On the Failings of Evangelicalism
The second storyline is about the desire that she and millions of other Americans have for a faith that does not require them to surrender their intellect.
Wicker describes her own childhood conversion experience as a Southern Baptist and the crisis of faith she experienced in college as she examined her faith and began to question what she had been taught. She has been exposed to critiques of religion by what Paul Ricoeur calls "the masters of suspicion" -- Darwin, Freud, Marx, Nietsche. It's a familiar story and one of the reasons why evangelicals lose most of their converts after they leave High School.
In our society, more and more are learning to view religion from some form of critical perspective. Wicker and many of the people she describes in her book are among them. The naive faith of their childhood is no longer adequate but their critical perspectives often lead them into a lonely wilderness of diffused, unconnected spirituality. That worries Wicker. In essence, she and millions beside her are searching for a church where people are moving beyond a first naivete faith, are willing to wade through the desert of critical thought, and are striving toward a second naivete faith where, as Ricoeur describes it, they are "called again."
Wicker's book is essential reading for all Baptists. She understands us, both fundamentalist and moderate, better than many of us understand ourselves. What she doesn't seem to realize is how eager and close some of us were to fostering the kind of churches she longs to find. Then, fundamentalists purged our denomination of everyone with the courage to think.
This entry is cross-posted from the Mainstream Baptist weblog.
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