The post-Protestants

We have the post-moderns and the post-Christians; now we have the post-Protestants.  Referring mainly to post-mainline Protestants, these are the children of those liberal denominations who have preserved their parents’ self-righteousness, individualism, millennialism, and sense of being chosen–except without Jesus and any kind of Biblical faith.

Catholic author Joseph Bottum explores this new WASP establishment in a new book, An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America.  After the jump, a link and an excerpt to a review of the book by Matt McCollough. [Read more...]

Back to the social gospel

Hillary Clinton cited her commitment to the “social gospel” in a speech to United Methodists.   That goes back to the 19th century when many Protestants said that instead of emphasizing the gospel of eternal salvation in Heaven through Christ, they should emphasize a gospel of building the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

The social gospel, which inspired all kinds of social reforms and progressive political activism,  became the hallmark of liberal theology.   After World War II, even in liberal theological circles, neo-orthodoxy reacted against the utopianism of the social gospel, though in the 1960s it came back with liberation theology.  Conservative theologies, of course, rejected the social gospel, but today there is arguably a social gospel of the right. [Read more...]

When the church “doesn’t really stand for anything”

Newsweek has an article about how Protestantism is dwindling in the land of Luther.  It shows, I think, the futility of the liberal theology that the state church has embraced, the notion that in order to reach people you need to change your teachings so as to conform to the dominant culture.  That’s a formula for making the church irrelevant.

The article also credits the Lutheran churches of East Germany, under great persecution under Communism, for its role in the anti-communist protests that brought down the Berlin Wall.  This reminds us that NOT following the path conforming to the dominant culture can have great power and that the church is at its best in times of cultural conflict. [Read more...]

When a bishop does not believe the Creed

The land of Gustavus Adolphus, who gave his life defending the Lutheran confessions, has chosen a new archbishop who denies that Christ was born of a virgin, rejects the existence of Hell, says that the Bible is not true, believes all religions are equally valid, but has a soft spot in her heart for Islam, refusing to say whether Jesus or Mohammed best reveals the nature of God.

A cry from the heart by a Swedish Christian after the jump.  But I’m curious.  It would seem that this archbishop cannot say the Apostle’s Creed, at least the part that says “I believe. . .in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” When she presides at a service, is she silent when that part of the creed comes up?  Or does she say “I believe” when she doesn’t believe?  I have the same question about other unbelieving ministers and laypeople.  We can see how the liturgy preserves orthodoxy even when those who lead it are not orthodox.  But it would seem that those who reject what the creed affirms and yet join in the confession of the historic church are surely perjuring themselves.   [Read more...]

Good liberal theology vs. bad liberal theology?

British theologian Theo Hobson has a paradigm-scrambling article in the Christian Century, the magazine of record of mainline liberal Protestantism.  He says that liberal theology has suffered a “huge collapse,” particularly in its intellectual credibility in academic theology.   The “bad” liberal theology is faulted for being little more than a vague, rationalistic humanism, cut off from historical Christian doctrines and rituals (meaningful worship, the Sacraments). There is, however, a “good” liberal theology, he says, one that supports the “liberal state.”  By that he means a state characterized by freedom  (religious liberty as opposed to established churches, individual freedom of conscience, civil liberties).

Now, of course,in this country, the cause of political and religious liberty is championed by conservatives.  Theological conservatives would no doubt have a broader conception of liberal theology than Hobson does, finding other “academic theologies”–he mentions that of Barth and the radically orthodox Milibank–equally “liberal” insofar as they take a critical stance on the truth and authority of the Bible.  Still, you’ve got to read this, after the jump.  What do you make of all this? [Read more...]

A sociologist looks at Progressive vs. Conservative Christianity

In the context of a discussion about a growing movement of conservative Catholicism in England, Peter Berger–a giant in the field of sociology and an ELCA Lutheran–discusses some misconceptions about the appeal of progressive vs. conservative Christianity.  He says that “supernaturalism” increases a church’s appeal (despite Mainline Protestants’ [and I would add some ostensible conservatives'] attempt to appeal to the age by playing that  down by replacing the supernatural gospel with morality, self-help psychology, or politics).  He says that “sexual repression,” though, probably does dampen the appeal of conservative religion. [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X