How we became a nation of heretics?

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How we Became a Nation of Heretics?
Bad Religion: How we Became a Nation of Heretics. Ross Douthat, Free Press, April 2012.

A piercing critique of heresy in a country where “traditional Christianteachings have been warped into justifications for solipsism and anti-intellectualism, jingoism and utopianism, selfishness and greed.” [4]

New York Times columnist Douthat (Grand New Party,etc.), a practicing Catholic, takes aim at the forces, on left and right, that are corrupting American Christianity from within. From its glory days after the Second World War, when preachers wererespected as legitimate moral arbiters and theologians had huge popular followings, Christianity has fallen on hard times. The traditional pillars of American religion – the once omnipresent Protestantmainline exemplified by Reinhold Niebuhr, the nuanced and self-confident Catholicism of Bishop Fulton Sheen, the evangelical revival led by Billy Graham and the beleaguered but transcendent Black church ofMartin Luther King, Jr. – have all ceded their place in the public imagination as hundreds of dubious upstart doctrines claim converts in droves. The mushy universalism embraced by the MainlineProtestant churches has caused believers to lose interest, the Catholic Church has been riven by dissension and scandal and the evangelical and historically Black churches have given way to the creepyprosperity gospel of Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar. While some of the particulars of Douthat’s arguments will be controversial – his portrayal of the academics involved in the Jesus Seminar as being asunconcerned with the facts as are fabulists like Dan Brown will raise eyebrows – his full-throated defense of Christian orthodoxy deserves to be heard in an age when theology, if not spirituality, hasbecome something of a niche interest. For Douthat, the beauty of Christianity lies in the “paradoxical character” of Jesus, who always challenges his followers, who “sets impossible standards and then...