Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spirituality in America

From a sermon preached 8/28/05:

Did you catch the most recent Newsweek magazine? The cover is titled “Spirituality in America,” and an entire section of the magazine delivers a “Special Report” titled “Spirituality 2005.” According to Newsweek, “Americans are looking for personal, ecstatic experiences of God” (p. 46).

Newsweek also reports that there are 159 million people in the United States who “practice Christian religions” (p. 54). 63% of these practicing Christians belong to a house of worship” (ibid.). 29.5% of Americans “practice no religion,” but interestingly, 19% of them “belong to a house of worship.” What I find most striking about a bar graph and a few of the articles in the magazine is the variety of Christians.

The bar graph shows that Roman Catholics are the dominant Christian body, followed by Baptists. Then there is a group simply labeled “Christians,” and next is a group called “other Christians. Then there are Methodists, then Lutherans, and a seemingly equal number of Presbyterians and Pentecostals. Bringing up the rear are the Episcopalians.

I tell you all this to point out the great variety that we have in the church, and while unbelievers will sometimes point at this variety and say that Christians can’t agree on anything, one could look at that same variety and marvel at all those who come to Jesus Christ is so many different ways. I choose the latter approach.

Even so, there are some bedrock beliefs that all Christians must hold to be truly Christian. This is something of what we find in our gospel lesson this morning.


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