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A decade later, Pastor John MacArthur’s warning on Christianity’s decline is still valid

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John MacArthur is one of the most influential pastors of the 21st century, according to American church and media.

Ten years ago, the Korea Daily was the first Korean-language media to conduct an exclusive interview with Pastor John MacArthur.

At that time, the decline of Christianity in the United States and Korea was already significant, with young people turning away from the church.

Related article:
Hundreds of thousands leaving American churches amid declining Christianity

In the interview, Pastor MacArthur criticized the church, saying that the church had lost its voice as a church.

At the time, MacArthur’s interview article had a huge impact, with more than 70,000 views on our website (koreadaily.com).

Christianity’s decline has been linked to a decrease in social trust and the departure of young people due to various issues. This photo shows a worship service at a local LA megachurch. (The photo is not related to the specific content of this article.) [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]

Ten years later, how is the church community doing? Recently, an article titled “Hundreds of thousands leaving American churches amid declining Christianity,” which the Korea Daily reported on, received more than 30,000 views and 1,200 comments on NewsBreak, the largest English-language news portal app in the United States.

The media is reflecting public opinion. It’s a stark reminder of the current state of Christianity.

An exclusive interview with Pastor John MacArthur, who made a rebuke to the churches 10 years ago, was viewed 74,580 times on the Korea Daily’s Korean-language website (koreadaily.com).

 

“Have you ever heard of Hillsong Church?”

That’s the opening line of a documentary series called “Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed,” produced by Discovery Plus in 2022.

Many people in the Christian community are familiar with Hillsong Church. Its contemporary gospel music (CCM) is sung in churches around the world.

This is an in-depth documentary that follows the story of Hillsong’s New York City pastor, Carl Lentz, leading up to his dismissal for infidelity. The documentary directly or indirectly addresses the problems of the modern church today.

Discovery Plus released a two-minute trailer ahead of the full version. It has been viewed 3.3 million times with more than 1,300 comments.

It wasn’t just a Hillsong Church issue, the documentary criticized the reality of Christianity as a whole, regardless of its member status.

The comments alone reflected the public opinion.

‘This is what happens when you idolize a church and not God (ID thecp)’ and ‘As a Christian, I hope this is viewed not just as a cautionary tale of getting too big, but forces churches of all sizes to seriously look into their own leadership and theological practices. Issues like this are happening all across America and not just in the mega churches (kevini5043).

When the church is shaken, social trust declines, especially among the younger generation.

The phenomenon of young people leaving the church is called ‘silent exodus’ in church circles. The age structure of the church today, coupled with the declining birthrate in society, makes it difficult to pass on the Christian faith.

Junghoon Song is a lawyer in California and the director of JC Bridge Ministry, a Christian organization for second-generation Korean Americans.

“Many children who were devoted to their faith in middle and high school are abandoning it after college,” Song says, “and the next generation is disappearing from the church when it should be passed on.”

There are also self-reflective voices within Christianity that biblical values are weakening and churches are losing their identity as they become more capital-centered.

John MacArthur also told the Korea Daily at the time that the era of materialism, consumerism, and relative values has led to a selective adoption of beliefs by individuals. “The church has become indistinguishable from the world by following the flow of material and consumerism,” he said.

The article on NewsBreak, the largest English-language news portal app in the United States, received more than 1,200 comments. The article analyzes the reasons for the decline in Christianity in the United States. [Screen captured from NewsBreak]

The more than 1,200 comments on our article on NewsBreak are also full of opinions pointing out the problems with Christianity.

When looking at the comments, you’ll find comments like “Church is a business now. People are starting to see that (louis dandridge)”, “People aren’t fleeing with faith and spiritualness. They are leaving the hypocrisy and politicization of today’s churches.” (Phillip knight), and “American Churches have lost what their purpose is. Too political, more business, less religion. It is a business. Money is the ruling factor.” (ordinary citizen).

An American reader emailed the editorial board of Korea Daily after the article appeared on NewsBreak.

Susan Bradbury introduced herself as “someone who left the church” after reading our article.

Bradbury said, “Christians are leaving the attendance of organized religion, however, it does not indicate there is a decline in Christianity. I am every bit as much a Christian if not a better one, having left organized religion.”

From a societal perspective, the phenomenon of leaving organized religion has been characterized by the term “SBNR” (Spiritual But Not Religious). It refers to people who are interested in spiritual concepts but do not want to be bound by organized religious institutions.

“I don’t think that when church members leave the church, they have completely abandoned their faith,” said Hyunsung Woo (40, Fullerton), a Christian. “However, we need to analyze the reasons for the decline in church members and ask fundamental questions to ourselves. The reality is that the church’s strength is sustained by the horizontal movement of church members within the Christian community while external inflows decline.”

BY YEOL JANG, JUNHAN PARK    [jang.yeol@koreadaily.com]