July 15, 2012
Douthat: Liberal Christianity’s slow death
Prompted by recent Presbyterian and Episcopal denomination meetings that once again made news because of resolutions on the churches’ treatments of gay marriage (and efforts to divest from Israel), Ross Douthat asks an important question in the Sunday Times: “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?”
What he means is that many mainline denominations—the stalwarts of Protestantism—and in particular the U.S. Episcopal Church have lost their moorings. They have become “flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.”
It’s hard to argue with that. But maybe this is a case of damned if they do and damned if they don’t. (For some, that phrase might cut a bit too close.) By that I mean that if the Episcopal Church stayed tied to hundreds of years of dogma, congregational rolls would continue to shrink as elderly members died. But the progressive path hasn’t attracted younger members because much of the emergent generation (and not just this guy) is generally tired with the institutional church—progressive or traditional.