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Is Religion Dying Out Or On The Rise?

Discussion of Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God, Part 1

July, 2010

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Question: Does the evidence in our culture point to a gradual dying out of religion in the West, or it on the rise? Not sure? Seeing signs of both?

Tim Keller, in his book The Reason for God, writes: Is skepticism or faith on the ascendancy in the world today? The answer is Yes… Skepticism, fear, and anger toward traditional religion are growing in power and influence. But at the same time, robust, orthodox belief in the traditional faiths is growing as well…. In short, the world is polarizing over religion. It is getting both more religious and less religious at the same time. There was once a confident belief that secular European countries were the harbingers for the rest of the world. Religion, it was thought, would thin out from its more robust, supernaturalist forms or die out altogether. But the theory that technological advancement brings inevitable secularization is now being scrapped or radically rethought…. People are opting instead for a nonreligious life, for a non-institutional, personally constructed spirituality, or for orthodox, high-commitment religious groups that expect members to have a conversion experience. For those of us in the Church, this has one of two effects: it’s a terribly frightening prospect that threatens our current church-culture. The other: it’s a terribly liberating prospect that paves a clear way for us to reinterpret the Christian faith for a new emerging culture that has different needs, different values, different perspectives on the world and new forms of mistrust of institutions, technology, government and “religion.” In other words, it gives the church (if she takes advantage of it) a way “in” to speak the language of this new culture. And learning to speak the language of the culture is always the first and most important task of any missionary that is newly arrived in a foreign culture. What's your take?


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