So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”
I’ve often said here on the blog that the only reason to be a Christian in general and a Catholic in particular is because it’s true. If it’s not true after all we’re just an Elk’s Club that meets on Sundays.
We’ll apparently there aren’t a lot of people who want to join the Sunday Elk’s clubs:
we found 93 percent of clergy members and 83 percent of worshipers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb.” This compared with 67 percent of worshipers and 56 percent of clergy members from declining churches. Furthermore, all growing church clergy members and 90 percent of their worshipers agreed that “God performs miracles in answer to prayers,” compared with 80 percent of worshipers and a mere 44 percent of clergy members from declining churches.
Or to put it another way, if you don’t actually believe in Christ, why would you expect people to follow you into Christianity, assuming you want them to:
For example, because of their conservative outlook, the growing church clergy members in our study took Jesus’ command to “Go make disciples” literally. Thus, they all held the conviction it’s “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians,” and thus likely put effort into converting non-Christians. Conversely, because of their liberal leanings, half the clergy members at the declining churches held the opposite conviction, believing it is not desirable to convert non-Christians. Some of them felt, for instance, that peddling their religion outside of their immediate faith community is culturally insensitive.
If you aren’t really into that entire “We must obey God rather than man” business then you aren’t
The really funny part of this story? The fact that discovering believing in something vs believing in nothing tends to attract more people was “counterintuitive”.
Well to a reader of the Washington Post it would be wouldn’t it?
Closing thought, I’d like to ask those members of the clergy who don’t believe in the central tenants of Christianity why they remain? I suspect the answer mimics this exchange from the old Yes Prime Minister episode “The Bishop’s Gambit:
James Hacker: Humphrey, what’s a Modernist in the Church of England?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah, well, the word “Modernist” is code for non-believer.
James Hacker: You mean an atheist?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, Prime Minister. An atheist clergyman couldn’t continue to draw his stipend. So, when they stop believing in God, they call themselves “Modernists”.
When as I suspect, these “modernists” eventually become as extinct as the Shakers only Washington Post readers will be surprised.