The Great Attrition
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Recently, "Christendom" has take a few high profile hits, or so many people imagine it. On July 29th, 2019, Joshua Harris, the author of the best selling book, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," publicly renounced his faith via his twitter account. This sent shockwaves through the broader Christian community for a number of reasons, but mostly because many had emotionally invested themselves in his writings and teachings. After all, if he can fall away, that means that I can too.
Then, on August 12th, 2019, popular Hillsong musician Marty Sampson stated that he is "losing his faith." He went on to call Christianity, "another religion at this point." Again, you could watch the ripples echoing out through the broader faith community. Another one of their heroes was stepping away from his faith.
Yet here is the rub in both cases, both men walked away because of an emotional response. They didn't "feel" like it was right anymore. Harris stated that he "feels alive" and "awake." Sampson echoed similar sentiments when he wrote, "I am so happy now, so at peace with the world. It’s crazy." Again, feelings, emotions, this sums up the modern day "spiritualism" and even much of modern Christianity. Yet there are a number of issues with this, and it's an unhealthy thing within the Church that we've allowed to grow, fester, and develop.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" Yet many in the church not only repeat the world's lie of, "follow your heart," they believe it too. They forget that man's heart is bent towards selfishness and sin, and that to follow that heart is to follow those paths. Yet we want to, and so we do.
It also leads to the phenomenon that we've seen in modern Christian worship towards an "emotional" Christianity. I have to "feel" something in order for it to be real. We've tried to package the Holy Spirit in a box labeled "feel," and we've forgotten that the early church didn't "praise and worship" people into the faith, or "feel" them in, they reasoned with them using words fitly spoken.
Yet those who have summed Christianity up into a feeling have created something similar to a marriage of feelings. As long as I "feel" in love, I'll stay married, as soon as I don't "feel" it, then it's time for me to leave. There's no commitment, no dedication, no desire to "work out with fear and trembling" their salvation. They say, "I just don't feel it anymore, and for them, that's enough to leave, after all, they became a Christian based on an emotion response, why shouldn't they stop the same way? We as the Church have to begin to return to a Bible based truth teaching and stop with all of the emotionally pulling drivel. I'm sorry to call it that, but these emotional responses don't lead to real life changing experiences. Only discipleship does that, and while these experiences might lead to discipleship, they don't always, and in many cases they don't at all. Too much hassle, and not enough "feeling," or it's a feeling that I don't like.
It's also these emotional responses that cause us to bend and twist the faith to our own liking. We want God to be what we want Him to be, so we re-make Him in our image, and not as He has stated that he is. It's a very harsh and twisted combination of idolatry and blasphemy. To think that man can fashion God into an idol of his own making? It's a thought that would have drawn the most serious of condemnations from the apostles, and it should create the same in us.
We are called to love people, but love is not an emotion, it's a choice. I don't always "feel" in love, but I still choose to love. The truth is, I don't feel enamored, lustful, longing, or appreciated in the way I want to be, but I still choose to love. You see love, real love, is a choice, not a feeling. It's choosing to love sometimes in spite of our feelings. We are called to love others, but not in some emotionally uplifting way that makes us feel good, rather we are called to love them enough to provide for them what they need and to share the gospel of Christ with them. It doesn't matter if they're the most wretched sinner or the most kind and wonderful backslidden saint, we are to love them enough to not only provide for them, but also to help lead them into a salvific relationship with Jesus.
So that's why I'm not surprised by these recent announcements. That's why I'm not surprised when I see someone who's attending a mega-church renounce their "faith" when something happens and it doesn't sit well with them emotionally. We as the Church have been grooming them for that for years by making it all one great big emotional response. Until we begin to get back to scriptural study and truth as a Church in replacement of that big emotional experience, we will continue to see people walk away when they don't "feel like it" anymore. Those who come to faith through the door of emotion, often leave it by that same door.
I'll leave you with the words of Isaiah the Prophet, which were given by God:
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. 19 “If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; 20 “But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
- Isaiah 1:18-20