I thought I would defend my new nickname “neo-liberalism” by looking at the definition of classic “liberalism” from a theological perspective. The concise Oxford Dictionary states theological liberalism is “regarding many traditional beliefs as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change”. Since neo-liberalism indeed does just that but with post-modern thought and does indeed dispense with classical evangelical beliefs then surely this is a good word to coin? Its certainly better than the alternatives “post-evangelical” etc…. Neo-liberals need to realise that there are evangelicals who will rexamine their beliefs and practices in the light of current culture, then examine these in the light of the bible and conclude that the “old old story” need not be changed.
Liberal theology is defined on one website as “The intentional adaptation of Christianity to modernity using insights from the new social sciences to redefine religious authority.” I would define neo-liberalism as the intentional adaptation of Christianity to post-modernity. This should be distinguished from those who assume certain truths as given and therefore fail to preach them, although by doing so the opportunity for neo-liberalism to take hold increases dramatically.
I wonder whether some of the people I am speaking of might eventually even come to recognise this label as one that defines them quite nicely? The Oxford Paperback thesauraus lists the following as some of synomyns- “TOLERANT, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened; permissive, free (and easy), easy-going, libertarian, indulgent, lenient, PROGRESSIVE, advanced, modern, forward-looking, forward-thinking, progressivist, enlightened, reformist, radical; informal go-ahead, WIDE-RANGING, broad-based, general, FLEXIBLE, broad, loose, rough, free, general, non-literal, non-specific, imprecise, vague, indefinite, rich, GENEROUS, open-handed, unsparing, unstinting, ungrudging, lavish, free, munificent, bountiful, beneficent, benevolent, big-hearted, philanthropic, charitable, altruistic, unselfish; poetic/literary bounteous”
They might be entitled to look at the rest of us and ask, do we embody the opposites of liberalism, are we: “reactionary, strict, miserly”?
The world of Sven has taken up my challenge somewhat and states
Modernist Christianity (very influential in Evangelicalism) prefers to think of truth as propositional rather than personal. Truth is found by arranging appropriate proof-texts from an inerrant scripture rather than through knowledge of the person of Christ. Modernism likes everything to be black and white, but a knowledge of Jesus is accquired on a journey along which his word guides us, but that we will only complete eschatologically, where we will know fully even as we are now fully known.
Jn 14:6 states Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Apparently even today in many Eastern countries people might respond when asked “what is the way to such and such a place?” as follows “I am the way” and then show them the way.
Jesus showed us that knowing truth is vitally important, but I will concede to Wink that acting on that truth is crucial- but to be honest who (assuming they were actually on a beach at the time) if they truly came to know and believe the truth that their lives were in jeapordy would not have turned and run? Truth if properly known should indeed lead to action, indeed one must question wether truth is ever known in the biblical sense if it does not lead to action.
Jn 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
So, was Jesus being a “Modernist”?