A failed religion?

Quote from Brian D. McLaren, Everything Must Change (p.33)

Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change“More and more reflective Christian leaders are beginning to realize that for the millions of young adults who dropped out of their churches in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the Christian religion appears to be a failed religion. […] it has specialized in dealing with ‘spiritual needs’ to the exclusion of physical and social needs. It has specialized in people’s destination in the afterlife but has failed to address significant social injustices in this life. It has focused on ‘me’ and ‘my soul’ and ‘my spiritual life’ and ‘my eternal destiny,’ but it has failed to address the dominant societal and global realities of their lifetime: systemic injustice, systemic poverty, systemic ecological crisis, systemic dysfunctions of many kinds.”


6 thoughts on “A failed religion?

  1. This is an interesting quote… and one I don’t entirely agree with as there are lots of other factors at play in respect of young adults dropping out of church.

    I would actually argue the opposite it could just as well be a lack of emphasis on the spiritual and the eternal in favour of the physical and social. There needs to be both – held in balance… our work on the physical, social level should flow out of our experiences as a worshipping community rooted in Christ… the same yesterday, today and forever.

    Roddy’s article (as ever) is spot on as is the strap line to his blog – “A piece of eternity in a throw away society”

  2. There are indeed many factors that contribute to adults dropping out of church. The quote doesn’t mention them all. You’d have to read his book “A Generous Orthodoxy” for an in-depth study on those factors.

    A quote by definition is limited in scope. Its purpose is not to ‘crystalize’ truth, but rather to stimulate one’s thinking.

    I agree with you that balance has to be acheived. That’s what I aim for as well. But balance is difficult to acheive, which is why the majority of churches tend to go for the ‘spiritual’ stuff instead of the physical, because they are influenced by the Greek dualism of spirit and matter. There’s a lot we can say on that, obviously, but we do have to decide if the Gospel is only spiritual, or even mainly spiritual.

  3. It is also possible to argue that other religions/worldviews/philosophies have also failed to address poverty, injustices, etc… otherwise why do we still have poverty and injustice?
    [I am not suggesting that McLaren does or does not recognise this]

  4. True, Dave, I agree! He wasn’t referring to others in this quote. But a discussion in what others have done to address poverty and injustice would be interesting. Maybe I’ll post something on this later!

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