Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 123:490 (Apr 1966)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“The Sell-Out Or The Well-Acculturated Christian,” Robert E. Fitch, The Christian Century, February 16, 1966, pp. 202-5.

As a culturally irrelevant Bible-believing fundamentalist whose protest would be ignored, I have been wondering how long it would be before some liberal theologian would react violently against the current kick to make Christianity relevant to our secular society and speak out, exposing the fad for the fraud it is. The time has come. This is exactly what the dean of the Pacific School of Religion does and in this angry and devastating denunciation of contemporary avant-garde theology and religion. He says: “This is the Age of the Sell-Out, the age of the Great Betrayal. We are a new Esau who has sold his spiritual birthright for a secular mess of pottage” (p. 202).

Fitch is thorough in his dissection. He contends that “at the base of all this business there is a sociological slant: a bias against the middle classes, a contention that there is nothing more deadly than bourgeois religiosisty” (p. 202) coming from the intellectuals on the one hand and the “denizens of Bohemia” on the other. “But I submit,” he counters, “that if there is anything worse than bourgeois religiosity, it is egghead religiosity” and he reminds one and all “that it is the middle classes, with their institutional church, who provide the money, the personnel and the ideas to support the radical in his program” (p. 202).

He also exposes the current use of the old saw that Christianity is too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. Fitch answers, “There is only one thing wrong with this assumption: it is demonstrably contrary to fact” (p. 203), a point he goes on to support with facts. Then he denies “the constantly repeated formula that the minister has a responsibility to employ the thought forms and symbol patterns of the day,” asserting instead that “it is the responsibility of a great religion to criticize, to transform and to transcend many of the thought forms and symbols of the day” (p. 203). Finally, he repudiates the subjective existentialism that prevails today.

Turning from a refutation of the accusations made by today’s avant-garde theology against traditional Christianity, Fitch raises

his objections to the movement itself. His most pertinent single objection is that “the whole act is a phony” (p. 204). He calls the movement “the very genius of superficiality” and says that “here the eternal is entombed beneath the topical and the trivial” (p. 204). In addition, the movement in Fitch’s judgment “is fantastically behind the times,” demonstrated in part by the fact that it is ...

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