Monday, July 10, 2006

Meltdown of Liberal Christianity

I stumbled across this article from the LA Times on the newadvent website (I suggest reading the whole thing). Its really a great piece. Here's an excerpt (I love this first line):

When a church doesn't take itself seriously, neither do its members. It is hard to believe that as recently as 1960, members of mainline churches — Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and the like — accounted for 40% of all American Protestants. Today, it's more like 12% (17 million out of 135 million).

What great news! That made my day to learn that these frauds are losing members at such a rapid rate. Many faithful Protestants would probably consider themselves closer to PC USA (Presbyterian Church USA) than to the Holy Roman Catholic Church but they should think again. A friend of mine who is an elder at an Orthodox Presbyterian Church made the comment "we have more in common with the Roman Catholic Church than we do with the mainline evangelical denominations" and he was right. It's time for Christians and especially Protestants to acknowledge what the reformation has led to.

Those Protestants still wishing to reflect something vaguely resembling orthodoxy are moving to such denominations as the OPC and others but most seem to prefer the current center of gravity in the moderate evangelical world: Baptist denominations. Everyone loves Baptists... their doctrinal level is simple and very accessible. They're good singers, they have good youth programs... they do mission work... you can express yourself in church but you dont HAVE to... No need to have a theological degree (in fact if you do have one that may well be a deterrent)... Now I am typically pretty harsh on Baptists since most of the core beliefs which distinguish Baptists from other Protestants are particularly incompatible with known Church history not to mention the fact that they are very young beliefs: (rejection of infant baptism, rejection of creeds, rejection of real presence, dispensationalism, premilenialism & the rapture etc...) And this is to speak nothing of the young beliefs of Sola Fide or Sola Scriptura which are common to all Protestants. But again, the Baptist denominations are very accessible to Joe Layperson. (Most of my family are Baptists so don't think I'm just bashing them because I do have a great deal of respect for.... some.. Baptists).

But the good thing about a large chunk of the Baptist churches is that they typically hold on to the conservative values of historic Christianity (abortion, ordination of women, homosexual issues etc...) Now of course, Southern Baptist Convention is on the way to abandoning historic Christianity as many of the other mainline denominations have as it has been ordaining women for some time now. Eventually its fate will probably be not too dissimilar from the Anglican and PC USA churches as detailed in the article linked to above. Once an organization is thoroughly liberalized it collapses. This can be said of anything not just religion. Its the very nature of liberalism itself that always leads to this. Liberalism cannot be sustained. Once conservatism is rooted out, decay sets in and its an unending downward spiral.

New Advent ends their post like this:

Note to the traditional Episcopalians and Presbyterians among our readers: As you find yourselves increasingly surrounded by an anti-Gospel mentality, we renew our invitation to read the "signs of the times" and seriously consider becoming Catholic. Not because we need you at our side in the battles to come (we do) and would welcome you with open arms (we would), but because the Catholic Church is the one church founded by Christ Himself. It might not be politically correct to state it this bluntly, but it's what Catholics believe. And in times like these, isn't such a bold claim worth a second look?

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