The history of religion is characterized by fanatical movements that started out full of ecstatic zeal to change the world one person at a time. From the Wahabists to the Methodists, religions are usually founded in a rush of passion — which (if it doesn’t fatally fracture in the intensity of the initial torrent, which is the fate of most new faith groups) gradually subsides to a calmer, more intellectual and inclusive order. In this second phase, the groups typically become more outwardly-focused. They [Religions] start dealing with the world as it is, instead of as their theology tells them it should be. Most of what we think of “mainstream” churches started out in the first phase, but have by now been in this second one for a very long time.
The Mainstream Churches Sara is referring to – the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran, the Presbyterian Church (USA) — may have gone on this path, but I doubt it. Indeed, few major religions start out in this way.
A Patient Victor
Christianity is an inherently political religion. The faith of the carpenter utilizes insurgent warfare methodology to develop a deconflicted fighting force that the Romans and Jews wisely resisted. Indeed, Christianity turned inward after it conquered Rome, which goes against Sara’s hypothesis.
Broadly, the same was true for Islam as well.