We, in the west, are now living in a post-Christian society. Membership in Christian societies / denominations is dropping at an increasing rate across the board. For statistical details see the Pew report here.
I will use the term “The Church” to mean the broad collection of people who call themselves Christians. I will only speak for the United States as the situation does differ in other countries, although the world has the same general trend.
The Church in America is taking two major paths in light of this trend, the conservative and progressive sides. I will discuss these in a very general way, knowing that there are exceptions to what I say about both sides.
Conservative Christianity’s Response
The primary focus of the Christian-right is to demonize the non-Christian part of society, per their narrow definition of what is Christian. The fall away from Christianity, per their perspective, fully rest on the faulty character of those who have left . They build thick walls of demarcation between their precise subculture and the rest and those walls are made up of a long list of written and unwritten dogmas. They fly the flag above their walls that their castle contains things that are “Biblical.” However, the dogmas they choose usually have nothing to do with the Bible, but are found within their own historical development.
The conservative Christians have continued to move greater parts of the culture to the outside of these walls, including now science, journalism and other important sources of information. They depend now on intrinsic information, which is usually made up of conspiracy theories without evidence from sources outside of science or professional journalism . Their solution to the problem is to recapture the country via political power, through elections and the appointment of judges. Their hope is via the criminalization and coercion to force the society as a whole to follow their conservative Christian dogmas. They yield to gnosticism, or a “spiritual” knowledge that is higher than rational knowledge that may come through science or professional journalism.
The Progressive Christian Approach
While the conservative Christian approach is to demonize those who are not part of their subculture, some progressives try to resolve the problem through philosophical synthesis. This, in some ways, is the opposite of the conservative approach. Rather than building walls they attempt to tear down walls, all walls, and do so by blending all philosophical and religious perspectives as the same. While you can maintain a pure Buddhist perspective, rationally (even though pure Buddhism would say that reason is an illusion), and you can maintain a pure Christian perspective rationally, it is impossible to blend the two without giving up the aspiration for reason and truth. It is simply because they teach opposites in many places and you cannot blend opposites without giving up this hope for truth.
This brand of progressives cannot find harmony in dogmas between the religious or philosophical considerations (Buddhism and Christianity as the major two) because they teach opposites, so they focus on “experience.” Any religious or emotional experience will suffice to give meaning within that blended system.
The premise of rational Christianity is that human reason is a gift from God, given to use to find truth. It is not perfect, but 99.9% of our lives is spent within the reasonable world and it only makes sense that the most important part of that world, finding truth including truth about God, is found through evidence and reason. The Gnostics relabeled human emotions as “spiritual” in order to give it substances as a substitute for reason. The rational Christian believes that God gave us the gift of emotions to celebrate or fear the truth that our senses and reason have found.
From the rational Christian’s perspective, people are leaving the Church, or Christianity because they have not been given a sufficient reason to stay. It is therefore the burden of the Church to give a good reason.