Below is a purely fictitious account of two people talking about a matter of faith.
A Christian news magazine editor and his top reporter were having lunch together where Jim, the reporter, was telling his boss, Mike, how he felt about various issues, particularly one that Jim had wrestled with for many years. Mike sat there listening intently and finally asked, “So why the change of heart? Twenty years ago you were pretty close to what I would call a fundamentalist for your denomination arguing vehemently against ecumenism.” The editor wanted to know if there was something in Jim’s statements that he was missing.
“Remember Mohandas Gandhi?” Jim asked.
“Of course,” Mike answered.
“He was asked a similar question about changing his mind on a particular matter over a period of only one day, I think. His answer was, ‘Today I am a little wiser than I was yesterday.’ I hope that I’m a little wiser too and see things more clearly,” Jim closed.
“Okay, now let’s get to the meat of what you’re saying,” Mike said pursuing the matter.
“You and I both see certain realities regarding matters of faith, in the Western World in general and in America particularly,” Jim began. “We’ve discussed them often enough. The Christian faith is taking off in Asia and doing very well, while we in the West are in full retreat.”
Mike nodded his head in agreement. “Yes, the Chinese especially are accepting the faith in large numbers.”
Jim continued. “Here, Christianity is fighting a losing war against atheism, agnosticism, secular humanism, whatever you want to call it, and other worldly philosophies. While we’ve gone from modernism to postmodernism, nothing’s really changed. At least I don’t see it. The opposition to Christianity is well-financed, well prepared strategically, and relentless in their attacks on our beliefs in our Lord God and Christ. Even some of the Christian denominations themselves have joined in citing political correctness as their reason. You will notice that the opposition rarely if ever attacks Buddhism, Islam, or any other religion of the East. Their focus is entirely on Jesus. They have singled out the Christian faith and will stop at nothing to defeat it, to prevent the Western World from accepting the Gospel.”
“Are you saying this is one massive conspiracy?” Mike asked.
“There may be different armies, but the devil uses them all and very well, I might add, and we need to recognize it for what it is,” Jim responded. “Look at the massive advertising campaigns that absorb the hearts and minds of our young people; all forms of illicit entertainment on TV and the internet that hook in people of all ages via sex, violence, and even drugs; our whole educational system from elementary school to post-graduate studies are all geared against matters of Christian faith, morals and ethics, and we have seen well over a whole generation of our population go through the system, and today they’re governing the country. This is nothing less than a spiritual crisis that demands a spiritual solution, not a political one, not an economic one. Should we even be wondering why America and the Western World are in the shape they’re in? All of this and what is the church’s response?”
“You have my attention,” Mike answered.
“I see very little on the part of a universal church system that can respond effectively against the attacks from all sides by all of these forces. There are about 50 mainline denominations and as many as 30,000 different religious groupings overall in America alone, and so what? Many if not most denominations are becoming so small that they have nothing left to work with. Thousands of individual churches are shutting down each year. We see each one of them trying to work things out by themselves while spending more time claiming to have the perfect truth in Gospel interpretation always arguing that all the others are wrong, this rather than planning a thorough strategy to counter the enemies of God’s Church throughout the country. In small towns, we see very little here and there where two or three churches get together to make something happen. Beyond that, nothing! As a result, depending on the statistics we read, we have anywhere from 70 – 85% of Americans who are unchurched, and I will argue that this has nothing to do with political persuasions either – it makes no difference whether you are a conservative or a liberal, left vs. right. Except for the Christian Right, it’s pretty much the same across the board.
“Mike, the nation needs a massive Christian revival, but we have no properly laid-out plan of action at all among the myriads of religious groupings, nor can we expect one while all of them work individually more against each other than they do against the real opposition, the real heresy which is atheism. And even if they weren’t fighting against each other, they would still be unable to fight this war individually.”
“Well, what are you proposing, Jim, this ecumenicity you were speaking about? You know they’re all different.”
“You’re exactly right, they are different, and theologically they will remain so and never be fully united as one church. But that shouldn’t prevent us from developing alliances. We have to lay aside all of our theological differences and develop a coalition of one strategic body to fight this war. Only then will we be able to work closely together drawing up a complete strategic plan of action for a counterattack against all of these forces that have been eating away at the very spiritual, social, and moral fabric of the country and the West. This is a multicultural society, and this alone dictates that we cannot live in a vacuum. We need a fully coordinated, fully multicultural, fully multi-religious well-planned and coordinated response to address the woes that beset Christ’s Church or system of churches in America. We have to fight back with the same dedication and intensity that they’ve been fighting us with. The solution to all of America’s problems, and I might say, the whole Western World, is not a political one; it never has been; it is a spiritual one, one where the Gospel must be at the center of our thrust.”
“What of the current ecumenical movement?” Mike asked.
“The ecumenical movement that we already have is all dialogue, big speeches and no substance, all public relations, all photo-ops, and op-ed, nothing else. Ask yourself what impact have they had on America. And they were the ones I primarily wrote about 20 years ago, and I still stand by my comments where they’re concerned. They’ve had very little influence on faith matters.”
Jim was primarily finished. Now it was Mike’s turn. “If we begin a series of articles, there are several responses that I would expect. The opposition might think we’re running scared, but so what. What can they possibly say that they haven’t said already? The mainline groups simply won’t want to be part of it; they’re the accommodating kind and/or they don’t trust one another.”
“Or they’re just too bureaucratic,” Jim interrupted.
“That too, and then finally there may be quite a number of those smaller groups who do indeed agree with us in that we certainly should develop a coalition. Should make interesting reading. Let’s go with it. There’s nothing to lose.”
Chris Andreas spent a quarter century in the corporate world working primarliy for IBM Corp. before moving on to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in New York where he worked in the Department of Stewardship Ministry for 17 1/2 years. Having now retired he is a freelance researcher and writer.