I was given an article to read and study and give a reaction to.  It was about missions and growing churches here at home as well as some ideas about a new church movement and a new church body.  It is interesting stuff and at its heart it seeks an answer to why churches are declining and the pagan society seems to prevail and force Christian churches into the back ground.  One of the problems identified is called “lethargy in multiplication”.  The idea is simple, if not simplistic – churches grew number wise in the good old days because we planted new churches and people went to them and joined.  I am not going to get into all that now but there is a fundamental fact that has to be tackled.  Christian churches were not forced into the back ground by a big bad culture that has placed us into a kind of ghetto.  Churches did not lose their mercy work and ability to help the neighbor in their own way and with their own emphasis because a vast welfare state overwhelmed them.  Churches willingly tucked their tails and slunk into the background of the culture or they turned their tails and became part of the pagan culture.  We lost the battle, as Leslie Newbigin says, when we accepted the separation of value from fact.    There needs to be a lot of discussion about that but Newbigin in his book “Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture”, quotes W.E. Gladstone.  He is one of those old dead white guys that no one wants to pay attention to anymore, but it is a interesting quote.

Rome, the mistress of state-craft, and beyond all other nations in the politic
employment of religion, added without stint or scruple to her list of gods and
goddesses. and consolidated her military empire by a skillful medley of all the
religions of the world. Thus it continued while the worship of the Deity was
but a conjecture or a contrivance; but when the rising of the Sun of Righteousness
had given reality to the subjective forms of faith, had made actual and solid truth
the common inheritance of all men, then the religion of Christ became, unlike
other new creeds, an object of jealousy and of cruel persecution, because it
would not consent to become a partner in this heterogeneous device, and planted
itself upon truth, and not in the quicksand of opinion…. Should the Christian
faith ever become but one among many co-equal pensioners of a government, it will be
a proof that subjective religion has again lost its God-given hold upon objective
reality, or when, under the thin shelter of its name, a multitude of discordant
schemes shall have been put upon a footing of essential parity, and shall
together receive the bounty of the legislature, this will prove that we are once
more in a transition-state-that that we are travelling back again from the region to
which the Gospel brought us, towards that in which it found us.