Another book? Yes, another book. I’m always up for reading and reviewing books. In truth, there should be more of this in the year to come than there is now, and on a more regular schedule.
Today’s book comes from Monarch Books. It was provided free for review, something that has been true of book reviews for decades but apparently only becomes important when someone reviews free books for free. You never saw the New York Times have to highlight that their book reviewers got books for free…
Moving on from that rant, let’s hit another rant. It’s the “Christianity (and religion) are dying….oh, wait, maybe not” rant. Instead of reading me blog the rant, though, I would encourage you read Sean Oliver-Dee’s God’s Unwelcome Recovery and see a book-length response to that claim. Here’s the long and short of it, as found in his book.
First, yes, statistically speaking, there are church attendance/measurement metrics that show decline. This is only applicable, though, if we assume that churches should be measured like football clubs and businesses. Fewer people, fewer dollars, must be fading, right? Not automatically.
Second, there are political and social reasons why those not in church want to trumpet the decline of the church. (On this note, while I agree we must be honest about ourselves, perhaps our own statisticians and denominational vice presidents could stop giving ammunition to the critics of the church.) This is the bulk of the book: why the establishment wants to play down the church, and therefore why governing officials should not listen to Christian teaching or ideas. Further, why those ideas should be avoided, as the decline in churches is evidence that these are toxic ideas.
Third, Oliver-Dee demonstrates that the evidence is not solid that Christian religious belief is actually fading. Nominal Christianity that is Sunday only? Perhaps. Old-line, mainstream? Maybe. But the church as the vibrant expression of Christian faith that is the body of Christ, the Church, is not.
While God’s Unwelcome Recovery is focused on the church in the United Kingdom, there is valuable wisdom here for church leaders anywhere. I’d recommend it for church leaders and analyzers.