The Changing Shape of American Protestantism

As the twentieth century dawned, it seemed to many American Protestants that something troubling was happening to their nation. Its Protestant foundations seemed threatened by erosion in some quarters; in others they were regarded as insignificant. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the exchange by the American academy and body politic of one orthodoxy for another was well under way. This process would culminate by the late twentieth century in the predominance of a strictly secular understanding of human existence, a commanding status that earlier had been granted to forms of mainline Protestant orthodoxy. The situation was made worse by German biblical criticism, whose growing impact on Protestant seminaries seemed to be eroding traditional attitudes toward the authority of sacred text. Things seemed to be going wrong for Protestantism. So what would happen next?

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