We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, March 21. 2009
A repost from last year -
From Joseph Bottum at First Things. A quote:
Read the whole thing.
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What a lovely vivid writer Bottum is. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Barrister. It's particularly poignant to me, since it reminds me, at the age of 80, how reassuring the vast complexity of religion in America used to be, during the years of my growing up and young womanhood. I don't think that America could have weathered the Great Depression and then World War II without this strong basis of shared belief in God. When you think about it, if the Great Depression had happened in many less freely stable societies, it would have brought about civil war and a break-up of government.
But I fear that Bottum is at least partially right. Protestantism is debilitated right now, and I hope it can recover its former vigor. We believers need it. And so do the unbelievers.
I wonder: with the Mainline so taken over by the liberals, if the real Protestants have simply obeyed God and come out of them.
As a member of one of the dwindling number of Bible-believing churches in the PCUSA, we are at the point of wondering that ourselves, especially in light of the latest General Assembly's removal of the requirement that ministers, elders and deacons refrain from homosexual acts, adultery and fornication.
Are we about to have another Great Awakening? Somehow I suspect people can only do so many "fun" things before the emptiness calls out for something more.
They went into politics. And mostly got it wrong, even on that score.
is a testimony as to how far our society has come, or gone, if you prefer. The universities, many of them, were started by Christian folk, and it's come to the opposite orbit.
As a lifelong non-churchgoer, perhaps I should not comment, but I suspect you are right. I have seen some graphs/tables which show as the mainline churches lose their congregations, the evangelical/fundamentalist churches gain. Which implies that mainline Protestants are leaving their churches for the evangelical/fundamentalist churches.
I think the Second Great Awakening made this inevitable at some point in the future, and for three reasons. 1. It ushered in the idea that theology doesn't really matter, as it resulted in watered down theology and the idea of tossing theology aside in the name of unity; 2. Conversely, it also resulted in many small splinter churches with no difference other than one short verse, usually New Testament (see the snake handlers or primitive baptists); and 3., related to the first, the Second Great Awakening was a movement that appealed solely to emotion and scorned the intelllectual. Liberalism certainly exacerbated the problem, but it began in the 19th Century. Consider how easily, even forty or fifty years ago, a Methodist family could get annoyed with their pastor and simply start going to the Presbyterian church down the street instead. Even then, there was really no theological distinction. How many Protestants care about, much less study or discuss, theology? And can anyone name ten prominent Protestant theologians from the last thirty years?
Without theology, there is no church, because it becomes a believe anything you want just come believe it with us (but keep it to yourself) free for all. Why bother?
The way I see it, the churches have split just like the political parties. I would hazard a guess that the church split is what precipitated the political split. On the one hand you have churches that refuse to accept science. In the past, this wasn't such a big deal as information flowed so slowly that generations had time to mold and adjust their religion to fit the slow seeping of scientific knowledge into the masses. Since the advent of radio, this has not been possible. Information spreads too quickly. "Conservative" churches reacted to this by demonizing science and by extension those people and churches that were more willing to adapt to new knowledge. On the other hand you have "liberal" churches that will accept anything, not just those who would reject the "conservative" ideas, but any nutcase. Over time the polarizing effect galvanizes the conservative and liberal elements either around an absolute standard that most thinking people would reject or a bland pablum that no thinking person would waste their time with.
Among the Christian exiles who first fled to America and sought an asylum from royal oppression and priestly intolerance were many who determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty. Their views found place in the Declaration of Independence, which sets forth the great truth that "all men are created equal" and endowed with the inalienable right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Republicanism and Protestantism became the fundamental principles of the nation. These principles are the secret of its power and prosperity. The oppressed and downtrodden throughout Christendom have turned to this land with interest and hope.
As the tidings spread through the countries of Europe, of a land where every man might enjoy the fruit of his own labor and obey the convictions of his own conscience, thousands flocked to the shores of the New World. The feeble and isolated colonies grew to a confederation of powerful states, and the world marked with wonder the peace and prosperity of "a church without a pope, and a state without a king."
But the Protestant churches of America,--and those of Europe as well,--so highly favored in receiving the blessings of the Reformation, failed to press forward in the path of reform.
Now they are in full apostasy in this ecumenical movement. God delivered their forbears papal tyranny. They are in great darkness and are now in full apostasy, renoucing protestantism, and embracing the antichrist, the papacy, hence the declaration of scripture, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, Come out of her My people."