As I was doing the nightly cleanup at home and prep for the next day, I was struck by a thought.
In the mid- to late 19th century, Christianity in America was in the grip of a post-war romanticism. The following were characteristics of the Church in that era:
Devotion to social issues, particularly justice for groups deemed oppressed
God as lover and wooer
Hymnody that captured the romance between God and Mankind
Pastors with national followings and “fans”
Dramatic presentations of the Christian message
Emphasis on the role of women in religious service and leadership
Concessions to contemporary science and pseudoscience
Concessions to cultural and societal “progress”
Questioning of traditional models of Christian thought and practice
Infatuation with End Times prophecies and fulfillment
Henry Ward Beecher was the pastoral icon of that era, and his views were strongly in accordance with those characteristics above. Indeed, he was called the Most Famous Man in America for promulgating his new “brand” of Christian faith.
When I look at “Christian” America today, so much of it parallels that time of Reconstruction between 1865 and 1890, it’s scary.
In what ways do you think we are (or are not) seeing a revisiting of Christian romanticism with the features noted above? Who would you nominate as the Beecher of our day?