Any institution that calls human beings to devotion and self-sacrifice needs to justify that call. The accommodationist churches had no such institutional justification—or at least, they had no justification that explained why Americans should be involved with their church in particular.
Political activism wasn’t enough: Why would you need to wash down your left-wing convictions with a draft of Communion wine, when you could take the activism straight and do something else with your weekends?
Nor was their belated rediscovery of the numinous element in religion enough to stem the tide of defections: Why would you get your mysticism from somebody who was just play-acting, when you could get it instead from someone who really believed it—whether that someone was a swami or a Pentecostalist?
Those of us who are theologically and politically conservative should heed this warning as well. I labeled this the “activist gospel” in Counterfeit Gospels:
This counterfeit unites the gospel community around a common cause instead of our common Christ…
We are united, not by our acts of service, but our Savior’s service even unto the cross. When we seek something other than the kingdom, we become just like any other social agency, except ours is baptized in religious rhetoric. Remember, non-Christians engage in good deeds too. Gospel proclamation makes the difference!
The activist gospel is a counterfeit that unites the church around a cause. But gospel-driven activism is the outworking of a church united around the cross.