When, a few months ago, Beliefnet picked up one of our articles, it appeared bisected by an ad for one of their regular writer’s “fight for an inclusive church” and advocacy of “a new Christianity for a new world.” I had just been reading an article on how religious Americans still are (by an author who disapproved), and it occurred to me that the skeptical religious writers—the New Christianity For A etc. crowd—depend upon this.
When they have finished explaining how little of traditional Christianity can actually be believed, they offer in its stead the only thing they can offer: some fairly abstract platitudes expressed in generally religious terms. “God wants you to live life to the max” just about covers it. Without a God who tells us things we wouldn’t know otherwise, this is all they can say. They cannot say much else, because their God is too generic, or perhaps too much like a mirror.
It is not the sort of faith the truly secular person will find very attractive, because it is not substantially different from the messages he gets from many other people. He hears it in one form from the psychobabblers, in another from the yuppie materialists, in another from the political activists. He may listen to the skeptical writers if he prefers the religious mode to the others, but I can’t imagine there are too many people like this. Not enough, anyway, to sell all the books the skeptics sell.
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David Mills has been editor of Touchstone and executive editor of First Things.
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