Alec Ryrie is the author of Protestants: The Faith That Made The Modern World. He has a new book out called Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt. I will be reading and reviewing both books here in 2020. These lectures are basically chapters from his books.
It is worth noting that Ryrie is an Anglican professor. The Church of England recently blamed itself for the Holocaust. Less than 1 percent of British children now identify with the Church of England and 52 percent of people in Britain “belong to no religion.” British teenagers are more likely than almost any of their peers in the world to believe that their lives are meaningless. Anglicanism has essentially died from an overdose of liberalism and everything that he says must be taken with a grain of salt. Ryrie’s faith was incompatible in the long run with liberalism.
Is Protestant Christianity incompatible with racialism, white supremacy and slavery? This is an interesting question because in the United States we developed two rival Protestant cultures which came up with two different answers to the question even within evangelical Protestantism. The Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians split over slavery.
The truth is that Southern evangelical Christians used to have views about race which were far harder than our own. Abolitionism and liberalism only triumphed because the Union won the War Between the States. The Confederacy was just as convinced that God was on its side. Long after the War Between the States, evangelical Protestantism underpinned both the Lost Cause and the Jim Crow system in the South. Even in our own times, Southern evangelicals continue to have the hardest racial and cultural attitudes of any group in the United States.
Christian Zionism wasn’t a part of Southern evangelical Protestantism in the 19th century. Its roots can be traced back to the early 20th century and the development of radio and it only became the force that is today in the late 20th century due to televangelists. Conservatives channeled the backlash among Boomers to apocalyptic culture war defeats in the 1960s and 1970s into this stuff. The proper lesson here is that Christianity is always up for grabs in all ages and that it has been defined by liberals and Zionists in own times because those groups are socially dominant. They weren’t so dominant in the past and won’t be in the future.
Note: The Transatlantic Slave Trade is another example of how much harder Protestantism used to be before liberalism in the Early Modern Era. It was Christians who invented racialism and white supremacy in the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries.