The Story of Liberals

A recent post on the blog Jesus Creed highlights the need for liberals to tell our own story, and not simply allow caricatures by our opponents to predominate.

Liberal Christianity, in a nutshell, is simply one form of Christianity that has existed for as long as Christianity has. It recognizes that the Bible is a collection of works by human beings and not written by God, and that there is a need to be open to other sources of information besides Christian or Biblical ones. Liberal Christianity seeks to do honestly and consistently what all Christians do, even if they do not admit it, namely decide what we should believe and do, considering not only Biblical texts or church hierarchies, but also other sources including our own reason. While some Christians claim to be based on nothing but “the Word of God” and to not pick and choose, that claim is never, ever true in reality. And so, while there is a long history of conservatives trying to put liberals on the defensive for “picking and choosing,” liberals should courageously point out that conservatives do so without admitting it, and often without a clear rationale. To be a liberal Christian is to seek honesty, consistency, openness, and breadth. And contrary to what conservative critics sometimes claim, it is not necessary to cease being a Christian in the process.

Karl Giberson has illustrated the harm that is done by the anti-science crowd among conservatives, and the way they manage to demonize and silence their liberal critics.

The blog A Thinking Reed highlights Georgia Harkness as an Evangelical liberal theologian. Val Webb looks at Benjamin Jowett as a progressive voice from quite a while back.

Sandhya Jha issued a call to liberals to be on the front lines.

Also on a related note, a politically centrist voice emphasizes why having a strong left and right is important to being able to stake out middle ground.

 

  • newenglandsun

    “Liberal Christianity, in a nutshell, is simply one form of Christianity that has existed for as long as Christianity has. It recognizes that the Bible is a collection of works by human beings and not written by God, and that there is a need to be open to other sources of information besides Christian or Biblical ones. ”

    James, how are you defining “liberal Christianity” in this sense? You sure sound like you’re talking about the Catholic Church which was open to the works of philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Avicenna, and Al-Ghazali. But I highly doubt you would consider the Catholic Church to be “liberal”.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      The Catholic Church – or at least, constituencies within it – have certainly been liberal at times, both in this sense and in others.

      • newenglandsun

        Okay, so you’re talking about just a general sense of the word liberal. Thanks for clarifying. :)

      • newenglandsun

        Wait…which constituencies. Because I would state that historically, the entire vision of the Church has been liberal.


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