Is Today’s Church in the Grip of a New Christian Romanticism?


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

Henry Ward Beecher

Henry Ward Beecher

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?