Updated: Dec 4, 2022
Has human nature changed? Has God? Does relativism gravely threaten Christianity in America and abroad?
These are the questions that prompted me to write the following article. I don't claim to have a final say on such issues, so discussion is welcome.
The fastest-growing religious group in the Americas is the Nones. These are the people who don’t affiliate with any particular religion, whether Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, or anything else.
When asked what religion they are, these are the people who say, rather proudly in my experience, that they are “spiritual but not religious.” In other words, they’re relativists when it comes to religion – and, as such, truth becomes relative as well. God can be who or whatever a None wants he/she/it to be.
Because of it, a lot of people, especially the young, willingly become slaves to iniquity.
St. Paul, in his Letter to the Galatians, wrote, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods” (4:8). Formerly has become latterly, “After you have known God, you have become slaves to those who by nature are not gods.”
The Nones have become slaves to their own egos. Rather than God as the meaning of existence, each of the Nones is able to create the meaning of god for themselves.
This is not mere secularism. It’s narcissism on steroids. Pride got Lucifer thrown out of heaven. And this same pride will serve to condemn many of the “spiritual but not religious” to a similar fate.
If it seems that the world is upside down: it is. Even seemingly good news can be bad.
According to Pew Research, “Self-identified Christians made up 63% of U.S. population in 2021, down from 75% a decade ago.”
This is alarming in and of itself, but at least a solid majority of Americans still identify as Christians, right? Not so fast.
Almost half of Catholics believe that abortion is “legal in all or most cases,” according to Pew. Over half of Orthodox Christians and 60% of Mainline Protestants agree. Can “Christians” who agree with and/or participate in the culture of death rightfully be called Christians?
In just one example among many, take Psalm 139:13-16:
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me
were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Those who support abortion, by definition, cannot be truly Christian. They necessarily disdain the unformed body that is fearfully and wonderfully made. A pro-abortion Christian is an oxymoron. It doesn’t make sense. It is blasphemy.
But it’s not just the slaughter of innocents – as if that isn’t enough. It’s also about no fear of punishment as well, no fear of God.
About a third of Catholics don’t believe there is a hell. The same goes for Mainline Protestants and Orthodox Christians. Evangelical Protestants fair better with a 10% disbelief in damnation.
Not believing in hell is decidedly contrary to Scripture.
“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” 2 Thessalonians 1:9
“The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.”
I might go citing Biblical quotations from both the Old and New Testaments, but the point is already plain.
Pew’s claim that 63% of Americans self-identify as Christian, then, is flawed. A significant percentage of these “Christians” are relativists who pick and choose what to take from Scripture and Tradition and what to leave behind.
One may as well be a baseball player playing goalie in a hockey game.
This is akin to Roland Barthes influential 1967 essay, The Death of the Author in which he argues against reading a text based on the author’s intent. In the case of the Bible, the author would be God via the Holy Spirit.
Barthes’ essay birthed the school of reader response literary theory that continues to haunt our universities and public schools in various guises. Here the reader interprets a text based upon their own experiences and attempts to minimize or even do away with the author’s intent.
This is relativism plain and simple. It is the road to perdition.
With all this in mind – minus the phony Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians – the Nones have been conditioned by society and are now the single largest religious group in America.
When it comes to Catholics, Brandon Vogt, Senior Publishing Director for Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire, breaks it down in his article New Stats on Why Young People Leave the Church. The PRRI study he cites is from 2016 but is still useful. If anything, the numbers have only grown.
When Catholics leave the Church, they become:
49% – “None” (aka “unaffiliated” or “no religion”)
25% – Evangelical Protestant
13% – Mainline Protestant
13% – Other (Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewish, Muslim)
25% of Americans identify today as “None” (i.e., no religion)
I see this in a lot of the college classes I teach. It is becoming more prevalent with each passing term. I hear A LOT from the LQTBQ crowd, many of them who attend “Bible Studies” classes designed specifically for them.
I also see a growing number of students who identify as things that they simply are not, males as females, females as males, humans as cartoon characters, and non-binary beings who watch far too much science fiction and fantasy.
These people are thoroughly confused and those who sow the confusion are in the process of harvesting a bumper crop.
Theirs is little doubt that the Nones are on the rise. Oddly enough, this only serves to strengthen the resolve of the faithful.
Peter saw it coming a long time ago.
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
3 And in their greed, they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment.
2 Peter 2:1-4
Traditional Catholics, contrary to popular belief, wish damnation on no one. Quite the opposite. We must be patient and hold fast to the faith.
Many of those who have fallen prey to the confusion that obscures truth in a fog of cognitive dissonance may one day find their way out the fog.
But they need the guidance of your example. You are a candle shining in the darkness.
Shine steady and bright in humility and, God willing, you will light the way for those who are lost and seeking to be found.