Christianity –and by this term we refer to all the people who believe in Jesus Christ, Roman Catholics as well as the members of the Reformed Churches- is in crisis. The number of people participating in the Christian religious ceremonies is decreasing continuously. However the number of people who consider themselves Christians is relatively stable and, in many parts of the world, it is increasing. There seems to be a contradiction here but a closer analysis shows that it is not the case. The only possible conclusion is that the Christians have adapted themselves to the modern world faster that their churches. What is a normal process of evolution for the Christians –as for most people at least in the western world- clashes with a process of stagnation among the clergy of the Christian churches. The churches are living in the past, refusing to see the effects that modern sciences, technology, education, the social upheaval of the recent past, etc. have had on the modern man who has absorbed all of them in his stride.
People, today, are not ready to believe anything that is not based on evidence, they are ready to put everything in discussion, they have immediate access to a mass of information, and they have their own ideas and reach their own conclusions. Most Christian Churches, on the other hand, are still based on traditions, always refer to old knowledge that have been disproved, or at least put in doubt, and refuse the new ideas, knowledge, and inventions. A single example will clarify this point. When Galileo found that the Sun is the centre of the universe and that the Earth is a planet that rotates around it, as Copernicus had argued, the Roman Catholic Church recommended that the Inquisition bring a case against him. Galileo was summoned to Rome in 1633 where he confessed to having overstated his case. He was pronounced to be suspected of heresy and was condemned to life imprisonment and was made to abjure formally his beliefs. However he never spent a day in prison.
There have been some changes, especially among the reformed churches, but they are not enough to attract people. Will there be more changes in the future? The answer must be yes if the decreasing membership and participation in the religious ceremonies are to be reversed; if changes, and not only pro-format changes, are not introduced soon, the influence of the churches will become marginal in the western world.
What should be changed? It is very difficult to answer such a question. There are many answers depending on the church concerned, the countries, and their socio-political environment. Some changes are required from all Christian churches:
- A softening of the doctrine allowing people to read, learn and discuss alternative ways to be Christians
- A greater opening to women who should have the same right as men, in particular the clergy should be open to them without any restriction
- A more transparent organisation and business ways
- A return to the origin, including the recognition that there are other ways to be a Christian.