Sunday, July 09, 2006

Charlotte Allen Shows the Folly of Liberal 'Christianity'

Liberal Christianity is Paying For Its Sins
Out-of-the-mainstream beliefs about [counterfeit] marriage and supposedly sexist doctrines are gutting old-line faiths.
By Charlotte Allen - Los Angeles Times
CHARLOTTE ALLEN is Catholicism editor for Beliefnet and the author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus."

>>The accelerating fragmentation of the strife-torn Episcopal Church USA, in which several parishes and even a few dioceses are opting out of the church, isn't simply about gay bishops, the blessing of same-sex unions or the election of a woman as presiding bishop. It also is about the meltdown of liberal Christianity.

Embraced by the leadership of all the mainline Protestant denominations, as well as large segments of American Catholicism, liberal Christianity has been hailed by its boosters for 40 years as the future of the Christian church.

Instead, as all but a few die-hards now admit, all the mainline churches and movements within churches that have blurred doctrine and softened moral precepts are demographically declining and, in the case of the Episcopal Church, disintegrating.<<

Yup. If you dismiss Biblical authority, your congregants no longer have a command to attend church... and many don't. There are other places they can go to socialize or get "feel good" motivation stuff. And so these liberal churches are dying.

>>As if to one-up the Presbyterians in jettisoning age-old elements of Christian belief, the Episcopalians at Columbus overwhelmingly refused even to consider a resolution affirming that Jesus Christ is Lord. When a Christian church cannot bring itself to endorse a bedrock Christian theological statement repeatedly found in the New Testament, it is not a serious Christian church.<<


>>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).
According to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, in 1965, there were 3.4 million Episcopalians; now, there are 2.3 million. The number of Presbyterians fell from 4.3 million in 1965 to 2.5 million today. Compare that with 16 million members reported by the Southern Baptists.
A causal connection between a critical mass of female clergy and a mass exodus from the churches, especially among men, would be difficult to establish, but is it entirely a coincidence?<<

There are now church services specifically geared towards men, and they are doing well. Men have had to tone down their masculinity in the workplace. Schools have been oriented toward the girls. Boys are being raised in homes without fathers. Television is, more and more, geared towards women. The feminizing of churches has created one less place where men are called to be men. The male-targeted churches are also attracting single women who are interesting in finding a Christian man who isn't a wimp.

>>Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, which preach biblical morality, have no trouble saying that Jesus is Lord, and they generally eschew women's ordination. The churches are growing robustly, both in the United States and around the world.
As for the rest of the Episcopalians, the phrase "deck chairs on the Titanic" comes to mind. A number of liberal Episcopal websites are devoted these days to dissing Peter Akinola, outspoken primate of the Anglican diocese of Nigeria, who, like the vast majority of the world's 77 million Anglicans reported by the Anglican Communion, believes that "homosexual practice" is "incompatible with Scripture" (those words are from the communion's 1998 resolution at the Lambeth conference of bishops). Akinola might have the numbers on his side, but he is now the Voldemort — no, make that the Karl Rove — of the U.S. Episcopal world.<<

Bravo to the Los Angeles Times for printing this piece. I'm there there will be shrill, bitter letters to the editor denouncing the piece, but it is hard to argue with the facts.

Bible-teaching churches and temples that disciple people to apply Biblical principles to every area of their lives - even sexuality - are growing all over the place. The Calvary Chapel movement alone has grown since the 1970s from a church in Orange Count, California to having congregations all over the place.

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