CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

In his book What's So Great About Christianity?, Dinesh D'Souza discusses the explosive growth of what he calls "Traditional Christianity" (which he acknowledges is the same concept as C.S. Lewis called "mere Christianity" in his book by the same name) in much of the world. He compares it to the withdrawal that he sees in the mainstream churches in America which are rapidly shrinking. In the course of this discussion, he sets forth a quote that I found both interesting and accurate which I would like to share.

Here in the West, there are lots of liberal Christians. Some of them have assumed a kind of reverse mission: instead of being the church's missionaries to the world, they have become the world's missionaries to the church. They devote their moral energies to trying to make the church more democratic, to assure equal rights for women, to legitimize homosexual marriage, and so on. A small but influential segment of liberal Christianity rejects all the central doctrines of Christianity. H. Richard Hiebuhr famously summed up their credo: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgement through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross."

I have met liberal Christians who are good and sincere people. But their version of Christianity is retreating, in two senses. Liberal Christians are distinguished by how much intellectual and moral ground they concede to the adversaries of Christianity: "Granted, no rational person today can believe in miracles, but..." "True, the Old Testament God seems a mighty vengeful fellow, but..." "Admittedly religion is responsible for most of the conflict and oppression in history, but..."

This yes-but Christianity in full intellectual withdrawal, and it is also becoming less relevant. * * *

Unfortunately, the central themes of some of the liberal churches have become indistinguishable from those of the American Civil Liberties Union, the national Organization for Women, and the homosexual rights movement. Why listen to Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong drone on when you can get the same message and much more interesting visuals at San Francisco's gay pride parade?

Having left a mainstream church where my views, which are clearly more in line with what D'Souza refers to as "traditional Christianity", had been marginalized, I can definitely see what he is saying. Christ's church is supposed to stand for the truths of God that are set forth in the Word of God. Yet, too many Christians attempt to bring the world's ideas of morality into the church under the guise of merely "trying to understand the original intention" better.

These mainline churches, whose pews are now largely empty, are paying the price for trying to maintain a semblance of Christianity while really preaching the anti-Gospel of the world.

8 comments:

Hey Bill, first let me say I am glad to see you blogging again. I missed your stuff.

It's not often I can correct someone on spelling.I know it's a typo but it's H.Richard Neibuhr, not Heibuhr.

You know I call myself a "liberal." In fact H.Richard Neiuhr was a major liberal theologian of the 60's. He was one of the seminal forces in the movement of existential theology. So there are factions within liberal theology that share many of the concerns of Evangelical Theology.

Of course the Neibuhr's don't have the cache now they once did. But that is the loss of liberal theology.

When I was at Perkins I predicted that the Protestant formation would break up into three separate religions. One was the Bible worship religion, one was the liberal theology worship religion, the third was all people from all ends of the spectrum who wanted to talk about Knowing Jesus.

that third one is the one I'm going for.

Joe,

I don't put you into the camp that I am referencing. The mainliners haven't put the work into the Bible that you have. We disagree on issues such as the historicity of Genesis and other things, but this post was not directed at you (any more than your references to "fundies" is not directed at me even though what you call "fundies" hold many of my views).

The mainliners haven't put the work into the Bible that you have.

Some of them have, the one's I quote. But I know what you mean.


We disagree on issues such as the historicity of Genesis and other things, but this post was not directed at you

I appreciate that man.


(any more than your references to "fundies" is not directed at me even though what you call "fundies" hold many of my views).

no it's not.

one thing I will add, we need missionaries to much of the church.

...we need missionaries to much of the church.

Yup.

I've been called both a 'liberal' and a 'conservative' by various groups of people. I doubt a lot of things but I've found out that by confronting my doubts I am able to find out what I truly believe. I find that the growth of 'traditional Christianity' can only be good if it has a strong intellectual foundation. Suffice to say, my experience growing up in first a Catholic then a evangelical Protestant church shows that there is not much intellectual depth to the whole thing. It is a house of cards for people like me who doubt more. I attribute religious growth to be more a product of psychological factors than anything else. (The social scientist in me is speaking.)

Then again maybe I am being too cynical and reductionistic.

I would like to put a link to your blog on mine because I think you have a special blog.

We are playing a game,,just qustions and answers and a three person tag. You are tagged..if you would like to play,,just go to my blog and copy the questions,,then tag three people. it is all in fun so if you decline, that is fine.

Ron,

With all due respect, I disagree wholeheartedly with your statement that "there is not much intellectual depth to the whole thing. It is a house of cards for people like me who doubt more." I personally find the entire Biblical account to be infinitely more intellectually satisfying than the belief that there is no God or that we are the end-products of chance.

Hopefully, you'll hang around some and get a feel for why we, the bloggers on this group, believe that Christianity is a robust intellectual view.

Joseph Sobran had tart things to say about liberal Christians, too. It was one thing to belong to a church 500 years behind the times, anchored to a few first principles. It was another thing to belong to a church five minutes behind the times, huffing and puffing to catch up.

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