I think there are reasons that liberal Christianity often sucks, and I think that there are ways to remedy it.
1) Contrary to the Tea Party narrative, the US is the most “Christian” that it’s ever been: persons of Africa descent can sit at lunch counters with everyone else; women can vote; evangelists can stand on street corners and ply passersby with tracts. Liberal Protestantism is largely responsible for the freedoms we enjoy today, and we should trumpet that truth loudly. “If you love America” we should preach, “You should love the Congregationalists and Presbyterians and Anglicans and Unitarians and Quakers who built America.
2) Douthat basically equates “culturally and politically conservative” Christianity with “orthodox and theologically rigorous” Christianity. That’s the form of Christianity that’s growing, he states. The implication is that liberal Christianity isn’t producing vigorous theology. Progressives would argue vociferously, saying that they’ve got more theologians in more seminaries and universities than you can shake a stick at. Maybe they do, but no one gives a shit about the theology that’s coming out of progressive Protestantism.
By “no one,” I don’t mean me. I actually do care about and read progressive theology. But what progressive theologians have FAILED at is producing populist theology. In Scot’s post, he isn’t able to name a single populist progressive scholar on par with NT Wright.
A couple years ago, I was at a gathering of the “Top 40″ liberal theologians in America. At one point, in a public session, one of them took me to task and said, “Do you know what the emergent church is lacking? Queer theory!” And I replied, “Do you know what percent of the church in America think that ‘not enough queer theory’ is the problem? 0%. That’s how much. 0%.”
3) Finally, mainline Christianity is committing suicide, plain and simple. By gathering every summer at their national conventions and killing each other with friendly fire, they are rapidly precipitating their own demise. No one gives a shit about the survival of your denomination.
By “no one,” I don’t mean the people who go to those meetings and fight and argue and vote. Those people care. But they can’t see the forest for the trees. No one back at home cares.
So the faster that progressive Protestants can give up on their denominations — like conservative Protestants did 20 years ago — the more likely they can turn things around before it’s too late.
|—||Tony Jones, “Why Liberal Christianity (Too Often) Sucks”|