2. Pluralism and Postpluralism
• Helen Cohn Schucman -
“This is a course in
miracles. Please take
• Expansion and contraction
• “culture wars”?
3. Expansion: The New Age and
2. Roots of the New Age
3. Religion of the New Age
4. New Spirituality
4. Introduction to Patterns of
• “If we think of the nation’s
culture as the work of the
social body made up of all
Americans, we understand
it as a system. Expansion
and contraction, then,
devices for the culture.
Each has its strengths,
and each its weaknesses”
5. From Movement to Spirituality
• New Age movement
• Theosophical Society
• Ascended masters
• Shirley MacLaine’s Out
On a Limb (1983)
• Millennialism to healing
6. Roots of the New Age 1
• New Thought (affirmations)
• “I AM” movement of Guy
• Arcane School of Alice
• Aetherius Society of
George King (1954)
7. Roots of the New Age 2
• Quantum physics
• Holistic healers
• Asian gurus
• Native American
8. New Age Religion
• Social thinkers: ordinary religion, ethics
• Individually oriented actors: extraordinary religion, ritual
and “symbolic behavior”
• “universe” and “energy” and “chakras” and “planet” and
• New Age ethic = personal responsibility and progress
• Ritual work = small groups and communities, not
churches, includes meditation.
– Harmonial ritual (Reiki)
– Imaginal ritual (Shamanic journeying)
• New Spirituality
– Robert Bellah and “Sheilaism”
– Deepak Chopra
– Eckhart Tolle, etc.
10. 1. Introduction to 20th
Four Characteristics of 19th-century American
Christianity influencing emergence of
1. Biblical Realism or Conservative Christianity
2. Limited view of Science
3. Dispensationalism or Prophetic Movement
4. Holiness Movement
• Postmillennialism: belief that gospel will spread with the supernatural help of
the Holy Spirit; optimistic view of American civilization as the “New Israel”, the “city
on a hill”; culture would be transformed into the Kingdom of God - a golden age of
Christianity culminating in the return of Christ. This was dominant view until 1875.
• Premillennialism (millenarianism): as postmillennialism was secularized
into the Social Gospel, the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit seemed to be left
out; evangelicals turned to a more pessimistic view of American civilization and
culture; world seen in declension with dramatic supernatural return of Christ before
establishing the golden age of Christianity. Based on biblical prophecy (e.g. Daniel
9:24, Rev. 20:4-6).
• Dwight L. Moody: “I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a
lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.’”
• Prophecy: Old Testament had been viewed as foreshadowing of New
Testament and life of Jesus - as continuous. New view of prophecy stresses
discontinuity - distinct “ages” or dispensations (5=age of law, post exodus Israel;
6=current age of grace; 7=age of tribulation, 7 years of tumult followed by millennial
kingdom of Christ).
– Pretribulation: most believe Christians get “raptured” before the 7 years of suffering.
– Posttribulation: some believe Christians will suffer for the sins of this dispensation, and
get “raptured” after the years of suffering.
12. 20th Century Setting
1. Publication of The Fundamentals - a
development from within Conservative Christianity in America.
2. World War I - an influence from outside America
3. Higher Criticism - another influence from outside, but
taken up by Liberal Christians within America.
4. Teaching Evolution in Schools and the
Scopes Trial - the militant reaction against secular
culture and modernism.
13. • Curtis Lee Laws (1868-1946) coined
the term “fundamentalist” in 1920 during
a protest of the Northern Baptist
* 12 booklets published 1910-1915,
edited by A. C. Dixon, authored by
conservative scholars and popular
* 3 million copies distributed free by
wealthy businessmen Lyman and Milton
1. The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the
1) Inerrancy of Scripture 2) Divinity of Jesus 3) Virgin Birth 4) Trinity
and 5) Christ’s Death, Resurrection, and Second Coming
14. More on “The Fundamentals”
• Nothing said about dispensationalism or premillenialism,
social or political issues - all this gets associated with
• Other topics besides Biblical authority and the
theological issues mentioned above are: evangelism,
missions, prayer, personal piety, and the menace of
Mormonism, Catholicism, Liberalism.
• Main point is that Christian faith must be defended, “real”
science would “prove” the faith - if it is not biased against
supernaturalism (essential to the faith).
• Many authors later regretted being associated with
“Fundamentalism” - never very popular, but important as
15. 2. World War I
• Seen as result of modernism,
Nietzschean Philosophy (equating
power with moral superiority), and
• This is what we will become if we
abandon “true religion”…
• Political events associated by
Preachers with personal sin - like
smoking, dancing, going to theatres….
• Sound familiar?
16. 3. Higher Criticism of Bible
German Theologians: Friedrich
Schleiermacher (1768–1834), and
Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872)
apply rational, naturalistic, and
historical principles to the Bible.
Multiple authors for Old Testament,
inconsistencies in New
Testament, Q-Source, redactions,
2 authors of Isaiah, etc.
Thomas F. Curtis’s The Human
Element in the Inspiration of the
Sacred Scriptures (1867)
17. 4. Militancy and Battle
• Scopes “Monkey” Trial:
Dayton, Tenn. July 1925.
• Found guilty, then reversed on
• William Jennings Bryan (Dem.
2-time Pres candidate, fiery
rhetorician) is cross-examined
by Clarence Darrow (super-
smart trial lawyer) and looks
bad. Press makes it even
• Viewed as science v. religion,
urban v. rural, North v. South
• Another front was the winning
over of congregations and
forming new churches (often as
splinter groups and new
18. Decline and Resurrection
• After Scopes Trial in 1925, due to press and public
opinion, Fundamentalism was caricatured as poor,
uneducated, stubbornly narrow-minded, simple, etc.
• Went from a loose, but influential coalition of
conservatives in 1920’s to a rigid, militant, and defensive
subculture after 1925.
• Written off as marginal and obscure by Conservatives
and Liberals alike.
• Internal strife and defections left only the splinter
churches and new denominations struggling for
So how did they make their come back?
19. Why the Success of Fundamentalism?
• A sense of certainty and refuge in the midst of a hostile anti-
• Lack of national cohesion allows grass-roots development.
• Evangelicalism, Depression, WWII.
• Role of Church to save souls and make everyone lay evangelists
- limited and simple, but it worked.
• Bible schools,
curricula, summer retreats,
• Irony of appropriation of
modern technology to
spread the gospel.
20. Billy Graham (b. 1918)
Graham’s 1949 L.A. Crusade:
1) followed a period of Graham’s
own self-questioning - he is
“fully surrendered” and
2) friction from local clergy,
unsure how much support to
3) lots of media attention
because of Hollywood
4) was VERY successful and
popular. 3 weeks expanded
to 8 weeks.
21. Contemporary Contraction
• American Council of
• National Association of
• Fuller Theological
• “new evangelicalism”
• Christianity Today
22. Culture Wars?
• School Prayer
• Teaching of Evolution in Schools
• Gay rights/marriage
• Ten Commandments in Courts
• Religious Organizations in Schools
• Faith-Based Initiative
• Religious Discourse in Politics
23. Fundamentalist or Evangelical
• 1995 Left Behind series
of 14 books Tim LaHaye
& Jerry Jenkins - 55
• 1970 Late Great Planet
Earth by Hal Lindsey
• Sin AND grace in the
24. Regional Religion (Contraction)
• Megachurches (2000+
• Saddleback Church:
• Dominion Theology
• Vineyard Christian
Fellowship - 600+
• Pat Robertson “700 Club”
• Jerry Falwell’s “Old Time
• Rex Humbard’s
“Cathedral of Tomorrow”
• Jim Bakker’s “PTL Club”
• Jimmy Swaggart
• Robert Schuller’s “The
Hour of Power”
26. “Armchair Religion”?
• The “Electronic Church”
• Some Pentecostal, some not
• Most promoted right-wing causes with little relationship
with religion (economic success = God’s approval)
• All directed at upwardly mobile
• All VERY ambitious, modern-day prophets
• Demanded little action except mailing in checks
• Evangelicals and their constituents not very political, less
inclined to register and vote UNTIL 1980….
27. Politics and
• 1950’s Fundamentalist Anti-
– Billy James Hargis’ “Christian
– American Council of Churches
• 1979: Moral Majority (Jerry
• Ronald Reagan, 1980
• 1980: 29% evangelical
Republican, by 1984, 60%.
• Christian Coalition (Pat
• Focus on the Family (James
28. Progressive Evangelicals
• Radical Evangelicals
• Sojourners Ministries
• Sojourners magazine
• Jim Wallis and Trinity
Evangelical Divinity School
• Evangelical Environmental
• Creation Care magazine
29. The Religion
• (creed) “getting saved” and “coming to Jesus” and the
“sinner’s prayer” and being “born again”
• “holiness” = strict morality (code)
• (cultus) “worship life” = bible groups, bible study,
prayer, mission, witnessing; rhetorical and emotional
• Bill McCartney’s Promise Keepers (1990-1997) related
to the Men’s Movement of the New Age
• Strict separation of ordinary and extraordinary, clear
boundaries, high “walls to consolidate a community”
• Pluralism -> conflict
• Postpluralism -> expansion, combinationism
• Liberals and conservatives actually very similar?
– Millennial themes
– Direct experience
– Personal transformation
– Ongoing revelation
– Need for healing
– Common language
– Literalness in belief
– Democracy of believers
– New forms of community
• Patterns of expansion and contraction are BOTH part of our
cultural system, related, and mutually dependent…!! ***