There has never been a society that has been Relative very long and there has never been a church that has been relative very long. Relative churches gradually relativize themselves out of existence. That is exactly what is happening in the relative, state churches of Germany (Europe) and England.
As a new convert was being given a tour through a great cathedral he asked the tour guide, “Anybody been converted in this place lately?”
The importance of the church is essentially tied to the reality of the Gospel. When people no longer believe that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation, the church becomes irrelevant. The importance of the church is essentially tied to the reality of the Gospel. When people no longer believe that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation, the church becomes irrelevance. The secularization of Europe is strangling the breath of the Holy Spirit out of its churches.
Germany, the cradle of the Lutheran Reformation and once at the heart of European Christianity, is now experiencing the precipitous loss of churches.
Protestant and Roman Catholic churches are selling their valuable properties, leasing them to other religious groups or they are being converted into restaurants apartments and music halls. Congregations that have merged to survive are gasping for new life. The beautiful architect with its impressive archways and stained glass windows remain but they are no more than lifeless monuments to a once vibrant past.
Secularists and liberal theologians give more sociological spin out reasons than you can shake a stick as to why the church is declining but plain and simple they have lost the simple gospel message which never becomes irrelevant. Like theologian Alister McGrath says, “to relativize the absolute is to absolute the relative.” This liberal theologians have done with great finesse .
Here is where denominations sow the seeds of their own destruction; it begins when they reject the Scriptures as God’s infallible word as their unerring guide and authority. Several decades later you can watch these now liberal churches, which in all likelihood were started by Bible believing, sacrificing, conservative Christians, condone what they once totally rejected and blatantly deny what the New Testament for almost two-thousand years still condemns. For them orthodoxy is now established by a majority vote. The sin of the liberal is that he loves the sinner and embraces his sin.
The state of affairs is not much better in the Church of England. Fortunately many Episcopalians (Some say Anglicans) are leaving their denomination and starting their separate conservative, Bible believing organization. They are adamantly against same-sex marriages being sanctioned by the church and homosexual clergy. They realize that when a church forfeits its doctrinal convictions and tolerates heresy, it embraces its own destruction. It’s like someone being slowly swallowed up by a 30 foot python snake.
The state Church of England is losing members so fast that one wonders if it will exist for the next generation of young people. The apathy of its leaders is appalling. Its declining figures since the end of the IIWW are dire indeed. Fortunately, like here in America as well, where liberal churches are declining and gasping for breath like fish thrown up on the shore, the Evangelical churches are taking up the slack and growing like fresh seeds on rich soil
Only 1.1m people, some 2 per cent of the population, attend church on a weekly basis, and only 1.7m, or 3 per cent, once a month. This in spite of the fact that around half the population still profess themselves Anglicans.
The decline in paid clergy has been even more rapid. On the Church’s own statistics, the beginning of the new millennium has already seen a fall in over 20 per cent to barely 8,000. On present trends clergy would disappear altogether within half a century.
I know that millions got up early in the morning to watch “The marriage of the century,” of William and Kate at Westminster Abbey. The ceremony was beautiful and the vows were sincere. I also know that no one can match the Brits when it comes to putting on a royal procession. But it’s all drama it’s all about appearances. Like a rainbow over Niagara Falls it soon disappears and it back to basics.
How many Brits knew the words of the hymns that were sung and were remotely familiar with the scriptures that were read so eloquently. Only three percent of the nation’s population attends Church of England services even once a month. Given current trends, few Anglican parishes will have ministers in just a few decades. Like many other historic churches and denominations, the Church of England is passing through decline, and it faces nothing short of demise unless these trends are somehow reversed.
But here is where reality sets in and Church history reminds us again and again; (But what do we learn from history, except that human nature does not learn anything from history.) Churches and denominations decline when they lose or forfeit their passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for the Bible as the enduring, authoritative, and totally truthful Word of God.
When life and death are no longer understood to hang in the balance, there is little reason for the British people to worry about anything related to Christianity. If a church is not passionate about seeing sinners come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if there is no powerful biblical message from its pulpits, then it is destined for decline and eventual disappearance.
While the lights of a church may go out in some places remember that new ones are coming on all the time.
The fastest growing church in the world today is in China but that’s another story.
Jesus said; ” I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
The best is yet To Be!