A recent report from the prestigious Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life comes down to this – Christians are getting restless. The report, other than indicating the consumerist attitude of modern religion shoppers, may indicate a deeper trend; it could mean that religion, as a mystery, as an iconic authority, as the secondary driver in people’s primarily economic lives, is finished. But why now? I believe that it is due to an increased awareness and jump in the level of consciousness of Americans, especially our youth who’s minds have been opened to the entire world by the internet. The spin that skews the reality in so many things these days, especially religion, is beginning to slow, and when the spinning stops, the top falls over.
Christianity has been decentralizing for a long time, ever since the protestant movement in Catholicism, and the protestant movement has fractionalized further with small groups differentiating themselves over tiny, obscure sections of biblical interpretation. Put one-hundred Christians that agree with each other one-hundred percent of the time in a room by themselves for a day, and the next morning you might have one-hundred new churches! This means that Freedom of religious choice has never been better represented than it is today; Americans are very independent and opinionated, and they like it that way, but organized religion is being fractured oración de la noche.
If we extrapolate this trend to its logical end, religion will become a very independent and personal thing, simply because spirituality is a very personal thing. In days gone by, we would sheep-like agree with everything the Church would tell us, capitulating completely, but now we form our own opinions because we no longer fear the Church as we once did. We are beginning to feel more confident in our own ability to discriminate between what we are told and what is our particular truth which we feel inside, and when these two don’t gel, we rebel.
For example, not believing in God is the greatest of blasphemies. This threat of damnation previously kept Christians in line, but modern, clear thinking, independent Christians, are more tuned into Jesus than God, because while God is an ephemeral, unknown something interpreted many ways by many different people, Jesus was human. Therefore, modern Christians are in the process of embracing the New Testament in deference to the Jewish Old Testament, and an “eye for an eye” is being rejected in lieu of “turn the other cheek.” Jesus was the prince of peace, not an authoritarian God, and “good cop, bad cop,” New Testament versus Old Testament, doesn’t work as well as it used to, as is evidenced by statistics. The spin is stopping; either a Christian is peaceful, or a Christian is warring, and the trend is swiftly moving toward peaceful.
God is the foundation of all Christian belief. If God cannot be proven, then all that follows, according to the principles of argument, are fallacious. That is, if an argument is made that the Bible was written by God, but God has never been established as existing, then the fallacy is that the Bible cannot be written by something that is only theory, but if it was, then the Bible is merely theory itself. God has never proven himself real; he has never come down and said hello. Although it is inferred that He came down in the form of Jesus, that has never been proven either, because all accounts of what Jesus said and did were the impressions of basically one disciple sixty years after Christ died, accounts that were further edited by the original church fathers. A lot could have changed, and a lot of what Jesus said and did could have been embellished.
At one time, questioning these things, or scientifically looking into the actual history of both Testaments to really see where they came from and how they developed, would never have been considered by Christians. What if they discovered that it has all been a hoax? They would be left with nothing! Therefore, this type of inquiry is never done – until recently that is – reflecting the mass exodus of youngsters from the faith.
Christians are beginning to look past the spin and look for the real thing. This is obvious from the shifts that are happening. They are saying, “If Christ was able to find it without relying on a religion, by merely going into the desert and being by himself instead of hanging out with everyone in a synagogue, why can’t I find it myself as well.” This takes an enormous amount of faith and courage, and must be discouraging to a religious industry that relies on church followers for funding. But because of the obvious spin (discovered by sharp youngsters) regarding religious doctrine by the religious industry, kids have begun falling back on themselves, just as Christ did. Kids are questioning. And they come up with good questions that are being answered by computers that have opened up their minds in many ways, minds that will never be closed again. It’s difficult to fool them any longer – the genie is out of the bottle. They will go along with family and parents while they are dependent, but a recent survey shows that 88% of Evangelical children leave the church after high school.
If a Christian looks into the Gnostic Gospels, they tell such a different story of Christ. The Church fathers (Catholics) conveniently left out the writings of some of Christ’s most influential disciples that really knew what He was attempting to tell us, I believe. These disciples revealed a man, a great teacher that was trying to teach people how to come face-to-face with God themselves, just as he did. In other words, coming face-to-face with God is an experience, a life-changing occurrence, not a belief, and takes effort, not just lying back because Jesus is God and we are already saved. The possibility exists that we must save ourselves. This is a different emphasis, and something that may rekindle Christianity for all of those that are being turned off. The fact is, fifty percent of Americans have either switched religions or left religion completely. It’s not getting better. People are searching.
The Gnostic Gospels could disrupt a Christian’s old time faith, but if the Church father’s claim of Jesus’ divinity was somehow manufactured, and truth always prevails, then the whole emphasis of Christianity will at some point shift to a religion of personal training and action in order to attain the levels of enlightenment and super consciousness that Christ attained. This is a revolutionary, exciting opening; a real possibility that Christians may actually become Christ-like, which is compassionate, open-minded, peace loving, generous, loving and accepting, rather than divisive and separatists. This is what our kids really want, and won’t be satisfied with less. Sometimes our youth can see clearer than we can.