The Distinctive Characteristic of Liberal Christians?

The Distinctive Characteristic of Liberal Christians? August 23, 2012

A recent comment got me thinking about what it means to be a progressive or liberal Christian, and in what ways it is fundamentally different than being a conservative.

I am not sure whether there is in fact more or less diversity among liberals than conservatives as far as beliefs and practices – I would expect there to be, but I don’t have data.

I suspect that liberal and progressive Christians will probably agree on at least some major things – the Golden Rule, for instance. But just as people may agree that the Bible is inerrant, and yet disagree on what it means and how to apply it, so too, even if one agrees on a core ethical principle, you will still find people disagreeing about how to best apply it.

But hopefully our conversations around our disagreements as liberal Christians are more fruitful, because we are hopefully not assuming that our attempt at application is simply “what the Bible says” with no interpretation or human fallibility involved.

And so hopefully that is the distinctive characteristic of being a liberal Christian: not mistaking our own perspective for divinely-ordained and eternal truth.

Whether you are an outsider or an insider to the category of “liberal/progressive Christians,” what would you say are the distinctive characteristics of those who self-identify in this way? What should they be? Is any one characteristic particularly definitive of the category?

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