This post relates to the ninth critical issue in Called to be One: What Now?, Protestantism and Cultural Disorientation .
First, this implies unity lies in following the lead of Catholic and Orthodox churches. But why should we? Protestantism is widely varied but it seems we are all suffering from cultural disorientation and need a good dose of (very) old time religion to get us back on track. Whilst I admire the grace and charisms of the great non-Protestant traditions, I also admire the grace and charisms of my own. It has its debts to these ancient traditions but that is no reason to return to them.
The writers make a number of assumptions. They imply Protestantism in Europe has sold out. But Protestantism is all over the world and some of the world's most vibrant churches in Asia, Latin American and Africa cannot in any way be described as suffering cultural disorientation. This is not to say they are perfect (far from it), but they are authentic.
What is being implied is liberal protestant theology has sold out to markets, management and novelty. In my view, the churches that have sold out are American fundamentalist churches and the churches around the world that copy them. Think about prosperity gospel and what what that says through its uncritical view of markets. Or the tele-evangelists and their marketing of cheap faith for a high market value. Or Sarah Palin and her tea party movement. Or Glen Beck who says the social gospel is not Christian.
Time and again I hear people saying Europe needs missionaries in reverse. Last weekend hundreds of thousands of Christians attended the second ecumenical Kirchentag in Munich. The faith is alive and well in Europe, perhaps its America that needs missionaries in reverse.
So, what about the liberals? They uphold in the main that branch of Protestantism that argues, debates, values research and evidence. These are the traditions that have analysed the Bible and the tradition; questioned many things formerly held to be sacred. All the churches have benefited from this activity, as they have adapted their teaching to the demands of the modern world.