The Perils of Religious Romanticism

What is Romanticism? In a nutshell, Romanticism was born in the late 1700’s and is described as an artistic and intellectual movement characterized by a heightened interest in the beauty of nature, imagination, and intense emotional expression. According to Bruce W. Davidson, professor at Hokusei Gakuen University, Romanticism has made a comeback and is having a huge influence on our postmodern culture. Not surprisingly, Romanticism has also reared its ugly head in the visible Church. “Religious Romanticism can take people very far from sensible living, even into dangerous territory,” warns Davidson. The dangerous territory he speaks of is emotionalism. “Among Christians, that trend has taken the form of a rebellion against a focus on theology and an emphasis on religious experience.”

Sound familiar?

You can read Bruce Davidson’s piece over at American Thinker:

On January 2, about fifty thousand young adults gathered in Atlanta to participate in the Passion 2017 conference.  People outside evangelicalism might imagine something named “Passion” to be an event for romantic novelists or their fans, but it was actually a kind of religious pep rally.  The title typifies a significant religious shift of recent years, one turning away from doctrine and toward emotion – a kind of religious Romanticism.  Nowadays, numerous Christian books, conferences, and even churches bear the word “passion” in their titles.  In past eras, church people congregated to debate doctrinal and moral issues; now they hold events to celebrate their emotions.

The original Romantic movement of the early nineteenth century was basically a reaction against Enlightenment rationalism, with its elevation of science and cold rationality above everything else.  In opposition, the Romantics celebrated sensation, feeling, and aesthetics.  Adopting a therapeutic view of human existence, the Romantics often also held society to blame for mankind’s problems, not inborn sinful inclinations – the latter according with the historic view of Christianity.  Their optimistic view of human nature has undergirded much of the political agitation and clamor of subsequent times for radical change.

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