This is the true reason why so many churches are emptying. People are not abandoning the churches because they are too religious, but because they are not religious enough. People are not stupid. They understand that if a religion is about no more than mouthing spiritual platitudes and working at the soup kitchen, then they don’t need to get up early on a Sunday and troop off to church to hear bad music and a shallow sermon.
I call this religion without the supernatural neo-Pelagianism. Pelagianism is the heresy that good works are sufficient for salvation. Neo-Pelagianism is the ultimate form of salvation by good works. The modernist does not believe in the need for salvation because he does not believe a Heaven to be won or a Hell from which to be saved. Therefore all that remains is to save not himself, but others by his good works.
I find it interesting that Pelagianism, when it first appeared, was most popular among the well-to-do, the well-educated and the well-connected. So it is today. It is always easier to believe a religion that requires no belief. Pelagianism’s blend of spirituality and good works is just the sort of religion you would invent if you were to invent a religion. It is the religion of the respectable, and it makes respectability a religion.
A religion, on the other hand, of a God who interrupts this realm first in earthquake, wind and fire, then by an angel who announces a miraculous birth and a child who is the world’s stranger and the world’s great danger, a burning babe of Bethlehem, who came to Palestine and lives today in bread and wine…
…now that is a real religion.
—from the online article Christmas Without Angels by Fr. Dwight Longenecker