The end of cultural Christianity

The end of cultural Christianity February 4, 2014

There was a time, not long ago, when people were just expected to go to church.  It was a cultural thing–to be respectable, a fine upstanding member of the community, you went to church.  Whether or not you believed it or practiced it or not.  The upshot was churches full of nominal Christians.

Today, though, that is not, in general, the case.  I suspect it may still be in some communities, but more usually there is no stigma against not attending church, and in some cases there is a stigma if you do.

Some are lamenting this development, but I’m thinking this may be a good thing.  Why might that be?  What might be the down side for the culture?  After the jump, a link to a discussion on the subject.  The discussion features Dennis Prager (who is Jewish), Ross Douthat (who is Catholic), and Al Mohler (who is Baptist).  Read it all, but I have excerpted some of what Dr. Mohler said. From Baptist Press -New era in U.S. culture assessed by panel – News with a Christian Perspective:

[Al] Mohler said, the major difference in today’s socio-religious world compared to that of the previous generation is a move away from a wide, almost requisite, acceptance of religion in all facets of public life.

“There was in the center of the country — and I don’t mean that geographically, but culturally — a cultural religiosity that was, in the main, a cultural Christianity that trended in one direction for the better part of 60 to 70 years, and it had a kind of moral authority that is disappearing before our eyes,” said Mohler, an evangelical theologian who is the author of several books about cultural trends as well as the host of a daily podcast in which he analyzes the news from a Christian viewpoint. . . .

Concerning evangelicals, Mohler admitted that “right now there are fewer evangelicals by theological definition than the sociologists tell us there are.” But the issue, he said, is not evangelicals departing from their genuine beliefs. Rather, many of those who, in a previous generation, self-identified as “evangelical” no longer do so. He alluded to a mid-20th-century America, particularly in the South, where affiliation with a church or religious group brought a certain amount of social and cultural credibility.

“Cultural Christianity,” Mohler said, “is dead.”


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