So the term ‘Liberal’ Christianity describes a movement growing in popularity in North America that basis their faith on the assumption that the Bible isn’t ‘really’ God’s Word per say, it’s simply a collection of (possibly) ‘inspired’ writings ABOUT God that, while they might be ‘inspired’ they still have errors/fallacies/misunderstandings/bias/etc., and additionally were not designed or written for our time period or advanced/civilized culture/society, etc.
So this in itself presents a bit of a conundrum or oxymoron from what I can see… And that is, what exactly is their ‘faith’ based in then? If it’s not the Word of God that lays the foundation for the Christian faith, where are they getting that foundation from or what is exactly that foundation? Or, IF the Bible IS the foundation, however parts of it are not true/not applicable, etc. how do they expect that to work? If the foundation of faith is simply in ‘God’ who is it then that defines who God is, what God’s purpose is, what God’s morals are, etc.? But that’s sort of a different topic altogether I think…
The gist of it as it has been explained to me and I understand it, is that basically the only real thing of importance is that God commands us to ‘love’ one another, and if we are doing that, we are following God, aka being ‘Christian’. Now, this statement I’d generally agree with, although I’d preface it with saying that the FIRST and greatest commandment from God is to love GOD, the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).
However typically when I’ve brought that up to people subscribing to this philosophy they immediately brush off this ‘first’ commandment and just say, “Well yes of course, but loving others IS obeying the first commandment, so they are basically the same.” and they avoid any discussion on it…
Now, again I could concede to a point that YES, they are similar and closely related so sure we can sort of lump them together, HOWEVER, the main issue with liberal Christianity from what I can see is that because they don’t use God’s Word to define what ‘love’ actually means, they can essentially say ANYTHING is permissible/acceptable in God’s sight as long as they can pass it off as ‘loving’. Likewise, they can say basically anything is ‘sin’ or not permissible in God’s sight as long as they can reconcile it as ‘not loving’, again using whatever measurement they have decided for themselves that love is.
And this I think is the basis of why liberal Christianity doesn’t work and it is just another man-made ‘religion’. IF God’s Word, aka the Bible, was not recorded according to God’s will, and is filled with human error/evil/bias/misunderstanding, etc. etc. etc. then we really know essentially NOTHING about God or His will or His plans or what is real truth or right or wrong or any of that. Therefore, we can ‘decide’ for ourselves which parts are true, which aren’t, what is ‘good’ what is ‘bad’, and so forth.
Here is a article describing the ‘authority’ of the Scripture as God’s Word that I thought was pertinent to the subject, and a number of verses that talk about this as well:
Isaiah 40:8, John 10:34-36, Matthew 5:17-19, Luke 21:21-23, Luke 16:17, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 are a few that speak to this.
Now, obviously the argument that will be made is that the writings themselves cannot confirm themselves that they are true/right. However if you read through the Bible it seems to me that God has/does confirm His Word as true/right through the signs/wonders He performs through His people/servants, and that’s more than enough for me. This also kind of comes back to this article here: How do we know the Bible is from God? – The Frequently Asked Christians
But anyway, back to the matter at hand, as to the dangerous and slippery slope of claiming we know what is ‘good’ and ‘right’ according to God with no foundation (God’s Word) with which to base our ideals from, there are many examples in the Bible that would contradict directly the liberal Christianity view of that is right/wrong in God’s sight… Which makes sense as to why the liberal Christian theology must, by necessity, find a way to discount God’s Words as ‘not really true’ or at least the parts that contradict our culture’s ‘evolving’ morality it seems.
Just as an example, in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 5 you have Paul addressing a report of the Corinthian church group that one of their members ‘had’ his father’s wife. Now, there isn’t much detail here as to the circumstances as to what happened, nor does Paul ask. It might be that the father mistreated her and divorced her and very obviously didn’t ‘love’ her and perhaps the son developed a ‘loving’ relationship with her. Who knows what happened? BUT, liberal Christianity would say: “Well, if they ‘love’ each other, then it’s ok.”. However clearly Paul, a man filled with the Spirit of God, says otherwise. He didn’t ask for more details or try to ‘tip toe’ around people’s feelings to avoid any type of ‘offense’, he just stated plainly, this goes against God’s commandments and therefore should not be done.
In a similar aspect, liberal Christianity can and does condone virtually anything God says to stay away from: homosexuality, infidelity, divorce, fornication, etc. Likewise it can condemn virtually anything God says TO do: exhorting fellow believers, holding spiritual leader’s accountable for their teachings, rebuking other’s, etc. Luke 17:3-4, Galatians 6:1-3, Proverbs 27:5-6 are a few verses that come to mind on that topic.
Anything that a liberal Christian ‘feels’ offended at they consider to be unloving and therefore un-Christian. This in itself mimics our culture’s shift to a hyper-sensitive, offense oriented society where people’s feelings are considered of higher priority/importance than truth, justice, etc. But it also closes doors for any useful discussion or discourse, isolating/segregating anyone who disagrees, as ‘disagreement’ in itself is considered to be ‘offensive’ in almost all cases I’ve experienced.
Jesus’s own words to the Pharisees and Scribes throughout the Gospels would be condemned by liberal Christianity as ‘offensive’ and ‘hateful’. Now the response I’ve gotten on that topic is: “Well yes but Jesus had the spirit of God so He, being in the ‘know’ as it were is able to say those things to those people as He knows their real hearts and motives, etc.”. However God’s Word says we also have the same spirit of God in us (John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Acts 4:31, etc.), and Jesus himself even says we will go on to do greater things than he (John 14:12)…
Like many other things this mindset also goes against God’s Word/instruction. God doesn’t say: “…seek unity/peace with your brethren UNLESS they ‘feel’ offended by you.” He says: “…seek unity/peace with your brethren.” 1 Corinthians 1:10, Ephesians 4:3, Romans 15:5-7 are a few verses on that subject, and Correcting Other Christians – The Frequently Asked Christians discusses God’s direction for exhorting and rebuking other Christians. So, from the Biblical perspective, when you see another brother or sister going against what God instructs, trying to bring it to their attention and correct them is part of what it means to truly ‘love’ them. Whereas, liberal Christianity will say the opposite, that if you make someone ‘feel’ like they are doing something wrong or you ‘offend’ them that you are in fact not showing them love.
Liberal Christianity at least from what I can see/understand, fails to address numerous key cornerstones of the Christian faith as laid out in God’s Word, such as our need for a savior (aka our incapability of reforming ourselves), repentance, recognizing a need for change/transformation in our lives, accountability for our actions/thoughts/life, etc.
It avoids any of the ‘tough’ issues of morals and good/evil and negates the need for people to really ‘change’ anything about their lives or even recognize the need for change. Best of all (I say this sarcastically) it allows it’s followers the ability to essentially condone any action/lifestyle/choices they wish to make as long as they can relate it to being ‘loving’ (according to their definition of ‘love’).
Socialism is very appealing to the younger generations typically because in theory it works in a society that functions based on the ‘goodness’ of people, which sounds great and it would be fantastic if that worked… In practice however it always fails, as human nature ruins it…
In a similar way, this type of ‘Christianity’ appeals to people with a doctrine of: “we are all generally ‘good’ people, lets ‘love’ one another and get along and God will do the rest” type thing, which in theory again is great, but in practice it just simply collapses on itself as one group’s ‘idea’ of love will differ enough from another group’s that they become so ‘offended’ by one another that they split and form their own sects, etc. We end up with just more man-made religions based on various people’s perceptions of morality and ideas of how God ‘should’ be in their minds. That is why God’s word is essential in giving us as Christian’s THE (not just ‘a’) moral compass to differentiate between what is right and wrong.
Granted, this causes some difficult questions/issues to come up regarding God’s Word and the account of his interactions with mankind, but at the end of the day, I chose to trust that God knows what is ‘good’ and ‘right’ vs. blanketing anything I don’t understand or ‘like’ about His Word as ‘not applicable’ or ‘not for our culture’ or a ‘mistake’ by the writer, and adopting some other human’s view of what is right or wrong based on how they think God should be… Historically speaking, we all (should) know how things turn out when human’s decide they know what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ instead of God.
I am of the belief that one cannot adapt the Bible to their perception of morality and come out on the other side with anything ‘real’ or truthful.