*Post-Christian*: what and so

Americans with no religious affiliation (“sbnr”), 816% since 1990 (2009 American Religious
Identification Survey, Pew Forum Poll)
Americans as atheists or agnostic, 1-3.6 million from
1990. The rise of “new atheists” and amoral
“libertarians,” who are more vocal and
militant now.
2/3 of the public (68%) say that religion is “losing
influence in American society.” 1/2 of the
public (48%) say that religion cannot solve
today’s problems (Newsweek). During the 90s
this remained at about 60%.
20th Century “losses”
Public prayer (ca. 1962)
“In God We Trust” controversy
Right of choice (ca. 1973)
Divorce (about 50% from the 70s)
Harold Bloom’s American Religion: The Emergence of the
Post-Christian Nation (1992)
Al Mohler, “A remarkable culture-shift has taken
place around us. The most basic contours of
American culture have been radically altered. The
so-called Judao-Christian consensus of the last
millennium has given way to a post-modern, postChristian, post-Western cultural crisis which
threatens the very heart of our culture.” (2013)
Jon Meacham, “End of Christian America,”
Newsweek (4/3/09): “The present, in this
[contemporary tolerance] sense is less about the
death of God and more about the birth of many
gods. The rising numbers of religiously
unaffiliated Americans are people more apt to call
themselves ‘spiritual’ rather than religious (up
24% in 2005). . . . America, then, is not a postreligious society – and cannot be as long as there
are people in it, for faith is an intrinsic human
impulse. . . . American public life is neither
wholly secular nor wholly religious but an everfluid mix of the two.”
What is a “Christian nation”?
member of political process? aliens?
member of an ecclesial tradition?
church attendance (statistics)?
follower of Christ?
What is a “post-Christian nation”?
individual defections?
institutional and regional policies!
(universities, law/government, sciences, NW
and NE)
Europe (state church) vs. USA (state—church)
“A society or culture where Christianity no
longer is a meaningful part of civil (public
policy) discourse. Over time, diverse values,
religious and secular, marginalize distinctively
Christian beliefs, symbols, rituals, etc.”
Overlaps but is not the same as “postmodernism” = reaction in the Humanities to
modern certainty and objectivity by emphasizing the subjectivity of interpretation with
relativistic and pluralistic conclusions.
Is the USA “post-Christian” in part or in
whole? Elsewhere?
Does “post-Christianity” make a difference
in how we minister in Dallas? In New
York? In Europe? In the Middle East? In
Asia? In Africa?
What does “post-Christianity” mean in a
globalized world?
How should we plan, if “post-Christian”
points to hostility toward the gospel?
Bauman, Michael, and David Hall, eds. God and Caesar:
Essays from ETS, 1993, Washington, DC (Camp Hill:
Christian Publications, 1994). Various essays,
historical and contemporary, dealing generally
with the “Christian (evangelical) right.”
Noll, Mark, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden, The
Search for Christian America (Westchester, IL:
Crossway, 1983). “Christian nation” is
ambiguous, and America has never been
distinctively Christian. Chap. 6 and the
“Appendix” are helpful.
Jenkins, Philip. God’s Continent: . . . Europe’s Religious
Crisis (Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2005). Europe is
“post-Christian” and has been for over a 100
Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age (Harvard: Belknap,
2007). Loss of faith reflects simplistic notions
of secularization, namely “subtraction,” thus
“post-Christian” is a product of Christians’
perceptions (as opposed to culture).
Webber, Robert. The Church in the World. (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1986). Chaps. 12-17 are
pertinent as background for our topic.
Wuthnow, Robert. The Restructuring of American
Religion: Society and Faith since WW II
(Princeton: Princeton Univ., 1988). Chapters 812 are important for an understanding of 20thcentury developments.
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