In response to Martian Mariner's prompting for me to talk about the causes of the Mainline Blues, instead of pointing out symptoms only, I now offer this second verse. For Verse One.

The nineteenth century also saw two separate ways of thinking influence Christianity that would help lead to the modern mainline predicament.

First, the elevation of experience over tradition and the plain sense of Scripture. America's involvement with revivalist religion helped lead to an emphasis on experience that could cause doctrine to take a secondary place. This tendency was reinforced by the holiness/pentecostal movement of the 20th century. One can see this tendency in operation in the opening of pulpits to women. Among the first groups with women preachers were the holiness groups. In spite of NT prescription that a woman was not to have authority over a man, and the example of the NT church, women were admitted to the pulpit in large measure because congregations experienced their preaching: obviously if they could preach then they were called to preach. Those verses that seemed to count against female preachers were explained away in light of the experience of women preaching. Similarly today experience becomes a standard for interpretting Scripture: if I know, or think I know, a gay or lesbian who seems like a nice person and who seems sincerely to be a Christian, then I conclude that some Scriptures need reinterpretted.

Second, the influence of "higher criticism" mostly from Germany. This method of study treated the Bible texts in exactly the same way that other writings were treated with the same presuppositions. One of the presuppositions was naturalism: miracles were explained as "folktales" or such. Another assumption was that historical material in the Bible was no more accurate (maybe even less accurate) than any other historical material. In other words, the Bible contains writings like any other human product. In that case, Science, whether psychology or whatever, can be used to weigh the claims of Scripture.