Let Justice roll like a river, righteousness like a never ending stream.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

In the 1800s Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) brought us idealism.
Friedrich Schleiermacher (1763-1834) brought us liberal theology and the critical study of scripture.
Along with the discoveries of science came a new skepticism toward miracles and a critical reading of scripture.
In an attempt to get to original sources, scholars engaged in multiple quests for the historical Jesus.
Modern scholars expected belief in the supernatural to decline over time
and sought to find out more about the human Jesus.

Liberation theology refocused the church.
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) applied existentialism to Christianity.
Paul Tillich (1886-1965) brought us a God of "ultimate concerns" and "the ground of our being."
Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) applied philosophy to Christian life and encouraged us to demythologize the text;
- to search for the meaning behind what was actually written.
Liberation theology refocused the church on the major biblical themes of justice and charity.
Theologians like James H Cone (1938 - 2018) and Gustavo Gutierrez (b. 1928) saw
in the Exodus narrative and the Gospels, a focus on justice for the poor;
saw a God who supports the poor and marginalized.

By the early 20th century,
Christians focused more on ethics and social justice and less on miracles and conformity to doctrine.
The Social Gospel put into action God's mission to bring salvation to the ends of the earth
by addressing the problems of poverty and injustice that were current and visible in the world.
The Catholic Worker Movement sought to "live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ."
Deitrich Bonhoeffer warned us against what he called "easy believe-ism and cheap grace"
to describe those who think that being a Christian means believing doctrines rather than doing justice.

Fundamentalists revolted.
Aghast over the decline of dogma they deemed foundational,
fundamentalists of the late 19th and early 20th century rejected the Social Gospel
and reacted negatively toward the growing influence of science and philosophy.
In 1910, they identified what became known as the five fundamentals:
. * The Biblical inspiration and the infallibility of scripture
* The Virgin birth of Jesus
The Belief that Christ's death was the atonement for sin
The Bodily resurrection of Jesus
The Historical reality of the miracles of Jesus

By the 1930s, modernists had won the debate and fundamentalists withdrew from mainstream Christianity.
Liberal Christians developed alternative theologies that didn't require one to believe in miracles.
This was more of a movement among scholars and clergy than among the laity;
nor were the clergy eager to spread these ideas in their churches,
perhaps afraid of confusing the congregations.

World Wars scarred the thinking of theologians and rejected many concepts of divinity.
Christianity became a life of following Jesus, rather than acceptance of doctrine.
The Cross of Christ became a symbol of oppressive authority
overcome by the message of Resurrection.

Liberation theology led many to Socialism
Socialism became popular among liberals, both scholars and clergy,
but many of these new theologies never gained favour among lay people.
Many churches never changed their liturgies. They continued to recite ancient creeds.
For a variety of reasons, the Church failed to challenge the orthodox reading of scripture.
It failed to engage its congregations with a new vision of Christian living.

While the Social Gospel had won the early battle, fundamentalism won the war.
The chaos of the post-war world and the horrors of recent experience led to a call for stability.
There arose a desire for firm boundaries, spiritual authority, tradition and established orthodoxy.
Fundamental Evangelicalism would return in the 1950s through the Billy Graham crusades, followed by HTB and Alpha,
driven, largely, by the desire for certainty and secure boundaries in an age of change following the horrors of war.
Whilst these ideas overcame the Liberal trend, they were also rejected by many thinking and educated people;
those who were willing to address personally and critically the concepts of faith.
As a result membership in mainline churches declined precipitously, in the West

Many adopted humanism, socialism and other ideologies.

Progressive Christianity arose in the late 1900s.
Progressive Christianity focuses on the biblical themes of liberation and justice.
It is in some ways a response to conservative Christian neglect of biblical social ethics
and seeks to reintegrate the major biblical themes of social justice back into Christian belief and practice.
It attempts to make the Christian faith relevant to a thinking population,
overcoming the negative vibes created by aggressive Evangelicalism;
perhaps reintegrating Christianity with reality,
and realigning its pathway to that of Jesus.

In the 21st Century
Fundamentalism lives on through the vitality of the Evangelical movement
and its authoritive position within the established churches;
but the churches are progressively emptying and
their demise becomes increasingly likely,
unless they change their ways.