While Islam is fiercely engaged in resisting the secularization that has gripped most of the world, Christianity has simply abandoned ship and is in an unequivocal retreat—particularly within the West.
In the Muslim world, within the wider society, there exists some sort of natural immunity against liberal-secularism. Fascinatingly though, this is even more so the case with the youth, as is demonstrated in recently collected data in relation to the Arab world and South-East Asia.
Christianity in the West has not been so fortunate. In recent years, nations such as the UK and Australia have lost their Christian majority. This has of course affected their status as supposed “Christian nations.” What is an even worse reality for Christians is the fact that the youth are increasingly even less religious. For example, in the US, only 36% of Generation Z (those born during and after the mid-’90s) identify as Christians.
Christian missionaries, who are obsessed with Evangelizing the Muslim world, should perhaps be paying more attention to the state of Christianity within their own “civilized” West.
But while there is a definite fall in those self-identifying as Christians, we’ve actually got more bad news—perhaps worse even—for these missionaries:
Those who still identify as Christian may not in reality be as Christian as they’d like to believe they are.
To see what we mean by this, let us take a look at US Evangelicals as a case study.
The Evangelicals Who Deny Jesus’ Divinity
“Evangelicalism,” or “Evangelical Christianity,” is a movement within Protestant Christianity which can be said to be trans-denominational. This is in the sense that it doesn’t concern just one sub-group among the Protestants (such as the Baptists, the Calvinists, the Methodists and so on) in particular but essentially all of them.
Ill-defined, it is characterized by individuals who can often be described as “cultural Christians.” These are individuals who experience a “personal conversion” to Christianity during their adult life, thus becoming “born-again.” And they are eager to share this experience with others, actively working to “evangelize” others and thus the tag, “Evangelical.”
White Evangelicals have seen their numbers dwindle over the years, but these numbers have since stabilized at around 14%, making them the second largest religious group in the US, just after the non-Evangelical Protestants, at 16%. In terms of numbers, White Evangelicals would thus number at around 45 million (the estimated US population in 2022 was 332 million).
Even though around a third of Evangelicals are non-White, White Evangelicals account for a category of their own for having influenced American politics for decades—more specifically when they turned to the Republican Party during the ’80s under the presidency of Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush was an unapologetic Evangelical, and recently, most Evangelicals famously voted for Donald Trump, effectively contributing to his 2016 mandate.
To Americans, White Evangelicals are synonymous with conservatism on societal issues (abortion for example). Whereas for Muslims, they’re probably better known for their unyielding and unreciprocated love for Zionism.
To someone looking in from the outside, White Evangelicals in the US come across as a “vibrant” community. They have the numbers, the schools, the media (think of all the rich televangelists), the money (think of the megachurches), the political influence, etc.
They’re typically viewed as Western Christianity’s own “resistants to the waves of secularization.”
But how true is this really?
Ligonier Ministries is a Christian organization involved in many activities around the world—from building colleges, to distributing music and everything in between. This organization, founded by R.C. Sproul (one of the most influential American theologians of the last century and someone who had a particular hatred for Islam), is Evangelical in nature and not “liberal-secular.”
It releases surveys on a regular basis, and the 2022 findings are quite perplexing.
Aside from a set of other societal issues, there’s a particular “statement” (number 7) which is framed as follows:
Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.
And how did US Evangelicals respond?
In 2020, 30% agreed with this statement, and in 2022, 43% agreed with it (a 13% shift in just two years).
If we break down these numbers further, then 38% (of the total 43%) “strongly agree,” while 5% “somewhat agree” (for 2020, it was 26% and 4% respectively).
These “key findings” can be accessed here.
The “key findings” only display certain specific statements. In order to view the answers to the other statements, you will need to click on the “DATA EXPLORER” tab at the top of the page, between “KEY FINDINGS” and “MY SURVEYS.”
Let us peruse these statements and their responses.
There is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
(strongly agree: 54%, somewhat agree: 16%)
Biblical accounts of the physical (bodily) resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate. This event actually occurred.
(strongly agree: 47%, somewhat agree: 19%)
The Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches.
(strongly agree: 33%, somewhat agree: 18%)
The Bible has the authority to tell us what we must do.
(strongly agree: 29%, somewhat agree: 23%)
We could go on and on, but you probably get the idea. As of now, only around half of US Evangelicals “strongly agree” with the basic theology or tenets of their religion (such as the “divinity” of Christ).
And keep in mind we’re talking about the US Evangelicals here. They’re supposed to be the “Salafis” of Western Christianity. What person would continue to identify as a Muslim while, for example, refusing to accept that Muhammad ﷺ is the final prophet; or refusing to accept that the Qur’an is absolutely true and accurate; or declaring that the Qur’an doesn’t have “the authority to tell us what we must do”?
And once again, to make this very clear, we’re not talking about your average Western Christian here. We’re talking about the most conservative of all Western Christians!
It seems that nowadays you’re likely to find more US (White) Evangelicals who believe in Israel’s “divine right” to colonize Palestinians than you are of finding one that actually has faith in the “divine claims” of Christianity, which would be quite telling and symbolic.
And… It’s Not Just the Evangelicals
In the US, the Evangelicals are not alone in being completely unaware of the foundations of their own faith.
Take the Catholics and their beliefs regarding the Eucharist for instance.
In 2019, Pew Research, the pioneer in religious demographics, found the following:
Transubstantiation – the idea that during Mass, the bread and wine used for Communion become the body and blood of Jesus Christ – is central to the Catholic faith. Indeed, the Catholic Church teaches that “the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’”
But a new Pew Research Center survey finds that most self-described Catholics don’t believe this core teaching. In fact, nearly seven-in-ten Catholics (69%) say they personally believe that during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine used in Communion “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Just one-third of U.S. Catholics (31%) say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”
So a mere third of the US Catholics believe in such a basic theological proposition of their own faith—that is, during the Eucharist, the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus. This is the Catholic position, that it’s an actual, “real presence” and not something that is just “symbolic.”
A Catholic that is actively involved in doing “takfir” would thus have no choice but to eject around two-thirds of US Catholics from the Church, and Catholics make up around 23% of the country’s population (White Catholics in particular make up 11%).
So what we’ve mentioned here, regarding both Evangelicals and Catholics, directly concerns tens of millions of individuals within the US, and the situation would likely be significantly worse for them in Europe.
We can thus only guess what the true number of actual Christians in the US—and the West in general—is. Going by these numbers, even the “Salafi-like” US Evangelicals aren’t as religiously invested as they’re often portrayed as being.
We would argue that all of this is due to the fact that Western Christians (including the US Evangelicals, despite their “conservative” posturings) too often embraced liberal-secularism rather than combating it, and it was just a question of when—not if—their very “faith” would become as hollow as the ideology that they had adopted a peace agreement with.