Mountains of Prey
The following article which is in the current issue of the “Chalcedon Report” is, in my judgment, one of the more important pieces that has ever appeared in that publication — for which I wrote a column for 11 years. — J.L.
By Martin Selbrede
There are actually three things that are certain in this world: death, taxes, and cover stories in the pre-Easter and pre-Christmas issues of Newsweek and/or Time that slam orthodox conservative Christianity. Despite the controversial cover text (“The Decline and Fall of Christian America”), the April 13, 2009 issue of Newsweek is actually worth a second look, primarily because writer Jon Meacham was able to catch Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. wringing his hands in lamentation over the latest religious demographics. In Meacham’s words, Dr. Mohler saw the latest statistics as evidence that “the historic foundation of America’s religious culture was cracking.”
Dr. Mohler is bemoaning a “culture-shift” taking place around us, “lamenting the decline - and, by implication, the imminent fall - of an America shaped and suffused by Christianity.” Mohler’s gloom over the increasing number of “religiously unidentified” people in the Northeast United States is nearly oppressive in tone: “Clearly, there is a new narrative, a post-Christian narrative, that is animating large portions of this society.”
The final paragraph of Meacham’s article is touched with melancholy sadness when it reports that “Back in Louisville, preparing for Easter, Al Mohler keeps vigil over the culture.” Mohler does a little cheerleading for the new packaging and marketing he thinks will pep up the home team, asserting that a “new generation of young pastors intends to push back against hell in bold and visionary ministry. Expect to see the sparks fly.” The comment amounted to whistling in the dark against the bulk of the article’s pessimism. But Mohler’s ultimate inability to diagnose either the source or solution of the problem is revealed in his final aside: “What we are seeing now is the evidence of a pattern that began a very long time ago of intellectual and cultural and political changes in thought and mind. The conditions have changed. Hard to pinpoint where, but whatever came after the Enlightenment was going to be very different than what came before.”
Hard to pinpoint? Meacham pinpointed the problem all too clearly, but most of Newsweek’s readers missed it. He quotes Mohler to the effect that “the post-Christian narrative is radically different; it offers spirituality, however defined, without binding authority. … It is based on an understanding of history that presumes a less tolerant past and a more tolerant future, with the present as an important transitional step.” Note that term binding authority - Mohler presumes to be the defender of it as he makes these indictments. But then note Meacham’s following words:
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