Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

American Christianity in Exile? Christian Century

American Christianity in exile? | The Christian Century

American Christianity in exile?

“We live in a time of exile. At least those of us do who hold to traditional Christian beliefs.”

So says Carl Trueman at First Things, making the case that the Reformed tradition will weather the “exile to cultural irrelevance” imposed by secularism and the sexual revolution better than other Christian traditions. This provocative premise touched off an online symposium on the question of which tradition is best equipped to endure this condition of exile, thanks in large part to the curiosity and generosity of the American Conservative’s Rod Dreher, who invited his readers to argue for their own churches. Dreher makes a compelling case for the durability of his own “incredibly weird” Orthodoxy. Nominations for the Anglican Church in North America and for Lutheranism came in as well.

Anyone who followed the discussion would have learned some worthwhile things about doctrine, theology, and the sociology of religion. (There is definitely something to Dreher’s contention that the thickness and distinction of Orthodox practice give it strength.) But there was little debate over the main, and rather drastic, premise of the conversation: that American Christianity is, in Dreher’s phrase “living through the sending of the Church into internal exile.”

This melodramatic heightening of the rhetoric of culture wars is, as far as I know, rather new and still unfocused. Trueman and Dreher are both unclear on whether the exile is coming or is already upon us, but there is apparently little debate over whether “exile” is a useful way to characterize Christianity’s relationship to the evolving American mainstream. 

There should be. This is a dubious and highly troubling premise. Christians of my ilk aren’t really invited into this discussion (living, as it is believed, in unperturbed harmony with secular American culture). But the invocation of such a loaded historical and theological concept has implications for all of us.

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