At The New Republic, Ed Kilgore offers an astute analysis of realignments between Catholics, evangelicals, and mainline Protestants. When it comes to liturgical practice, Catholics and mainlines are closer than ever (nothwithstanding the Catholics’ new unecumenical translation, which Kilgore doesn’t mention). But in the culture wars, the Catholic leadership is moving closer to the evangelicals and the mainline is moving elsewhere.
We may be on the brink of a religious realignment, whereby the issues on which Christians argued, fought, killed, and persecuted each other (and others) since the sixteenth century are giving way to a different source of division: the culture wars…
Yet the single most notable trend in mainline American Protestantism in recent decades has been the adoption of liturgical practices associated with Catholicism, such as frequent communion and observance of liturgical seasons, particularly since Rome reformed its own liturgy during and after the Second Vatican Council Catholics and most mainline Protestants have long since adopted a common “lectionary” of scripture readings for use during worship services throughout the year. At the same time, the radical theological experiments that were once so fashionable in liberal Protestant circles have been subsiding; mainliners are far more likely to recite the historic Nicene or Apostle’s creeds during worship than are evangelicals. In other words, a growing number of mainline Protestants now worship much like Catholics.