Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
In a recent blog I noted statistics regarding the visible decline of Christianity in Canada. This raises the question, ‘What Happened to Christian Canada?’
In a book by this title historian Mark Noll reached the conclusion that we exchanged a Christian vision of Canada for a multi-cultural one. This is true. Canada was a bi-lingual, Anglo-European, Protestant-Catholic nation. Our identity, while different (and sometimes divided), was also one in heritage. While multi-culturalism (language, ethnicity, religion, etc) is not all of itself wrong, this new vision for Canada was an intentional subversion of the existing Christian vision by cultural Marxism (e.g. the thoughts of Antonio Gramsci [1891–1937]). Christian values were assaulted and a Christian vision was replaced by a vision that divided, and accelerated by individualism, made Canada far easier to control to ideological ends.
While Noll is correct, his social theory is not the whole story as he alludes in his conclusion.
One must recognize that even at its height all of Canada was never truly Christian, there was much nominalism, of people buying into the Christian vision or attending church culturally but not truly and spiritually. One must believe the Gospel to be a Christian.
Still, many denominations faithfully preached the Gospel and so it could be assumed that many Canadians truly were Christian. However, with the arrival of theological liberalism in Canada (which accelerated in the 1920s), countless Canadian denominations, pulpits and churches became arid wastelands that gave the appearance of Christianity yet without Christ. Long before an assault from without can an attack from within. William Booth of the Salvation Army foresaw this shift in the 1800s when he said of the 20th Century:
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”
If truth is not presented it cannot be trusted and it therefore does not transform.
There is nothing less attractive than nominal Christianity, no meaning, no joy, no fruit of faith, no substance. As more and more Canadians became nominal Christians is it any wonder ‘Christianity’ was spit out? Like the story of the Return of the Unclean Spirit in Mt 12:43–45 Canadians spit out nominal Christianity only to embrace other isms far worse than the first.
People began to look to the old worldly isms of materialism, commercialism and individualism in increasing degrees. (A corporatism in Christian Canada gave way to the extreme individualism of today).
Christianity was also beset by other isms such as Darwinism, Communism, atheism, the Sexual Revolution and post-Modernism. (It is interesting to note how a decline in the number of children necessitated an immigration policy that supported multi-culturalism).
While the full answer is even more complex than this some major contributors to the decline of Christian Canada were recasting our identity (cultural-Marxism), liberalism, nominalism along with various other isms.
No doubt some genuine Christians of the past bear spiritual and social responsibility for allowing us to drift away from orthodoxy and slip into nominalism as a nation, thus allowing this shift to take place (a giant can only be toppled if it blindly believes itself unstoppable).
The faithful remnant in Canada (e.g. the Church), now often bolstered by new Canadians who are already Christian, must rise to be the vanguard of society’s wellbeing (salt and light, Mt 5), do honour to our Christian heritage and offer a bright hope and alternative vision for the future. However, this will not be done through worldly means (2 Cor 10:4) but by the faithful preaching of the Gospel and lives lived to the glory of Christ. This is how the early Church began and transformed the Roman and European landscape. This is how we must win Canada today; one soul at a time.
Very recently I came by two different sets of statistics related to the visible decline of Christianity in the West, one was a local newspaper article and one was by the BBC.
The BBC article reported that for the first time less than half of the population of England/Wales identified as Christian down to 46.2% in the 2021 Census from 59.3% in the 2011 Census (Britain does their censuses every decade). What is more, those who claim no religion are approaching those who claim to be Christian at 37.2%. However, a more accurate indicator as to the state of Christianity is not the census but those who attend a church service semi-regularly at 1.5%. As not everyone who goes to church is a Christian (i.e. they may be a “seeker” or nominal, as shall be seen), an generous estimate as to the number of Christians in the UK could be as liberal as 1% (670,000). 46.2% vs. 1% is a BIG difference!
In Canada there is a similar trend. Our recent census figures show 53.3% identify as Christian compared to 67.3% in 2001. The more accurate gauge as to the true number of Christians is church attendance. The following chart shows the decline of those who attend weekly service:
Today, partly because all religions are included in studies and partly because the measurement moved from weekly to monthly (itself telling) it can be difficult to truly gauge numbers. One study put monthly religious attendance at 23% (including all religions). Stats Canada (2019) noted 31% of professing Christians were in church monthly (2.283 million or 6% of the population). We might halve that to get a rough weekly figure of 1.14 million or 3% of the population. So liberally in 2019 (pre-pandemic), 3% of the population may have been Christian vs. 63.2% in the census. That is a BIG difference!
That means 3 out of 100 people you meet in Canada may be Christian!
What the media, ever the naturalist, fails to distinguish is between true Christians as God sees them and visible Christians as the world sees (2 Ti 2:19). The world likes terms like practicing vs. non-practicing Christian, etc. Muslims think of the entire West as Christian, either because of its past or its censuses. Rather the Bible speaks of Christians and non-Christians.
Just because I call myself a cat doesn’t make me one. Just because I sit in a garage doesn’t make me an automobile. So too, just because I call myself a Christian or go to Church doesn’t make me one.
We must not think naturistically like the world but see spiritually as the Bible teaches. We need to have discernment. The Bible has not left us blind to discern the marks of a genuine believer.
Jesus said we would “know them by their fruits” and that not everyone who said “Lord, Lord,” would enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 7). Likewise in 2 Cor 13:5 Paul urges the Corinthians to “test yourselves” and the possibility of failing “to meet the test.” Not all “Christians” are Christians. Similarly, Revelation speaks of “synagogues of Satan,” Jewish gatherings that visibly should have embraced their Messiah and been friendly but had rejected Him and so spiritually were not friendly. Indeed like many things in life we need this distinction to see the difference between real Christians and true Churches and nominal Christians and false Churches.
The Bible is filled with “tests of assurance,” marks that we are to use to evaluate (not be judgemental) as to whether someone is a Christian. You might read 1 John, which is filled with them, but the following may suffice. We know a Christian by three basic marks: by their lips (Ro 10:9–10), by their lives (Gal 5:22–23); by their baptized into the visible Church (Acts 2:38, 41).
Let’s wisely evaluate both our own lives and those who claim to be “Christian.”
 This group is commonly known as “the dones;” those who are still spiritual but not religious. They constitute an interesting demographic for evangelism.
 See Edwards Religious Affections if you’d like to do much deeper on this subject. Edwards was caught up in the 1st Great Awakening. He thought optimistically of all those who’d professed to be “converted.” In his book he looks at the Biblical marks of genuine conversion.
There are many things I, as a pastor, would rather write about, but it often behoves me, for the sake of my sheep and those who would be gathered in, to defend the faith, to protect and guard from error, so that the saints may be edified and sinners saved. This is where Jude found himself:
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)
Liberalism (and I daren’t even give it the satisfaction of enjoining it to that blessed title, Christianity), is a new religion that was birthed in the nineteenth century (1800s). Like Satan posing as an angel of light or a wolf dressing in sheep’s clothing, Liberalism (lateral deists as a friend of mine calls them), guises itself as Christian, though in peering into the [initially] subtle differences, one finds an entirely different religion. We’d do well to know what Liberalism is, so in spotting it, we might turn from error fix our eyes upon the truth of Jesus.
A newspaper from the 1920s, an era where Liberalism and orthodox Christianity were in conflict, contrasted the chasm like differences between the two.
One author who wrote on the subject was J.G. Machen in Liberalism and Christianity (1923). In his classic work he argued that Liberalism was indeed a new religion.
To further illustrate the differences, consider the Fellowship’s Statement of Faith (1953) (and still today) contrasted with the much more orthodox United Church Statement of Faith (1925) and their most recent statement, Songs of Faith (2006), on the subjects of the Bible, Jesus and Mankind (these three are chosen because of their centrality in the faith):
Doctrinal error and moral misguidedness—accommodating to the world, syncretism—has meant that the once largest Canadian Christian denomination is now one of the fastest dying religions in Canada (the old statistic was that one church building closed each week; now the figure is that, with the Anglican Church and some others, 10,000 buildings will close in 2020 alone). While a dead orthodoxy can certainly lead to closed churches, a vibrant orthodoxy normally to lead to spiritual flourishing and healthy churches (as seen in the independent and non-religious study from Ontario in 2015).
Like Jude, may we cling to the “faith once for all delivered to the saints,” which along is true, which alone can save; and having come near the end of our Old Testament journey in Cover to Cover, may we take heed of the danger that will come to God’s people when we compromise with the world in belief and practice (i.e. Judges).
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