Now, Religion in the News, a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from worldnetdaily.com, April 28, 2005, with the headline, “Christianity Taking Over Planet? New book makes case it’s fastest growing faith on earth. What is the fastest growing religion on earth? Most news reports suggest it is Islam, but a new book makes a compelling case. It is a new, or perhaps old, form of biblically inspired evangelical Christianity that is sweeping through places like China, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. In Megashift, author Jim Rutz coins a new phrase to define this fast growing segment of the population: he calls them ‘core apostolics,’ or ‘the new saints who are at the heart of the mushrooming kingdom of God.’ The growing core of Christianity crosses theological lines and includes 707 million born-again people who are increasing by eight percent a year, he says. So fast is this group growing that under current trends, according to Rutz, the entire world will be composed of such believers by the year 2032. ‘There will be pockets of resistance and unforeseen breakthroughs,’ writes Rutz. ’Still, at the rate we are growing now, to be comically precise, there would be more Christians than people by the autumn of 2032, about 8.2 billion.’ According to the author, until 1960, Western evangelicals outnumbered non-Western evangelicals - mostly Latinos, Blacks, and Asians, by two to one. As of 2000, non-Western evangelicals outnumbered Westerners by four to one. He says by 2010, the ratio will be seven to one. This trend, says Rutz, has been missed by Westerners because the explosive growth is elsewhere. Hundreds of millions of these Christians are simply not associated with the institutional churches at all. They meet in homes, they meet underground, they meet in caves, they meet, he says, in secret, and what is driving this movement? ‘Miracles,’ he says. “Megashift attempts to document myriad healings and other powerful answers to the sincere prayers of this new category of believer including, believe it or not, hundreds of dramatic cases of resurrections - not near-death experiences, but real resurrections of actual corpses. When I was a kid in Sunday school, I was really impressed that 3,000 people were saved on the day of Pentecost,’ he writes. ‘I thought, Wow, that will never happen again. But,’ Rutz says, ‘it now happens around the globe every 25 minutes. By tomorrow there will be 175 thousand more Christians than there are today,’ he writes. The essence of Rutz’s book is about how Western Christians can tap into what he sees as a mighty work of God on earth.”
Tom: This is really confusing. On the one hand, I have no doubt that there are salvations, and we can think of what’s going on in the Sudan for example, and people coming to Christ, certainly, in China and underground churches. So that seems reasonable, but to say it’s based on the signs and wonders that we’ve seen in the church… See, this, to me, smacks of Kingdom Dominionism - we’re going to take over, we’re going to be in big numbers, God is pouring out His Spirit in these last days - and my question is, Dave, how does that relate to prophecy, to what the Word of God says the last days are going to be like? Christians going to take over?
Dave: No, instead the opposite, Tom - a time of an apostasy, and that raises a point. We have polls, Barna poll, and so forth…
Dave: Yeah, in the U.S., and what do they indicate? I’m trying to rack my brain - the last one I remember seeing, it seems to me that 35 percent of the people who call themselves born-again Christians do not believe in the resurrection, and about an equal number do not believe Jesus was God, so this is not real Christianity. You may get excited about seemingly signs and wonders…now, Tom, we have had signs and wonders going on in America. I have not gotten over into Africa - well, I’ve been in Africa a number of times, but I haven’t checked up on the signs and wonders personally, but I have talked to many people who have told me… In fact, I remember one friend, he followed Reinhard Bonkke through Africa, and he tried to document - these were thousands of healings, thousands of salvations, and he tried to find these people and talk to them and document it, and it just was not happening.
So now, if you took every report - and I’ve read many of these reports, Tom, from people coming back from the mission field - charismatics, Pentecostals…it’s not that that’s all bad, but there is considerable exaggeration going on, and talking about healings and resurrections, and so forth. Tom, if you added them all up, everybody in the world is already saved by the numbers that they give.
Now, maybe Jim Rutz has been accepting some of these exaggerated figures from these evangelists. We have a saying you know, not only politically correct, but evangelically speaking - you know what that means, exaggerating. So I have serious questions about this. In his book he doesn’t seem to exercise any discernment, he doesn’t seem to question, “Well, are these really Christians? Is this really a move of God, or is this some kind of hysteria?” We had it here, you know, in Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, we had it at the airport in Toronto Blessing…
Tom: Where people were barking like dogs.
Dave: For example, at Brownsville, they claim - this was Steve Hill and the pastor put out these kinds of statements - they said that this revival had stopped the drug movement in Pensacola, that it had stopped crime, and so forth. Well, if you took that and wrote about it in a book it sounds fantastic, but when you checked up on it, which the local newspaper did, that was not happening at all.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, on the other hand, let’s say that there are these numbers, and they don’t truly become born-again Christians, but we have these numbers. You have Christianity on the increase, or a false Christianity…now, that seems to be prophetic.
Dave: I would say so, the apostasy. Well, Tom, I’m in favor of it! I’d like to see everybody saved. God Himself is not willing that any should perish; He wants all to be saved, but it doesn’t happen quite like this. And I’ve been all over the world - not every place; I haven’t been to China yet, but I have been to most other countries - I have not found any evidence of this. I have seen the opposite, and you know how many people write to us and say, “Tom, Dave, we can’t find a church that teaches the truth. Oh, there are some of these huge growing churches, but it’s all fluff. And they’re not presenting the gospel, really, and people are really not getting saved, and we don’t want to attend a church like that. We’re looking for one that really goes by the Bible.” So I think maybe Jim Rutz didn’t check that out thoroughly enough.
Tom: Well, the other thing is, there is a red flag, as we indicated: if somebody is working toward the church taking over, they could unwittingly be participating in what the adversary is doing in the last days - creating a false church.