Is America Falling Away?
"But the Spirit explicitly says that in latter times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons." 1 Timothy 4:1 But God couldn't be referring to America through the Apostle Paul's letter to Timothy, could He?
There are indeed many indications that America is falling away from Christianity. We will look at some of the indicators in this blog post.
However, God said through Paul that "some"--not all--will fall away. That means that sounding the alarm may awaken the falling and lukewarm before the Great Tribulation (see Revelation 7:14) or their physical death, whichever comes first.
As we look up in anticipation of our "blessed hope" (see Titus 2:13), we remain hopeful that many will repent and follow the narrow path. But the time to change is now. Jesus warns us,
"But as the days of Noah were, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark..." Matthew 24:37-38
Let's get on board with God's saving grace!
We see different indications of America's falling away from Christianity and possible reasons for it. Let's consider just three possible explanations:
Falling Away Willfully
Falling Away Unconsciously
Falling Away in Denial
Falling Away Willfully
From the late 1990s through 2014, I listened to National Public Radio (NPR) religiously. While I believed in God, started attending church, and was Baptized, I seldom read the Bible. I was spending too much time listening to the wrong voice.
Although I didn't think I was willfully falling away, the liberal NPR sand mixed with the rock of Jesus eroded my faith. I had one foot solidly planted in the shifting sands of NPR's worldview and the other sheepishly tiptoeing in God's infallible Word. I was a lukewarm American Christian, willfully falling away from Christ because I chose what I listened to and read. No passes. I was guilty of falling away based on my choices, simple freedom, and responsibility. Falling, but not fallen. Thanks be to God!
Why am I "picking on" NPR? NPR is our publically funded radio station, America's radio station. So it reflects the collective voice of the American people, right? Well, perhaps, but NPR continues its move to the far "left." So much so that Joe Concha wrote an article titled "The Time Has Come: Defund the Hopelessly Biased NPR." I agree with his recommendation.
NPR published a September 2022 interview with a Pew Research Center researcher who stated that "as of 2020, the number of Americans who identify as Christian is about 64%. Fifty years ago, that number was 90%." I don't have a problem with the research. However, I take exception to how cheerfully the results were received and communicated by NPR.
Whether we like NPR or not, the Pew Research Center research identifies 26% of once-Christian Americans willfully falling away from Christianity. Unfortunately, we can do nothing about this 26%. As the Apostle Paul writes,
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame." Hebrews 6:4-6
We may still have time with the next group, those who are falling away unconsciously.
Falling Away Unconsciously
Similar to my own experience with NPR, many are unconsciously falling away from Christianity based on their interests. We know that people will search Google for the topics that interest them, and I wondered how Christianity compares with other random topics.
To find out, I went to Google Trends and compared "Coffee," "Opera," "Polo" (Horse Hockey), and "Christianity." I limited the search to the United States between January 1, 2004, through November 23, 2022. Here's what I found:
I know many people are interested in coffee, but I wasn't expecting Christianity to be of less interest than opera or polo! I don't know the mind of Jesus, but He can't be happy with that comparison graph. And I've conducted enough research to predict that many of these distracted individuals will unconsciously fall away from the faith. So come on, people, wake up and smell the coffee. Jesus is coming soon, and you don't want Him finding you more interested in opera or polo than His Word.
Falling Away in Denial
Many of us have experienced situations where denial was temporarily helpful. Specifically, denial allowed us to cope with traumatic situations so our minds weren't blown on the spot.
But denial of God's Word has eternal consequences. We see faithful Christians protesting in favor of a woman's choice to abort their babies, protesting in favor of "non-binary," trans," and the myriad issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. Many Christians vote for gay/lesbian pastors to lead their church and condone gay marriage. Many are in denial that their own pastors could hold a non-Biblical worldview. As stated by George Barna, Director of Research for the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, "...culture is influencing the American church more than Christian churches are influencing culture. It certainly seems that if America is going to experience a spiritual revival, that awakening is needed just as desperately in our pulpits as in the pews."
As an ego defense mechanism, denial is accepted and acknowledged as "normal" in a psychiatrist's office. However, what America is trying to normalize is still called SIN in the Bible. Therefore, just because a hip Christian says that homosexuality is no longer a psychiatric disorder doesn't mean God agrees. Denying that God means what He says is leading to the falling away of many Christians in America today. Persisting in this denial could mean falling further than any progressive Christian could ever imagine. God's love may be more "conditional" than they think.
Look at the Google Trends line for interest in Christianity in the United States over time (same period as shown above).
We see a steady falling away of interest in Christianity in America. But also look at the recent glimmer of hope—a slight upturn in interest, perhaps reflecting seasonality interest in Christmas. Regardless, any increased interest in Christianity in America could save one more soul. If so, that is a reason for celebration and Thanksgiving.
Many indicators support the contention that America is falling away from Christianity. First, we find the fall supported by formal research. We even see it supported in a simple comparison of Christianity's interest in Google Trends over time.
Although there are many reasons for America's falling away, I've suggested three (Willful, Unconscious, and Denial) that could explain the decline in the Christian faith.
Finally, I hope that the recent upturn in Christian interest is a sincere recognition that America needs to change its ways. When we stand before Jesus, I don't want Him to ask us why we fell away. Instead, I want Him to see us fall in line with His Word today and every day.