A brief but telling few paragraphs on the situation of Christianity in the new culture:
What, then, should churchmen do? The answer returns clearly: become, avowedly, therapists, administrating a therapeutic institution--under the justificatory mandate that Jesus himself was the first therapeutic. For the next culture needs therapeutic institutions.
After quoting a writer of the time, John Wren-Lewis, who dismisses all the actually religious aspects of religion, Rieff continues:
[Wren-Lewis] understands that churchmen will be able to become professional therapeutics "only if they break away radically from almost all, if not all, of their traditional religious pursuits." Here speaks the therapeutic, calmly confident that community life no longer needs "some supposed plan underlying experience," that is, no longer needs doctrinal integrations of self into communal purposes, elaborated, heretofore, precisely through such "supposed plans."....
Both East and West are now committed, culturally as well as economically, to the gospel of self-fulfillment. Yet neither the American nor the Russian translations of the gospel can be transformed into a spiritual perception.
Nor does the present ferment in the Roman Catholic Church seem so much like a renewal of spiritual perception as a move toward more sophisticated accommodations with the negative communities of the therapeutics. Grudgingly, the Roman churchmen must give way to their Western laity and translate their sacramental rituals into comprehensible terms as therapeutic devices. (p. 215)
That was 1966. The so-called "spirit of Vatican II" and many other developments would soon prove Rieff's prophetic insight. Clearly a great many Christians, clergy and other, have taken this path toward the therapeutic, not so much by a conscious decision as by having absorbed the view of the surrounding culture, that Christianity is essentially a sort of local or specific implementation of a presumed general drive toward self-enrichment.
Wren-Lewis took an interesting turn later in life after a near-death experience, becoming a believer in a kind of transcendent consciousness.