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July 28 , 2007

Mortal Follies

Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity


It's not that the dignified and rarefied old Episcopal Church quit believing in God. It's that the God you increasingly hear spoken of in Episcopal circles is infinitely tolerant and given to sudden changes of mind – not quite the divinity you thought you were reading about in the scriptures. Episcopalians of the twenty-first century, like their counterparts in other churches of the so-called American mainline – such as Methodists and Presbyterians – seem to prefer a God that the culture would be proud of, as against a culture that God would be proud of. While they work to rebrand and reshelve orthodox Christianity for the modern market, exponents of the new thinking are busy reducing mainstream Christian witness to a shadow of its former self. Mortal Follies is the story of the Episcopal Church's mad dash to catch up with a secular culture fond of self-expression and blissfully relaxed as to norms and truths. An Episcopal layman, William Murchison details how leaders of his church, starting in the late 1960s, looked over the culture of liberation, liked what they saw, and went skipping along with the shifting cultural mood – especially when the culture demanded that the church account for its sins of "heterosexism" and "racism." Episcopalians have blended so deeply into the cultural woodwork that it's hard sometimes to remember that it all began as a divine calling to the normative and the eternal.
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