The Believable Futures of American Protestantism Conference

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Thu, 05/01/1986
End Date: 
Wed, 12/31/1986

Richard John Neuhaus directed a conference on the theme, “The Believable Futures of American Protestantism” sponsored by the Rockford Institute’s Center on Religion and Society. Held at the Princeton Club in New York City on December 1 and 2, 1986, the conference brought together leaders of mainstream Protestantism and some of its most astute evangelical critics to examine the various and sometimes conflicting accounts of Protestantism’s past and present in order to better understand its future. Some 25 scholars and religious leaders, and a few journalists attended the two-day gathering. <p> In April 1986, James Hunter, Dean Kelley, Elliott Wright, Richard John Neuhaus, and Paul Stallsworth formed a planning committee to direct the conference. Neuhaus’ book, The Naked Public Square, served as the common reference. The conference featured four papers: (1) “Continuity and Change in Mainline Protestantism,” by Thomas Sieger Derr; (2) “American Protestantism: Sorting Out the Present – Looking Toward the Future,” by James D. Hunter; (3) “Propositions for Debate: Attested by Classical Arguments,” by Thomas C. Oden; and (4) “Evangelical Christianity and American Culture,” by Timothy L. Smith. Conference papers and proceedings were later published in the book, The Believable Futures of American Protestantism (Eerdmans 1988).