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Where Is Religion in America Going in 2014?

January 9, 2014

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I wanted “religion” in this post’s title, but I mainly mean Christian faith, as the strongly predominant religion in the US.  This time I want to mainly pose questions.  I know I have some very thoughtful readers and I’d really like your thoughts on this, and hopefully some interesting interaction.

Let me suggest a few trends that I think will continue or even accelerate in 2014.

1. Issues around gay and lesbian (or LGBT/Q) relationships.

Particularly same-sex marriage.  This may be an especially contentious year both legally and culturally for this issue.  Do you agree that maybe the fast-pace of new rights and acceptance may be hitting a point of resistance, such that we may see more backlash?  What direction do you see among church leaders and more conservative theologians as to the understanding and use of the Bible on this?

2. Christians will pull back just a bit from such close involvement in party politics… that is, less of the common unconditional support of conservative Republicans and their causes.

Seems to me the conflicts between this uncritical, fear-based approach and much of the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament will hit home further, as they already have begun to.  Do you see this similarly? What else that is related to this do you see?

3. The trend of more prominent Christian teachers and authors (including blog hosts) challenging various traditional positions will continue and perhaps pick up steam.

I see the biggest, most vibrant branch of American Christianity, Evangelicalism, as in the early stages of re-forming its identity.  (This isn’t new in 2013… I can’t spot a time it might be said to have “begun” – in one sense it is always happening, but I think it has clearly accelerated. Agree? Is it partly or maybe heavily the Internet?)

There are many sub-varieties within Evangelicalism, and most of them are wrestling with this, often uncomfortably.  That is for good reason: often what is being re-examined and reworked is at or close to the core, or center of gravity of the system.  Do you agree? What issues do you see as most “hot” right now, or likely to be soon?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2014 4:32 am

    What issues do you see as most “hot” right now, or likely to be soon?

    The biggest challenge to maintaining belief in religion (and in context, the Abrahamic religions) might well be from archaeological circles, and especially those involving the likes of Finkelstein and Herzog.

    As these two eminent scientists have the backing of the vast majority of archaeologists and scholars and also, surprisingly, many people within theological circles including a great many Rabbis, it will be interesting to see how much influence this branch of science has on the intransigence of predominantly Christian and Muslim theology.

    Will it be able to withstand the pressure from secularism/atheism in the light of “lightening fast” information transfer? ( the internet)

    I suspect that over the next 10 to 20 years the Crisis of Faith will be come more and more evident and the religiously inclined will struggle to maintain serious credibility in the face of scientific evidence that contradicts major biblical and qu’ranic claims, especially those which refer to the Pentateuch and by extension, prophetic divinity clams for the character, Jesus of Nazareth.

    • January 18, 2014 7:15 am

      Thanks for this insightful comment. I agree that archaeology and the related study of history are, and have been for many decades, challenging the predominant view of Scripture and of the history of Israel as presented in it. You may well be right that archaeology will provide the strongest challenges.

      Actually, it already has had a powerful effect, as you probably know. However, much of what has been discovered is not widely known outside of the related fields (history of the Ancient Near East, biblical studies, cultural anthro, etc.). I’m not widely read in “biblical archaelolgy” (I can’t even immediately recall the term that has come to replace that one in recent years) but it does appear that not many popular level books have either been published or much picked up and spread in the last dozen or so years. If you have a few favorites to share with us, please do so.

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