Mike Konrad provides his take on Why Official Christianity Is Dying. The basis of this is in the story of Adam and Eve. It is the difference between the belief that Grace can be earned compared to the idea that Grace is given. It is about the fundamental nature and redemption of man, of ourselves.
In this both the liberal Marxist, and the overly strict cleric, make the very same error. They deny that man is evil, and somehow insist that man must improve himself, rather than trust what the Bible says, and realize that man is not improvable. He might be educated, better fed, better cared for — and these are all laudatory, and to be sought; but human nature remains pretty rotten.
It is this depravity — a concept well known to 18th century Americans — which informed their revolt against Britain so they could set up a limited constitutional republic. If men were evil, why on earth would you give power to the government beyond what is minimally necessary?
This view did not inhibit charity, but rather informed how charity was applied. Charity was a response to an already achieved salvation through faith, rather than a means of acquiring salvation. God was gracious to us; let us be gracious to others. Improvement was a result of meeting God, not a way of getting godly. If the concept of a free salvation sounds airy, and nebulous, the observed consequence of the principle has practical applications: Namely, man is totally rotten; don’t trust men.
When this gets to the real world, e.g. economic systems, many get thoroughly confused. Capitalism is not seen as a mechanism to control to basic “rotten” nature of man but rather as the evil thing itself. Or look at the conundrum seen currently in mob rule and the diminishment of the police. That is a Democracy versus Republic debate with minority protections surfacing raw.
Accept one’s sins. Repent. That is Christianity. It is dying because many cannot see what they have to repent.They are too busy trying to hoard moral merits to establish self esteem and social position.
UPDATE: A good backgrounder on this is from Jazz and Ed at Hot Air. “To argue that we are inherently evil is to deny the goodness of creation, and to provide yet another excuse for our choosing sin over God.” – There are subtle concepts here and it is easy to get confused. Care is needed.