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Ends?

Where Christianity Ends by Ross Douthat.

Last week I wrote a post on Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and American religion in which I channeled Harold Bloom (via Will Wilkinson) and talked a bit about the Americanization of Christianity: What it means, whether it’s irresistible, and at what point in the process we should stop talking about American faith in terms of Christian heresy (my preferred terminology) and start talking about a new religion altogether.

One of my frequent interlocutors on these issues, Damon Linker, took up the thread and suggested that I (along with other would-be “orthodox” Christians) are trying to impose a level of coherence, consistency and theological stability on Christianity that the faith’s history does not really support. Notwithstanding the best efforts of popes, theologians and ecumenical councils, he argues, Christian belief has proven the most protean of ideas, flourishing in all sorts of forms and contexts and cultures and constantly revising itself — institutionally, morally, theologically — as necessary to meet its new adherents’ needs. And then, too, he suggests, the subversive message of the gospels has a logic all its own, pointing inexorably toward a radical egalitarianism and individualism that no hierarchy, even one that’s trying to uphold the New Testament’s own moral prohibitions, can successfully resist. Combine those two points, and you have Linker’s concluding question: “What if the ‘Americanization of Christianity’ is no less legitimate — no less a plausible transformation of the gospel message — than the Romanization of Christianity that took place in the centuries immediately following Christ’s death, establishing the Catholic Church’s ecclesiastical authority in the first place?”

More at the NYT.

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