For much of human history, doubt was considered a personal vice.
Advancement was conferred on believers in the prevailing orthodoxy.
Questioning the status quo was regarded as sedition and, as a result,
criticism and 'doubt' were confined to pedantic philosophers on the fringes.
In many situations and churches, it is much the same even today.
The Enlightenment was a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries
in which ideas concerning God, reason, nature, and humanity were synthesized
into a worldview that changed the way that we thought
about art, philosophy, politics and religion.
Central to Enlightenment thought were the use and celebration of reason,
the power by which humans understand the universe and improve their own condition.
The goals of rational humanity were considered to be knowledge, freedom, and happiness.
The idea of the universe as a mechanism governed by a few simple, discoverable,laws
had a subversive effect on the concepts of a personal God and individual salvation.
The very concepts that were central to traditional Christianity.
The divine origin of the Bible suffered as detailed study revealed
the facts of very human origins, errors and personal agenda.
The trust of the "man-in-the-pew" was shaken.
The defence mechanism of clergy clicked in.
It would seem that many can not accept any of the package
without taking the whole untenable story as fact.
The cleansing effect of the teaching of Jesus
seems to be ignored unless mixed with
an unrealistic magical covering.
The church has failed to embrace reality in its doctrine,
to endorse the findings of progressive theologians,
analysis of the findings of academic research,
and align its teachings with new discoveries.
It is this, not its crumbling buildings,
which are leading to its demise.