By Ulysses Stephen King
“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”—1 John 2:18, NIV
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia stated in an article published in the Huffington Post, November 13, 2011, titled, “Catholic Bishops Prepare Religious Liberty Fight,” that,
“The America emerging in the next several decades is likely to be much less friendly to Christian faith than anything in our country’s past,” Chaput told students last week at Assumption College, an Augustinian school in Worcester, Mass. “It’s not a question of when or if it might happen. It’s happening today[i].”
Archbishop Chaput, in my opinion, spoke prophetically concerning the mood of this nation towards Christianity today, and in years to come. There is an anti-Christian movement already in place—and growing. “His talk, called “Catholics in the Next America,” painted a bleak picture of a nation increasingly intolerant of Christianity,” stated the Huffington Post. This is not an alarmist message nor is it an exaggeration, as some would suggest. On the contrary, it is prophetic, and the Christian Church and church leaders would be wise to listen and take heed.
One does not have to look very far to find anything negative said or written about the Church or church leaders. Are these attacks justified? There is no doubt that some comments may be legitimate criticisms while others show a strong religious bias and prejudice towards the Church, church leadership, and Christianity in general. Sex scandals, clergy malfeasance, child abuse by church leaders, religious and social intolerance, and not a few televangelists and clergypersons who have made false predictions and misleading statements in the name of God have not made it easy for the Church to witness. By our own failure, many of these unfortunate comments and events have provided fodder and opportunity to launch various assaults against the Church. It is incumbent upon the Church to get its house in order if it expects to convince an already unbelieving and skeptical world.
In an article written in The Christian Century (June 22, 2011), the question was raised whether or not evangelical Christians may be losing their influence in America? Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 leaders who were invited to attend the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa, last year, posed a question regarding the declining influence of the Church. A new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life stated, “. . . the vast majority—82 percent—of U.S. evangelical leaders saying their influence on the country is declining.[ii]” So what do their findings reveal? To state the obvious, the Church has a lot of work to do to proclaim the Gospel and convince society of its relevancy. Secondly, regardless to its declining influence the Church must never abdicate its position as a witness and voice regardless to those who may not represent it faithfully, truthfully, and honestly. “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (see Philippians 1:15-18).