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Liberal Theology and Declining Church Attendance

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Church attendance in Western “Christian” nations has been falling steadily for decades. In America, less than 20 percent of the population now attends church each week (Statistics and Reasons for Church Decline, Richard Krejar) and in England, less than 2 percent of the population attends church each week (The Guardian, January12, 2016). According to the Toronto Star, mainline Protestant denominations in Canada have lost 40-60 percent of their members since 1960 (thestar.com, December 6, 2016). Often-cited reasons for such declines include a lack of interest within our increasingly secular societies. However, the Star article highlights a recent statistical study that reveals that “Liberal theology leads to decline.” The study defines “liberal theology” as attempts by clergy to water down what the Scriptures actually say and to discount belief in the supernatural “in order to make their religious message more palatable for modern audiences,” and finds that it is actually “conservative theology—with its emphasis on the factual truth of scripture and God’s activity in the world—that fuels church growth.” It appears that the move away from the Bible has led to shrinking attendance in mainline Protestant churches in Western societies.

While mainstream churches, in general, have a history of ignoring Scripture in favor of tradition, ancient prophecies have long warned that moves even further away from the Bible would happen. God inspired Jeremiah to write, “those who handle the law did not know Me… Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture… who try to make My people forget My name” (Jeremiah 2:8; 23:1, 25-27). As this world continues to turn away from God, it is encouraging to know that after Jesus Christ returns, His Truth will eventually fill the earth (Isaiah 11:9). To learn more about this exciting future, see The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?