What's the Future of Mainline Protestantism?
As the political definitions of liberal and conservative become murky, so do theological distinctions that once seemed clear. Mainline Protestants, once seen as an exclusive bastion of theological liberalism by most evangelical Christians, are doing some soul-searching into what mainline identity is in the 2010s.
A recent Religion News Service article asks "Mainline Protestants: Vintage or Vibrant?" It hashes out the results of an informal survey of "mainline" Christians, asking for a replacement term. "Liberal church" led with 24%, but seemed double-edged. The "liberal" title attracted some, repelled others.
Other notable suggestions? "Liberationist church," "The Refined Church," and "Forward Christians." Oh, and 17% said that overarching labels for the group should be rejected altogether.
Believers like Pulitzer Prize winning author Marilynne Robinson embody the mainline dilemma well, with a fierce dedication to the vitality of scripture, but a reading of it that falls neither in conservative or liberal camps.
Copyright © 2013 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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