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11 Responses to “Careful What You Wish For”

  1. Jay Lampart says:

    Very insightful, but why stop there? Go another 300 years back and consider the influence nominalism and relativism had on the earliest reformers. The gentle whisper of apostasy is heard by only a few before it becomes a shout heard at the pulpit by many. The writings of Hilaire Beloc allude to this, as well as the damage done through the enlightenment.

  2. David Greusel says:


    I think you’re right about both the Second Great Awakening and about Whitefield, but strictly speaking I think Whitefield was part of the first GA, not the second. Charles Finney was one of the leading lights of the SGA, I believe. Historical hair-splitting aside, I think your point is well taken.

  3. Dave T says:

    I realize I’m being cynical but I wonder about survey reporting and what are the questions being asked. Sure, there are nones. But is that so bad? What’s worse – people giving lip-service to institutional connection or people refusing institutional connection and therefore select institutions must choose to re-think how they’ll do business? I’d rather the latter. If modern survey methods bring out better honesty? Fine, then 23% is a real number. Or are modern survey methods bringing out a 15 minutes of fame from the disgruntled who say they’re nones but they’re really more open and easier to engage with than institutionally bound deadwood we’d otherwise count as non-nones who we think are with us – but they really aren’t?

  4. Mike Metzger says:


    You are right about Whitefield and I am wrong.

    I stand corrected. Thank you! Good to have friends who catch my mistakes.


  5. Mark Jones says:


    Thanks for the post. I think you are on target with this piece, as usual.

    Being on one of the single adult dating websites, I see how women classify themselves spiritually. It’s not equivalent to a formal scientific survey, but it does give me a data set to consider. Many of the women classify themselves as “Christian/Other,” rather than “Christian/Protestant,” even though they also state that they attend a church we would classify as Protestant in doctrine. In many cases, I believe that is a result of ignorance, but in others, I believe it fits the category you describe, not wanting to be attached to any denominational group. That doesn’t disturb me, since they often base their beliefs on the Bible. (This may be the group you categorize as “nones,” though I tend to think of the next group as the ones truly fitting that title.)

    What does bother me is the number of people who describe themselves as “Spiritual but not religious.” Some who use it are those who don’t want to be associated with “Christian” though they seem to have relatively main-stream Protestant Christian beliefs. That also doesn’t bother me, since I too tend to say I’m a “follower of Jesus Christ” rather than a “Christian” to avoid misunderstanding or native connotations that “Christian” has these days. However, most who call themselves “Spiritual but not religious” are expressing their individualism by defining their own belief system, picking and choosing a little of this and a little of that. That does concern me. They often will state what sort of church background they come from, and may attend a church regularly or not, though they can’t point to anything that defines what they believe now. My impression is that choosing to define their own belief system allows them freedom from any accountability and enables them to justify behaviors that might otherwise be labeled as sin.

    Though the roots of freeing oneself from “organized religion” may be old, I consider this movement even older than that. It’s based on the pride of men/women, to be our own masters, free from others telling us what to do and believe. The fact that more and more are jumping on the bandwagon of highly individualized “faith” appears to be springing from the fact that it is more accepted and even popular to have that view. It opens the door to accept the increasingly popular sexual trends and sounds more loving to them, since it does not “judge” anyone else’s beliefs or actions as wrong. Few will deny the importance of some form of spirituality, but the recognition of a creator who also cares enough about them to have absolute standards is increasingly missing.

    Does this indicates a gap in our current church teachings? Are so many of us living such anemic faith that we don’t shine the light of truth brightly enough? Is it resulting from a failure to hear and understand on their part? Are the false teachings of this world so much more effective now than they once were? I wonder…

  6. Mike Metzger says:

    Mark: I too wonder about these things. It might be less a gap in knowledge as amnesia. We have forgotten how older Christian traditions operated. And few recognize how recent much of our framing of the faith is.

  7. April Holthaus says:

    Lots to think about here. Sad to think so many think so little about God.
    Marilyn Drea sent me Gazette article about your new home. WOW. Lovely. Wish I had been on the Garden Tour. Many blessings as you use it for sharing God’s love.

  8. Barnabas says:

    The tension is between individual temples of the Holy Spirit and collective ones. When a collective temple doesn’t exist locally then individuals are in a position of collecting as they are able. Sadly with levels of personal, institutional and structural abuse existing, responses are made accordingly. IMO the awakenings were responses to institutional and structural dominance. Something that Christ’s on life reflected. Clearly vision can be dependent on revelations of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  9. Barnabas says:

    ..own life ..

  10. Barnabas says:

    Tension between self-control and common unity.
    Association and dis-association. Membership and non-membership. Inclusion and exclusion.Rhythms of grace and intensity of expectations.

  11. Barnabas says:

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