EDUCATION & Least educated are most likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated … those with a graduate level education are almost always the group that is the most likely to be religiously affiliated.

by Ryan Burge, Christianity Today, 4/19/19.

…the bar graph below displays the percentage of each educational group that identifies as a religious “none” (atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular).

Educational attainment serves as a very good proxy for economic prosperity and provides a solid test of secularization theory. Note that each of the six waves of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study contain between 30,000 and 65,000 respondents.

The results are unambiguous: those with the least amount of education are consistently the most likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated. The far right bar in the graph, indicating those with a graduate level education are almost always the group that is the most likely to be religiously affiliated.

If one would like to argue that education is related to secularization, there is no evidence to support that conclusion to be found here.

However, there is a more specific way to approach this problem. The above graph lumps the entire sample into six education categories with little regard for whether they obtained their high school diploma in 1968 to 2008.

If secularization was a constantly accelerating process, we would expect to see younger people with graduate degrees unaffiliate at higher rates than their older counterparts with high levels of education. In order to test this, I broke the CCES 2018 sample into birth cohorts, which are created based on five year intervals.

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ECONOMIC PROSPERITY & The more economic prosperity a nation enjoys, the fewer citizens of that country say that religion is very important.

by Ryan Burge, Christianity Today, 4/19/19.

…The horizontal axis provides a good proxy for economic prosperity (gross national product per capita), while the vertical axis represents the overall level of religiosity in a nation.

The conclusion from this graph is clear: the more economic prosperity a nation enjoys, the fewer citizens of that country say that religion is very important. There are a few outliers, however. China is in the bottom left portion of the graph, which means that based on the country’s economic output it should be more religious than it currently is, with the same occurring in Hungary.

Obviously, both of those countries have a history that is closely associated with communism, which is the likely cause of their low levels of religiosity. On the other hand, the United States is clearly an outlier on this graph. It ranks as the most economically prosperous country in the dataset, but if it were going to be in the middle of the trend line, the overall level of religiosity should be very close to zero.

Instead, just over half of Americans think that religion is very important. The United States clearly bucks the trend of secularization when looked at from this angle.

There are two possible thoughts that emerge from this. One is that secularization is coming to the United States, it’s just moving a little slower. The other is that somehow the U.S. is different and is the exception to secularization. Recent data on America’s religious behaviors can help us understand what is really occurring.

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THEOLOGY & New book biblically dissects weaknesses of a prosperity theology

Commentary by Prof. B:  As a Fellow of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College, I am also a member of the Lausanne Movement (an evangelical movement to connect influencers with ideas for global mission, founded by Billy Graham). As such, we study practice and theology.  Sometimes students inquire about a prosperity theology and to help gain a theologically nuanced understanding I recommend Julia Cameron’s new book: Prosperity Theology and the Gospel (Hendrickson Publishers / The Lausanne Library. ISBN 978 1 68307 049 8).

Here is an excerpt by Ms. Cameron explaining the purpose of the book:

“New Book: Prosperity Theology and the Gospel” by Julia Cameron, Lausanne Movement, 12/7/17.

We … a group made up largely of theologians and missiologists, gathered from all continents, shared a sense of purpose. Our hope was to engage deeply with the ‘different gospel’ that has undermined the true gospel in many churches. One fruit of our gathering would be a book. Its publication took time, but now we offer to the church what I believe may be the most thorough book on this subject to date.

What, then, is this ‘different gospel’? It is widely-known as ‘prosperity theology’. Its teaching has parodied biblical teaching on the character of God, and created a new brand of ‘discipleship’, not known in Scripture. Its influence—promising so much—has caused untold harm. Leading up to the Third Lausanne Congress, I was working with Christianity Today on a series of articles and videos addressing critical issues in the church. The article on prosperity theology was one of the most-read…

It is important to note that there can be no condemning of prosperity itself. The group in Atibaia recognized a clear ‘theology of prosperity’ running through Scripture. Think, for example, of Abraham, David, and Solomon, men blessed with much material wealth, as of course Job had been. Indeed, the creation of wealth should be regarded as a Christian mandate, for the good of society. This, however, was not the brief for our work in Atibaia.

I am now able to commend to you Prosperity Theology and the Gospel: Good News or Bad News for the Poor?—a thorough, lucid, accessible, and, we trust, seminal book. Let’s be good stewards of what it offers.

As with all Lausanne books, we include study questions at the end of chapters. This could easily be used in church groups or workplace fellowship groups. The Atibaia Statement draws the threads of the book together. In its Conclusion, Femi Adeleye and Valdir Steuernagel take the four ‘calls’ of the statement and offer pointers for the church—the local church. Yours or mine.

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Here is a video introduction to the Lausanne Movement:

MISS 600  LEAD 545  LEAD 565  LEAD 600