What do I think of Bradley Wright’s book published by Bethany House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Back when Smallville was on the air (sheds a brief tear that it’s over) there used to be a term when the show started called “Freak of the week.” What this referred to was the villain that Clark would fight that week who had been mutated by Kryptonite. For Christians, you could say we have the crisis of the month or something similar.
Christians always seem to be worried about something saying that the sky is falling and if this happens, it will be the worst possible thing. Yeah. We have that penchant unfortunately. That could be why apocalyptic nonsense like Four Blood Moons sells so well and everyone thinks the end of the world is right around the corner. (Because, you know, every other generation was wrong, but not us! We’re the exception!) You can even check the updated rapture index every Monday and the more bad news there is, well the closer we are to Jesus coming.
Now to be sure, there usually can be something bad going on. No one is saying we live in utopia. No doubt, there are ways that we can improve in the church, but maybe things aren’t as bad as we think they are. Maybe in some ways we’re in fact doing pretty good.
Bradley Wright is a professor of sociology who knows statistics well. Of course, a lot of us do think statistics often look impressive and carry divine authority. (We say this despite that 62% of statistics are made up on the spot.) Wright looks at the statistics often shared by Christians and shows that the claims really aren’t as bad as they think they are.
In fact, in some cases, they’re pretty good. Consider marriage and sexuality. Evangelical Christians who are regular church attendees do in fact have better marriages and are less prone to divorce. In fact, there are more young people than we realize who are growing up with the same values.
Is this the last Christian generation? Well, maybe, except every generation before has been saying something like that as well. The things your parents say about you if you’re a part of that younger generation, well their parents said about them. In fact, when I see young children today, I’m tempted to think the same kind of thing. History repeats itself.
Are we Christians really living the life we’re meant to live? For the most part, it looks like we are. (Though Wright would say we have a habit of sharing bad statistics that needs to stop.) Wright looks at this by comparing us to several other groups out there. Also, he has a stipulation that the “nones” does not equal atheist, something a lot of atheists need to learn. Many of them in fact hold high views about God, prayer, and the Bible.
He also looks at the claims that the world has a negative view of Christians. In a sense, he’s absolutely right. Isn’t this what we should expect? The church has always been attacked and viewed negatively by the world. Why be surprised? Of course, if there are areas where we are legitimately doing something wrong, we need to improve. (For instance, I understand one claim is that a focus on inerrancy and young-earth creationism leads to apostasy)
The reality is we need to improve anyway. If we’re doing wonderful or if we truly are the last Christian generation in America, our call is the same. It is the Great Commission. We are to be doing that regardless and there’s no excuse for sitting back and saying “Well we’re doing good enough. No need to push harder.”
Wright’s book is a fun and enjoyable read. Reading it will give you hope that things aren’t as bad as you think they are. Still, even if they’re not bad, there’s always room for improvement and as I said earlier, we still have the Great Commission to do. If we’re doing poorly, let’s change that image. If we’re doing great, let’s do even better.