"Based on numerous studies conducted by his research group, evangelical pollster George Barna writes: ‘To increasing millions of Americans, God – if we even believe in a supernatural deity – exists for the pleasure of humankind. He resides in the heavenly realm solely for our utility and benefit. Although we are too clever to voice it, we live by the notion that true power is accessed not by looking upward but by turning inward.’ Unless something changes, Barna thinks, ‘it will be very man for himself, with no second thoughts or regrets about the personal or societal implications of this incredibly selfish, nihilistic, narcissistic way of life…
After citing a series of reports, Barna concludes, ‘In short, the spirituality of America is Christian in name only.’
We desire experience more than knowledge. We prefer choices to
absolutes. We embrace preferences rather than truths. We seek
comfort rather than growth. Faith must come on our terms or we reject
it. We have enthroned ourselves as the final arbiters of righteousness,
the ultimate rulers of our own experience and destiny. We are the
Pharisees of the new millennium.
"Barna’s studies suggest that most Americans value time and efficiency over everything else, minimizing long-term commitments, maintaining 'independence and individuality at all costs,' even to the point of being skeptical of institutions, people, and authorities. After all, people are told every day, 'You are unique,' and that they shouldn’t submit to the expectations of others. Above all, 'Trust your feelings to guide you. Relying upon absolute principles places unrealistic limitations on you. Only you know what’s right or best for you at any given moment, in those circumstances.' Finally, 'Set goals and achieve them…Have fun…Stay in good health…Discover and revel in the purpose of your life.' These are the principal values according to Barna’s surveys of American adults today. After expressing alarm at such trends, however, Barna himself advocates a market-driven outlook that reduces the Christian faith and mission to human-centered techniques of pragmatism and consumerism that might even have made Finney blush. There is this huge disconnect between what we say we believe and what we actually seem to believe when the rubber meets the road."
My own experience as a youth pastor and now pastor confirms everything Horton writes. Too many local congregations have been transformed from the body of Christ to a loose coalition of disparate groups who must each be catered to in order to maintain their patronage. It all seems to be about me, my needs, my gifts, my talents, etc. More proof that the church of Jesus Christ has been transformed into the culture’s image with a few Bible verse thrown in.