Everything has two faces.– Pierre Bayle
Some of my favorite people claim no faith, or proudly reject any association with Christianity or the Church. And honestly, who can blame them, these days? For instance, a friend of mine grew up in the church, came out as gay, was rejected by that community and left the faith, and now teaches high school theatre students empathy and the understanding of the Other, bringing confused and diverse young people into a theatre family of hospitality. In observing the way my friend showed his students how to understand and welcome one another, I saw an unbelief that “knew what a religion ought to look like.” This is the general thesis of Dominic Erdozain’s The Soul of Doubt, which explores the roots of unbelief leading up to and into the Enlightenment, only to discover that those roots are fertilized by faith itself. As Erdozain introduces, “modernity has been characterized by the internalization of religious ideas, not their disintegration.”
The secularization of modernity was the other face of Enlightenment Christendom. This secularization would fit within Charles Taylor’s paradigm as Secular2, or neo-Durkheimian, as Erdozain limits the scope of his work to the modern era, although I would posit much of his thesis is compelling for post-modernity as well. Elsewhere, Erdozain challenges the notion of secularization’s purity:
As a normative concept, secularization tends to exaggerate the religiosity of the past, to overstate the secularity of the present, and to falsify history as a single journey between the two…. The awkward fact for the secularization narrative is that some of the most dynamic and destructive thinkers of the Enlightenment era were inspired by faith.
Erdozain’s walk through the history of modernity takes the path forged by Luther, past philosophers, scientists, artists and social theorists like Spinoza and Eliot, Darwin and Marx. Emerging on the other side of the secularization of faith, we are then more apt to understand those who identify as “spiritual but not religious.” This label recognizes “a revolt against theological control rather than theology itself.” I think in our core, we are mostly idealists, imagining and desiring a faith and community (church) that actually lives the words of Jesus. I see that longing for a just world, a kind world, in so many of my non-Christian friends. But more often than not, the Church (and “Christians”) lets us down. As Marx put it, “Christian cultures [are not] Christian enough.”
Churches are not Christian Enough Either
Martin Luther King Jr., Erdozain writes, spoke prophetically against the churches of his era, quoting King, “Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.” Re-reading this letter on MLK Day last week brought to mind William Cavanaugh’s Torture and Eucharist, and his telling of the Catholic Church in Chile initially seeking to maintain unity within the country during the Pinochet coup. Eventually, Cavanaugh challenged that “the Church needs to unlearn our ecclesiology in order to understand our identity as the Body of Christ.”
Spinoza cautioned against this as well, says Erdozain: “The more closely a text is linked to injustice,… the more precarious it becomes. When the Bible becomes a battleground and the church a place of ‘ceaseless learned controversy,’ dissent becomes an obligation. There is a degree to which some people were forced into doubt.” As I reflect on this reality, glaring on social media in front of me is John Piper’s most recent claim that, not only should women not serve as pastors, neither should they be seminary professors. While it may shore up the support of his base, this unfortunate statement does nothing to draw to Jesus people who live in an egalitarian culture (or rather, long for an egalitarian culture).
I want to listen to the dissenters, those disillusioned prophets, who long for the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Because they may be closer to the truth of Jesus than they’ve been given credit for. And if, perhaps, the institutional Church had taken their objections a bit more seriously, I wonder if we wouldn’t be in a different place today.
 Dominic Erdozain, The Soul of Doubt: The Religious Roots of Unbelief from Luther to Marx, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, 264.
 Ibid., 6.
 Erdozain agrees that he is indebted to Taylor, and in his brief critique of A Secular Age, captures a key missing component of Taylor: “the more prosaic truth may be that people are repelled by a religion that threatens to diminish them. It is an inner history of alienation, rather than an outer history of cooling conditions, that this study seeks to provide.” (5) It does that well, delving into the motives of the Scopes trial, the expulsion of Spinoza from the synagogue, and Eliot’s “revolt of conscience against creed.” (212)
 Dominic Erdozain (2017) A heavenly poise: radical religion and the making of the Enlightenment, Intellectual History Review, 27:1, 71-72, DOI: 10.1080/17496977.2016.1255458
 Ibid., 8.
 Ibid., 261. I would shy away from that phrase today (“Christian cultures”) but would still argue that Christians are not Christian enough, myself included.
 Ibid., 3, quoting King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
 William Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist, Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998.
 Erdozain, 265.