Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Death of Evangelical Christianity?

A fairly interesting article by Michael Spencer on the coming "evangelical collapse". This, of course, comes a day after news that there are far fewer Christians in this country than there were 20 years ago.

I confess, I go to church so rarely that I half-expect to burst into flames every time I do enter the sanctuary. Still, the fact that there are fewer Christians around doesn't make me happy. This nation was settled and established by and for people of a strong public and private virtue, and whether or not you agree that it has to be faith-based, there's not much arguing over the fact that our public virtue has been difficult to find.

The sad thing is that many Americans, on both sides, are unable to have an actual conversation about virtue. Liberals will claim your out to establish an American Taliban, while conservatives will complain about the government enacting any social policy that goes against their moral and ethical beliefs.

Are there any founders out there that have some worthy advice for us? I've identified a few, and I'm working on a piece that should be up later this week. Let me know if you have any suggestions!


  1. I can think of De Touqueville, Franklin's List of Virtues, which I like because they are so organized that you can almost see him checking them off at the end of the day, but the original article from Michael Spencer quote:

    We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures

    I found this quote from Robert E. Lee to his son G.W. Custis Lee in which he was trying to impress on the boy the order of importance among the virtues, which of course is not so much a Christian value, as a sacred bond of the family purpose from generation to generation.

    "You must study to be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted you mean to do right. If a friend asks a favor, you should grant it, if it is reasonable; if not, tell him plainly why you cannot; you will wrong him and wrong yourself by equivocation of any kind. Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so, is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly but firmly, with all your classmates; you will find it the policy that wears best. Above all, do not appear to others what you are not. If you have any fault to find with ayone, tell him, not others of what you complain; there is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man's face and another behind his back. We should live, act, and say, nothing to the injury of anyone. It is not only best a a matter of principle, but it is a path to peace and honor.

    In regard to duty, let me, in conclusion of this hasty letter, inform you that nearly a hundred years ago, there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness - still known as "the dark day" - a day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished, as if by eclipse. The Legislature of Connecticut was in session, and, as the members saw the unexpected and unaccountable darkness coming on, they shared in the general awe and terror. It was supposed by many to be the last day - the day of judgement - had come. Someone, in the consternation of the hour, moved an adjournment. Then there arose an old Puritan legislator, Davenport, of Stamford, and said that, if the last day had come, he desired to be found at his place doing his duty, and therefore, moved that candles be brought in so that the House could proceed with its duty. There was quietness in that man's mind, the quietness of heavenly wisdom and inflexible willingness to obey present duty. Duty, then is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things like the old Puritan. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less. Never let me and your mother wear one grey hair for any lack of duty on your part".

    Sorry this is so long winded, but there are many, many layers to these problems but essentially the luxuries which are essentially negotiated truths boiled into ideologies. Evil is getting polarized by moral relativism just as the Evangelicals are being pulled into the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Precisely because it is the anti -moral relativism of the magisterium. What need for a government if virtue is dead? What need for virtue if the state will order all life? Virtue is the marshalling force of freedom. It is the constant enemy of the tyrant.

    Duty Honor, Country in Macarthur's speech handed out to all West Pointers also comes to mind. There's plenty there to go from, I think.

  2. I read the same article by Michael Spencer and he has some interesting thoughts and remarks about the evangelical collapse. The other day my close friend Sildenafil mentioned this topic again and we had a long but nice discussion