Christianity appears to be in sharp decline. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of adults in the United States who consider themselves Christian dropped from 78% to 70%. For two millennia, despite many profound challenges, Christianity experienced nothing but exponential growth.
Now, in the last decade, Christians are simply walking away from religious affiliation. What is going on? Will faith inevitably decline? Will our understanding of God become secularized until he is nothing but a metaphor for what is good and noble in humanity?
Author Stephan Grozinger argues that faiths best years are still ahead of it. He explores recent advances in science and philosophy regarding the question of whether human beings have free will and concludes that we do not. But far from being a source of anxiety or even a death sentence for faith, this idea may be the instrument of its renewal.
Grozinger describes how, in its earliest years, Christianity came under the thrall of Platonism, which offered some proofs of God's existence, but at a heavy price. The influence of Plato created a hybrid vision of God: the unconditionally loving God of Scripture and an immovable god, the very Form of Good, who commands, tests, rewards, and punishes. The same powerful evolutionary forces that shaped our bodies and minds seduced us into thinking these two contradictory visions could be reconciled.
Christianity became a religion that encouraged good, socially useful behavior and turned itself into a scold. Unable to embrace the conclusions of science and philosophy regarding free will, popular-culture faith was left behind and often insults our intelligence and offends our moral sensibilities.
But faith's original message is still compelling. By setting aside Plato's influence, a more ancient vision of God and our relationship to Him emerges.