Future of Liberal Religion: A Counterculture Blooms?
In a recent issue of The Christian Century, historian David Hollinger says: “The ongoing accommodation between ecumenical and evangelical Protestants may well continue, but if it does, I fear that it will be at the cost of an opposite accommodation that deserves more attention than it has received. Perhaps,” he proposes, “…the intellectual leaders of the ecumenical seminaries and denominations should more aggressively criticize the religious ideas proclaimed by the most visible of the evangelicals in American life today.”
Harry Emerson Fosdick’s noted 1922 sermon “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” could serve as a potential model, Hollinger offers, suggesting that “the salient solidarity today may not be with the community of faith but among those who accept Enlightenment-generated standards for cognitive plausibility.” This is attractive advice for Protestants who dream of a revitalized political, cultural, and religious left in America. Individual ministers still possess the same freedom to speak their minds as Fosdick did—and should; though ecumenical organizations with member denominations split over controversial topics must develop common ground first.