The United States currently has the greatest number of Christians of any country in the world.
The sheer scale of American Christianity is staggering. There are a little over 12,000 Starbucks in the United States, but there are 350,000 churches. But American Christianity is not one homogenous work of art. It more resembles a Jackson Pollack painting with its various colors and splotches. There are over 34,000 Christian denominations in the world, with many of them represented in our own country. We could respond to this diversity in one of two ways: we could consider the variation to be a problem and declare that there is one right way to worship God and we need to standardize and harmonize our traditions, or we could celebrate this menagerie of Christian expression as an object of beauty.
The Bible states in Acts 11 that people were referred to as Christians for the first time in the ancient city of Antioch. However, since that time, the word “Christian” has taken on negative connotations. In a 2011 study conducted by The Barna Group, respondents stated that they found Christians to be too moralistic, too judgmental, and too hypocritical. Such assessments seem accurate in today’s world when headlines abound of Christians advocating close-minded viewpoints. It has become popular now for people to state that they are spiritual but not religious. Many identify as having no religious affiliation despite still attending church.
Like many, we are tempted to disavow the title of “Christian,” in favor of simply following Christ. However, the reason behind the term “Christian” is important to remember. It was…
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