H/T Rod Dreher
Writing in The Economist, Will Wilkerson is correct to place “The Caitlyn Jenner Moment” as a stepping stone in the conquest of Christianity by Americanism:
“The tolerant Jesus of Mr Cobia and Ms Jenner may not be the Jesus of Thomas Aquinas or Martin Luther or John Knox or John Wesley. He is a Jesus perhaps more thoroughly invested in the “autonomous eroticised individualism” of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman than any first-century reinterpretation of the Judaic law. But that is the American and still-Americanising Jesus of many millions of believers who, like Caitlyn Jenner, attend non-denominational evangelical churches, and who, like Caitlyn Jenner, vote Republican.
This is why going after Ms Jenner is ultimately a loser for Republican presidential wannabes. Caitlyn Jenner of Malibu is a leading indicator not of the secularisation of America, but of the ongoing Americanisation of Christianity. There’s no point dying in the last ditch to defend Old World dogma against the transformative advance of America’s native faith. Especially not if it will leave you out of step with the growing number of voters who find divinity by spelunking the self. ..”
It took me years to realize that what I was rebelling against wasn’t Christianity. Instead, it was Americanism, which has been swallowing and ingesting Christianity like a Burmese python for around two centuries now, gradually transforming it piece by piece into Moral Therapeutic Deism. It was only through studying European history that I realized that Christianity and Americanism are not the same thing.
What is Moral Therapeutic Deism?
1. A God exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.
5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
That fellow Jesus … he’s such a nice guy, a social worker in the sky, who just wants us to find our True Selves without being mean to anyone. That’s the repulsive American concept of religion.
Note: In somewhat related news, I’ve stumbled across an old John Crowe Ransom book called God Without Thunder: An Unorthodox Defense of Orthodoxy which addresses some of these issues.