After his obituary was mistakenly published in a well-known journal, Mark Twain the American author and humourist sent a cable from London stating, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Christianity too is very much alive and well, and thriving all over the world.
According to the World Religion Database, 48 per cent of Africa’s 1 billion inhabitants are Christian. 82.24% of the Latin American countries are Christian. Christianity may be waning in Western Europe; but it is the predominant faith in five Asian countries, the Philippines, East Timor, Armenia, Georgia and Cyprus. In South Korea and Vietnam, Christianity represents the most widespread religion. There is explosive growth of Christianity in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch says, “Conflict in religion is inevitable and usually healthy – a religion without conflict is a religion that will die, and I see no sign of this with Christianity.” The U.S. conference of Catholic Bishops strongly endorsed Pope Benedict’s statements on the threat to the Church’s moral witness in public life. Some conservative Christians in America consider that the country has gone astray, seduced by the sirens of money and power. Charles Pope from the Archdiocese of Washington says that religious liberty is in great jeopardy in America. These are not signs of Christianity on the way out. They are signs of a resurgence of Christianity, ready to oppose the errors of every age in order to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
In modern times, the leftist world media and entertainment corporations lead the aggression against Christianity and the church. The various forces within the secular world have moved the opinions and perceptions of society away from traditional norms and religious heritage. The evil ploy is to portray the world as less religious. The continual message is that Christianity has withered; that the church has nothing significant to contribute to society in this century – unless it compromises its beliefs. Undeniably, much of that compromise has happened.
It is not the end of the faith when Franklin Graham – son of Billy Graham, referring to, the legalisation of same sex marriages and other things, says that he believes that America is on a path of destruction. It is not ‘bye ‘bye Christianity when research finds that America is less fervent in faith than ever before. The more telling statistic is that 78.4% of Americans are Christians – or identify with Christianity. Besides, it is a mistake to measure Christianity worldwide by events among the Christians in America. Yes, there are Christians who abandon the faith, especially in Europe. There are churches that have become apathetic. Indeed, false teachers have crept into the church, and the voice of the church might seem relegated to that of a minor player in the world. In spite of all this battering, the church stays alive.
This endurance is not because the church produces present day icons with huge social power in the world or society. It is because of the connection to, and the spiritual legacy of its founder Christ. This shapes the resilience and zeal of the faithful and the recruits, and guarantees the successful survival of Christianity. In all of history, the world has craftily presented the church as a custodian of ethics and morality. That is its ancillary purpose. Its prime purpose is to preach the gospel throughout the world and make disciples of all people. Far from dying on the vine, Christianity is very much alive and doing pretty well. The bells that toll are not the death knell of Christianity, but the jubilant peals of a firm faith, on a forward march towards three billion Christians by 2050.
I wrote this for the mass circulation paper My Christian Daily; published December 10th 2012