“What should be wished for . . . is that liberal Christianity recovers a religious reason for its own existence. As the liberal Protestant scholar Gary Dorrien has pointed out, the Christianity that animated causes such as the Social Gospel and the civil rights movement was much more dogmatic than present-day liberal faith. Its leaders had a ‘deep grounding in Bible study, family devotions, personal prayer and worship.’ They argued for progressive reform in the context of ‘a personal transcendent God … the divinity of Christ, the need of personal redemption and the importance of Christian missions.’

Today, by contrast, the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism. Which suggests that perhaps they should pause, amid their frantic renovations, and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world.”

Ross Douthat, “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?, The New York Times, 14 July 2012.

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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