Friday, January 16, 2009

American Individualism and Ecumenism in Religion

On January 14, The Christian Science Monitor posted an article about the growing trend in this country of those who claim to be Christians deciding on their own what they will believe, instead of relying on some church or denomination. Here is the link to the original article:

Most US Christians define own theology

The following paragraph does a fair job summarizing the main points in the article:

"A sizable majority of the country's faithful no longer hew closely to orthodox teachings, and look more to themselves than to churches or denominations to define their religious convictions, according to two recent surveys. More than half of all Christians also believe that some non-Christians can get into heaven."

For years, the spirit of ecumenism has grown stronger among the denominations. As people who claim to follow Christ, yet hold differing and contradictory doctrines and practices, ignore their differences for the sake of "unity," this was only a matter of time. The mess of ecumenism has led a significant number to believe that many who brazenly reject Christ can still be saved.

What do I mean by a significant number? According to the Pew survey cited in the article, 65% of American Christians believe that many different religions can lead to eternal life. In fact, the poll found that 42% of religious Americans believe that atheists can find eternal life.

How did we get here? It has been common for people in denominationalism to pick and choose what they want from the Bible. Now, according to these recent surveys, many of these people "go beyond the teachings of Christian denominations to embrace parts of other world religions." They have forgotten the words of Jesus, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).

However, there is potentially a bright side to this. People are increasingly less likely to look to denominations to determine their convictions. This is an important step. Of course, as this article points out, many are now looking to themselves. Neither oneself nor the churches of men are proper standards (Proverbs 14:12; 2 Corinthians 10:12).

But if we can find people who are willing to look past themselves and simply go back to the Bible as their standard of faith and practice, there is hope of converting these souls to Christ. Amidst the multitude of world religions, there are some who are rethinking what they've been taught, what they've always believed, and are sincerely seeking for the truth. The pure, uncorrupted word of God is the truth (John 17:17). Let us be prepared to share it with those who are looking.

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