(Christian Science Monitor) - We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: This prediction may sound fantastic, and defy common perceptions, but as a former Evangelical turned Catholic, I can attest that this may very will be the case. The foundations of Evangelicalism are weak, surprisingly fragile, and they are about to crumble beneath the entire movement. The reasons for this are explained in the full text of the article above.
Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.
This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.
Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close...
read full story here
The post-Evangelical landscape will be very different from the Christian world we know today. The two biggest beneficiaries from this will be Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Evangelicalism will not disappear from the world completely. It will shrink in size, consolidate, and ultimately merge with Pentecostalism.
About 20 to 30 years from now, the Christian landscape in North America will probably look something like this. Roman Catholicism in the northeast United States will be struggling to survive. In the northeast as well, an emerging Modernist Church will appear from the ruins of the Episcopal Church USA, and disaffected Catholics of the liberal persuasion. In the American southeast, a whole new conservative and traditional Roman Catholicism will be emerging, along with an emerging Eastern Orthodoxy, as traditional Baptist and Evangelical churches subside. In the Southwest United States, Catholicism will be almost entirely Hispanic, and Eastern Orthodoxy will be booming there among Caucasians and Blacks. Mainline Protestant churches (such as Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist, etc.) will be virtually nonexistent, except in the northeast, where a Modernist conglomerate will emerge. Baptist churches will be struggling to survive. Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism will be virtually indistinguishable, and may actually merge at some informal level. A growing number of house churches will arise, with congregations no more than just a few families. These groups will be notoriously unstable and fluid.
In the wake of the Evangelical implosion, many marginal Christians will abandon the faith completely, opting instead for various self-help groups, philosophies, and seminars. Most will simply become a religion of one, in which adherents will say "I don't need a church, I just do my own thing with God." This will lead to a rise in atheism, agnosticism and occultism among youth, followed by a significant rise in the Muslim population. Islam always rushes in to fill the vacuum wherever Christianity dies out.
For Catholics and Orthodox, the potential Evangelical influx is an opportunity that cannot be missed. Evangelical converts often make for very devout Catholics and Orthodox, who are energetic and highly evangelistic. Speaking as a former Evangelical, the best way to attract them is to first get our own houses in order. We must return to the conservative and orthodox practice of our faith. Liberal Modernists, who corrupt the faith and confuse it's message, must either be corrected or expelled. They will do more to frighten away Evangelical converts than anything else. I cannot stress enough the importance of this. If Liberals are allowed to continue to cloud the historic and traditional message of the Church, they will frighten potential Evangelical converts away. That is just a matter of fact, and those diocese that refuse to correct and expel Liberal Modernists will learn this lesson in the form of shrinking parishes and dwindling donations.
We must revive all that is traditional and historic in our Church, as this is exactly what Evangelical converts will be looking for. Remember, Evangelicals will be coming from a faith tradition that has no tradition. They'll be looking for a Christianity that is solid and has withstood the test of time. In short, they'll be looking for something bigger than themselves. They'll want to reconnect with the Christianity of their ancestors. Catholic and Orthodox churches must be ready to offer this to them in a tangible way. Stripping our church buildings of Catholic decor and making them look "more Protestant" isn't going to attract a single Evangelical convert. Some may still come in, but if they do it will be in spite of these things, not because of them.
Finally, we must concisely and effectively communicate what our Catholic (and Orthodox) faith is about - meaning the message of the Gospel, the sanctity of Life and the importance of the Family. Evangelical refugees will be searching for something that promises a clear and concise picture of what the Christian faith is about. They'll be looking for something that affirms their Pro-Life beliefs and supports the traditional family. If we can provide these things, Evangelicals will be attracted. That's just a matter of fact. We've got about a decade to prepare, maybe less, so I suppose we better get started now!