A friend gave me a book by Ravi Zacharias called Deliver Us From Evil: Restoring the Soul in a Disintergrating Culture.  In it, Zacharias discusses the process of secularization and considers when and how it occured.  It didn’t happen overnight!  He writes:

Marshall [David Marshall – the Canadian Historian]  lays a major portion of the blame for the slide into secularism at the door of the Christian clergy.  It was from their ranks, he says, that the defection began.  From their ranks came the call to congregations to abandon the notion of an authoritative Scripture and surrender the biblical perspective on life’s deepest questions.  This was the explosive force that would demolish any claim to Christian uniqueness. (p. 45)

Wow!  If I hadn’t read Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis and Love Wins I would have found this statement provocative rather than the sad truth.  This has been going on for a while and perhaps is a process that works over time and history given the right conditions.  Steve Addison in writing about the decline of the mainline churches looks at the early church history of the United States; “…  two denominations grew significantly because they reached previously unchurched people. In 1776 only 17% of the poppulation was affiliated with a church. By 1850 that number had doubled to 34%. Most of the growth was as a result of the gains by the Methodists and Baptists on the frontier. Why? A key factor was the secularisation of the mainline denominations. ‘The religious message had become too vague, too accommodated and too secular to have broad appeal.'”

One reader comments;  “fascinating. i was struck by how much the early days of these movements resemble the landscape of our current situation with the exception being that i believe the frontiers are now the inner city and the safety zones are now the rural towns.”

The ‘watering down’ and undermining of scripture in order to preach a message that will appeal to more ‘paying customers’ and placate politicians causes eternal casualties among the very people who desperately need to hear His Gospel message.   Prophets of long ago spoke to this outrage;  “And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.”  (Hosea 4:9,10)

If the professional clergy who practice this sort of religion would take a warning from scripture I would point them to this; “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth.” (Rev 3:15, 16)  Thank God for those clergy who remain faithful to His Word and His call upon them.