Modernist Christianity must eventually die or cease to be Christian. At this time modernism still wears Christian clothes in the mainstream Protestant churches and in parts of the Catholic Church. This cannot last much longer for some very simple reasons:
1. Modernists deny supernaturalism and therefore they are not really religious. Now by ‘religion’ I mean a transacton with the supernatural. Religion (whether it is primitive people jumping around a campfire or a Solemn High Mass in a Catholic Cathedral) is about an interchange with the other world. It is about salvation of souls, redemption of sin, heaven, hell damnation, the afterlife, angels and demons and all that stuff.
Modernists don’t deal in all that. For them religion is a matter of fighting for equal rights, making the world a better place, being kind to everyone and ‘spirituality’. It doesn’t take very long for people to realize that you don’t have to go to church for that. So people stop going, and that eventually means the death of modernist Christianity. The first generation of modernist Christians will attend church regularly. The second will attend church sometimes. The third almost never. The fourth and fifth will not see any need for worship. They will conclude that if religion is no more than good works, then the religious ritual is redundant.
2. Modernism is essentially individualist and not communal. Each person makes up his own mind about matters. Therefore when it comes to religion the fissiparous nature of modernist religion will become more and more acute. Individuals with firm opinions will form ever smaller and more passionate groups with like minded people and the smaller the groups, the more they will eventually wither and die.
3. Modernism is also subjective and sentimentalist. It eschews doctrine and favors individual spirituality and sentimental responses to doctrines and moral issues. It is not long, therefore, before the individualist and sentimentalist inclinations drive a person from a church that is dogmatic and demanding. Modernists will prefer their own spirituality and emotional experiences to any sort of formal, corporate religious commitment. Thus the modern admission, “I’m interested in spritituality but not religion.” When this attitude prevails, modernist religion dies because it’s devotees don’t see the point of belonging and believing.
4. Modernism is historically revisionist. They re-write history according to their prejudices. In religious terms this means they are cut off from tradition. They are therefore cut off from the life-stream of real religion. As they cut themselves off from the tradition they will only have the latest religious gimmick, fad or adaptation to contemporary culture. Such an ephemeral attitude cannot provide for long term sustained religious longevity.
5. Modernists contracept and abort. They don’t have enough children to train up in their religion, and those children they do have are often taught that freedom of choice is a higher virtue than commitment or duty in religion. So they will lose the next generation to either real religion or paganism.
6. Modernism makes no great demands for its devotees to be religious. Ask any modernist, “Why should I come to Church?” What would he answer? “You don’t have to come to church. It’s there if you want it. If it does you good, and makes you feel better, we’re here to serve you.” Modernist Catholic priests wring their hands and wonder why no one comes to Mass anymore. It’s because for forty years they’ve been saying, “It’s not really a mortal sin to miss Mass. You should come because you love God, not because you fear him.” While this sentiment may be laudable, they shouldn’t therefore be surprised if no one comes to Mass.
7. The modernist himself does not really understand why anyone should be religious. He started out as a religious man believing in sin, redemption and the supernaturalist story. He became modernist gradually and all the time continued his religious practice, but he has never stopped to ask why such a thing should be necessary. If he is honest and asks himself the question he will soon stop the practice of his religion too. Unless, of course, he is a clergyman. If he is a religious professional he would have to get another job, so it is easier to keep the show on the road.
8. Modernists allow for moral degeneracy and that saps the strength out of real religion. Devotees of all supernaturalist religions demand moral purity, self discipline and restraint. Real religion requires self discipline. The modernist sees religion not as self denial but self fulfillment. Hedonists will soon realize that religion–even in its watered down modernist form–is not worth the trouble.
9. Modernists aren’t actually much fun. In my experience they’re a joyless lot, always on some sort of serious, smug and self righteous campaign, not infrequently with a whiff of the conspiracy theorist about them. That can’t last.
10. Modernists are dull. They’ve so little imagination and are so literal about everything. They do not rejoice over the seeming absurdity or the truly radical demands of religion. In fact, they are frightfully respectable. They always go with the crowd, especially if that crowd pretends to be ‘radical’ or ‘subversive’ in a ‘chattering classes’ kind of way. Respectability is the kiss of death to real religion, and bourgeois radicalism is really the pits.
So, what will happen to modernist Christianity? It will die out or cease to be Christian. The un-Christian forms this will, unfortunately, still borrow Christian terminology and customs, but like some horrid fantastic beast, it will continue to transmogrify into ever more monstrous forms while still continuing to dress in a Christian costume.
These horrors are already with us on the fringe of modernist religion. Expect them to become even more mainstream.