While some see the decline of Christianity in the United States as a clear indication that we’re fast approaching the end times, the fact remains that Christianity is on the rise in other parts of the world. Take China, for instance, where a recent article from The Telegraph cites research which projects that the number of Protestant Christians in China will surpass the number in the USA by 2025:
In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Unfortunately, this growth is divided between “illegal underground ‘house churches’, which hold unsupervised services – often in people’s homes – in an attempt to evade the prying eyes of the Communist Party” and those who are willing to fall in line with Communist ideology:
“They want the pastor to preach in a Communist way. They want to train people to practice in a Communist way,” said the house-church preacher, who said state churches often shunned potentially subversive sections of the Bible. The Old Testament book in which the exiled Daniel refuses to obey orders to worship the king rather than his own god is seen as “very dangerous”, the preacher added.
Why do we tell somebody off in the most passive-aggressive way, making everyone read what is intended for one person (someone we blocked who will never see the status)? Why do we try to pull all of the world, former school teachers, pastors, teenagers, acquaintances, into our very awkward drama? And, how can we claim to be Christians, people who are living by the light of the gospel, who have been forgiven so much, when we can’t even let some little offense pass by without posting a vague, leading, gossip-feeding status update about it?
One of the dads in my small group said that he corrects his kids if they ever ask about having to go to church on a weekend. “We never have to,” he says, “we get to go.” I like that. He’s policing the language of the house because he knows that the way he talks about church will send a signal to the rest of the family about how to view Sundays – as chore or as privilege.
Fascinating article about neuroscientist Wilder Penfield. Observations Penfield made while performing brain surgery led him to convert from materialism (the mind is a product of the brain) to dualism (the mind is separate from the brain).
Yesterday Christianity Today shared the results of Lifeway’s survey of 1000 Protestant senior pastors in regard to their end times beliefs. They say:
A third of America’s Protestant pastors expect Christians to be raptured—or taken up in the sky to meet Jesus—as the end times begin. About half think a false messiah known as the Antichrist will appear sometime in the future. A surprising number think the Antichrist has already been here, or isn’t on his way at all.
They sum up the various views on the rapture:
And views on the Antichrist:
I’m curious how this compares with the views of senior pastors 20-30 years ago. Has there been a significant shift in end times views?
In my opinion you’d be better off spending an hour with this video from Randy Acorn on Heaven/the New Earth than many hours with the “I died and came back from Heaven” books/movies. He examines many questions from a Biblical perspective including:
Should we call the New Earth Heaven?
What & Where is Heaven?
Is there time in Heaven?
Do we forget this life after we die?
Will we have a physical body after the resurrection?