I’m currently about halfway through Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat of the New York Times. Douthat is NYT’s token conservative Catholic columnist, and I have to admit that, whether I want to agree with him or not (short version of my viewpoint: as a grad student, I’m far too steeped in postmodernism to form actual opinions anymore), he tells a compelling story regarding how American churches abandoned orthodoxy, allowing for the rise of heresies like the the Jesus Seminar, Dan Brown’s revisionist history, and Benny Hinn’s outfits.
Of particular interest, though admittedly less amusing than poking fun at Dan Brown (short version: that guy sucks), is his take on what happened to the two major branches of mainstream Protestantism in the ’60s and ’70s. To summarize Douthat’s analysis, both Mainline and Evangelical stripes got hooked on political activism for its own sake, and in the process were turned into their respective parties’ lapdogs instead of being the protectors of the Gospel that they should have been. The Mainline decided that every political cause was basically the Civil Rights Movement and started doing whatever the New Left told them; Evangelicals decided that every political cause was the Pro-Life Movement, and proceeded to be yanked around by Reaganomics and Neoconservativism for the next four decades. Continue reading