“The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age. I have compared it with the New Religions; but this is exactly where it differs from the New Religions. The New Religions are in many ways suited to the new conditions; but they are only suited to the new conditions. When those conditions shall have changed in only a century or so, the points upon which alone they insist at present will have become almost pointless.” – G. K. Chesterton (The Catholic Church and Conversion, 1926)
Sadly, we’ve seen this run rampant in Protestantism and other pop-culture religious trends. Their beliefs continue to shift and change over the decades to suit the culture – to suit us. They do a lot of things right and they’re effective on many levels at dealing with current conditions. But that’s much easier to do when you’re content with creating new religions suited only for the new conditions. When your new religion only needs to survive longer than the short memory of a single generation. When you only need to cater to the needs of a bunch of enslaved children of this age…you’re a bit more free to suit the new conditions at the expense of the old.
And I’m not speaking here about the need to meet people where they’re at or to utilize the good things in current culture to effectively evangelize. I’m speaking about a morality that shifts to suit the current climate and about a theology that shifts to answer only the current theological questions but no longer the old ones.
Religion seeks a truth that transcends any conditions – new or old. It’s there to guide us through the constantly changing conditions…not to simply bend to the most immediate ones. It recognizes the Democracy of the Dead. Its morality and theology – if true – must work in both the new and the old conditions. A religion that changes its beliefs to suit the latest conditions is both a useless guide and a useless religion.