For several years now, conservatives have been crowing that God blesses them and curses liberals. Why have conservatives prospered and liberals waned? Obviously, God likes conservatives best.
Conservatives like Russ Douthat and Al Mohler are simply repeating this old saw. They cry crocodile tears over the "decline" of liberal mainline churches. The mainliners have left conservatism, which Douthat and Mohler call "orthodoxy," and have gone chasing after secular will-of-the-wisps in order to be popular with the culture.
Funny. When conservative churches decline, as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is right now, they leave behind a "righteous remnant" preserving the true faith. When liberal churches decline, it's because God is mad at them.
It is true that mainline churches have gotten smaller over the past 50 years or so. So have lots of churches, conservative and liberal. If it weren't for immigration from Mexico, the Roman Catholic Church in America would look like the Roman Catholic Church in Europe.
The causes for the mainline's supposed "decline" are much more prosaic than liberalism provoking God's Awful Wrath. Mostly, it has to do with smaller families. A hundred years ago, many of our families had six or seven children. Fifty years ago, many of our families had three or four children. Today, many of our families have one or two children.
Why the birth dearth? Affluence. Increasing affluence correlates with smaller families. That has been the story of the United States and most countries around the world.
Since mainline protestants were once the "establishment", they became affluent first and started having smaller families first. Nowadays, as evangelicals and baptists become more affluent, they, too, are having smaller families, and their denominations are likewise in numerical decline.
This has nothing to do with God being mad over somebody's theology, or God patting others on the head for being able to check-off everything on Al Mohler's "Checklist of Correct Conservative Theology."
Set the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) side-by-side. The former is liberal, the latter conservative. Both have seen their numbers decline at about the same rate.
This, of course, goes absolutely contrary to the conventional wisdom in conservative circles. Since Douthat and Mohler don't have any way of thinking about this--God not blessing the conservatives?--they have no other arrows in their quiver other than to say what they've always said.
The question, contra Douthat, is not "Can liberal Christianity be saved?" The real question is posed by Diana Butler Ross: "Can Christianity be saved?" The answer, of course, is yes, but shallow, self-serving, and sloppy analysis will make it a lot more difficult.