A local Houston television station has taken on the bold task of answering the following question: "What does it mean to be a Christian?" Here's the reporter's intro:
Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist. Historically, there have been many different divisions in Christianity, all with slightly different beliefs and traditions. But those denominations are losing numbers, with recent research showing the only religious classifications gaining ground in all 50 states is that of the nonbeliever, those who check the none box when it comes to religion. So tonight we take a closer look at what churches are doing to change that, and what it means for the definition of Christianity.
So Lutherans and Baptists simply hold "slightly different beliefs"? Oh man. Also, if you look at the news hook, it doesn't match the story at all. The reporter cites statistics on the rise of the "nones," people who don't identify with any religion at all. But the story is focused on more people are identifying with nondenominational churches, mostly pitting Joel Osteen against everyone else. People who identify as "none" are not the same as those who attend a nondenominational church.
The loss of denominational barriers is something Joel Osteen understands. ...Osteen was raised by a Baptist minister. But it was when his church became just Lakewood that legion of worshipers, looking for a less defined path to God, filled the seats of what is now the largest church in America.
Something tells me that it was more than Lakewood dropping the Baptist label that Osteen's popularity began to skyrocket. The piece sort of acknowledges that some don't like Osteen's approach, but the set up is very strange:
While this prosperity theology is popular, not everyone is on board with the more grace and less fire-and-brimstone approach to the book.
So anyone who opposes Osteen must prefer a fire-and-brimstone approach? Overall, the piece portrays Osteen as representative of what Christianity in America looks like.
It may not be traditional church doctrine, but Osteen says it scores big with his followers. In the end, the question may be what do all of these changes mean for the future of religion?
The piece ends quoting a "high-powered attorney" who began Lanier Theological Library.
"Will we have a great awakening again in America like we did 100-plus years ago, or are we at a corner that is a dead-end? I am an optimist. I think we are going to see explosion," Lanier said.
How is this individual authoritative on where Christianity is headed? And as a reader put it, "In a city with an RCC Cardinal, an Orthodox cathedral and and nation's largest Episcopal Church, you would think 'traditional' Christianity would get a voice in this story." The piece is an incredible train wreck, one of those where you think, "Don't attempt."
Ashamed image via Shutterstock. Note: the post has been updated to reflect the reporters' opening line.