Skip to main content

Jenkins on Liberalism's Broken Promise

I've just finished reading Philip Jenkin's The Next Christendom, (rev + exp ed.) this book is incredibly important exposing as it does in graphic detail the way the world is becoming rapidly more religious and arguing for the effect this is going to have on future international relations.  This is the book, that in its first edition, all but predicted 9/11 (the proofs of the 1st ed. were finalised on the 10th, the day before).  Whatever you think you know about religion you will find something in here to upset your preconceived ideas.  Every chapter you think you know where Jenkins is going to go and then the next one surprises you just as much.  Neither is he one sided, he has no qualms pointing out the good and the bad in everyone!  It is an unputdownable book, seriously I haven't read even a novel this hard to put down for a long time.  Here is is pointing out the irony of Liberal Protestantism.
Every so often, some American or European writer urges the church to adjust itself to present day realities, to become relevant by abandoning outmoded supernatural doctrines and moral assumptions.  Some years ago, the Episcopal Bishop John Spong of Newark advocated just such a skeptical and secularist New Reformation ih his book Why Christianity Must Change or Die.   In his 2002 book, A New Christianity for a New World, Spong again attempts to explain Why Traditional Faith is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born . . . Viewed from Cambridge or Amsterdam, such pleas for accommodation may make excellent sense, but in the context of global Christianity this kind of liberalism looks distinctly dated.  While some American churches have declined, it is the most liberal and accommodating that have suffered the sharpest contractions.  In the Episcopal Church, the worst casualty has been Bishop Spong's own diocese of Newark, which has lost almost half its membership since 1972, a rate three times worse than the normal diocese in that denomination.  Conversely it would not be easy to convince a congregation in Seoul or Nairobi that Christianity or "traditional faith " is dying, when their main concern is a worship facility big enough for the ten or twenty thousand members they have gained over the last few years.  (p10-11)
Not that numbers are everything but the idea that churches just need to loosen up a bit more and everyone will come flooding back is pure make-believe.  If church survival is your goal, whether it should be or not is a different topic, then the best thing you can do is stay traditional - at least in terms of doctrine.  Jenkins compares the situation to 18th c. Europe and America when "secular Enlightenment ideas made enormous progress" and most observers had "concluded that Christianity had reached its last days" but "then as now, the triumph of secular liberalism proved to be anything but inevitable"  as at the beginning of the 19th c. saw a massive revival of orthodoxy and tradition among both Protestants and Catholics (p11).

Let me know what you think :-)


Popular posts from this blog

Why Dr Charles Stanley is not a biblical preacher

Unusually for me I was watching the tele early on Sunday morning and I caught an episode of Dr Charles Stanley preaching on his television program. Now I know this guy has come under some criticism for his personal life, and that is not unimportant, but it is also not something i can comment on, not knowing the facts. His preaching is however something I can comment on, at least the one sermon I did watch.

He started off by reading 2 Timothy 1:3-7. Which is a passage from the Bible, so far so good. He then spent the next 30 minutes or so talking about his mum and what a great example of a Christian mother she was. Now nothing he said or suggested was wrong, but none of it actually came from scripture, least of all the scripture he read from at the beginning. It was a lovely talk on how Stanley's mother raised him as a Christian despite considerable difficulties and it contained many useful nuggets of advice on raising Christian kids. All very nice, it might have made a nice…

The false link between suicide and mental illness

One characteristic of human society is the tendency to keep doing something over and over again despite it not working. One example would be our approach to incarcerating criminals to punish them instead of rehabilitating them, compounding their trauma and making it harder for them to live productive law-abiding lives when they get out. But this is the "common-sense" approach, the intuitive human response to the failings of others, punish them and they wont dare do it again. It has never worked, ever, but let's keep doing it. Secular society is screwed because it cannot comprehend that its vision is blurred by sin and therefore knee-jerk, common sense solutions are usually destructive and counter-productive.

So it is with our response to suicide. To kill yourself must be the response of the weak minded and sick - so the thinking goes - so to combat rising suicide we treat individuals medically. Yet suicide is a perfectly rational response to a world as broken as ours and…

The Addictive Power of End Times Speculation

The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.

I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.