American Christianity is fact due for a revival

Pastor Matthew Best
5 min readMar 24

The question is what that means.

The Atlantic recently published an article by Tim Keller on February 5, 2023 titled “American Christianity is due for a Revival.” It’s behind a paywall, so I was only able to read the first couple of paragraphs, but that was enough to see where he was headed.

The subtitle of his article was “Our society is secularizing, and Christianity seems to be in long-term decline. But renewal is possible.”

In the first paragraph he paints a picture of going to various locations and seeing how churches are being changed into secular establishments, often representing what I assume Keller would consider to be the evils of secular culture — it always seems to center around individual morality and Puritanical morals around sexuality. I could be wrong on this of course — I’m basing this off of the two paragraphs I’m reading, but he makes himself pretty clear in those two paragraphs that “repurposed” church buildings, regardless of their purpose, is a bad thing.

I’m going to be blunt — when I read this, what I hear is someone who is enthralled with nostalgia for church the way is was, or the way it was imagined to be in the past, or a favored way to have remembered it in the past. Nostalgia is getting caught up with the idea that the best days are in the past.

Again, I didn’t have access to the full article, so I could be way off here. And I apologize if I am. Maybe Keller took a hopeful turn in his article. He did talk about the church needing a revival after all. And I agree with that. The question is what kind of revival. I’m guessing he probably talks about that in the article. Knowing what I know about Keller’s theology, I have a pretty good guess on what that means. And I probably am not going to agree with him.

At any rate, I’ll grant him that our society is secularizing. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing on its own. I don’t see the secularization of our society as a threat. A far greater threat is the more fundamentalist mindset that our society is facing. A more authoritarian outlook that doesn’t believe in actual freedom. This is a far greater threat to Christianity than a secular society. A secular society makes room for people of various belief systems after all. A fundamentalist/authoritarian mindset doesn’t. This mindset about absolutes. You are either for us or against us. You are right or wrong. There is no middle ground. It’s…

Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.