~ ~ ~ ~ ~I just read an article that made the following claim: "Islam is set to overtake Christianity as the world's largest religion by 2070" (see source link at end of this post). Does that seem likely to you? Would you, like many of the masses, blindly accept that, or do articles like this raise a few red flags for you? Now maybe it's just semantics, and you're certainly welcome to disagree with me, but I have a few red flags when it comes to "studies" like this one.
According to the article, Muslim growth between 2010 and 2050 will virtually double that of Christianity's growth during the same period to the tune of 73% for the former versus only 35% for the latter. Do I think it's true? Probably. One could cite all sorts of reasons for this, the simplest of which still seems to me to be that some cultures seem to have larger families than others; simple math, and all that. However, true or not, that is not the first thing I thought of in reading this.
The first thing I thought of in reading this is, given how factioned the church is (acts of the sinful nature, says Paul, in Galatians 5:19-20), what do they even mean by "Christian?" Are they talking about Roman Catholics? Eastern Orthodox? Protestant (whatever that means)? Evangelical? Charismaniacs (sorry, couldn't resist)? And what about some of the cults? Even some Mormons like to think of themselves as "Christian." Maybe the authors of this "study" had still something else in mind; maybe they painted everyone with the same brush. Perhaps they have in mind everybody who uses the name "Jesus" in some fashion or other, regardless how far apart their theology might otherwise be from each other. But then again, someone might swear using the Lord Jesus' name (in vain); is he/she included in this group of "Christians" too?
While technically I guess I too fall in the "Christian" camp, but that's become such a loosy-goosy term of late, that I'm almost hesitant to use it to describe myself. If the truth be known, I dare say that many so-called "Christians" would not even label other "Christians" as "Christians." Does that make sense? Weird, I know. Hmm.
Having said that, obviously there are different factions within Islam too. Did the "study" include them all? Are the Muslim extremists included with the Muslim moderates? And what about the various other Muslim sects? Does once size really fit all in Islam like it seems suggested of in Christianity?
And then there is that nasty word: "Religion."
Many true Christians, myself included, loathe the use of that word to describe their faith. Granted, for much of the so-called "Christian" world, their faith is only something religious that they do or identify with in some form or another. But for many, if not most, true believers in the Lord Jesus, their faith is probably better described as a relationship, and in truth, anything but a "religion." So how does that fit in a "study" such as this? No doubt it was conducted by secularists who don't really understand the faiths they were studying.
It all sort of reminds me of a World Religions class I took back in Bible college. I remember thinking that it strange that a Christian professor could teach what other eastern and western religions believed, without actually believing in that religion himself. Doesn't that leave an awful lot open to subjectivism? Likewise, isn't it somewhat strange to have non-Christian (and even non-Muslim) people "study" these two faiths and and to group who knows what together under the same umbrella of the one or the other?
Call me a doubting Thomas if you will, but studies like this leave more questions unanswered for me than answered. So, according to this "study," some "religion" will become bigger than some other "religion." So what?! What does that even mean?!
But what about the true church; the born-again, Spirit-filled, bride of Christ; those who really "are" the church, as opposed to only those religiously "going" to some religious institutional church, to which Jesus will one day say, "I never knew you;" does that even matter? Are they also included in that menagerie pseudo-Christian smorgasbord? I wonder.
Something to think about. Peace.
Story and Photo Source: express.co.uk