Tag Archives: mainline protestantism

Blog Update Links

No central thread to today’s links, other than that they touch on topics previously discussed.

That’s all for now!

What was the university like before the 1960s?

The recent post at Unqualified Reservations, “The ultracalvinist hypothesis: In perspective” has been a spash at Econolog, gnxp, and here. The “ultravalcinist hypothesis” holds that contemporary American atheism is actually a variant of Mainline Protestantism. One Unqualified Reservations post, found by PurpleSlog via Econolog, argued that even the leftist political correctness that comes out of academia is merely a continuation of the same religious clap-trap that’s been going on for centuries:

You may or may not buy this story. But I hope you can agree that the Harvard faculty in 2007 by and large believes in human equality, social justice, world peace and community leadership, that the faculty of the same institution held much the same beliefs in 1957, 1907, 1857 and 1807, and that in any of these years they would have described these views as the absolute cynosure of Christianity. Perhaps I am just naturally suspicious, but it strains my credulity slightly to believe that sometime in 1969, the very same beliefs were rederived from pure reason and universal ethics, whose concurrence with the New Testament is remarkable to say the least.

All well and good. However, I previously featured the Weekly Standard‘s claims that American academia used to be liberal, as opposed to leftist:

It is plain in retrospect that the American university changed as fundamentally in the decade or so after 1965 as it did in those formative years between 1870 and 1910. The political and cultural upheavals of the period, spurred by the civil rights movement and opposition to the war in Vietnam, combined with the demographic explosion, brought about a second revolution in higher education, and created an institution (speaking generally) that was more egalitarian, more ideological, and more politicized, but less academic and less rigorous, in its preoccupations than was the case in the preceding era. It was in this period, from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, that the left university emerged in place of the liberal university.

So which is it?

Did the 1960s see the collapse of liberal academia and the raise of leftist orthodoxy? Or did Mainline Protestantism reign throughout the period, only changing which denominations (Episcopalian? Atheist?) the professoriate claimed as their own?

The answer’s beyond my knowledge, but perhaps some historians who read this blog might answer…

Televised Evidence of Collapse of Mainline Protestantism

What a Difference 27 Years Makes,” by Ramesh Ponnuru, The Corner, 7 April 2005, http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/05_04_03_corner-archive.asp#060146.

An insightful post on the changing face of Protestantism. The old liberal churches — the Presbytarians, the Evangelical Lutherans, and so on, are collapsing. Since the 1970s they have liberalized their faith and the price they are paying is slow death.

Apparently, this has ceased being news. Televised coverage of the Pope’s Death had evangelical after evangelical after evangelical… with not a Mainliner to be seen.

An email I got several days ago: “In watching the coverage, I’ve noticed something that you are too young to know about and no one else (to my knowledge) has commented on. When Pope Paul VI died (followed shortly after by the death of Pope John Paul I) commentary was sought, of course, from Protestant theologians and church officials. With one exception (Billy Graham), the Protestants invited to comment were associated with the mainline churches. They were National Council of Churches types. . . . In the past two days, I haven’t seen a single such commentator (of course, it is possible that I’ve missed one or more). Instead, the Protestant voices that are being presented–Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, Richard Land, etc.–are all Evangelicals. This seems to be true, by the way, not simply on Fox, but on CNN, MSNBC, and the networks. This, I believe, is telling. For all intents and purposes, mainline Protestantism has become irrelevant in this country. It is more marginal today than evangelicalism was when John Paul II became the Vicar of Christ. [My emailer is Catholic–RP.] Even the secular liberal media types seem implicitly to recognize that the Protestantism that matters in this country now is evangelical. This is a real transformation.”

The irony is that Mainline Protestantism abandoned faith to keep people in the pews. Fortunately, it didn’t work.