In other words, [David] Sessions seems to be fine with Christian doctrine so long as it doesn’t contradict what he sees to be the higher authority of modern liberalism, which has a whole different set of doctrines it regards as absolute, including many which are at odds with Orthodox Christian doctrine: the right to an abortion, the right to same-sex marriage, and all the other hot-button issues that garner headlines. And so the question isn’t one of “absolutism,” the only dispute between Douthat and Sessions seems to be which set of absolute doctrines supersedes the other: Orthodox Christianity or modern liberalism.
While it’s easy to make the case in secular America that Christian doctrine should be made subservient to modern liberalism, it is harder to make that case within the Church. This is especially true in denominations where Orthodox doctrine has been passed down through the centuries and carries the weight of both revealed truth and apostolic tradition. And it is in light of the weight of Orthodoxy’s historic lineage that Sessions’ claim that Douthat ascribes to a “religious ideology that is unable to see past its own particular politico-cultural moment” rings most hollow.
Seeing past its own particular politico-cultural moment is precisely what Orthodoxy does. As Chesterton once said of his own Orthodox Catholicism, “It is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age. It is the only thing that talks as if it were the truth; as if it were a real messenger refusing to tamper with a real message.” And to that end, Bad Religion is nothing if not a compelling case for a Christian doctrine that transcends time and place ”” particularly our time and place.