Especially when compared to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal that has already been roundly dismissed as a pure-and-simple hatchet job, Douthat’s NYT article raises good, valid questions.
For example, he is right on target when he writes:
What should be wished for…is that liberal Christianity [recover] a religious reason for its own existence. As the liberal Protestant scholar Gary Dorrien has pointed out, the Christianity that animated causes such as the Social Gospel and the civil rights movement was much more dogmatic than present-day liberal faith. Its leaders had a “deep grounding in Bible study, family devotions, personal prayer and worship.” They argued for progressive reform in the context of “a personal transcendent God ... the divinity of Christ, the need of personal redemption and the importance of Christian missions.”
Today, by contrast, the leaders of the Episcopal C…