Martha Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her. Jesus was categorical about the best place and posture for a believer to be safe on matters of God. Humility at the feet of Jesus and the readiness to be taught of Him, is what Mary chose and there’s a lot to learn of Him than there is to teach others. There is always a tendency to try and figure things out for ourselves and for lack of humility and a readiness to learn. We have a zeal to serve God yet, we are not as keen and careful to humble ourselves and allow God to lead us and its easy to enter into error and to mislead others. Apostle Paul admonishes Timothy his son in the faith, to give diligence to present himself approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth. While I find Ross Douthat rather negative in his analysis of the state of church in America, I believe he has to a great extent painted a semblance of part of the church. It reminds me of Elijah’s assertion that he was the only prophet in Israel but God tells him that he has another 7000 people in Israel who have not compromised their faith. The church is alive and strong but the more visible part of the church is not necessarily the true picture of the state of the American church, I believe that, there are true believers in the church today that are not confused as Douthat implies in his book, “bad religion”.
On a positive note, Ross Douthat is optimistic in concluding that the church always resurrects every time after a time of decline. In the history of the church, there has always been people that have erred from the right doctrine and mislead others and the church has experienced periods of decline, but church still rises up and lives on. It always takes the believers that are faithful to call on God in prayer and to persist in the right doctrine and spiritual discipline to keep the vitality of the church even in the face of such decline or errant doctrinal challenges. It is the believers that will take the posture of Mary of humility, readiness to learn from our Lord Jesus and in their consistency in the faith, that will keep the light of the Gospel shining as the city on a hill that cannot be hidden. I believe that our focus should be on God and the work that He is doing in our time rather that be distracted by the wrong doctrines and their peddlers. Douthat paints too negative a pictures and assumes that the whole church of Jesus Christ is in error which is not true.
In respect of the church always resurrecting, Douthat suggests that Christians from outside America are likely to be instrumental in bringing revival and cites examples of where this is already happening, with South Koreans doing missions in the US. Douthat quotes Phillip Jenkin’s 2002 book Next Christendom, “by the end of twenty-first century, the real heartlands of Christian belief, will no longer be in Europe and North America; they’ll be in Nigeria and Brazil, in Mexico and Uganda, and perhaps in China as well”. This is an interesting development in the church where missionaries will come from the countries that traditionally have received missionaries from Europe and North America. It might as well be the time for the southern Hemisphere countries turn to give back to Europe and North America, this is evidently happening already.