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A shadow has set upon American society. The Christian faith is in decline. Spiritual indifference is everywhere. Addiction is up. Church attendance is down. Even with the population booming as much as 300 percent in some areas over the last ten years, the largest religious denomination is reporting a decline in membership.
On the rare occasion that spirituality is discussed, the Gospel is often under attack. The authority of the Bible is questioned. Universalism is suddenly in vogue. No one is a sinner. No one will be lost. Everyone will somehow be saved. There is no eternal punishment. The idea of judgment is archaic and barbaric.
This is not good news.
But this is not recent news. It sounds as though I’m describing the plight of modern-day America. Actually I’m portraying the spiritual landscape of eighteenth-century America.
Francis Asbury, a Methodist bishop, filed this gloomy report in 1794: “[In the American frontier] not one in a hundred came here to get religion, but rather to get plenty of good land.” Andrew Fulton, a visiting Presbyterian missionary from Scotland, reported that in “all the