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The Way We Weren’t

William Murchison

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Churches in the Fifties were filled, but were they faithful?

Watching, a little idly, some recent televised reenactment of the Exodus story, I had a recurrent thought: Wasn’t it nice when Americans, by and large, to one degree or another, acknowledged Great Moments in Theological History—the parting of the Red Sea, Samson and Delilah, hungry lions versus stalwart Christians—and shelled out to see the cinematic reenactments of these moments? Wasn’t it nice? Although . . .

Although what? That’s the point. If you have the impression that the 1950s constituted some kind of last frontier of religious conviction and inspiration in the United States, you might wish to reexamine that impression with dispatch.

A Place to Mourn

I say this out of concern for intellectual clarity in the way American Christians address concerns unimaginable not many years ago: Christian moral standards viewed as impositions on personal expression; choice in abortion as the law of the land, with support growing for medical research on living embryos; once-sturdy churches shredded by assertions of a right to practice homosexuality; growing illiteracy among Christians as to the basics of their own faith; a mounting perception that religion is the source more of ignorance and persecution than of perfection in the purposes of Almighty God.

[...]

The fifties were not the summum bonum. They were an episode—a highly instructive one, I might add, full of dangers as well as satisfactions. We really don’t want to bring them back. We want something better, which is to learn from them.

Read the entire article on the Touchstone website (new window will open).

Posted: 26-Apr-08



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