What Has Changed?

Christianity Today recently asked the question “What was the most significant change in Christianity over the past decade?

I thought the answers were interesting and insightful. If they had asked me I would have said that the diminishing importance of denominations has been a significant change over the last 10 years. My wife and I arrived in New Orleans 5 days after Hurricane Katrina had done its’ damage. We were blown away by the unity among Christians in that situation. Naturally a crisis is going to cause people to act differently than they normally would, but that was a pinnacle experience for the changing attitudes I’ve seen toward Christian diversity.

What changes have you seen in Christianity? Did any of the responses in the article stick out to you?

6 thoughts on “What Has Changed?

  1. Christianity, which includes us Mormons, has become far more militant in influencing state issues. This, in turn, has created far more unaffiliated Americans than ever before. In other words, we’ve see the Bushization of America and no in the 10’s we’ll see the continued backlash.

  2. What?! I thought you opposed all this end-of-decade reflection. While you don’t say that we begin a new decade tomorrow, your post could mislead those who are weak….

    Anyway, I think the increasing acceptance among Christians of intelligent design as a bona fide scientific theory is a major (negative) development over the last 10 years. It is perhaps the most recognizable of other pseudoscience-y attempts to reconcile long-held beliefs with observed facts.

  3. Concerning Christianity in general, I would agree with Marvin Olasky that the rapid growth of the Church in China is spiritually significant and could become politically significant.

    As far as Mormon-evangelical relationships go, I think the work of Greg Johnson and Standing Together Ministries has been the most significant development.

  4. Internationally, the biggest developments that come to mind are the growth of Christianity in China (good observation, Jack), increasing oppression of Christians in some Muslim countries, the deepening Anglican split and the continuing growth of non-Catholic Christianity (including some types that don’t fit in neat theological categories) in Latin America.

    Nationally (meaning USA), I’d say the biggest change in Christianity is the growing acceptance of sexual behaviors that traditionally have been viewed as sinful. Although the change is most obvious in mainline Protestantism, there have been changes in conservative denominations as well. It’s hard to imagine, for example, that 10 years ago the LDS church would have endorsed a Salt Lake City ordinance banning employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Even James Dobson has endorsed a limited type of legally recognized domestic partnerships.

    Related to that in this country is a growing secularization. If the trend continues, evangelicals and Mormons could face the same struggle with membership that mainline Christian denominations have had for quite some time.

    Within evangelicalism, there has been a trend in some circles against identification with conservative politics. I’ve also heard quite a bit less in recent years about the emergent church, but I don’t know enough to know whether that’s a real change going on or just a change in labels somewhere.

    I’d also agree with Tim about the decline of denominational lines in evangelicalism. Ten years ago, it was becoming hard to find by looking at signs on a church what denomination it belonged to. Now, it’s hard to tell even from visiting some church’s web sites. I’ve noticed that change in the last two or three years.

    Within Mormonism, there could be a trend toward a somewhat less legalistic subculture. I don’t know, however, if this is a real trend or something I might be perceiving by spending too many hours visiting the bloggernacle. Or maybe it’s because I now live in a stake where the presidency spends more time than my previous one did in talking about things like how we apply the Atonement to ours lives.

    The whole Proposition 8 situation also suggests something else going on, but I’m not sure what or how that will play out.

  5. I think the trend towards dumping traditional churches in favor of churches that mirror the culture, is a very disturbing change.

    The church ought be counter-cultural and not seek to emulate it.

  6. I don’t see the diminishing presence of denominational identification as a big deal, but then, in the 13,000+ population community where I grew up, we had dozens of nondenominational churches, so that just seemed the norm to me.

    I think the biggest change I have observed is the shift away from traditional teachings, as theoldadam has said. I see a lot of churches that teach the “everyone is good, everyone is happy, keep it up” doctrine that seems especially prevalent in mega-churches and televangelism. I see the growing support of SSM as the great example of this. ( I will never forget the footage of a pastor of some variety holding a Bible in his hands and proclaiming that “I don’t find anything about homosexuality being a sin in this book!” or something like that.)

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