Aaron's Reviews > Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics

Bad Religion by Ross Douthat
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Jul 21, 2012

really liked it
Read in July, 2012

Highly recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in contemporary Christian history. Douthat chronicles the past 60 or so years of Christianity in the United States, recognizing the contributions of mainline Protestantism, evangelicalism, African-American churches, and Roman Catholicism in America. In recognizing these contributions, he also recognizes their faults, mainly in certain faiths' needs to accommodate secular culture (in the case of mainline churches and some Catholic churches) or to respond in a reactionary manner (evangelicals and many Catholic responses to Vatican II).
He then goes on to discuss what he considers the 4 heresies of contemporary American Christianity: the strict historicism of the Jesus Seminar, the feel-good faith of the "God-within" found in thinkers like Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey, the "health and wealth" gospels of Joel Osteen and others, and the Christian nationalism of those like Glenn Beck.
He provides an in-depth analysis of each, recognizing their attractive qualities while also critiquing their inability to provide any sort of responsible theological reflective model for their followers. He's well-read, funny, and though I disagree with a number of his arguments (especially concerning the Jesus seminar and his equating the fervor Obama campaign in 2008 with the fervor of the Tea Party) this is a great read.
Sadly, the book ends with an extremely clumsy argument against same-sex marriage in order for Douthat to complete his overall argument that traditional American Christianity must remain as the dominant Christian voice in America because of its moderation, longevity, and cultural investments.
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message 1: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan thanks, great commentary! i was going to read it, still may, haha but without the last few chapters. cool!


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