I am not using the term “liberal” according to the narrow, technical definition it has acquired in theology; a truly liberal theologian rejects any supernatural influence on Scripture and proceeds as though Scripture and religion are purely human and non-supernatural phenomena. A liberal theologian approaches Scripture just as a mainstream scientist approaches origins: needing to explain it strictly and solely on the basis of natural phenomena, with no appeal to the existence and activity of God. Very few Adventists—perhaps none in positions of authority in the church or in church-related institutions—would admit to a pure liberal theology. So, in this discussion, I will be using “liberal” in a looser sense.Read More
Sociologist and political scientists have long understood that when people take positions on issues, they tend to do so not randomly but in predictable clusters or groups, corresponding to an intellectual system, ideology, or way of seeing and evaluating the world (“worldview,” Ger. = Weltanschauung). In the realm of secular politics and government, this phenomenon has often caused political parties to be organized based upon shared ideology.Read More
In 1998, John Shelby Spong, then the reliably controversial Episcopal bishop of Newark, published a book entitled “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Spong was a uniquely radical figure — during his career, he dismissed almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition — but most recent leaders of the Episcopal Church have shared his premise. Thus their church has spent the last several decades changing and then changing some more, from a sedate pillar of the WASP establishment into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States. As a result, today the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.
Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase. (Read more)
By Josh Haner The New York Times