A new religion needs a new holy book, so the German Evangelical Church is rewriting the bible in feminist language, getting rid of discriminatory expressions like “Lord” and “Our Father.” The effect is startling, but the effort is just an example of a general trend. Mainstream translations today always fudge things in a PC direction as much as they feel they can, and as time goes on what seems possible expands. Cardinal Bernardin’s proposal to revise the Gospel of John to make it more favorable to Judaism went farther than most and caused something of a fuss, but who knows where it will end up?
From the standpoint of those involved all these things make perfect sense. If religion is fundamentally an expression of man’s evolving understanding of how things should be—which from the standpoint of modern scholarship is the only possible view—why shouldn’t it keep on changing? What possible limits can there be? And why shouldn’t the people who have studied these things and know what changes are appropriate and inevitable move them along?
The view does have its problems. It makes contemporary thought and scholarship the ultimate criterion of truth. Unfortunately, contemporary thinkers are human like everyone else, and contemporary thought is much better at developing possibilities and filling in details than dealing with fundamental issues, which it can hardly touch at all. So in place of the ultimate realities that its pragmatic and scholarly methods can’t deal with progressive religion gives us a mixture of the pieties of the class to which scholars and functionaries belong. and the goals and assumptions of modern scholarship and modern bureaucratic organization.
The former gives us political correctness as a substitute for religion, and the latter backs up PC with the technocratic inclination to put all things on the same footing and make them a matter of human purposes and choice. Whether the result should be called “religion” isn’t obvious, but people—including many people in authority in the churches—insist that it is and promote it as true Christianity. To at least that extent it must be taken seriously.