Sunday, June 14, 2015

Berger: Most people are not concerned about having a logically coherent worldview

Excerpt from an article by John Fraser:

Christians in Europe and North America may be tempted to discouragement from recent cultural and social developments. Traditional Christian sexual mores are under assault like never before, headlined by the recent passage of a same-sex marriage bill in Ireland and the spectacle of Bruce Jenner undergoing “gender reassignment” surgery. Surveys indicate that the number of those who do not identify with a particular religion (“nones”) is on the rise while the number of self-identified Christians is dwindling. The news isn’t all bad for conservatives; those same surveys indicate that conservative churches are still growing numerically, albeit more slowly than the population. Mainline churches, on the other hand, are losing both in terms of raw membership and as a percentage of the population. For conservatives the answer is painfully obvious: why would someone identify with a church which is no different from the surrounding culture? There are other ways to do this that don’t require giving up one’s Sunday morning and Wednesday evening.

Nevertheless, on the whole things seem pretty grim for evangelicals in the Western world. But just as a reminder, Christianity is growing in the rest of the world with the exception of the Middle East. In Latin America, Africa, and large parts of Asia, the faith continues to spread. As far as cultural moments go, this is nothing new. Europe and North America have experienced Awakenings. Other parts of the world are having theirs.

Sociologist Peter Berger attributes this phenomenon to different “relevance structures,” and the fact that most people are not concerned about having logically coherent worldviews. On this latter point I would quite agree with him, except that I would have to add that I believe it is evangelicals and not secularists who have the more logically coherent worldview (but I digress). The take home value of this analysis is that not only is Christianity not on the decline around the world, but the continued remarkable growth of it is notable enough to require explanation from sociologists, and I believe will continue to confound progressives who keep hoping it will all just go away.