In a piece over at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, David Millard Haskell, professor of religion and culture at Wilfrid Laurier University, discusses a new study he conducted and some of his findings. What will surely surprise many professing Christians is this:
[C]onservative Protestant theology, with its more literal view of the Bible, is a significant predictor of church growth, while liberal theology leads to decline.
According to Haskell:
Mainline Protestant churches are in trouble: A 2015 report by the Pew Research Center found that these congregations, once a mainstay of American religion, are now shrinking by about 1 million members annually. Fewer members not only means fewer souls saved, a frightening thought for some clergy members, but also less income for churches, ensuring their further decline.
Faced with this troubling development, clergy members have made various efforts to revive church attendance. It was almost 20 years ago that John Shelby Spong, a U.S. bishop in the Episcopalian Church, published his book “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” It was presented as an antidote to the crisis of decline in mainline churches. Bishop Spong, a theological liberal, said congregations would grow if they abandoned their literal interpretation of the Bible and transformed along with changing times.