Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Joe Carter: Evangelicalism Continues to Grow While Christianity in America Declines

In reply to a criticism during the Great Depression that he had changed his views on a key economic issue, John Maynard Keynes said, “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”

A similar question can be asked of those who have been promoting declension narratives about how evangelicalism—especially conservative forms of the movement—has been rapidly declining. For example, in 2010 Carol Howard Merritt claimed, “There are three major reasons that a younger generation is leaving evangelicalism: pernicious sexism, religious intolerance, and conservative politics.” Similarly, Rachel Held Evans claimed earlier this year, “Just about every denomination in the American church—including many evangelical denominations—is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates.”

Whatever previous information those claims about evangelicalism were based on, it doesn’t appear to match the current reality. A new survey by the Pew Research Center reveals that certain sectors of Christianity—particularly Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches—continue to shrink while the number of evangelicals in America is growing. Will this new information be enough to lead critics of evangelicalism to alter their conclusions? Keep reading

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