The Crux of It All

Sam Rainer

April 8, 2009


It is no accident that Newsweek will publish this cover story the day after Easter. It’s available here online. The article uses as support a recent survey from researchers at the Trinity College in Hartford, CT. These researchers surveyed more than 54,461 people between February and November 2008. They found that the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as Christians has dropped from 86 percent in 1990 to 76 percent today.

Written by Newsweek’s editor, Jon Meacham, it’s a fair-minded article that demands the attention of the Christian community. The article points to the ten-point percentage decline of self-identified Christians over the past two decades. Meacham’s analysis is about how this statistic explains who we are now—and what, as a nation, we are about to become.

Both Dr. Al Mohler and Pastor Dan Kimball have already commented on the article.

Mohler, who was interviewed for the article, says this:

I appreciate the care, respect, and insight that mark this essay by Jon Meacham.  I also appreciated our conversation about an issue that concerns us both.  Still, I hope I did not reflect too much gloom in my analysis.  This much I know — Jesus Christ is Lord, and His kingdom is forever.  Our proper Christian response to this new challenge is not gloom, but concern.  And our first concern must be to see that the Gospel is preached as Good News to the perishing — including all those in post-Christian America.

Kimball says this:

So… gloomy…yes. But… no. Exciting. Adventure. Prayerful. Mission. So don’t let this cover discourage you – and then turn inward thinking the world is falling apart and we wait for the end times novel stories to come true so we can escape the “decline and fall”. But instead may it motivate us and provoke us all the further into mission and see living here in America all the more as a missional adventure filled with potential.

Perhaps in 5 years or 10 years we will see another article “The Rise of Rebirthing of The Church In America”.  A different kind of church perhaps. But oh my, what wonderful, crazy and hopeful times we are actually in.

I think their responses are spot on. We must refocus on that which is at the crux of it all.

The cover art grabs my attention most – the word “decline” making up the beam of the cross. It saddens me, but perhaps it is what we need – a percentage decline in our numbers to remind us of what needs to increase. The cross on the cover artistically depicts our decline but stands as a reminder of who needs to increase.

Rising up from the timeline of the human story, the cross is the critical peak of history. Everything builds up to it; everyone looks back on it. It is at the crux of it all. The word “crux” carries the weight of a dual meaning. It is both something that torments as well as a pivotal point.  The word is derived from a familiar, yet dreadful term: crucifixion. It was Jesus’ agony, His sacrifice in our stead, His atonement on the cross that enables us to have life abundantly.

His torment changes everything for us. Jesus substituted our spot at Golgotha, a place of unnatural death. The Creator of order and nature condescended to an unnatural death so that we may know life. The embodiment of perfect love experienced the ultimate hate crime so that we know eternal love.

But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!

May we decrease, so that He increases.

8 comments on “The Crux of It All”

  1. Franklin Morella says:

    Outstanding overview! Thanks.

  2. kdb1411 says:

    Great review Sam. I appreciate as always your staying on the cutting edge.

  3. Sam Rainer says:

    Thanks Franklin and KDB. Let me know the next time you and your bro are in the Tampa Bay Area, Franklin. I’d love to connect again.

  4. Dan Williams says:

    It is refreshing that you did not blame the liberal media. This is a wake up call for the church. Let us not be like the American auto maker and ignore the critical issues we face. Let this motivate us to a more faithful, gracious and loving church that cares for all mankind. Everyone we see needs God and love. This will not just go away it will get worse without attention.

  5. Nelima says:

    I read the article. This situation would be much worse without the growing presence of immigrants in the US. In Minnesota immigrants have revived the churches and I believe the same is true elsewhere. I think think we are finally seeing the effects of removing religion from schools and I don’t know that that’s a good thing.

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