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.
Good one. More like a queef, actually.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and you have very little knowledge, which makes you doubly dangerous because you think you know it all.
It's the smart people who have doubts.
If you are referring to the Roman institution, one doesn’t have to “have very little knowledge” about it, the information is out there for anybody to see.
Pretending it's some sort of parlor trick displays the intellectual integrity of a Jesse Jackson.
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
So you believe that papal infallibility is a parlor trick, where the pope knows everything and you wouldn't want to play poker with him?
Your snyde sarcasm seems mighty personal.
We just happen to be blessed with the very best Religion Moderator on God’s Creation. If you can’t abide by our RM, please stay off our Religion Forum. In the meanwhile, please keep your personal “snyde” remarks to yourself.
I find it highly offensive when someone makes an ignorant, sarcastic remark about papal infallibility. The fact that it is on a moderated religion forum makes it even more offensive because you and the moderator appear to share the same view.
If you want to ban me for this, please do.
Well, I hereby give RM the greenlight. The next step is up to you whether you wish to continue on FR or not, ie, you may register your objection, but please do not give our moderators a bad time. Thanks
Thank you for your support.
Bump to self
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Good luck finding a New Testament without the influence of the Catholic Church, in particular St. Augustine and a number of Popes from the 300s to the 1500s.
Without the Catholic Church, there would be no Scriptura from which one could claim to proclaim Sola Fida.
The argument here is pretty poor.
Douthat certainly isn’t Rome and the work doesn’t claim infallibility due to the fact that the writer is not and does not claim to be the Pope.
That said, there are are around 30,000 protestant denominations, and several Pastors who may claim to be Pope.
As a Catholic, Douthat is obviously not one of them.
Plenty of problems with Catholic Atheists who show up to Mass... and then ignore the teachings of the church the other 167 hours of the week.
There are lots of Protestants and Evangelicals who would make outstanding Catholics.
That is nice. But I find nothing Catholic in the New Testament
This is the same type of argument that John McCain makes when he says that a Muslim shouting “Alahu Akbar” is the same as a Christian Proclaiming “Praise God!”
It’s just not rooted in reality.
In fact, Martin Luther is quoted as saying.
“We are compelled to concede to the Papists
that they have the Word of God,
that we received it from them,
and that without them
we should have no knowledge of it at all.”
The term Papists is one of ML’s favorite derogatory terms for Catholics.
Now Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals have a lot to learn from one another.
Politicians like John McCain could learn an awful lot to learn too. Especially from a little, 76-year old man... who is a virgin and basically wears a dress to work every day... about how to actually stand up to Barrack Obama.
Perhaps if he could step away from his poker game for a moment he might learn something.
The truth is that it went wrong when the protestants began to be upset that Catholic schools were receiving public monies at the same rate as the "protestant model".
Catholics were upset that their children were FORCED to read from the KJV and follow the man made doctrines of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. The Bishop of NYC initiated the construction of Catholic schools that had Nuns and Priests as the primary teachers.
The protestants became very upset over this and petitioned the federal government to end funding for these schools.
When the Catholics were removed from the school the protestants were free to free to follow liberal dictates and this is the end result.
You are correct that the system needs repair, but let's place the blame where it belongs.
If all education had remained private, the Protestants would have attended schools that **fully** supported their **specific** religious worldview and the children would not have been subjected to a NON-neutral Protestantism that was generic and lukewarm and run by state-sponsored Progressives.
The Catholics would have attended Catholic schools.
The system we have now can **not** be fixed because it never was religiously, politically, or culturally neutral. Such and education is impossible. And...It has always been a single-payer and socialist-entitlement.
Solution: Begin the process of moving toward complete privatization. Vouchers, tax credits, and charters may help in the change over but should be used with great caution.
The following can **not** be fixed because it is **structural** to the system.
State run schools are single-payer and socialist-entitlement schools and attendance is required by threat of police action for all those who can not find a private alternative. These schools are also a price-fixed monopoly cartel that is giving a service away for tuition-free. This government business practice assures that many ( most) counties have NO private schools whatsoever ( such as mine.)
Religions always goes wrong, because they are designed by man, to take power from others and collect money.
A savior is all one needs. We don’t need religion.
Someday people will learn.
I don’t blame God for religion.
Well i’m praying for you... whether you’re offended or not.
Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.
As Bishop Sheen said, ‘People hate what they don’t understand’.
It would be nice for the pride to drop and humility come in re: simply asking questions to better understand.
For every time i’ve explained ex cathedra, it seemed to be ignored all the more. They don’t want to know.
Meanwhile Christian churches, businesses and homes are being burned; Our brothers and sisters are being killed, maimed, raped and are in exile... many being forced to convert to Islam as we type.
But Catholics are the problem. Even Pharisees got a shout out in Matt. 23:3 re: do what they tell you but not what they do because they’re hypocrites. We don’t even get that.
Case in point, yet off-topic:
Someone asked at Lucianne why the pope wasn’t saying or doing anything re: Syria. I asked where she had been.
A simple google would have done it... but she was so concerned, or obviously busy, that she couldn’t be bothered. I asked if it was being preached from her pulpit and are brother pastors speaking on it; I wasn’t being nasty, I wanted to know what was happening in the churches re: Syria. I’ve talked to Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, Adventist and Orthodox in my neighborhood on the subject and on the last few years in the Middle East re: persecution of Christians.
I then gave her links from every patriarch re: Syria; Informed her of the pope’s statements, the fast and vigils joined by our Eastern Rite brothers and sisters, others.
I told her they spoke with the pope and told him intervention from us would make it worse... as well as if the terrorists (coming in from many countries btw), get regime change, it would be much worse not only for Christians, but Alawites, Kurds, Druze, Armenians and others as well. (I guess Obama telling them two days of bombing didn’t help).
She came back with a snide remark re: Israel (beats me), and obviously didn’t read the seven links I posted.
Like Balaam, she ignored the ass, then beat it.
But hey, if you don’t have wolves, you aren’t sheep.
I prayed for her and kept it moving.
Well said and Amen. Martin Luther was something else with the language; That may have been the nicest thing he said. :)
We should also do a series on Early Church Fathers re: Posts.
Some may not have heard of Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 107, sentenced to death by lions).
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. The celebration of the Eucharist is valid only if it is administered by the bishop or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Where the bishop is, there let the people also be; just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
The word Catholic comes from the Greek katholikos, the combination of two words: kata- concerning, and holos- whole concerning the whole. Also sometimes translated to mean, universal.
Maybe some would ‘prefer’ the Lightfoot version in which he uses universal.
Then they can go back and look at the greek for the explanation.
His letters to Polycarp and the churches on the way to martyrdom are priceless. Those waiting to meet him at stops on the way are touching as well.
But what do I know, some may know better than those who were there as bishops, dying for the church. s/
It’s ironic that Ignatius went through persecution and Syria’s going through the same today.
Scripture... telling the end before the beginning. Indeed.
which of the 10,000 or so Saints are you praying to?
You are assuming facts not in evidence.
Why wouldn’t we speak to Mary, Who played a role in Jesus’ first miracle at Cana?
I hope the argument isn’t that the words of John 3:16 wouldn’t apply to her.
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