"Gratitude goes beyond the 'mine' and 'thine' and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy." Henri Nouwen
US FIsh and Wildlife Service-Public Domain.
Recently, in an Associated Baptist Press post, here, Al Mohler, responding to the elections had these two things to say:
“It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them” (New York Times). "
“Far fewer Americans now attend church, and a recent study indicated that fully 20 percent of all Americans identify with no religious preference at all” (AlbertMohler.com)."
I believe that Al Mohler either does not understand the nuances of the changing religious climate in the the United States or he is deliberately pointing the finger at those "outside" the church to deflect criticism away from the evangelical church. I'll get back to this in a minute.
I recently returned from a 10 day cruise which included passage through part of the Panama Canal. This was a longstanding desire of my elderly mother. Shortly after arrival on the ship, I realized that there was a problem accessing the Internet through my Mac.Others experienced the same issue. The tech person offered to mess around with my settings, but I did not desire to give our Guy Behind the Curtain heartburn. So, reluctantly, I gave up the Internet, except for some quick texts throughout the trip.
I believe that this was all in God's plan for my expedition. I slept an inordinate amount, ate too much and ended up reading 5 1/2 books, one of which was Rachel Held Evans book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Next week, I plan to write about my thoughts but, short version, I enjoyed it and believe that many people are deliberately "missing the boat". Even more, I was dismayed by Mary Kassian's response and cannot believe that TGC and others did not tell her to revise her post. But, I shall save this for next week.
When my nose was not stuck in my Kindle, I took a great deal of interest in all the people I met on the trip. And this is why I want to contest Mohler's use of the word "secularization" of America in describing those who "reject our positions." It is illustrated by two conversations I had with some fellow passengers. The first took place on a domed train, being carried through to the Canal's Pacific Miraflores Lock which is about 1 hour from Gatun Lake which is located on the Caribbean side of the canal. I tired of my rather scrunched seat and decided to stretch my legs.
Shortly after passing the dumpy jail in which General Noriega resides (he is the only one who get an air conditioner), a pleasant woman started talking with me. I am still not sure how the conversation progressed but she suddenly said that it gave her great peace to know that God loved her enough that He sent Jesus to die for her. I asked her what church she attended and she started to cry and said she did not attend church. Seeing that she was upset and wanting to comfort her, I told her about the blog and that we had discovered that there was a rising group of people called the "nones." I relayed to her the information in our post "The Nones: Are the Faithful Fleeing the Church?" link.
When I explained that there are probably millions of people who are still believers but have left the church due to bad experiences, she exclaimed, "That's me!" I told her that she was not alone and that we started an E Church to reach out to those who wanted a safe place to be encouraged in the faith. She wrote down all of the information and said she would visit as soon as she got home.
I had another encounter with an older couple who attend a well known, Reformed church. When one of my family members spilled the beans about my blog, I chimed in that we deal with many issues surrounding abuse and the church. They told me they had a close family member who was seriously abused by the church and who now refuses, along with his immediate family, to attend church. I explained to this couple that we have many, many people who have been hurt by the church who inhabit this blog and support one another. They said they would put him in touch with us.
Please understand, in four conversations about faith with four different sets of people, half of them have been let down and hurt by the church. I batted 50% on those who have fled the church!
Of course the country is becoming more secularized. But, I also believe that something else is in play. In the past 10 years, the number of "nones" has doubled in the US. This coincides with increasingly strident teaching on gender roles, Young Earth creationism, exposes of sexual abuse and the development of the"untouchable" (and occasionally wealthy) leadership. Al Mohler, along with many others, have coddled and protected each other in their quest for "gospel" rules.
Mohler has spoken out about the need for strict reporting standards in pedophile cases. In the next breath, he slobbers all over CJ Mahaney who is facing some serious charges of having allegedly presided over an entity with some mighty strange views on how to handle children who have been molested. (Click on the links at the top of our home page to read some of these disturbing stories.)
The Gospel Coalition front pages Dinesh D'Souza's fall from grace due to an alleged affair and then remains defiantly quiet when one of their own is caught in the cross hairs of what appears to be a developing scandal of major proportions. Folks, we are on Day 33 of DEAD silence from TGC, Al Mohler, et.al.
Let me rewrite Al Mohler's statement “It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them" to reflect my view from bleachers.
"It's that the entire basis of moral, ethical and Biblical (Hey, if they can use it, so can I! ) church landscape has changed. An increasingly educated Christian population has begun to understand the legalistic positions of the modern Pharisaical leadership and are walking away. The church is its own worst enemy."
As I now turn to celebrating Thanksgiving, I want to take a moment to thank all of you, our dear readers, for your comments that have opened our eyes to the problems in today's church culture. You have taught us by the honest sharing of your pain and hurt. You have educated us with your thoughtful and in-depth understanding of Scripture and theology. It is because of you that I was able, when confronted by a dear woman in a train in Panama along with others, to speak to the essential Gospel and bring grace to those who have been banged over the head with rules and regulations. This Thanksgiving, I am thanking God for all of you.
May you be blessed by this Thanksgiving medley. We will not post tomorrow. We will be too busy indulging in God's many blessings!
Lydia's Corner: Numbers 8:1-9:23 Mark 13:14-37 Psalm 50:1-23 Proverbs 10:29-30