What we need is a bird’s eye view, and that requires taking theology seriously, and considering a longer view of the history of Western civilization than any sociological survey can provide. [...] American Grace adopts a position of respectful skepticism toward theology. The authors dutifully reproduce the questionnaire of “measures of theological belief and religious commitment” included in their survey, but they express surprise that many Americans “have stable views on such seemingly arcane theological issues” as whether a person is saved by faith or by their own good deeds. (Calling this fundamental question “arcane” is a bit like expressing confusion at that obscure rule in baseball that allows a player to score a run by crossing home plate.)Read the rest of Taking theology seriously.
Molly Worthen earned a Ph.D. from Yale University in 2011 and is a lecturer in the Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto, where she teaches courses on North American religion and church history. She is currently writing a history of intellectual authority in American evangelicalism since World War II (with Oxford University Press). She also writes about American religion for The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Foreign Policy, and other publications.