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View Diary: A Critique of the Evangelical Movement (36 comments)

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  •  McGee's pragmatism seems sound (1+ / 0-)
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    More to the point, McGee, in your paraphrase, reads like what religious did throughout the second half of the 18th century in England: ending the factionalism by turning toward piety. In 1710, London street corners were the battleground of a pamphlet war over religion, and every book seller had row upon row of serious controversy. In 1750, book shops are selling out of A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life and various figures's "Meditations."

    I.e. after two centuries of fighting it out, the public, and the divines, embraced private piety. Having learned that they could not win, no matter which side they represented, all sides seemed to retreat to the home. Of course, a hundred years after that and religion would be something "impolite" to discuss in public at all -- thanks to the success of the people like William Law.

    I keep expecting and hoping for such a turn in the U.S., but we seem to have things backward, as the public religion and overly determined revelation seems to be in response to the private "spirituality" of the 1980's.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 05:59:24 PM PST

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    •  'McGee's Pragmatic Piety' - I can see it in print! (0+ / 0-)

      Good points all.  One thing I think both McGee brothers were trying to do was to provide for the religious needs of the 'far western' settlements in TN and KY, then the rapidly-expanding territories that had once been Virginia, after the Revolution.  (I say 'religious needs', because people were having children without benefit of clergy to marry them and having to bury people without 'official' prayers, and these people often had a real fear of 'being Lost' for eternity.)  In addition, some of the areas still had a strong Catholic presence from French or Spanish influence.

      William McGee had extensive theological training before his ordination, while John had only the training any upper-middle class child would receive in a stoutly Scots-Irish Presbyterian home.  Theological training was virtually impossible for the men of 'the West', and I've always marked one change in this ear as a significant change.  Men who had undergone a strong conversion experience would have a Bible slapped into their hands and be told to go forth and preach, without any grounding in the historical and theological traditions of the Church.  The only material they had to preach from was their own story -- the before-and-after of their own conversion story, the very drama that you describe as the 'theatrical' failing of evangelical churches.

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