His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12, ESV)
But, as seems so often to be the case, this is only part of the truth.
The rest of the truth of the matter is the decline in Christianity is being seen primarily in liberal Catholic circles and in liberal Mainline Protestant denominations. And not a few Christian leaders and pundits are saying good riddance to bad rubbish. Russell Moore, quoted in the above article, says:
what the Pew poll really reveals is that we have “fewer incognito atheists” in America. “Those who don’t believe can say so -- and still find spouses, get jobs, volunteer with the PTA, and even run for office. This is good news because the kind of ‘Christianity’ that is a means to an end -- even if that end is ‘traditional family values’ -- is what J. Gresham Machen rightly called ‘liberalism,’ and it is an entirely different religion from the apostolic faith handed down by Jesus Christ.”In short, folks no longer have to worry about being ostracized by an admission that they don't believe.
And what this is doing is winnowing out the chaff from the church, leaving behind 'the wheat'.
How'd we get to this point? According to Mark Tooley:Interestingly enough, a Barna poll discovered these same denominations have the greatest incidence of Scriptural illiteracy, and this due to their lack of regular Bible reading and study.
Mainline Protestantism lost its way when it forgot how to balance being American and being Christian, choosing American individualism and self-made spirituality over classical Christianity. Nearly all mainline seminaries had embraced modernism by the 1920s, rejecting the supernatural in favor of metaphorized faith integrated with sociology and political revolution.
Being Scripturally illiterate – or, as in the case of many Christians among the Mainline, being dependent on others to tell you what's in the Bible – leads to confrontations such as this one. Now, here's a woman who I think I can pretty accurately guess has 1) never picked up a Bible to read on her own, 2) gets all of her Scripture knowledge from her religious leader, and 3) whose religious leader is a progressive-liberal.
What's happening now within the Christian community, IMO, is a good thing. The chaff – the atheists and agnostics and other nominal Christians – are separating themselves from the true body of Christ. The tares – those nominal Christians who lurk among the true Christians and poison the gospel with their progressive-liberal ideologies – will be more easily exposed and either called to change their ways or to leave the body of Christ.
This housecleaning is long overdue, in my opinion.