Liberal Christianity

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Via the LA Times:

So this is the liberal Christianity that was supposed to be the Christianity of the future: disarray, schism, rapidly falling numbers of adherents, a collapse of Christology and national meetings that rival those of the Modern Language Assn. for their potential for cheap laughs. And they keep telling the Catholic Church that it had better get with the liberal program — ordain women, bless gay unions and so forth — or die. Sure.

An interesting read. If you'd like more... try The Myth of Religious Tolerance.

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2 Comments

David said:

What a sad, angry, cynical piece. It almost reminds me of Ann Coulter.

Re: the Trinity. The one I find most compelling (not included in this op-ed, for obvious reasons) is "Lover, Beloved, Love." Please, attempt to explain to me why that does not perfectly capture the essence of the Trinity.

The disintegration of these denominations is aggressively promoted by internal fundamentalist "renewal" movements, and understandably, many people are being driven away by the strife and unpleasantness. That's not what they go to church for.

At the recent Methodist meeting, there was a motion presented to oppose the Marshall-Newman amendment. From all accounts, it would have passed overwhelmingly, but the leaders of the renewal movement were able to successfully filibuster it using parliamentary procedure, so there was no action taken. On the other hand, the motions presented by the renewal group, such as to withdraw from the National Council of Churches, were easily defeated.

What we are seeing, unfortunately, is the deliberate creation of ugly polarization, with the hope that the churches will be abandoned to these small fundamentalist sects that, evidently, think the Scripture is about hate, not love. We shall see how it turns out, I guess.

And, not to worry. My faith places plenty of demands on me.

David,

Interesting, but inaccurate, take. The "mainline" Protestant denominations have been undergoing declining membership since the 1970s, while "orthodox" denominations have, for the most part, had an increase. The latter did not cause the former, but arose as a parallel phenomenon. If anything, the former caused the latter.

"Fundamentalism," as you should well know, began in the early 1900s - and it was quite well recognized (c.f Scopes Monkey Trial). The statistical strength of mainline Protestantism increased through the 1950s. Will Herberg's Protestant-Catholic-Jew, was published in 1955, celebrating the American culture supposedly arising from the three dominant religious strands in our society.

"Fundamentalists" were still around, mind you, but at that time the "Protestantism" of the mainstream was very much like what we would call "fundamentalism" today.

This could be a post in itself, but suffice it to say for now that the liberalization of the old line Protestant churches led to the growth of the orthodox denominations. In my opinion, this phenomenon occurred because the liberal churches had less and less to say that was any different from standard civic morality which you can find in many other venues. I'll also suggest that this was also because these churches preached a religion that was less and less distinctively Christian - which I think is part of what the LA Times piece is talking about. And it's not all about sexual mores: It's about downplaying the central doctrines of the Christian faith.

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