Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Banality of Mainline American Protestants

I am sitting right now at a meeting of Seminary administrators, listening to a very prominent evangelism professor who teaches at an East Coast mainline Protestant seminary. I was familiar with his work before, but listening to his "semiotic" analysis of American culture, I can say with some certainity that if this is what attracts mainstream Protestants, then that branch of Protestantism is hopelessly banal.

While he said nothing false, he also said nothing new. He told 35 academic deans that American culture is characterized by postmodernity, post-Christendom, and post-scale (under this point, he also listed posthuman, post-"cold," and post-"round"). Whew. You don't say. I had never heard about this before; you mean that I have to put my 8-tracks away??

Again, everything he said is amply declared in the literature (philosophical, theological, historical, sociological, and political literature). But that is just the point--he said everything in such a "Gee Whiz" tone of voice, it made me wonder whether and why most people who hear him talk find him "innovative." The only answer that I can come up with is that mainstream Protestantism is so far behind the curve that they seize onto this man's work as "cutting-edge."

And that can only mean that mainline Protestantism is hopelessly banal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On a related note, you may have heard that Montreat Presbyterian voted with a 92% majority to request that their PCUSA presbytery release them with their property, so that they may join the EPC. Their presbytery votes in April, and won't release them with anything less then a 2/3 vote. Freedom from banality and fecklessness!

Jeff H.