Chapter one of Wilberforce’s book Practical Christianity is entitled: “Inadequate conceptions of the importance of Christianity.” Speaking of the nominal Christian Wilberforce says:
“If we listen to their conversation, virtue is praised, and vice is censured; piety is perhaps applauded, and profaneness condemned. So far all is well. But let anyone, who would not be deceived by these ‘barren generalities,’ examine a little more closely, and he will find, that not to Christianity in particular, but at best to religion in general, perhaps to mere morality, their homage is intended to be paid. With Christianity, as distinct from these, they are little acquainted; their views of it have been so cursory and superficial, that, far from discerning its peculiar characteristics, they have little more than perceived those exterior circumstances which distinguish it from other forms of religion. There are some few facts, and perhaps some leading doctrines and principles, of which they cannot be wholly ignorant; but of the consequences, and relations, and practical uses of these, they have few ideas, or none at all.
Does this language seem too strong? View their plan of life, and their ordinary conduct; and let us ask, wherein can we discern the points of discrimination between them and professed unbelievers?” (Wilberforce)
In my experience many nominal Christians do NOT praise virtue or censure vice (at least not often, and certainly not in any consistent manner). Among professing Christians who are not considered “nominal,” they too, refuse to venerate virtue and instead laud licentiousness. One palpable instance is that MANY (if not MOST) professing Christians take pleasure in the same wicked movies and television shows as non-Christians (cf. Romans 1:32). Professing Christians and non-Christians APPROVE OF THE EXACT SAME GUTTER-BOX.
Wilberforce continues to lament the fact that many nominal Christians in his day obtained the name of “Christian” by hereditary succession:
” …his father was a member of the Church of England; so is he…[and thus] it cannot surprise us to observe young men of sense and spirit beginning to doubt altogether of the truth of the system in which they have been brought up, and ready to abandon a station which they are unable to defend. Knowing Christianity chiefly in the difficulties which it contains, and in the impossibilities which are falsely imputed to it, they fall perhaps into the company of infidels; where they are shaken by frivolous objections and profane cavils, which, had their religious persuasion been grounded in reason and argument, would have passed by them ‘as the idle wind'” (Wilberforce).
The Church of England is not a true Church of Jesus Christ, but rather, a synagogue of Satan, but Wilberforce recounts the common occurrence of the nominal Christian who doesn’t really know what he believes or why he believes it, and so ends up abandoning it when he goes off by himself to a secular (or “Christian”) College or University (for example). Next Page (3)