Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?

That The Episcopal Church this week authorized rites for same-sex blessings is hardly news to anyone who has been paying attention to religion in the U.S. over the last 20 years.  The only thing mildly surprising about this development is that liberal Christianity has become so irrelevant that it seems no one, not even same-sex couples, is much interested in it.  I can't even muster the energy to post an article about The Episcopal Church's anti-climatic announcement.  Ross Douthat's New York Times article of July 16, 2012, with the same title as above, is of interest though because he clearly contrasts the Christianity of the civil rights era with today's collapsing liberal church:

What should be wished for, instead, is that liberal Christianity recovers a religious reason for its own existence. As the liberal Protestant scholar Gary Dorrien has pointed out, the Christianity that animated causes such as the Social Gospel and the civil rights movement was much more dogmatic than present-day liberal faith. Its leaders had a “deep grounding in Bible study, family devotions, personal prayer and worship.” They argued for progressive reform in the context of “a personal transcendent God ... the divinity of Christ, the need of personal redemption and the importance of Christian missions.”
Today, by contrast, the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism. Which suggests that perhaps they should pause, amid their frantic renovations, and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world.
Absent such a reconsideration, their fate is nearly certain: they will change, and change, and die.

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