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Something sounds wrong in this. Weren't groups like the Methodists and even Lutherans fairly democratic? Far more democratic than say our church was. It seems that the author (from your presentation) confuses "libertarian" with democratic. Most of the fastest growing Protestant sects are very decentralized and largely libertarian in focus. If anything the more democratic ones, because they are so structured, are doing less well.

But this then poses a problem for explaining our church since we are quite radically unlike these more libertarian sects with a strong church government rivaled only by Catholics and other non-Protestant groups. While we do differ due to a lay priesthood and thus in that sense are closer to the libertarians than even many Baptists or other Protestants, it seems that individual wards don't have the same independence that they do among Baptists, Pentacostals, and the like.

Clark, most of my post (after "here's my theory") is an extension of Armstrong's material--I wouldn't want the attribution to be misleading. I was pondering the question of what exactly is "modern" about fudnamentalists, Evangelicals, and Mormons (add a few other groups) that is missing in "mainline" denominations.

Both Lutherans and Methodists are episcopal, whereas Presbyterians and Congregationalists were presbyterian. But none of them were "modern" in the sense that I came to see re-energized modern Protestant groups in the closing chapters of "The Battle For God."

The stress on participation and mobilization, along with orienting church doctrine and practice to the rank and file and a desire to evangelize outside the church, seems characteristic of the "modern" Protestants (I struggle to avoid the label "fundamentalist") but not, for the most part, of the mainline Protestant denominations. I like this view of things because it shows the "fundamentalists" to be modern in their focus and activities, which avoids the difficulty a secular observer has in explaining how backward-looking, outdated "fundamentalists" somehow sprang back as vital, influential, growing movements in the last two decades of the 20th century. So I think viewing "fundamentalists" as modern and Liberal Protestants as outdated matches the facts, which show Evangelicals in the ascendant and mainline denominations in decline.

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