on religious decline

Another story on the decline of religion in Canada – Keep the faith or pull the plug? – from  the Globe & Mail.

The article suggests that congregations must change with the times or face death and dismemberment. On the whole, the solutions suggested seem pragmatic and humanistic.

But compare the philosophy of liberal pragmatists with that of the discontented fundamentalist…

He says the institutional church – especially a historically liturgical church like Anglicanism – can’t tell people what to believe any more. In a postmodern environment, people bring their own faith and spirituality to the door.

“Therefore the journey now has become the key. In the 1950s and 1960s, faith was a collection of statements that you held to or didn’t hold to. Now faith is an exploration of relationships.

“And the clergy who get that, and reinforce that, are the ones who I think engage with the culture they’re finding. The clergy who say you have to believe this and that, otherwise you don’t belong, are the clergy who are saying simply, ‘Don’t come here.’

“The healthy relationship [that clergy] form with people as they explore faith is what’s really important, and we need to give them the space to do that. And that might bring us to question our own theological point of view. But that’s good, that’s a healthy thing.”

Is this in any way essentially different from the sentiments of the worldly drift among former or faltering fundamentalists?

Note the reasons cited here:

  1. You can’t tell people what to believe anymore.
  2. The journey [the experience] is the key – an exploration of relationships.
  3. Clergy who are successful ‘engage’ the culture.
  4. Questioning our theological point of view is healthy.

Where have you heard things like that before?

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3