“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.