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Predictions about the future of Christianity:

PART 1

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Opinions of:

bullet Cardinal Francis Arinze, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
bullet Harold Bloom, Professor of Humanities and Professor of English.
bullet Rowland Croucher, director of John Mark Ministries.
bullet James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.

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Cardinal Francis Arinze:

Roman Catholic Cardinal Arinze delivered a talk at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Georgetown University, in Washington D.C, on 1997-JUN-5. The topic was "Christian and Muslim relation in the 21st century."  He began his talk by mentioning that Christians comprise about 33% of the world's population, and Muslims include about 18%. This means that most humans follow one of these two great monotheistic religions. He suggests that Muslims and Christians might want to concentrate on making progress in the following areas:

bullet Obtain better knowledge of each other, both through informal contacts and dedicated, specialized, academic study.
bullet Develop respect for their differences; develop respect for each other.
bullet Increase dialog at the level of "daily life in the family, in the workplace or in other social activities", inter-religious cooperation, theological topics, and exchange of religious experience. 
bullet Avoid conflict, hatred, tension, and violence. Follow the ethic of reciprocity by cooperating and improving society.
bullet Islam and Christianity should actively promote peace:
bullet The Second Vatican Council exhorted Muslims and Christians to "make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace and freedom" (Nostra Aetate, cf. n. 3).
bullet Pope John Paul II on 1994-NOV-3 insisted that: "...religious leaders must clearly show that they are pledged to the promotion of peace precisely because of their religious belief" 1

"It is, above all, necessary to educate one's coreligionists to accept and respect others and to co≠operate with them to promote peace. This dimension of Christian≠Muslim relations is most important for the century which humanity is about to enter.1

bullet The remainder of his speech dealt with:
bullet Obstacles and challenges which will make inter-religious cooperation difficult.
bullet Ways of meeting and overcoming these challenges.

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Harold Bloom:

Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and Berg Professor of English at New York University. In his book: "The American Religion," he mainly discusses "the two most American of our faiths, those of the Mormons and the Southern Baptist Convention...The Mormons rightly stress their indubitable status as an American original, with a precise genesis in the visions granted to their prophet, seer, and revelator, Joseph Smith. The Baptists...trace their origin in a great American myth, the primitive Christian Church of ancient Israel." 2

bullet "A nation as religiously fragmented as the United States will not yield very readily to any predictions...as to its denominational future." 
bullet "The Southern Baptists and the Mormons will be at the center of what is to come..."
bullet There are a "large number of Mormon Fundamentalists, many of them polygamy-practicing Brighamites, who fully believe that A.D. 2000 will mark the beginning of the end time, but they hardly represent the Mormon mainstream...
bullet Bloom notes that the Mormons have steadily expanded in numbers at about 6% per year. By the "year 2020 or so" it may be the dominant religion of the American West.
bullet "Not too far on in the 21st century, the Mormons will have enough political and financial power to sanction polygamy again." Bloom feels that this is necessary to fulfill "the complete vision of Joseph Smith..." 
bullet Concerning Ellen White and the Seventh Day Adventist denomination that she founded, Bloom states that: "Either Adventism will return to her version of shamanism as a branch of the American Religion, or it will vanish from among us except as a vast medical legacy.
bullet He predicts that the Southern Baptist Convention will continue in its present form with a large percentage of its members being moderates and devoid of power. Then, perhaps by 2020 there will be a major exodus of moderates from the denomination.

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Rowland Croucher:

Mr. Croucher is a director of John Mark Ministries, an Australian ministry for pastors, ex-pastors, church leaders and their spouses. He predicts:

bullet Greater variety in church structures: more house churches, meta-churches, and churches without walls. Corner-store churches will continue to decline in numbers.
bullet Church health, rather than growth rate, will be the main goal.
bullet There will be less commitment by the laity to a particular congregation or denomination.
bullet There will be a great need for prophets to "remind us of our commitments to faith, hope and love."
bullet "The future is shaped more (in human terms) by the visionary gifts of leaders than by any other single factor."
bullet The four biblical modes of worship will be present in healthy churches: liturgy, reading and exposition of the Bible, small group worship, and charismatic praise.
bullet As governments abandon minorities such as the homeless, mentally ill, unemployed, etc., churches will have marvelous opportunities to care for people outside of their congregations. 
bullet Increasing numbers of churches will create their own Internet web sites. 3

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James Dobson:

Dr Dobson is a child psychologist and the founder and head of Focus of the Family, a Fundamentalist Christian non-profit agency which promotes conservative Christian values. His agency's prime concern is the health of families led by opposite-sex spouses. In his newsletter for 2000-JAN, he predicts some major future changes in the definition of "family." All conflict with, or are extensions of, traditional Christian beliefs and practices:

bullet He predicted that the Supreme Court in Vermont may sanction same-sex marriage. This prediction has partly came true since Dr. Dobson wrote his newsletter. On 1999-DEC-20, the Vermont Supreme Court released its ruling in the case of "Baker v. State, 98-032." They instructed the state legislature to introduce legislation that either:
bullet allows same-sex marriage, or 
bullet creates a new type of government-registered partnership for gays and lesbians that is equivalent in all ways (except for the name) to marriage. 

This subsequently led to the creation of civil unions in the state.

bullet He does not predict the outcome of the vote in California on 2000-MAR-7 which will decide whether "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." He felt that the vote was too close to call when he wrote the letter in late 1999. The measure passed.
bullet He lists many of predictions of futurists around the world:
bullet Alvin Toffler's prediction in his 1970 book Future Shock that homosexuals would be allowed to marry, perhaps with the blessings of their church. He also predicted that young people will enter into "trial marriages" or "recognized pre-marriage." By the 1990s, most married couples in the U.S. lived together before marriage.
bullet Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvaniaís Center for Bioethics concluded that: "...somewhere in the next millennium, making babies sexually will be rare." Presumably most pregnancies will involve in-vitro fertilization.
bullet Sandy Burchsted from Huston TX predicted that by the year 2100, the average American will marry at least four times and routinely engage in extramarital affairs.

Dr. Dobson comments: "Societies can be no more stable than the social foundation on which they sit. That foundation is the traditional family, defined as one man and one woman living together in a committed, loving marriage. If that institution crumbles, the entire superstructure of ordered society is destined to collapse." He concludes his newsletter with the assertion that Jesus Christ will return to earth, perhaps in the very near future. 4

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References:

  1. Pope John Paul II, text of a speech delivered to the World Conference on Religion and Peace at the opening of their Sixth World Assembly in Rome on 1994-NOV-3. See Address #2, L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 1994-NOV-16, Page 2.
  2. Harold Bloom, "The American religion: The emergence of the post-Christian nation," Simon &Schuster, (1992). Review/order this book.
  3. John Mark Ministries has a home page at: http://www.pastornet.net.au/jmm/ 
  4. "Dr. Dobson's Study, January 2000," at: http://www.family.org/docstudy/newsletters/

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Copyright © 2000 to 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-JAN-15
Latest update: 2004-OCT-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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