supposedly ‘creates’ through an accidental evolutionary process and conforms with the times. In fact, we’re not sure that this new god is really a ‘he’ at all. A new version of the Bible purports to get rid of all that Hebrew and Greek sexist language so that we can pray to ‘God the Mother’ instead of God the Father.
The God of the Bible is too authoritative for today’s moderns. Look at the way He expelled Adam and Eve from the garden. Too dogmatic. People want today’s god to control his hostilities, perhaps by doing yoga or meditation. The God of the Bible sent a Flood on the earth without so much as a referendum. Extremely undemocratic. Then He confused everyone’s language without first talking it over with the people. And look at the way He incinerated Sodom and Gomorrah. Today’s god would surely organize peace protests and gay marches to present the other side.
Today’s god also has to care more for the environment. None of that turning rivers into blood or sending plagues of flies or locusts to those who stand against him.
What about that quaint language which Christians used to speak? Modesty is today dismissed as ‘a sex hangup’, living in sin is explained as ‘having a meaningful relationship’, and biblical creation is held to be ‘a cultural myth’. The Ten Commandments were surely just Ten Suggestions for killjoys, and murder of the unborn is regarded by many as an outdated phrase opposing ‘abortion rights’.
Christianity is taking a dive because many Christians are joining non-Christians in portraying a god who has to be pliable or he will be abandoned. He has to bend to what the world wants.
Around the time of the American Revolution (1775–83), 12 of the 13 American States collected a tax to pay for the preaching of the gospel. For 200 years the church was an institution in which Americans had confidence. But in 1986, according to the Los Angeles Times of 5 January 1991, a Gallup Poll showed that ‘religion was replaced by the military as the institution in which Americans have the most confidence.’
Why? Analyse today’s loosely moulded god and you will find a spiritually, physically, and morally bankrupt shell. He isn’t expected to answer prayers—so why pray? He wouldn’t know how to perform a miracle if the earth depended on it—so it’s easier to believe that miracles don’t happen. If this is God, then all those stories about answered prayer and miracles in the Bible can’t be believed.
Who wants to worship such a powerless, atrophied god? No-one, of course. That’s why the churches which compromise with the world in accepting this rubbery god idea will decline even further in spiritual effectiveness. Only by teaching the true, historical, holy character of God, beginning with the fact that He is the miracle-working Creator of the universe, will Christians be able to lay a proper foundation for the gospel and influence society for the better. They should then be able to restore public confidence in the Bible and in the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving nature of the God of all creation—Jesus Christ.