Monday, August 22, 2011

The Twilight of Atheism - pt 3

(finishing my thoughts after reading McGrath's book)

My main concern is with McGrath's discernment (which is reflective of the kind of discernment we see in a lot of people).
"[in] the 2001 census of Great Britain... 72 percent of the population defined themselves as Christian. Relatively few of these attend church - a pastoral problem" (p 241)
I don't think that's a pastoral problem. It's a sign that most people have no idea what Christianity is. Most people are inoculated against the Gospel. This is not reassuring in any way.
"One of the most important elements in this new evaluation of the situation is the growing attention paid by sociologists to Pentecostalism, a rapidly growing worldwide form of Christianity." (p 192)
"One of the reasons that Pentecostalism has succeeded is that mainline Protestantism has failed to meet the needs and aspirations of the marginalized and disadvantaged." (p 196)
It appears McGrath laments the decline of mysticism and superstition which accompanied the rise of Protestantism, which Pentecostalism is bringing back (c.f. p 203, 216).

The second statement is particularly distressing. Mainline Protestants failed to protect the authority of the Bible, and sacrificed the true Gospel for a false gospel of "meeting felt needs" and helping social situations.

Pentecostalism is on the verge of losing the Gospel in the name of feelings and emotions (also through obsession with certain "gifts" of the Spirit). On the flip side, atheism is giving way to mysticism and New Age spiritualism (c.f. Sam Harris).

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