Churches used to be able to say to unbelievers, “You can gain a bit of social capital by coming to join with us. There’s some value added to your life if you come and join with us. If you just come and be with us, we’ll add meaning and spirituality to your life in a non-threatening way.”
But in the hardening secularization that we’re now experiencing, people are going to pay social capital to hang around with anyone who believes the gospel of Jesus Christ. They’re going to forfeit social capital. They’re going to run a risk for being members of our churches.
There once was a time when, let’s say, someone wanted to move into a new town. He had his family, and he wanted to be able to raise his children. He wanted to be able to sell life insurance. He had to have credibility, and he could do that by joining the First Baptist Church or First Presbyterian Church. That was just what people did in an age of cultural Christianity. Now you may fail to become a partner in your law firm, because you are a member of a Bible-believing, gospel-teaching Church.
The mushy middle is disappearing, because in a time of hardening opposition, which could well turn into persecution, people are running a risk to hang around with the likes of us. The mushy middle is going to disappear in a hurry because the pressures on both sides are coming real hard.
Lightly edited for readability, this is a transcript of Albert Mohler’s answer given at our 2017 National Conference. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.