Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
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05-06-2015, 06:04 PM (This post was last modified: 05-06-2015 06:16 PM by WalkingSnake.)
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
Religion has been watering itself down since inception. Modern Christianity is a true example of how religion just cannot ignore science anymore. Even if their leaders are telling their followers to do that very thing: ignore science, it's a conspiracy to destroy Christianity. Either that, or other Christian leaders (Ken Ham) redefine and convolute science so that Christianity can say: "see!? We're still relevant." Or it's a combination of both those things.

Either way liberal Christianity is basically some Christians looking at traditional Christianity and going, "Eh, that can't be right. There's just no way." (speaking from experience).

I went from fundamentalist baptist, to a little more modern baptist and "gettin with the times", to nondenominational, to Deism, to theistic rationalism (yeah, that's a fuckin thing, definition of oxymoron?), to just... fuck it. <----- And that is what's happening to religion.

Religion's dying a slow death. Gonna see some new religions before it does. Hopefully it dies before:




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05-06-2015, 06:39 PM
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
The current Australian Prime Minister is a conservative Catholic who denies climate change. I am not confident that Xianity, lite or not, is losing.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
Banjo.
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06-06-2015, 04:37 AM
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
I think many liberal Christians are more interested in a supportive community and the opportunity to do good in the world on a scale larger than what they can accomplish by themselves, than in their fidelity to theological literalism. As a former fundamentalist I understand how it is in a sense a "watering down" of the "true faith" and a failure to take the doctrines of that faith to their "logical" conclusions. On the other hand as an atheist who is experimenting with belonging to a UU congregation (so liberal that it has no statement of faith and welcomes people like me alongside theists of any stripe including pagan or whatever, so it is really more of a humanist social club than a church), I understand the need for connection and community that such groups provide. That is my main motivation for dabbling with it. Someday I might be infirm and alone and fall down and break my hip and it'd be nice if someone noticed and "cared".

Let's face it, all forms of religion and quasi-religion throughout this spectrum from literalist / inerrantist through to the vague echo of Christianity that the UU "church" represents and on to totally secular organizations, fraternities and charities, all represent subjective ideas and beliefs about how to feel a connection to some larger enterprise that's meaningful and purposeful and how to engage with human suffering and need of various kinds, and how to inspire each other to be our best selves. There is no correct one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. Rational, empirical deliberation by intelligent people about these things still leads to different conclusions because a lot of it is a matter of personal taste and proclivity.
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06-06-2015, 05:31 AM
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
Liberal Christianity and fundamentalist Christianity appeal to different types of humans. Liberal Christianity gives social benefits and comfort, even if imaginary, without having to oppose science or oppress women, or at least not oppress women to the same extent that fundamentalist religious interpretations do. That's appealing to a lot of people, especially in an age where church activities are one of the places where people gather IRL.
In their turn, fundamentalist religions appeal to people who want power and to people who need heavily enforced censure in order to control their impulses. Fundamentalist sects also provide social benefits and comfort--surety of salvation, if nothing else--to the people trapped inside them (who I'd define as children and many of the women).
As scientific knowledge advances, liberal Christianity's interpretations become more metaphorical and fundamentalism's interpretations become more paranoiac, but I don't think either is in danger of being wiped out. Much as I would wish fundamentalist interpretations of every religious stripe would disappear, I don't see any possibility of that.
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06-06-2015, 05:45 AM
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
(05-06-2015 10:16 AM)LostLegend Wrote:  This is something that has been on my mind ever since joining this forum and I'm wondering what thoughts on the matter some of you may have.

I apologise in advance for how drawn out this simple question is, but I wanted to give a bit of back story as to why this interests me and for the benefit of those who live in more religiously dogmatic places that may be interested in what it is like to grow up in a less religious atmosphere (aside from the obvious).

I'd also like to apologise if this post seems a bit disorganised. There are lots of things I want to tie into this, but also don't want to turn this post into a messy 'wall of text'
Feel free to send a boot up the arse my way if you need me to clarify anything or simply want to tell me to "stop blabbering" Big Grin


First of all I would like to clarify what I mean by "Liberal Christianity"
I'm talking about the westernised and (some would rightfully say) watered down version of christianity practised in many western European countries. This is mainly centred around the new testament and the life and times of Jesus, with the majority of the less palatable old testament stories written off as 'parables' etc.

Belief was never a major factor in my life. Although my family, if pushed, would probably identify themselves as Roman Catholic, none of them are practising Christians and (with the exception of one great aunt and uncle) none of them go near a church or any type of holy place save for weddings, christenings or funerals. All of which for the sole purpose of the pageantry and inevitable drinking session to follow! Tongue

With this in mind, I am not sure if "de-converted" is the right word for my journey to non-belief, but it will do for the sake of this post! Drinking Beverage

So why was I a believer in the first place? Well, I attended a Roman Catholic infant and primary school, for the simple reasons that A) it was the closest school and B) it was the best school in my local area (though hardly a center for excellence)
I then went on to an all boys Catholic secondary school (which on reflection probably explains a lot! Laugh out load ) due only the fact that all my school friends (the male ones at least) were going there.

Religious Education; or "R.E." as it was called was mandatory in both, but the primary school was the only one that involved any sort of church service. The secondary school RE lessons were something different altogether, and as I'll explain shortly had as much to do with my de-conversion as the primary school had to do with my belief.

The secondary school never pushed religion on the pupils. The chapel service on friday was voluntary (and poorly attended) and I don't think the vast majority of teachers were believers either.

The mandatory RE lessons rarely touched on religion directly and instead focused on things like ethics, diversity and other cultures. In fact, out of the 3 essays we had to produce as coursework for our final GCSE exam, only 1 was bible related (an essay to show our understanding of the tale of 'Blind Bartimeus' if you must know)
The other 2 were essays giving arguments both for and against A) euthanasia and B) abortion both legally and morally.

We were never fed a dogma or forced to believe a stance on either issue. We had open discussion and debate in class. This really opened my eyes to reasoned thinking and empathy and understanding of other peoples opinions. Also it challenged me to ask questions of things that are seemingly black and white.

Mandatory religious education had inadvertently sent me on a path to reasoned thinking and ultimately healthy scepticism! Laugh out load Although now would be a good point to skip over all the UFO, Illuminati & Supernatural bullshit I developed an unhealthy interest in during my teens! Big Grin

Not having religious types 'bible bash' the fear of hell into me as a kid coupled with my high schools indifference to religious practice meant that religion never really had a strong hold on me or any of my peers. As a result, the majority of people my age and within my locale are also indifferent to religion.

So my long-winded question is this:

Is Liberal Christianity killing itself?

Clearly, fundamental Christianity is not compatible with modern, liberal society. In an attempt to maintain some credibility, the Catholic church has watered down its dogma, thus undermining itself and blunting the talons it uses to ensnare the young and gullible.

I'm interested to know what the more well read among you have to say and I am also very interested in what any theists who may be reading think about Liberal Christianity vs. the more dogmatic variants.

Congratulations and thank you for reading this far and indulging my inane ramblings! Big Grin

I need to lie down for a bit now!

LL Bechased

Since it's formative years Christianity has tinkered with its Dogma to fit the prevailing public attitudes. Moving the feast day for Christmas, the iconography, the divinity of Christ, the Inquisition and subsequent dissolution of said organisation, and many, many other issues of the faith have at one point or another been in a state of flux.

The simple fact is what is happening today is no different from what has happened in the past, opinions change and shift all the time and religion changes in its wake. Religion follows public opinion - always has, always will - not the other way round as is commonly perceived. You don't have to be a genius to work that one out but you do have to buck the current 'trend' in anti-theist thought that would have us believe it is the other way round. The historical evidence just doesn't bear that kind of thinking out.

Archi

"I love the term magic realism. It's about expanding how you see the world. I think we live in an age where we're just hammered to think this is what the world is. Everything's saying 'That's the world.' And it's not the world. The world is a million possible things." - TG

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06-06-2015, 07:49 AM
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
(06-06-2015 05:45 AM)ArchibaldFunkdust Wrote:  Religion follows public opinion - always has, always will - not the other way round as is commonly perceived.
In my experience it is the conceit of theists that public opinion follows religion -- that the Christian faith for example is immutable and never-changing. The whole appeal of Catholicism for example is the supposed unbroken lineage of "infallible" popes back to St Peter. That faux continuity is seen as comforting and stable.

It is the Christians claiming to have invented morality and to be its protector; rather than simply using something that already was concocted by society and is already mediated by society.

You are correct that religion follows public opinion, but it usually does so at a discrete distance and often a circumspect delay. Usually fundamentalism is a good one to two generations behind the trends and mores of the host society, so that it can always appear to be putting the brakes on change and pretend to be a stabilizing influence. By this method, any given adherent perceives the faith to be unchanging at least on any of the big issues, thus preserving the illusion of immutability and continuity.

The reason religion MUST follow public opinion is that the memes must evolve in order to survive. 150 or so years ago much of American Christianity thought that human slavery was not only rationalizable but the result of the "curse of Ham". That is now repugnant to them. 75 or so years ago, dancing, and attendance at movies was widely considered wicked; now such beliefs are very much at the fringe and virtually not a factor. 500 years ago Galileo was under house arrest by the church of Rome for the heresy of heliocentrism; a decade or so ago the Catholic church (as discretely as possible) issued him a pardon. So it goes.
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06-06-2015, 08:13 AM
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
(06-06-2015 05:45 AM)ArchibaldFunkdust Wrote:  Since it's formative years Christianity has tinkered with its Dogma to fit the prevailing public attitudes. Moving the feast day for Christmas, the iconography, the divinity of Christ, the Inquisition and subsequent dissolution of said organisation, and many, many other issues of the faith have at one point or another been in a state of flux.

The simple fact is what is happening today is no different from what has happened in the past, opinions change and shift all the time and religion changes in its wake. Religion follows public opinion - always has, always will - not the other way round as is commonly perceived. You don't have to be a genius to work that one out but you do have to buck the current 'trend' in anti-theist thought that would have us believe it is the other way round. The historical evidence just doesn't bear that kind of thinking out.

Archi

You're the hammer and this topic is the nail cuz ya hit it. Better than I did at the top of the page there.

I will only add that I think it's a little more complicated than just religion follows public opinion. I think there's resistance there. People like social conservatives are trying their damnedest to keep their traditional way of life from being threatened. But in that sense, you're still right since eventually they concede reluctantly.

I still think religion is dying a slow death. But by slow death I mean like give it a couple thousand years. You'll still have believers by then. But I think by then it'll (hopefully) be to a point where religion doesn't have so much influence. I definitely think some other religion will be in place of Christianity, but it'll be more passive.

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06-06-2015, 10:40 AM
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
(06-06-2015 08:13 AM)WalkingSnake Wrote:  I still think religion is dying a slow death. But by slow death I mean like give it a couple thousand years. You'll still have believers by then. But I think by then it'll (hopefully) be to a point where religion doesn't have so much influence. I definitely think some other religion will be in place of Christianity, but it'll be more passive.
Yes.

I think there will always be at least vestigal religions because each person's life capitulates societal development, and even when society as a whole moves into a post-religion era, some individuals will still get stuck in magical thinking at least for a time, and religion will be there to appeal to such people, no matter how small a group they become. A person with religious ideations will always be able to harken back to the dark ages of ca. 2015 and dream of returning to the glory days of religious hegemony. They will wax eloquent about the supposed benefits of the beautiful and simple faith of their distant ancestors, and fancy themselves reigniting the Flame of capital-T Truth.
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10-06-2015, 06:11 PM
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
Liberal Christianity =/= IDGAS Christianity

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11-06-2015, 06:43 AM
RE: Is Liberal Christianity Killing Itself?
I don't think liberal Christianity is killing itself.

There will always be people who want there to be "something more", and this offers that to them without telling them to also hate gay people and defend their friend who drowns babies when he's mad at their parents. It's a win-win for people who want something spiritual with less baggage (I certainly wouldn't say no baggage).

Now, I do think that the existence of liberal Christianity will help siphon off members from fundamentalist and moderate sects, and I do think that it might help some people to realize that the religion really isn't that important to their identity, if they're willing to jettison 75% of their beliefs, anyway. So, I will concede that liberal Christianity might hurt belief in the population on whole, but I don't think it's a nail in the religion's coffin. Do note that there are plenty of people who will jump straight from fundamentalist to atheist without having to transition to increasingly liberal forms of Christianity.

In short, I'd say the fact that there are so many sects is a double edged sword. It's good for the religion in that people can find whatever version suits them best, but it's bad, because it highlights just how much of the religion is obviously man-made, or at least interpretive.
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