Modern Christianity the West

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Having considered the unfolding of Christianity in its several varieties, we are now in a position to consider its interactions with modernity. For Christianity there have really been two modernities. In cultural terms, the first was inaugurated by the Enlightenment of the 18th century, which gave new authority to human reason and the freedom to exercise it. Socio-economically it was characterized by the rise of urban-industrial society and politically by the rise of nation states governed by increasingly powerful centralized governments. The second (or 'late') modernity began much later, in the 1960s, and one of its defining cultural characteristics is a turn to subjective-life, which involves a flight from deference - to any established external authority, religious or secular - and an embrace of the authority of one's own deepest feelings, intuitions, desires, and experiences. The turn to subjective-life is reinforced by other developments, including the triumph of democracy in the political sphere and capitalism in the economic sphere (accompanied by growing affluence). Together these changes conspire to give the unique individual self and its choices new weight and significance.

What this chapter will show is that whereas Christianity was eventually relatively successful in adapting to the first modernity, it has found the second far less congenial. It will also reveal, however, that some varieties of Christianity have coped with the subjective turn somewhat better than others.

'Enlightened' reaction against Christianity

As we saw in Chapter 3, the dominant form of Christianity -Church Christianity - entered the modern period in close alliance with the emerging nation states of Europe. Each nation had its state church, whether Catholic or Protestant (indeed a whole denomination - the Church of England or 'Anglican Church' - come into being, in part, to discharge this role). Alliance between church and state in the early modern world was strengthened by a shared worldview. State churches endorsed the view that power was the proper possession of a monarch - God in the heavens, the king on earth - who had the right and duty to command his people. The people, in turn, were obliged to obey sovereign power from on high in both its earthly and heavenly manifestations.

> Whereas Christianity in pre-Reformation Europe had served as a focus of unity, with a single church - the Roman Catholic -

J transcending the rivalries of secular powers, Christianity now u became a factor in such rivalry. Growing antagonism and warfare between competing nation states became bound up with rivalries between Catholic and Protestant, not to mention those between different varieties of Protestantism. In the process, Christianity became more 'confessional' than before, with competing churches articulating what they stood for - and what set them apart - by way of propositional statements of faith ('confessions'). Christianity also became more evangelistic, as different denominations grew more competitive and more concerned to win converts to their own particular version of the truth. Far from acting as an agent of peace and unity, Christianity seemed to be exacerbating the intolerance, hostility, and warfare that had become such a characteristic feature of early modern Europe.

In the wake of the violent upheavals of the English Civil War and the wars of religion that raged across Continental Europe in the 17th century, some English and French writers began to propose radical reform. The so-called 'Deists' made trenchant criticisms of 'traditional' Christianity, accusing it of being both irrational and intolerant. Rather than advocating atheism, however, they proposed a new rational 'natural' religion that would offer a firmer basis for a stable and prosperous society. Based on reason rather than superstition, such religion would abandon belief in such things as miracles, the virgin birth, and the Trinity, and would retain only the more rational and ethical elements of Christianity: belief in a creator God, in the brotherhood of man, the immortality of the soul, and the duty of love and care for one another.

Deism represents the first modern manifestation of a 'Liberal' form of Christianity, that is to say a Christianity that accepts the authority of human reason, the value of freedom, and the possibility of 3

progress. Liberal Christianity takes a relatively high view of human n dignity (closer to Aquinas than Augustine), but believes that it is 9 cultivated by way of belief in the Christian God, and in the a context of the church. As we will see in the remainder of this s chapter, Liberal Christianity played an important role in the rise of first modernity, and did far more than merely accommodate itself | passively to modern values. It always faced the danger, however, of s being viewed as an uneasy compromise between a more wholehearted embrace of human reason, freedom, and dignity, on the one hand, or a more devout and humble submission to the mysteries of the Christian faith and the authority of God and His church, on the other.

The most dramatic historical clash between these two extremes -the extremes that Liberal Christianity tried to move between -occurred in the French Revolution of 1789. The Roman Catholic Church in France had become closely bound up with the monarchy, and legitimated the latter's increasingly despotic rule as the will of God. By the 18th century currents of Enlightened thought were gathering force in Europe, with pockets of intense support in France, and the enthusiastic embrace of human dignity, liberty, and equality was leading to growing criticism of the religious as well as the political establishment. Though it was dangerous to voice atheistic sentiment explicitly, philosophers like Voltaire (1694-1778) came close to developing what amounted to a fully secular position, in which man relies on his own abilities and abandons all tutelage to God.

Political and intellectual protest went hand in hand in France. Given the close alliance between church and state, rebellion against the monarchy almost inevitably involved rebellion against the Catholic Church as well. When eventually the Revolution got underway - given the opportunity by an economic crisis - it did so under the banner of 'freedom, equality, and brotherhood'. The privileges of power on high supported by Church Christianity for so long were challenged by new aspirations towards democracy. Belief that power was the God-given privilege of the few was challenged by > the belief that it was the natural possession of all the people (or at least all property-owning males). Although some revolutionaries J drew the conclusion that the overthrow of tyranny must include the overthrow of the church, in the event a more moderate and pragmatic policy of 'secularization' was pursued in France, one that aimed not to abolish the church but to bring it under greater public control.

The Roman Catholic Church responded with vigour. It condemned the French Revolution and the ideals that inspired it, including the desire for freedom and the aspiration towards democracy. It reasserted its monarchial ideals, and continued in its work of centralizing the church and extending its control over personal life and, where possible, political life as well. It condemned new currents of thought, and encouraged the production of 'manuals' of confessional Catholic theology based on the work of Aquinas. The papacy defended its position as an important powerbroker within Europe, and wherever and whenever the cause of democracy stalled, it was poised and ready to take advantage. As late as 1864, the Catholic Church issued a condemnation of the errors of modern

Extracts from The Syllabus of Errors

[Errors condemned by the Pope:]

15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true ...

24. The church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect . . .

44. The civil authority may interfere in matters relating to religion, morality and spiritual government . . .

77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion ofthe State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship ...

80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.

reason, progress, and democracy - The Syllabus of Errors - and in 1870 it propounded the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility. In the process Roman Catholicism became more closely identified with the forces of social conservatism than democracy and social change.

The democratization of Christianity

Not all the Christian churches reacted against revolutionary and democratic upheavals in the same way as the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. In 1776 another revolution had taken place, against British colonial rule in what would become the United States of America. There were close links between the American and French revolutions, and many shared ideals. But whereas the revolution in France put Christianity on the defensive, the outcome in America was rather different. Even though Britain had exported its state church, the Anglican Church, it had allowed other churches to establish themselves in American territory. Rather than ally themselves against the forces of revolution, many of these churches supported the cause of independence and freedom.

It would be an exaggeration to say that Christianity generated the democratic constitution of the United States. The men who laid the political foundations of the newly independent nation were mainly Deists who supported various forms of post-confessional rational religion. But there were many rather more traditional Church and Biblical Christians in America who were genuinely supportive of the

> Revolution and its ideals and who believed that good Christians could also be good Americans, loyal to the ideals of liberty and democracy.

One explanation of the greater openness towards the modern secular, democratic state on the part of many American churches is that they had more to gain than to lose from constitutional separation of church and state. Since there were already many competing confessions in the USA, they had no desire to see one of their number elevated to the position of a state church. Some already had direct experience of being a minority faith in Europe, and had fled to the USA in order to escape the disadvantages and persecutions that could attend such status. Some of the churches that fell into this category were of the Church type (Congregationalists, Presbyterians), others Biblical (Baptists), some between the two (Methodists), and some more Mystical in orientation (Quakers). Although Congregationalist, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches had no ideological preference for church— state separation and religious toleration, they accommodated these ideals for pragmatic reasons, and before long their pragmatic preference was being justified in terms of theological commitment

(resulting in stormy relations between the Catholic Church in America and that in Rome). The Biblical and Mystical churches were in a stronger ideological position to support democratic freedoms, given their long history of opposition to political and religious hierarchy and their support for more democratic arrangements in their own institutional life.

The upshot was that the rise of the secular nation state and the gradual extension of democratic arrangements did less damage to Christianity in America than in Europe. One could even argue that the churches profited, in so far as they presented themselves as foundational to 'the American way'. We can see the results to this day in the fact that levels of churchgoing in the USA are about twice as high as those in Europe, and religion continues to play a more central role in the culture and even in political life (albeit 3

informally). Paradoxically, the formal separation of church and n state allowed far more mutual support of the one by the other in 9 the USA than did continuing establishment in much of Europe. ¡-r.

The 19th century |

The 19th century is sometimes presented as the most intensely " Christian era the West has ever known, and sometimes as the point at which secularism first began to challenge Christian cultural hegemony in a serious way. There is truth in both accounts.

On the one hand, the 19th century witnessed a massive explosion in the numbers of churches, clergy, and churchgoers, to a greater extent than can be accounted for by population growth. Many of the ecclesiastical buildings that still have a prominent place in the built environment came into existence at this time, and many of the institutions and practices we still associate with Christianity were invented or came into their own, including Sunday schools, Bible classes, Bibles and prayer books that ordinary people could afford to own, Sunday Communion services, Gothic Revival furnishing and architecture, and popular pictures and sculptures of Jesus and the saints. Amongst believers piety rose to a new pitch of intensity and commitment. In Britain, for example, up to half the population attended church on an average Sunday, some attending more than once. Christian literature - books, magazines, and novels - reached a peak of production, and Christian language and values permeated the general culture. Thrift, hard work, temperance, self-reliance, cleanliness, respectability, family values, sexual continence - it was hard to say whether these were general cultural values or Christian values, so closely intertwined had the two become (see Fig. 18).

On the other hand, doubt and disillusionment with Christianity became perhaps more prevalent, and certainly more public, than ever before. It was fuelled, in part, by the growing prestige of scientific method. The tangible success of science in explaining the world and giving rise to technological innovation was hard to > argue with. Since science worked on an empirical basis, seeking knowledge by way of patient exploration of the world around J rather than by reference to supernatural revelation, it seemed to undermine the confessional theological method of deduction from first principles believed to have been revealed directly by God. This impression was reinforced when science made discoveries, or proposed theories, that directly contradicted the Bible and theology. One of the earliest was geology's discovery that the earth was far, far older than the 6,006 years that some theologians had calculated on the basis of the Biblical record. The application of critical historical methods to the Bible further unsettled faith by placing question marks over hitherto secure beliefs (that Moses had written the first five books of the Bible, that the gospels contained the authentic words of Jesus, and so on). Darwin caused further unrest by contradicting the account of creation in Genesis and its anthropocentric view that the world had been created for the benefit of human beings. Most devastating of all was the fact that Darwin's theory of evolution offered the first plausible account of how life might have come into being as the result not of purposive design but blind chance.

18. Family at Church, by H. Fitzcook. Illustration from The Sunday at Home (1865).

Undaunted by such enormous challenges, Liberal Christianity faced and met them head on. Liberals rejected the idea that God's truth could simply be read out of the Bible and the writings of the church fathers and applied to the world in a deductive manner, and they believed that reason, free thought, and the scientific method could be made the friend, not the enemy, of Christian belief. After all, if

Friedrich Schleiermacher

Schleiermacher (1768-1834) is credited with setting the (Liberal) agenda for modern theology, an agenda that dominated academic theology until the later part of the 20th century. He also helped turn the tide against the deductive, propositional, dogmatic form of theology that had become characteristic of the confessional age. Schleiermacher understood why his contemporaries rejected a form of Christianity that seemed to have no real connection to life, but he argued that they had misunderstood the true nature of The Christian Faith (also the title of one of his most important works). Such faith, he argued, had more to do with a feeling of absolute dependence than with assent to a set of propositions. In saying this, Schleiermacher was in effect grounding Christianity on our deepest human experiences, though he insisted that such experiences are most fully and adequately interpreted by the scriptures and in the light of Christ.

God had made the world, there was nothing humans could discover about 'nature' that could undermine belief in its creator. Liberal Theology therefore granted science sovereignty in its own sphere: in telling us about the material world and its workings. But it reserved to itself the job of telling us what we could know about God and how we should behave in order to please Him. In the process, theology became more ethical in emphasis and more willing to acknowledge the value of human experience - especially moral experience - as a basis for our knowledge of God.

Liberal Theology's great achievement was to make it possible to be rational yet remain a Christian. Not only did it accept the validity of the scientific method in its own sphere, it even managed to assimilate Darwin by arguing that evolution was not an alternative to divine creation, but the method through which such creation took place. For Liberals, accounts like that of creation in Genesis were 'myths' that contain deep spiritual truths but should not be confused with scientific treatises.

Although they were able to make very significant intellectual concessions to a modern, rational sensibility, Liberal Christians tended to be more conservative when it came to the church and its role in society. Many Liberals were Church Christians who remained committed to the vision of a society guided by Christian values, and respectful of the church, its sacraments and clergy. Though it gave rise to some distinctively Liberal denominations, most notably the Unitarian Church, Liberalism was most influential within existing denominations, and it had a particular affinity with Protestant Church Christianity. Since the latter was very much in 3 the ascendant in the 19th century - not least because it was the n dominant tradition in the most powerful nations and empires of the 9 day, including Britain and America - Liberal Christianity found a itself in a position of great influence. It managed to support the y interests and values of the newly powerful middle classes and their politicians, whilst at the same time maintaining a social conscience | by calling for amelioration of the conditions of the industrial "

working classes.

But by no means all Christians were sympathetic to the Liberal programme. Liberal voices within the Catholic Church were silenced and suppressed, and the enterprise of Biblical criticism was banned. In the Protestant camp too, some were hostile to the liberalization of the faith and suspicious of the alliance between Liberal Christianity and middle-class interests. Biblical Christians were likely to be hostile on two counts: first, that the truths of the Bible were being compromised; and second, that the church and 'the world' were becoming too cosy by half. The assimilation of Darwin proved the final straw that broke the camel's back. By the turn of the century conservative Biblical Christians, in the USA in particular, were defending 'creationism' (the belief that God created the world in the way described in Genesis), and attacking Darwin and his Liberal Christian supporters. The movement came to public expression early in the 20th century as 'Fundamentalism', so-called because of its desire to return to the 'fundamentals' of Christian belief.

Christianity and the turn to subjective-life

Despite growing opposition, Liberal Christianity entered the 20th century in robust good health. Right up to the 1970s, it seemed reasonable to think that the powerful alliance of Liberal Theology, Church Christianity, and middle-class values would continue to dominate the Christian landscape in the West for the foreseeable future. Liberal theologians like Rudolph Bultmann (1884-1976) and Paul Tillich (1886-1965) helped set the intellectual agenda of Christianity, the 'liberal mainline' churches had been boosted > by a widespread return to 'home and church' in the immediate .§ aftermath of World War II, and even the Catholic Church seemed to J be travelling in a liberal direction in the wake of the Second Vatican u

Council (1962-5). The latter, convened by Pope John XXIII, brought to an end a 'fortress' mentality that had seen the Roman Catholic Church turn its back on modern culture and retreat into a world of Thomistic scholarship, affective piety, and obedience to Rome. The Council opened the door to a number of important changes in Catholic life and thought, including the use of the vernacular rather than Latin in worship, the introduction of modern hymns and choruses, the liberalization of the religious life for Catholic monks and nuns, a more critical approach to Biblical and theological studies, and an acceptance of the principles of religious freedom and toleration. The Council also ratified a new self-understanding in which the church was identified with 'the whole people of God' rather than the clerical hierarchy.

By the end of the 20th century, however, Liberalism was in retreat. A brief increase in churchgoing after the Second World War had turned into precipitous decline, and Church Christianity was particularly badly affected. Between 1970 and 2000, regular Sunday attendance in the Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, and United Reformed churches in England roughly halved, for example. Liberal mainline churches fared little better elsewhere in Europe, or even in North America. Many of the churches that suffered most were the old state churches. Sunday attendance in the Church of Sweden, for example, fell to below 2% of the population by the end of the century, whilst attendance in the Church of England halved in just two decades (between 1980 and 2000). Liberal Theology also suffered a reversal of fortunes. Having once dominated the theological stage, it now found itself on the defensive. New developments of a broadly liberal tendency, such as Feminist Theology and Liberation Theology (see the following chapters), served merely to make the Liberal agenda seem old-

fashioned. M

As Liberal Christian fortunes fell, so conservative ones rose. The 9 Biblical churches fared particularly well. Even though a

Fundamentalism had been rubbished by the liberal establishment in America in the 1920s, conservative Christians in the USA h managed to construct a successful Christian subculture with its own | churches, schools, colleges, shops, radio and television channels, " and networks of association. This culture managed to hold its own against the corrosive influences of popular culture, to increase its numbers, and to make its voice heard on the American political scene in the 1980s and even later. Its energies have been directed towards defending the 'traditional home', 'family values', and clearly differentiated roles for men and women. It has been particularly active in campaigns against homosexuality and abortion and in favour of sexual abstinence before marriage. In some instances conservative Catholics and Protestants have joined together in these campaigns.

The broader trajectory of 'Evangelical Christianity' has been even more successful. Though they do not take as extreme a stand as Fundamentalists on issues such as Biblical inerrancy, Evangelicals

Karl Barth

Liberal Theology came under fierce attack by the Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968). His first influential book was his Commentary on Romans, in which he stressed the unbridgeable distance that separates God and humanity. Barth accused Liberals of cutting God down to human size by trying to capture him in the categories of human understanding. In his later, multi-volume Church Dogmatics, Barth argued that humans can understand God only on the basis of God's own revelation in the Word (that is, in Christ, scripture, and faithful preaching). Against those who suggested that many religions contain truth, Barth argued that all religion is an idolatrous human construction that can never reach up to the living God. In order to 'let God be God', theologians must abandon their attempts to comprehend God, and have the humility to rely on God's Word alone. Barth helped revitalize Christian theology by asserting its unique relationship to truth, and by the later part of the 20th century the 'neo-orthodox' approach he inspired had become dominant in academic theology.

affirm the supreme authority of the Bible, the sinfulness of humanity, full and perfect salvation through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the necessity of giving one's life to Jesus and being 'born again', the importance of a strict Biblical morality that affirms family values, and active evangelization. With its roots in the early modern era, Evangelicalism grows out of a confessional context, but abandons intra-Protestant rivalries for cooperation. Whilst retaining a propositional approach to the Christian faith (faith as assent to lists of propositions), it combines this with a more modern emphasis on the importance of direct experience of the sacred (particularly in the experience of being 'born again' in the Spirit). Evangelicals may belong to any of the historic Protestant churches, or to independent congregations. They consider these divisions of 'churchmanship' less important than the experiences and affirmations that bind them together.

In its growing emphasis on the importance of individual experience, Evangelicalism has also been influenced by another pan-denominational movement, Charismatic Christianity (which embraces Pentecostalism, and may also be called Pentecostal

Christianity). Charismatic Christianity, which will be examined in more detail in the next chapter, places particular emphasis upon the direct experience of God as Holy Spirit. As a result, Evangelical

Protestantism now covers a spectrum of positions. At one extreme are the most conservative Evangelicals, or Fundamentalists, who 3

affirm the absolute and infallible authority of scripture. At the other n are Charismatic Evangelicals (or Evangelical Charismatics), who 9

affirm the authority of scripture and of direct experience of the Holy a

Spirit. There are also some Charismatic Catholics whose y

Catholicism has been influenced by the experiential stress of the §

Charismatic movement. §

Pulling all this together, we can present Christianity in the modern period as internally differentiated depending on where it locates ultimate authority: in God, in human reason enlightened by God, or in subjective experience more broadly (including not just reason but intuition and feelings). If we lay this scheme of categorization across the broader scheme used in the previous two chapters to classify historic Christianity (Church, Biblical, and Mystical types), we can represent the different varieties of modern Christianity by way of a simple diagram (see page 104).

This diagram also helps us understand the changing fortunes of Christianity in modern times. Since the transition to first modernity involved a cultural shift away from transcendent authority towards the authority of individual reason (from left to the centre on the

Transcendent authority

Rational authority

Experiential authority

Church type

Conservative Catholicism

Conservative Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism

Liberal Catholicism

Liberal Protestantism

Pentecostal Catholicism

Biblical type

Fundamentalism Evangelicalism






Mystical type

Mystical Eastern Orthodoxy

Swedenborgianism Christian Science

Society of Friends

Varieties of Christianity in the modern world.

Varieties of Christianity in the modern world.

diagram), it favoured Liberal Christianity (or secular rationalism). Since the transition to second modernity involved disillusionment with scientific rationality and a growing turn to subjective-life, it favoured more experiential forms of religion and spirituality (moving to the right of the diagram). As this turn to subjective-life has become more widespread since the 1960s, so successive generations have become increasingly alienated from a Church Christianity (conservative or liberal) which offers little by way of subjective experience and tends to place more emphasis on religious and moral duty and social conformity than on the value of 'living my own life in my own way' (one might say they have dropped off the right-hand side of the diagram altogether).

Some conservative Biblical churches have also declined, particularly those that have failed to make room for individual experience. The form of Christianity that has fared best since the 1970s is that which falls into the category of 'Biblical-Experiential' in the diagram above, most notably the Charismatic and Evangelical Charismatic churches. The latter bring together the Biblical and Mystical varieties of Christianity. For those who are somewhat wary of the subjective turn, they offer clear Bible-based belief and moral authority, but manage to combine it with the promise of subjective experience, satisfaction, self-development, and well-being. Though the Father God may remain an external authority figure, Jesus Christ is experienced directly as an ever-present companion and guide, entering into life by way of the Spirit. The more Charismatic the church, the more that intense, ecstatic experiences of possession by the Holy Spirit will be emphasized (see the next chapter).

To some extent, as one would expect, the subjective turn of second 3 modernity has also benefited the mystical tendency in Christianity. n Traditional Church Christianity has occasionally been able to buck 9 the trend of decline where it has been able to cater to the demand Sr. for personally meaningful mystical 'spirituality' by offering moving y and inspiring worship services in beautiful historic settings. Some historic mystical churches have also fared well, including Quaker | and Unitarian congregations that have moved in a subjectivized " direction. The reason that Mystical Christianity has not done even better, given the growing cultural demand for spirituality that caters to subjective-life, is probably that it now faces so much competition from alternative spiritual providers. The closing decades of the 20th century witnessed the rapid growth of 'holistic' forms of spirituality, ranging from spiritual Yoga to Tai Chi to Reiki. With more and more people identifying themselves as 'spiritual' rather than 'religious', and with fewer and fewer having a Christian background, such holistic spirituality looks set to flourish.

Overall, then, the late 20th century has not been kind to the Western churches. In many parts of Europe, regular Sunday attendance levels had declined to between 4 and 8% of the population by the turn of the millennium (with monthly attendance

19. This disused chapel in the north of England (above) has been sold by the United Reformed Church and is in the process of being converted into a Meditation Centre (below). The Meditation Centre is not affiliated to any particular faith, and caters to the growing numbers of Westerners interested in 'spirituality not religion'.

levels about one and a half times greater). Even in the USA, the best estimates put weekly Sunday churchgoing as low as 20% - though self-reported attendance is almost twice as high. Having already lost a good deal of political and economic power in the early modern period, Christianity now lost much of the cultural power it had managed to retain and even consolidate in the 19th century. Where once it had been part of the 'establishment', Christianity now became part of a conservative counter-culture, protesting against secular values and the subjective turn of modern culture and calling for a return to traditional values, community, and family. Some Liberal and Mystical Christians fought a rearguard action on behalf of wide social concern, sexual tolerance, and a greater openness to sacred power from within. But the mood of theology, of church leadership, and of popular Christian feeling had turned against them - even though the most successful forms of Christianity had 3 made some significant concessions to the subjective turn. r

Conclusion t

The simplest way of presenting the story of Christianity in the modern West would be to say that a religion that had long favoured | power from on high found itself in a context in which power from " below - the power of each and every individual - was winning the day. Finding itself out of tune with the times, Christianity suffered a massive loss of support - both social and individual - and reacted by becoming more defensive and counter-cultural. As this chapter has demonstrated, however, such an analysis can be sharpened by paying more attention to the internal diversity of Christianity, and to the varied fortunes of the religion's different strands.

The dominant form of Christianity, Church Christianity, entered first modernity in a form that was likely to prove incompatible with the new emphasis being placed on human reason and dignity. Clashes were inevitable, and occurred most dramatically where a church refused to give any quarter to the new humanistic values -as in France. Elsewhere, however, Church Christianity managed to liberalize, and to become the ally rather than the enemy of modernization. A relatively harmonious relationship was established between church, society, and culture in the 19th century, not least because the church still had a role to play in upholding social hierarchy, particularly the interests of the new middle classes.

In the 20th century the fortunes of Church Christianity began to change as it was squeezed and criticized from two sides. On the one hand, more conservative Church and Biblical Christians began to criticize Liberal Christians for qualifying Christian truth. On the other hand, even such Liberalism proved unable to cater to the new demands being placed on the sacred by a culture that was increasingly focused on the cultivation and development of personal subjective-life. As a result, Liberal Church Christianity has suffered massive decline in recent decades; Mystical Christianity has fared somewhat better; but the most successful churches of all > have been those that have managed to combine an emphasis on the authority of the Bible with the offer of personal, subjective J empowerment through the Holy Spirit.

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  • Topias Ruotsalainen
    What are some modern manifestations of christianity?
    7 months ago

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