Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY

It is difficult to give a neutral definition of liberal Christianity (a variant is called "progressive" Christianity), but let me try: "Liberal Christians are people whose beliefs about God are shaped by the Bible as well as popular culture." This article will examine liberal Christianity for consistency.

Biblical elements of "liberal" faith

The following are some things that the Bible teaches:-
  • There is a God and He created the universe
  • We must be good – love others, seek peace, etc.
  • The Bible is profitable
  • Jesus Christ was good
  • There is an after-life.
Liberal Christians adhere to these beliefs.

Popular culture versus the Bible

The following are some elements of popular culture:-
  1. A liberal attitude towards homosexuality and having multiple sexual partners – since some people feel that way, there must be nothing wrong in it.
  2. A reverence for inanimate objects in nature, such as "mother" earth.
  3. A disbelief in miracles, at least the kind mentioned in the Bible.
  4. Sympathy for non-Biblical miracles, such as reiki healing, etc.
  5. Sympathy for superstition – astrology, lucky charms, etc.
  6. Belief in evolution theory; this includes the belief that the earth and universe is billions of years old
  7. Rejection of the idea that a single book or a single person may hold the key to one's eternal destiny
  8. Belief that being good (helping others, never saying that someone else is wrong) is the best way to procure a good after-life.
  9. Belief that all religions have at least some value for our spiritual journey.
  10. Belief in humanism: with our technology, education and charity, we are going to eventually make this world a wonderful place – provided we prevent it from being destroyed due to climate change.
The Bible is opposed to all the above ideas:-
  1. The Bible says that homosexuality is wrong (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27). It also says that divorce and adultery are wrong (Mark 10:6-9, Exodus 20:14). Even fantasizing about someone other than your spouse is wrong (Matthew 5:18)!
  2. The Bible denounces reverence for nature in the strongest possible terms (Romans 1:22-25). It asks us to give glory to God for the beauty we see in nature (Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20, Psalm 8:3-4).
  3. The Bible mentions many miracles in a calm, "matter of fact" way. The biggest miracle is that the Son of God came down to earth as a man and then died and rose again from the dead.
  4. The Bible says that miraculous power that is not from God comes from angels who have rebelled against Him and are out to deceive man (2 Corinthians 11:14). We are thus to avoid such power (Leviticus 20:27).
  5. The Bible is against astrology (Jeremiah 10:2).
  6. The creation account in the Bible (Genesis 1:1 onwards) cannot be reconciled with evolution theory and the big bang theory.
  7. The Bible presents Jesus Christ as the one and only way to God (John 14:6, Acts 4:12)
  8. The Bible says very clearly that doing good works will not take us to God (Romans 3:20, Isaiah 64:6).
  9. Jehovah, God of the Bible, claims to be the only God and demands exclusive worship (Exodus 20:1-3). Jesus referred to other religions collectively as "the broad way of destruction" (Matthew 7:13) and to their leaders as "thieves and robbers" (John 10:8). The Bible calls indigenous deities "abomination" (2 Kings 23:13)
  10. The Bible says that human nature by itself is incorrigible and without hope (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 8:8, John 3:5-7). It is God who sustains the earth, not man (Job 38-39). The end times will be very bad (2 Timothy 3:1); God will totally mess up the earth as He punishes the nations and then restore it like no environmentalist ever could.
Thus, on the one hand, liberals follow the Bible and on the other hand, they side with popular culture against the Bible. How do they explain their stance?

Liberal syncretism

Liberals use the following arguments to explain away the Biblical passages that implicate them:-

  • Liberals cast doubts on the authenticity of Biblical passages that they find troublesome. However, there is no agreement among liberal leaders on which Biblical passages are wrong and which are right.
  • Liberals say that these passages are authentic in the sense that they were written as claimed, but the people who wrote them were ignorant idiots. Again, there is no agreement on this point among liberals.
  • Liberals insist that these passages shouldn't be taken literally. They mean something totally different from what they seem to say at first sight.
These arguments are not sound because:--
  • All parts of the Bible are interwoven with each other. It is therefore self-contradictory to say that some parts are false and other parts are true.
  • Although the human authors of the Bible were imperfect, the Bible claims to be perfect because it is God's word, not the personal opinions of the human authors. So great are the Bible's claims about itself that if the Bible is not perfect, it is a lie (the biggest hoax in the world).
  • Whether a passage in a book should be taken literally or figuratively follows from the context itself based on self-evident rules of Bible Interpretation. However, liberals use popular culture rather than Biblical context to decide their interpretation.
Thus, liberal attempts to wrangle away from the plain meaning of the Bible don't hold water. Liberals must face up to the fact that by endorsing both popular culture and the Bible, they are being self-contradictory. Thus, liberal attempts to wrangle away from the plain meaning of the Bible don't hold water. Liberals must face up to the fact that by endorsing both popular culture and the Bible, they are being self-contradictory. Various writers have recognized the self-contradictory nature of the Jesus of liberal Christianity:

"Why anyone should have troubled to crucify the Christ of Liberal Protestantism has always been a mystery." – William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury

"A bland Jesus who simply told people to look at the lilies of the field—such a Jesus would threaten no one, just as the university professors who create him threaten no one." – Roman Catholic scholar John Meier

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”  – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Implications of liberal teaching:-

  • God is lousy: Liberals believe that God is responsible for life, but He chose to bring about life by evolution: a slow, cruel, and inefficient process.
  • God is unfaithful: He did not give us any authentic, reliable revelation of himself; so we have to rely on liberal authors (who don't agree with each other and thus leave us in a mess).

Conclusion

Liberal Christianity is untenable because:-

  • It is self-contradictory and logically incoherent in its partial acceptance of the Bible.
  • It is a blend of the Bible and popular culture, and thus is man's invention – it is not from God.
  • The god of liberal Christianity is a miserable being unworthy of respect even if he existed.

Liberals are guilty of stealing words. Liberal Christianity is not liberal because it denies God's liberal (generous) gift of salvation and has nothing of value to offer to non-Christians. It is not Christian because it contradicts the original definition of Christianity. It is not "progressive" either because it sends people to hell, not heaven.

Further Reading: Machen, J. Gresham. 1937. Christianity and Liberalism. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co.