Top evangelical: Don't believe our ads
A full-page advertisement in this month's Christianity Today warns that America's evangelicals may soon be on the endangered species list...along with spotted owls.
But the ad, which is endorsed by the National Association of Evangelicals, is a false alarm -- or at least an exaggeration -- according to the group's president -- Pastor Ted Haggard.
"We're church people. We always use fear and guilt to motivate people," Haggard told Bible Belt Blogger, punctuating the quip with hearty laughter.
The ad, which promotes the Battlecry Leadership Summit, a national series of meetings for youth pastors, contains the following warning. "Christianity in America won't survive another decade. Unless we do something now." It warns that young people are rejecting the faith in droves and that "current trends show that only 4% (of teens) will be evangelical believers by the time they become adults."
Reality, Haggard said, isn't nearly so dire. "Evangelicalism is exploding worldwide. We're growing rapidly in the southern hemisphere. We're growing moderately in the United States. We're declining in Europe... In the United States, there are some difficulties and I'm not going to get into that now, but we're trying to encourage people to solve these problems before they are created too severe."
It's unclear how the four percent figure was calculated. That number originally appeared in a book that was written nine years ago by former Southern Baptist Theological Seminary dean Thom S. Rainer.
The ad isn't confined just to Christianity Today. "Those ads all ran in Christian magazines in order to motivate NAE churches and others to do a better job at building youth groups," Haggard said.
But American Christianity will survive another decade -- even if the summit is a flop, Haggard suggests. "Right now, modern American evangelicalism is very healthy, very helpful and very thoughtful," he added.
So what ever happened to "Thou shalt not bear false witness"? Maybe it went away with the whole "love thy neighbor" thing...
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