Skip to comments.Where Religion Went Wrong in America
Posted on 09/06/2013 3:09:37 PM PDT by RBStealth
"Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics":
In his latest book, Ross Douthat, a public intellectual and a Catholic, argues that bad religion poses a greater danger to our nation than does secularism. His book is divided into two parts: in the first he chronicles the decline of traditional Christianity since 1965; in the second he examines four heresies that have flourished since then.
(Excerpt) Read more at newoxfordreview.org ...
You know how crazy those Amish can get .....
4 Heresies listed in “Bad Religion”:
1)The first heresy is the New Quest for the historical Jesus, which destabilized Christianity by bringing about a choose-your-own Jesus mentality.
2)The second heresy Douthat examines is Prosperity Theology, which has roots in E.W. Kenyons New Thought, the source of Kenneth Hagins and Joel Osteens pray-and-grow-rich theology. This heresy solves the problem of suffering by recasting it as a simple failure of piety and willpower.
3)The third heresy is God Within, a mysticism that gives you the excuse for doing what you feel like doing anyway, and calling it obedience to a Higher Power or Supreme Self. This heresy regards evil and suffering as illusory, and repentance, prayer, and charity as unnecessary. Its goal is interior harmony, freedom, and choice, but it leads to solipsism and narcissism.
4)The fourth heresy is American nationalism, which has two sides, messianic and apocalyptic. The messianic side turns democracy into a religion capable of doing the redemptive work that orthodoxy reserves for Christ and his Church, while the apocalyptic side envisions our national history as a downhill slide. Today these two sides are bipartisan afflictions. Each takes its turn in the drivers seat the messianic when a favored political party is in power, the apocalyptic when it is out of power with the result that they go through cycles of utopian hopes and millennial angst. Moreover, the two parties are theological worlds unto themselves, creating a Manichean landscape of good versus evil where a Christian is pressured to conform his theology to ideology.
I was told by an old minister the real cause for the decline was all the draft dodgers that were given sanctuary in seminaries during the Vietnam War. These non-Christian lefties became the next generation of ministers in the mainline, and things then went downhill pretty rapidly. The new chaplain at my school, a good example of this, went on to firebomb the ROTC building at the local university, made the FBI’s 10-most-wanted list and then ran away to Canada.
I read the whole thing. It is a great read and gives us food for thought.
The heresy about American politics having two sides and that both political parties are guilty of having a Messianic side and a tendency to se evil in the other party.
Christianity is in the end essentially a call to holiness. We are expected to grow in holiness and in closeness to our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. We cannot change others, although we can give good examples. And we can pray for others and for our country. We can witness for Christ through our actions. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth.
St. Therese has a prayer that says the we are the hands of Jesus, we are the feet of Jesus, etc. Jesus is present on earth through his people, the Christian church.
I really don’t think I am going to take religious advice from a Catholic.
just my thoughts
1. historical Jesus studies can be helpful to, illuminating of, faith...I believe that, with discernment, we can come to understand better, more accurately with more context, what the Bible message is trying to communicate to us..... (but historical studies cannot replace faith, which is where some people go off the rail)
2. we agree that ‘prosperity gospel’ is not the Biblical message. it misses the point completely, really, and even goes against part of the message (Luke 18:22). I turn the ‘prosperity’ preacher off almost as fast I turn O’s speeches off. I figure that preacher would not have to beg money from me if his faith gave him such great prosperity, or ... at least, I am happy to let him demonstrate how well his faith bestows riches on him...without taking my money to do it. I do question whether the author has identified the first source of this, however, but its a minor point.
3. all faith traditions have included an internal or mystical, if you will, element. faith by definition transcends (although should include and reflect) the rational. i doubt it possible to, and question the desirability of, eliminating the mystical or internal experiential element from faith, at least for many people.
I do not view this part of faith as necessarily heresy or evil, provided it augments and does not subsume the whole.
4. the author’s fourth element seems to border on a political rather than a theological critique. But that’s understandable since he is dealing with the political part of life. Some churches and synagogues tend to emphasize these things more (say, some evangelical and SDA) than others (say, RCC). Since so much of the Bible deals with (or presents its faith message in the context of) political events, and since some quite notable sections of the Bible actively project or look to future political events on the world stage (at least, future insofar as the Biblical authors were concerned), I do not believe there is a proper way to excise all these chapters from the Bible without compromising its total message. Just my thought, and whether a Christian or Jew wishes to emphasize these many verses in his/her faith or just observes their presence in it, is a matter of personal choice. About all I can say is that the Bible did not arise in a time of a “complete separation of church and state” — there were overlapping boundaries, if you will, for better and for worse, and to try to impose such a strict (and some would argue, artificial) distinction on the Bible now...seems anachronistic at best. I daresay that reading scriptures though such a lens could only serve to distort them.
Again, just my thoughts. I haven’t a lot of time to debate this for a couple of weeks at least, but will welcome any constructive insights. (I never claim to have the best possible understanding of all this stuff, ha!)
#1, and the only thing needed. Christians decided to shut their mouths and go along to get along. This allowed all sorts of evil to influence them and their children. A smile and wave mentality.
True enough, but don’t forget that the many teaching in the seminaries were members of the ‘greatest generation’ who embraced European or age-old heresies. Filling the skulls of draft-dodging boomers was their exponential calling from hell.
Yes, the pump was already primed by heretics like Episcopal Bishop Jim Pike. He descended from liberalism and rejecting the Gospel to adultery, alcoholism and drugs, and then to seances and witchcraft. It seems appropriate that he ended his life falling off a cliff in the Judean desert. (Matthew 4:1-11). He now lies in an abandoned and overgrown graveyard in Jaffa.
My personal view is that once we all began calling ourselves something other than followers of Christ and lived by walking in The Way, we began to go astray. I pray for the day we lay down our religions and cling to the cross.
Episcopalian Bishop James Pike is covered extensively in the book by Douthat
Thanks for the brain fart.
Book: "Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics"
Reading it now. It's good.
First half if a history of US-ian Christianity post WWII, from riding high to where we are now. He covers, roughly, the protestants, the RCC, and the black church. The protestant history I'm familiar with, the others not so much.
The last half of the book (where I am now) he deals with particular sorts of heresies, broadly considered. The quest for a different Jesus, god-within-ism, prosperity preaching. One other I haven't got to yet.
So far, worth the read.
These non-Christian lefties became the next generation of ministers in the mainline, and things then went downhill pretty rapidly.
That would be interesting to research. Those guys would be hitting retirement age now.
I suspect the picture is much more complicated, as various folks stick it out as long as they can for their various reasons, then hit their tipping point and bail out. The process accelerates as the environment in the churches changes.
The rot has been there for along time, longer than any human has been alive.
1) At its very best compulsory, state imposed, and socialist-entitlement schooling was never more than generically and lukewarmly Protestant in its worldview. Children who attended these schools risked becoming generically lukewarm in their faith.
2) Progressives pushed relentlessly for greater and greater secularization. By the time I attended government school ( 1962 -1964) God was given a mere nod in the morning by way of the Lord's Prayer and a scripture verse. After that it was a non-stop godless worldview. Children who attended these schools risked learning that it was Ok to merely nod to God once in a while.
3) Since the mid-sixties government schools have been utterly godless. Children **will** learn to think and reason godlessly in these schools. They must just to cooperate in the godless classroom. How could it be otherwise?
Well certainly Gresham Machen and others were warning about it in the 1920s. Back then they got vilified by the left-wing “modernists” as “fundamentalists.” When they got kicked out of the leadership of Princeton University is often considered the start of the decline of the American mainline Protestant churches.
I said “Princeton University” when I meant “Princeton Seminary,” which then was the main Presbyterian seminary.
The first thing that crossed my mind also. When Rome says "Where Religion Went Wrong," since they represent the only true religion, they claim, it is everybody else that goes wrong, not them. The Papacy is infallible, you know.