Sooner or later reasonable people figure out that they can believe everything in such a view without being a member of said “church” and can sleep in on Sunday morning, giving their cash to other organizations. They can then use their own time in ways that they find aesthetically “fulfilling.” Why after all should I maintain the pretence of Christianity every Sunday by watching people use terms, objects and rites from long past and I am going to give money to this? What’s the point? This is supposed to give my life “meaning?” They can use the time in other ways and give money to established charities or causes that lack the wasteful bureaucratic structures of “815.” (Let the reader of That Hideous Strength understand.)
And this is one reason why more liberal bodies decline. They eventually become so inclusive like contemporary Unitarian bodies that they become socialization groups for the extremely idiosyncratic (freaks) and lose practically all cohesion. Such bodies do not make converts and they don’t have significant reproductive output. (It is not like Gay “weddings” will improve this.) This is why theologically liberal movements are parasitic on traditional bodies. They cannot go out and create a liturgy and produce a socially cohesive body of people with a view of the world that binds people together in a deep commitment from scratch. They are expressions of a lack. Frankly, I wish such persons would just be more honest about rejecting Christianity and go on down to their local Unitarian church and save us all a lot of trouble and heartache. What they do strikes me as seriously disingenuous.
There’s no reason why one should adhere to any institution that basically doesn’t believe its core tenets and simply blends into the “culture.” This is especially true with Christianity; it’s unpopular enough now, has been in some circles for a lot longer.
The leadership of TEC has overestimated the past value of the institution being a cultural leader and carrying over into the present while at the same time denying the beliefs of those in the past. Evangelicals should take note of this.
He says something else that deserves comment:
It used to be the case that, say about twenty years ago, you could meet an Episcopalian and chances might have it that the person was a professing Christian in the historic sense of that term. They believed the Scriptures were divinely inspired, Christ rose from the dead and all the other theological goodies expressed in the Creed. Now given the exodus from TEC this is far less likely.
To be honest I could have said this in the early 1970’s and been on target. How deep the root of orthodoxy in Episcopalians went depended upon what diocese and what part of the country you were in. In the land “where the animals are tame and the people run wild,” the bailout on orthodox belief began a long time ago, the senior Henry Louttit notwithstanding.