The Uncredible Hallq on Liberal Christianity

The Uncredible Hallq on Liberal Christianity October 8, 2012

There is a rather bizarre post by Chris Hallq on his blog “The Uncredible Hallq” in which he takes aim at liberal Christians, and in particular myself and Fred Clark.

He begins by arguing that, because fundamentalists sometimes acknowledge they were wrong, therefore the generalization is incorrect that inerrantists identify their own interpretation with “what the Bible says” and thereby end up in practice treating themselves as inerrant.

Exceptions do not mean that generalizations are not essentially accurate. Todd Wood is a young-earth creationist who acknowledges that evolution is not “a theory in crisis” and that the scientific evidence supports it. But that doesn’t negate the fact that young-earth creationists generally adopt a very different stance than Wood’s.

Hallq then suggests that liberal Christians don’t point out that the problem with fundamentalists is not their own flawed perspective but the flawed text of the Bible itself, saying that this would involve admitting something that is “embarrassing to Christians of every stripe.”

To which I can do little but shake my head in disappointment that someone would criticize a phenomenon they understand so little and about the history of which they are so poorly informed.

Liberal Christianity pioneered Biblical criticism, the tools and methods that exposed the Bible’s fallibility. The methods and the results of that approach are widely embraced by atheists like Hallq. For them to then turn around and suggest that the results of them are an embarrassment to liberal Christians, rather than something liberal Christians were among the first to draw attention to, is rather insulting – as I’ve said before.

I am grateful to Hallq for mentioning my post. But hopefully if he wants to interact in the future, he will learn something about liberal Christianity first.


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  • ” hopefully if he wants to interact in the future, he will learn something about liberal Christianity first” I think we are all pretty clear on liberal christianity, your lantern is not under a bushel.

  • One thing I do not understand about liberal Christianity. Why do you claim to be Christians? If the Bible is fallible then Jesus Lied when he said that the Bible is the word of God. If Jesus lied then he is not God and If he is not God then he should not be worshiped as God because he is just a false prophet and deserved the death he got on the cross. He also would have been unable to raise himself from the grave being just a mere man, and as Paul said we are still in our sins. There fore the whole of Christianity is a lie. So If you are a liberal Christian that does not believe in the Infallible Bible why do you claim to be Christian if it is one of the biggest lies in the history of the world, why do you claim it. Why don’t you just say the Bible is wrong and therefore I am not a Christian. At least that way we would not have to explain the difference between people that still believe in Jesus, God and the Bible and those that call themselves liberal Christians.

    • Like Chris Hallq’s approach, this seems to reflect the approach to Christianity found in fundamentalism and conservative Christianity, not liberal Christianity. Historical criticism challenges the New Testament and not just the Jewish Scriptures that were the Bible in Jesus’ time. A scholarly approach also sometimes highlights ways in which Jesus and his early followers approached the Bible in ways that suggest it was not all treated in the manner that modern fundamentalists treat it anyway. Your approach to Christianity’s truthfulness, starkly contrasted with it otherwise being “a lie,” likewise mirrors fundamentalism’s all-or-nothing “logic.” You assume that being a Christian is not about following the teaching of the historical Jesus, but adopting the dogmas of later Christianity, including ones that are much later products such as Biblical infallibility.

      Although liberal Christianity in its present-day form obviously involves acceptance of perspectives from history, science, psychology and other areas of human inquiry, it is not without a history going back to the time of Jesus and his earliest followers. When Jesus treated the law regarding divorce as a concession from Moses rather than the infallible and eternal “word of God,” was that more like what liberal Christians say or what conservative ones say? When Paul set aside the clear teaching of Genesis regarding circumcision, using the Bible in creative ways, setting principles above specific passages, and arguing from experience, was that liberal or conservative?

      • Ian

        This is part of the pattern among many atheists who’ve accepted what fundamentalists have worked very hard to make true: that they are the true arbiters of what constitutes real Christianity.

        When I posted on how ironic responses like this were ( it drew a significant number of people who again missed the point and insisted that fundamentalists were right: that a fundamentalist theology of the bible is a necessary condition for being a Christian.

        Liberal Christians (and non-fundamentalists generally) have a very hard time shifting this canard. Some people genuinely can’t comprehend the existence of non-fundamentalist religion.

    • Pseudonym

      Why do we claim to be Christians? That’s the easy part: We follow the teachings, practices and example of Christ to the best of our ability.

      By the way, where did Jesus say that “the Bible is the word of God”? This is a logical impossibility, since the Bible didn’t exist at the time he lived.

  • Plutosdad

    I am an atheist after being a christian for many years, after trying to become as educated as i could be to learn about my faith, history, and philosophy. And when I read his blog often I think “what?” and shrug. There are plenty of atheists out there who just don’t understand or know what it is like to grow up in a faith, or to have clung to it until you are 35 after spending 10 years doing research until you finally can no longer justify your faith. (perhaps some of us are wired to be more credulous, or more tribal and attached to our beliefs, I know I tend to be that way)

    Of course, the same goes for Christians who try to write for atheists, like the “bad catholic” post a few weeks ago which was just … well old arguments I’ve heard before and heard much more well put. Of course that was me about 13-15 years ago, reading pro-christian apologetics and philosophy and thinking i knew enough to lecture others.

    i do really like your blog though, it is one of the few I read.

  • The fact that liberal Christians pioneered Biblical criticism doesn’t make it impossible that the results of that criticism might be an embarrassment to them. The early Flood geologists hoped and expected that they would uncover evidence of the Biblical flood. The fact that they did not was no doubt an embarrassment.

    • That’s a fair point, although given that “Flood geology” was once simply assumed, it isn’t a stance that can be associated specifically with liberal Christianity. As another example, Kathleen Kenyon didn’t expect her work at Jericho to produce results that disagree in the way that they did with the Biblical account. Maybe I should say that Liberal Christians have embraced methods which require honesty, and are open to accepting the results of those methods even when they are disappointing.

  • If there’s a better internet site about “liberal Christianity” than my own http://LiberalslikeChrist.Org/ please tell me about it.