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Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:27 AM
I started it, I'll start it again. I'm sorry, folks, but I can only find page one of this thread. :( If I can find page 2, I'll repost the rest later.



For balance, Roger asked me to start a thread about liberal Christianity. What does it mean to you when I say that I am a "liberal Christian"?

(The same rules apply in this thread as in the thread about Fundamentalist Christianity. Please read Roger's first post (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=628402&postcount=1) in that thread, if you haven't already.)

My definition:

When I say that I am a liberal Christian, that means that I put the command to love others as God has loved me foremost in my mind. My definition, such as it is, isn't all that different from Roger's definition of a fundamentalist Christian:

Quote:

Believes the truth of God's word that:
Everyone is a sinner.
God loves everyone.
God sent Jesus to restore communication with humanity.
God gives everyone a choice whether to accept Him.
Follows the commandments of Jesus to:
Love God with all your heart.
Love others as (better than) yourself.

Except for the following:

I put much less of an emphasis on sin than a fundamentalist Christian would.

Nor do I believe that accepting Jesus Christ as one's personal saviour gets one special status in God's eyes. While I am a Christian because that is the path to salvation for me, I can understand and accept that others take different paths to the same goal.

I do not believe that the Bible is God's Word, and is true and inerrant. The Bible itself bears me out on this: In John, Chapter One we are told in no uncertain terms that the "Word" is Jesus Christ, not the Bible. I think the Bible is crucial to understanding the Christian faith. I think that the Bible contains revalations about God, and the relationship a particular group of human beings have had with God for many thousands of years. But I don't believe it literally, and consider it dangerous to do so.

I am aware, and accept, that many Christians, both liberal and fundamentalist, disagree with me on this. I don't consider it important, as long as the Bible is not used to justify hatred of or sanctions against a particular group of people.

As a liberal Christian, I find myself more prone to express my spirituality in helping others than in church attendance or Bible study. It's not that those two very important facets are absent in my life, it's just that they aren't the be-all and end-all to me as they are to many of my more fundamentalist friends.

Another term I feel compelled to explain is evangelical: To me an evangelical Christian can be either liberal or fundamentalist/conservative. The essence of evangelism is sharing one's faith with others. This I try to do, as I believe it's an important part of being a Christian. I don't "push" Christianity as a cure-all for another person's problems, but rather explain that it was a help to me in times of trouble, and perhaps it could help them too.

But then, I was a minister in two denominations for eight or so years, and being evangelical is part of the job description...

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:29 AM
KayCee:



One of the misconceptions about Liberal Christianity is that it is somehow easier than a more fundamentalist approach. Or that it is all about doing what feels good.

What amuses me is that amongst my liberal friends and colleagues there's a sense that what is easier is fundamentalism! How wonderful to have everything so black and white!! How marvelous to not struggle with the grays of life and faith!

I believe either view taken to its extreme is only a caricature and not an honest representation of "the other side".

Yes, I self-identify as a liberal Christian. I believe the Word of God is indeed the unique authoritative witness of God's work with God's people - and that it alone testifies to the Christ. It is my guide in life, and a constant companion on this journey. I also have a deep and abiding personal relationship with the Christ, and have accepted the Christ as the only One who could possibly save me.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:30 AM
Jenan Mac:


As an outsider, "liberal Christian" is closely linked in my mind with the verse "as ye do unto the least of these ye do unto me". Not necessarily Works theology, but a realization that faith without works is, if not dead, looking kind of puny.
Again IME, liberal Christians tend to be more concerned with refining their own relationship with their God than with scrutinizing that of others. And it's been my experience that "substance" is more far important than "form" in liberal circles.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:30 AM
pb10220:



Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeshanu
I do not believe that the Bible is God's Word, and is true and inerrant. The Bible itself bears me out on this: In John, Chapter One we are told in no uncertain terms that the "Word" is Jesus Christ, not the Bible. I think the Bible is crucial to understanding the Christian faith. I think that the Bible contains revalations about God, and the relationship a particular group of human beings have had with God for many thousands of years. But I don't believe it literally, and consider it dangerous to do so.

I am aware, and accept, that many Christians, both liberal and fundamentalist, disagree with me on this. I don't consider it important, as long as the Bible is not used to justify hatred of or sanctions against a particular group of people.



These threads are helpful in seeing that there is no one definition of liberal or fundamental, actually. And that some of the views held are not consistently held by all. One key thing I'd mention in response to this, Yeshanu, is that fundies DO hold that Christ was the eternal Word, as stated in John 1; we just hold the view that Christ was the Word Incarnate, and that there is no disagreement between the Word (Christ) and the written Word.
Hope that helps...

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:31 AM
pacwriter:



Jean Mac used the word relationship.

A Christian is a person with a realtionship with God through Jesus.

Even with a broad reading of the New Testament, it is clear there is no relationship with God without Jesus. Everything hinges on Jesus. It is Jesus (Christ) that defines the relationship with God.

You can believe in Jesus as the Christ and still not be Christian. the "personal" relationship is what makes the Christian not belief.

That said - A liberal is a believing person with a personal relationship with God through Jesus. Such a person - liberal - holds that the Bible is not authorative for living, it is allegorical, metaphorical and fiction. The liberal accepts few teachings of Jesus and perfers to write their on definition of what it means to have a personal relationship with God.

A liberal is inclined to logic rather than faith.

From my seminary days and two wonderful courses - Process theology and Crictics of Christianity, my understanding of liberalism is that God is still creating and nothing is ever finished whether it be the universe or a relationship. That which is old is of little use as it is being replaced by something new.

Judgement, hell, and repentance are not in the liberal vocabulary. God accepts all and overlooks sin and unfaithfulness. Obedience is optional because God holds no one accountable.

A liberal is one who can justify any action, any thought and any behavior and believe God accepts their justification or excuse.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:32 AM
pacwriter:



just a thought: anyone serious about a relatiosnhip with God through Christ should cross the street, lay aside personal beliefs. this goes for fundies and libs. If a person is serious about God, you might learn something that changes your life and your writing. Do not be afraid of what you don't understand but seek to understand to confirm your beliefs.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:32 AM
KayCee:



Quote:
Originally Posted by pacwriter
A liberal is one who can justify any action, any thought and any behavior and believe God accepts their justification or excuse.


I couldn't disagree more.

Again, this is one of those caricatures of Liberal Christianity. There are many actions I cannot justify and many behaviors that I believe are repugnant to God. Those behaviors are sin. Period.

Perhaps you don't want to use the term "any"?

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:33 AM
reph:



If you don't mind an outsider's (non-Christian's) view, as in the other thread

Liberal Christians believe that people are basically good. By contrast with fundamentalists, they pay more attention to the power of good and less to the dangers of evil. (But is "fundamentalist" identical with "conservative Christian"?) Their reason for believing isn't so closely connected with predictions about what might happen to them after they die.

Liberals are more interested in the gist of the Bible than in the letter of it. They make decisions using internalized values rather than using Bible verses for guidance or justification. They don't answer questions by quoting the Bible without comment. Their religion turns them outward into society, not inward into the state of their souls, so they're often seen working for social justice or charitable causes. They're concerned about everyone's welfare, except that some make an exception for fetuses and aren't interested in reasons to consider them beings that count.

They aren't authoritarian. They don't try to convert others to their beliefs.

Liberal Christians are warmer than fundamentalists.


KayCee:



Quote:
Originally Posted by reph
Liberal Christians are warmer than fundamentalists.


:::dryly:::: Some folks would say Liberal Christians will be verra warm indeed. ;)

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:34 AM
KayCee:



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenan Mac
Not necessarily Works theology, but a realization that faith without works is, if not dead, looking kind of puny.


Agreed.

It's the belief that if you have that relationship with the Christ it is going to show - and not just with the fishy bumpersticker. It will show in the sense of "when were you hungry and I gave you food.." sort of way.

A preacher friend once said that some folks are so heavenly-bound that they were no earthly good.:)

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:34 AM
Roger:



Here is my decidedly biased and ignorant take.

To me a Liberal Christian is one who is more concerned with the condition of the soul (theirs and others) in this life rather than the after-life. In many ways this is laudable. The conservative church as too long ignored the needs of the poor and needy in direct opposition to the Lord's commandment to take care of the "widows and children."

But the Bible also warns against going too far in this direction. "What shall it profit anyone if they gain the world only to lose their soul?" (CPV - Carlson Per Version). What good is it to anyone if their needs in this life are met, only to fall into eternal damnation.

This is another area where the two groups differ. I know some liberal churches that don't believe in Hell and some that don't believe in eternity at all. From that standpoint it makes perfect sense to only concern themselves with this life. But what if they're wrong? What if the time spent here on Earth is just a tiny fraction of their lifespan?

By that light, it is reckless indeed to focus only on this life. I think that's the point that James1611 was making in the other thread about trying to save a family from a bomb.

I believe this is the crux of the difference between Fundamental Christianity and Liberal Christianity.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:35 AM
KayCee:



Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson
. "What shall it profit anyone if they gain the world only to lose their soul?" (CPV - Carlson Per Version).



It is hard to hear the love of Christ on an empty belly, especially if the one preaching it is fat and content. :) (In this case I'd hazard a guess that the one losing their soul is the latter!)

One Conservative theolgian that I resonate with is Tony Campolo. I think he walks this particular line with great integrity and faith. I would agree that too much of Liberal Christianity stops at handing out the blankets and soup, and doesn't go on to talk about the redeeming nature of Christ.

In the end, both ends of the spectrum have much to learn from one another.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:36 AM
Chacounne:



Quote:
Originally Posted by pacwriter
Jean Mac used the word relationship.

A Christian is a person with a realtionship with God through Jesus.

Even with a broad reading of the New Testament, it is clear there is no relationship with God without Jesus. Everything hinges on Jesus. It is Jesus (Christ) that defines the relationship with God.

You can believe in Jesus as the Christ and still not be Christian. the "personal" relationship is what makes the Christian not belief.

That said - A liberal is a believing person with a personal relationship with God through Jesus. Such a person - liberal - holds that the Bible is not authorative for living, it is allegorical, metaphorical and fiction. The liberal accepts few teachings of Jesus and perfers to write their on definition of what it means to have a personal relationship with God.

A liberal is inclined to logic rather than faith.

From my seminary days and two wonderful courses - Process theology and Crictics of Christianity, my understanding of liberalism is that God is still creating and nothing is ever finished whether it be the universe or a relationship. That which is old is of little use as it is being replaced by something new.

Judgement, hell, and repentance are not in the liberal vocabulary. God accepts all and overlooks sin and unfaithfulness. Obedience is optional because God holds no one accountable.

A liberal is one who can justify any action, any thought and any behavior and believe God accepts their justification or excuse.


Pacwriter,

I'm having a challenge with some of what you have said here. I'm very sad that your experience has lead you to see liberal Christians this way. As a Christian on the liberal side of the spectrum, I believe whole-heartedly in the teachings of Jesus. Especially Mathew 7:1-2
Judge not that ye be not judged.
For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged:and with what
measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (KJV)
I also have complete faith in God, because I know He loves me, even though he has tested me more than I thought I could bear at times. He tested me to draw me closer to Him, and lifted me up more than I deserved. As it says in Hebrews 13:5
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (KJV)
I absolutely believe in repentence. I have sinned because I am human. God knows my sins and forgives me, because He loves me. As it says in
John3:16:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I do not condone or justify action that is physically or spirtually harmful to another, except in defense of living humans and their health. (I wrestled over how to word this and hope I have found phrases that will not be misconstrued.) For as He says in Mathew 19:19
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Goodness, I don't usually end up quoting the bible, but the situation seemed to call for it. I hope I have helped rather than hurt.

Just my two cents,
Heather

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:36 AM
Roger J Carlson:



Quote:
Originally Posted by KayCee
It is hard to hear the love of Christ on an empty belly, especially if the one preaching it is fat and content. :) (In this case I'd hazard a guess that the one losing their soul is the latter!)

One Conservative theolgian that I resonate with is Tony Campolo. I think he walks this particular line with great integrity and faith. I would agree that too much of Liberal Christianity stops at handing out the blankets and soup, and doesn't go on to talk about the redeeming nature of Christ.

In the end, both ends of the spectrum have much to learn from one another.

I also think Phillip Yancy is doing much the same. I was particularly moved by "What's So Amazing About Grace (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310213274/102-7381794-6629719?v=glance&n=283155)?"

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:37 AM
KayCee:



Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson
I also think Phillip Yancy is doing much the same. I was particularly moved by "What's So Amazing About Grace (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310213274/102-7381794-6629719?v=glance&n=283155)?"


I like Yancy as well.

A few years back there was a wonderful VCR collection called "Wrestling with Angels". Gooood stuff. Yancy and Campolo were joined by Madeline L'Engle and a few others to talk about some of the difficult issues of faith. It was something that could be heard by both Liberals and Conservatives.

Campolo has an incredible book out called "Revolution and Revival". As a pastor in an urban community, it has become a marvelous challenge for me. Again, good stuff.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:38 AM
pacwriter:



please keep the discussion from being personal

I could quote scripture but where would that get us? A verse here, another there - ---

where we agree is Jesus is the Son of the Living God. Salvation is available to all those who will accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Apart from Him there is no salvation.

I judge no man or woman. I welcome all to fellowship. Each day is new and each relationship begins fresh and new.

Liberals do justify everything, sometimes even with Scripture. :)

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:38 AM
KayCee:



Quote:
Originally Posted by pacwriter
please keep the discussion from being personal
....Liberals do justify everything, sometimes even with Scripture. :)


Ah, but you've made it personal by using a wide brush that you can't possibly support.

Try again

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:39 AM
reph:



Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson
To me a Liberal Christian is one who is more concerned with the condition of the soul (theirs and others) in this life rather than the after-life....I believe this is the crux of the difference between Fundamental Christianity and Liberal Christianity.

I have a chicken-and-egg question. Do fundamentalists concern themselves so much with the afterlife because they take the Bible literally and the Bible is their source of information about it, or do they take the Bible literally because they're already concerned about the afterlife and the Bible is their source of information about it? Or both, or neither?

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:40 AM
Nicole J LeBoeuf:



Indeed, it's hard to say "let's not get personal!" after one has attacked pretty much everyone who identifies oneself by the phrase that is the title of this thread. The bit about "Can justify everything" sounds like something Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter would say about everyone who politically self-identifies as Liberal, but not a useful contribution to a discussion about Christianity.

Of course I'm an outsider to the conversation as well, and, like most non-Christians, I tend to get along better with those who self-describe as Liberal rather than an Fundamentalists, simply because those calling themselves Fundamentalists are the ones more likely to be giving me grief for being a Wiccan. Meanwhile, Liberal Christians mostly seem either to accept that God makes roads enough for all of us, or at least to realize that further argument will not benefit either of us. Either way, they aren't constantly bringing up religion and thwacking me about the head and shoulders with it. I like that.

My parents, devout Catholics in the New Orleans area, would probably hesitate to call themselves "Liberal." But they wouldn't call themselves Fundamentalist Christians--in fact, they've heard plenty anti-Catholic sentiments from those calling themselves Fundamentalists. So that's not an option either. If the field is only divided into those two categories, then here is why I think they would camp on the Liberal side:

* Their religion is personal. They go to Mass for the comfort it brings and the closeness to Jesus it facilitates. They are not concerned with how many other people go to Mass every Sunday. They are more concerned with their own spiritual well-being, recognizing that others' spiritual well-being is, beyond a certain point, not their business. They accept me and my religious choices, and I think they fully expect to see me in Heaven regardless of what I call God.

* Their adherence to Catholic tenets is personal. They tend to view whatever the Vatican says through their own "what would Jesus do?" filter. So they see no conflict between living a Catholic life and, for instance, saying that the Pope is being an ignorant @ss for discouraging birth control. I am aware that many people reading this will conclude that my parents are therefore mistaken in calling themselves Catholic, but I'd suggest in return that self-identification is a self's perogative, and Catholic isn't just defined by "does whatever the current Pope says."

I was going to write out more bullet points, but I think those are the gist of it. More concerned with their own souls and content to let other people's souls be other people's business; and more concerned with Jesus's approval than with that of the Pope or any other Earthly leader. I'd add to that, that they don't take religion so seriously that they can't laugh about it. (More so Mom than Dad--oddly enough, while Mom goes to Mass daily and Dad goes twice a year, Dad tends to look disgusted when I make irreverant comments while Mom tends to giggle. People are funny.)

Thus, I'd say they're pretty Liberal, as Christianity goes.

Of course, the reason I mention where they live is, Catholicism falls at different points of the strict vs. loose spectrum depending on where you find it. St. Angela of Merici Church in Metairie, Louisiana seems on the whole a more laid-back Church than some I've heard of. And I guess if fasting on Fridays in Lent means inviting your friends over for a crawfish boil, it will have an effect on one's attitude regarding religion.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:41 AM
pb10220:



Quote:
Originally Posted by reph
I have a chicken-and-egg question. Do fundamentalists concern themselves so much with the afterlife because they take the Bible literally and the Bible is their source of information about it, or do they take the Bible literally because they're already concerned about the afterlife and the Bible is their source of information about it? Or both, or neither?


I can't speak for all fundies in answering your question; however, I can say that since the question of the afterlife has been settled for me, I am actually far more concerned with how I live my life here, today, than the life to come. Though I'm often distracted, I sense that my highest calling is to, like Christ, "do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." This is the 'sacrament of the present moment' (an idea gleaned from the early Christian writer de Caussade). I take the Bible seriously (eg. I read it daily) because it is often during meditation on it that I sense the Holy Spirit speaking directly to my present concerns, and leading me to do what He wants me to do next. It is also during my reading of it that I experience deep communion with God; it is not so much a 'source of information' as it is spiritual food.

Not sure if that clarified anything, or answered your question, but that's what came to my mind when I read your question, Reph.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:41 AM
HoosierCowgirl:



Some of the comments about "liberal" Christians echo pietism in my opinion. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, and I'm sure someone will ;) but that was the idea of the person who quietly believed what they believed and "didn't bother anybody" about it.

As far as works go, if you looked at all the churches that helped with hurricane relief, I bet no denomination out-shone any other. Probably a cross section. Since our church has a Mennonite background we lean more toward "work trips" than congregations with older members, but still I don't think any outfit has a lock on doing good works.

That said, some fundamentalist and charismatic churches are pretty small and impoverished, so something as low-key as taking meals to someone who got out of the hospital would be a sacrifice to the members.

Just a thought ...
Ann

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:42 AM
reph:



Pat, thanks for addressing my question.

I'll ask a related one in hopes of getting additional angles on the nature of the belief.

Do people become fundamentalists because they're concerned about what happens after death and they're looking for answers? Or do they adopt fundamentalist beliefs for another reason, or other reasons, and then give the afterlife more prominence because that's part of the package of beliefs?

I know you said you're more concerned with this life, but earlier Roger identified the relative importance of eternity as the great divider between conservative and liberal Christianity, and I see conservatives posting a lot more about hell and salvation than liberals do.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:43 AM
Peggy:



I agree with the characterization that several people have made that my own "liberal Christian" focus is more on this life than the next life. I believe that judgment of the soul is up to God, not me. I accept that others believe differently than I do, and have a right to their own beliefs. I believe that religion should not be a way to personal profit, and that a number of televangelists are far removed from God (I don't think that has anything to do with being "liberal" but it's one of my pet peeves).
Quote:
Originally Posted by pacwriter
God accepts all and overlooks sin and unfaithfulness. Obedience is optional because God holds no one accountable.

A liberal is one who can justify any action, any thought and any behavior and believe God accepts their justification or excuse.

I have to strongly disagree with this characterization, at least of my own beliefs. I certainly don't believe that "God holds no one accountable" and it offends me that anyone would assume that I think I could "justify any action,any thought and any behavior and believe God accepts their justification or excuse".

Actually, it has always seemed to me that some "fundamentalists" believe they can "justify any action,any thought and any behavior" if they simply have accepted Jesus as their personal savior, because "God accepts all" of the saved. Quote:
Originally Posted by pacwriter
That said - A liberal is a believing person with a personal relationship with God through Jesus. Such a person - liberal - holds that the Bible is not authorative for living, it is allegorical, metaphorical and fiction. The liberal accepts few teachings of Jesus and perfers to write their on definition of what it means to have a personal relationship with God.

I personally believe that much of the Bible is allegorical and metaphorical, because allegory and metaphor are better at teaching "truths "than bald facts are. I don't consider it "fiction", since it is does describe both historical events and inspired truth (even if the stories aren't all literally true). I wouldn't say that liberal Christians ignore the teachings of Jesus, but more that they do not interpret them the same way that fundamentalists do. I believe that liberal Christians are more focused on the gospels than to the Old Testament or Revelation. Quote:
Originally Posted by pacwriter
A liberal is inclined to logic rather than faith.

Again, I disagree. No amount of logic or science can prove the existence of God. That is where faith comes in. Without faith there is no Christianity or other religion.

On the other hand, I think "liberal" Christians are more likely to discuss the history and linguistics of the Bible from a logical perspective. I would also argue that we may not fully understand the meaning of some parts of the Bible without such analysis (and even then we may not get it right). The teachings of the Bible aren't always black and white - in some cases there are shades of gray. Quote:
Originally Posted by KayCee
What amuses me is that amongst my liberal friends and colleagues there's a sense that what is easier is fundamentalism! How wonderful to have everything so black and white!! How marvelous to not struggle with the grays of life and faith!

I definitely feel that way sometimes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoosierCowgirl
Some of the comments about "liberal" Christians echo pietism in my opinion. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, and I'm sure someone will ;) but that was the idea of the person who quietly believed what they believed and "didn't bother anybody" about it.

I don't know what pietism is, but that does describe me. For me, my faith is personal, not something to hit other people over the head with.

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:44 AM
Yeshanu again:

(Does that woman never shut up? ;) )



Quote:
As an outsider, "liberal Christian" is closely linked in my mind with the verse "as ye do unto the least of these ye do unto me". Not necessarily Works theology, but a realization that faith without works is, if not dead, looking kind of puny.


I really hesitate to use this as a hallmark of "liberal" Christianity because I've met so many fundamentalist types who have this verse uppermost in their minds, too. To me, it's not a hallmark of liberalism or fundamentalist/conservatism, but of Christianity itself.

Quote:
Judgement, hell, and repentance are not in the liberal vocabulary. God accepts all and overlooks sin and unfaithfulness. Obedience is optional because God holds no one accountable.


This is not a hallmark of any sort of Christianity. God loves all. I have said before and will say again that I do not, and will not, worship a God who would condemn someone to an eternity of Hell for a very short lifetime of sins. Such a god to me is anathema.

However, sin and judgement and repentance are very much a part of my vocabulary, and very much a part of my Christianity. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us isn't just rhetoric, it's our daily prayer, conservative and liberal alike.

Quote:
But the Bible also warns against going too far in this direction. "What shall it profit anyone if they gain the world only to lose their soul?" (CPV - Carlson Per Version). What good is it to anyone if their needs in this life are met, only to fall into eternal damnation.


Roger, context is important here. Jesus here is warning about the perils, not of supplying the basic needs of others, but of worrying to much about one's own needs. He's talking here about the cost of discipleship, not the cost of service.

That brings up one of my pet beefs, about all Christians, not just liberal ones. "I read the Bible" is a common claim, but we all need to study the Bible, in order to make certain we are interpreting it within the context it was meant to be interpreted in.

Conservative Christians, in my experience, tend to misunderstand or ignore context. Liberal Christians, again in my experience, tend not to know what quotes to apply at all... I don't believe in the Bible literally. I do take it seriously, though.

Quote:
From my seminary days and two wonderful courses - Process theology and Crictics of Christianity, my understanding of liberalism is that God is still creating and nothing is ever finished whether it be the universe or a relationship. That which is old is of little use as it is being replaced by something new.


The first of these statements actually defines my beliefs pretty well. Only dead things don't grow any more, and God is alive, as is the universe, and so is my relationship with God. Therefore, all of these things are growing and changing and in the process of being created.

The second statment does not logically follow the first. It's true that growth and change and new creation is important, but liberal Christians, in my experience, value tradition as much as any other Christian. We just don't worship it. Nor do liberal Christians have a monopoly on getting rid of tradition, either. Most "new" and "innovative" worship forms the liberal churches adopt are stolen from the fundamentalist churches, about ten years after the fundamentalists have moved on to something else...

Quote:
A liberal is inclined to logic rather than faith.


This liberal is inclined to both logic and faith. I don't check my brain in the narthex when I walk into a church sanctuary, and I don't check my faith at the doors when I leave the church. I'm a thinking, faithful person all the time. (Or at least I try...)

Yeshanu
07-03-2006, 06:45 AM
(Does that woman never shut up? ;) )


No, but I'm done for tonight. This is all I can find of this thread on Google or Yahoo. If anyone's saved it in any other format, please send a PM, or repost what you've got.

Muchos Gracias.

Ralyks
07-04-2006, 01:37 AM
When I think of a liberal Christian, I think of someone who practices Christianity with regard to its forms (worship, etc.), but who does not really believe the theology developed by the Church over the centuries. Liberal Christians are more concerned with "right action" than with "right belief," and they tend not to see Christ as the only or even the primary way to God. Christ is one god among many, and he is thier personal god, but he is not a god one particularly needs to share with others. Christianity, for liberal Christians, is about doing good deeds and being nice and, one hopes, not offending anyone.

For the liberal Christian, Christ Himself is not the focus; rather what Christ taught is the focus, or, more specifically, certain things Christ taught about love and forgiveness and serving the poor, etc. (but not so much the things he taught about wailing and nashing of teeth, or no man coming to the father but by him, or separating the sheep from the goats, or casting people into the outer darkness, and so forth and so on.)

Liberal Christianity is "social" Christianity, really, and this is why liberal churches are far more likely to be politically involved and to have things like "advocacy commitees" and "policy statments" and to try to lobby the government. I belong to a "mainstream" or perhaps "liberal" church, though I am a rather conservative Christian myself. I have previously been a part of more conservative churches, and I am amazed at how very political liberal churches tend to be in comparison to conservative churches. I know the impression most people have is the opposite, but the truth is that liberal churches are much more political. Liberal denominations are more likely to make sweeping political statements on purely political, non-religious issues (such as gun control or the environment or government funding and taxation) on behalf of their congregations than are conservative churches. Liberal churches are more likely to lobby the government for specific legislation, funding of certain projects, etc. There are many, many things I like about my chosen church, but this political emphasis is definitely not one of them, especially since the positions they come up with I usually disagree with!

HoosierCowgirl
07-06-2006, 12:02 AM
When I think of a liberal Christian

<snip> ...For the liberal Christian, Christ Himself is not the focus; rather what Christ taught is the focus, or, more specifically, certain things Christ taught about love and forgiveness and serving the poor, etc. (but not so much the things he taught about wailing and nashing of teeth, or no man coming to the father but by him, or separating the sheep from the goats, or casting people into the outer darkness, and so forth and so on.)

<snip>.... There are many, many things I like about my chosen church, but this political emphasis is definitely not one of them, especially since the positions they come up with I usually disagree with!

That's very insightful about focusing on Christ himself versus his teaching ... also, having grown up in a "main line" church that's probably going to split like the Anglicans ... I can definitely see the political aspect at work.

Ann