The Liberal Bible

Benjamin Corey has written two posts, one about how reading the Bible makes you more liberal, the other about how reading the Bible makes you more progressive. (See the Patheos Progressive Christian Digest for this and more!)

In related news, Bob Cargill drew attention to the fact that, if you missed last night’s episode of “Bible Secrets Revealed,” you can now watch it online for free.

And for an example of backfiring prooftexting, I came across this quote from the King James Version of Isaiah 32:5-6:

This illustrates well the problem with use of the KJV. The person who read it didn’t understand what it said, and simply assumed that the connection between vile and liberal must be saying something negative about the latter. But the point is precisely that liberal is a compliment and it is one that will not be paid to the illiberal or ungenerous any longer. As the NIV renders these verses, “No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected. For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the LORD; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water.”

Reading Isaiah 32:5-6 and understanding it is just one more thing in the Bible that will make you liberal.


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  • Just Sayin’

    I tried to watch the Bible Secrets Revealed but all I got was “This content is currently unavailable.”

    • James F. McGrath

      I guess perhaps you cannot watch it in certain parts of the world? It works fine here.

      • David Evans

        It hasn’t been broadcast in the UK, as far as I can see.

    • Gary

      Something’s happening that I don’t understand. Worked perfect this morning. Now it doesn’t. Just get a blank screen and a “0” in the upper left hand corner, on iPhone. I can’t check the link on iPhone. But something is wrong. Does the same on Cargill’s site.

    • Paul D.

      I had the same problem. Here’s hoping some Good Samaritan puts out a torrent or something.

    • Gary

      Now it works again this morning. Guess the internet is not inerrant.

  • Bruce Gerencser

    I have serious doubts about Corey’s assertions. Most of the liberals/progressive Christians I have met were not devoted readers of the Bible. Many rarely read it. On the other hand, in Fundamentalist churches, daily reading the Bible is part of the code for what makes one a good Christian. So my anecdotal evidence trumps Corey’s anecdotal evidence. :)

    Now, if he said SERIOUSLY studying the Bible, I might agree with him. As an atheist, I think the most effective way for a person to become an atheist/agnostic is to read and study the Bible. There is a slippery slope, and for many people, once they start reading and studying the Bible, they often find, like I did, that liberal/progressive Christianity is not the answer to Christian fundamentalism. (Though many do find liberal/progressive Christianity satisfying)

    For the record, as a Fundamentalist Baptist pastor, I would never have interpreted liberal in this manner. I would have realized this was an odd word, consulted the Greek text, and then explained this to the congregation during my sermon.

    • arcseconds

      Corey’s evidence isn’t anecdotal, though. He’s citing a study.

      • Bruce Gerencser

        I missed the link in the post. It does not link to the actual study, just a summary of selected points.

        That said, I have visited a lot of churches over the years…preaching and just visiting. Over 125 churches to be exact. I certainly did not find that people who read their Bible more frequently were more liberal. If anything, it was the opposite. Those who read the Bible the most were overwhelmingly conservative. Many of the liberals I met never read their Bible. Their only interaction with the Bible came on Sunday for one hour while they were at mass or public worship.

        Without looking at the actual study and its methodology, it is hard to come to any educated conclusions. One flaw I can see based on the summary of the poll is in the questions themselves. The questions betray the pollster’s bias in what he/she thinks is a liberal political/social/religious issue. Christianity is far too diverse to reduce liberal to a specific set of questions. (And I know of no way to satisfactorily account for this in the poll) in general, we should not put to muck stock in these kind of polls. We all do though, especially when they support or viewpoint. (And I know James wants to think liberals really do read their Bible a lot) :)

  • arcseconds

    Somehow I originally read this as the same person making one post explaining that reading the Bible makes you more conservative, and the next post explaining that it makes you more progressive.

    That would have been more interesting :-)

  • Peter Kirk

    James, I think you picked that “BIBLE TRUTH” meme and “read it [but] didn’t understand what it said, and simply assumed that” it was saying something negative about liberals. Read more carefully: it says “Liberal is good”, just like KJV. In fact I think the meme is taking the same line that you do, mocking the way conservatives prooftext from KJV. If it was a backfire, it was a very deliberate one.

    • James F. McGrath

      Perhaps. It is hard to tell irony on the internet…

  • Jonathan

    The Bible doesn’t make you progressive or conservative. It’s the gospel, not a political handbook.

    • James F. McGrath

      Read the Book of Amos (for instance) and let me know if you still feel the same way.

      But why did you assume that the reference was to political liberalism?