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Is Liberal Christianity Worth Saving?
Townhall ^ | 07/25/2012 | Ken Connor

Posted on 07/25/2012 3:03:42 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

The recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church has prompted a broader discussion of the fate of liberal Christianity. No surprise—the Episcopal Church has been one of the most aggressively liberal influences in American Christianity in the past few years, pushing hard against the traditions of the broader Anglican Communion.

In The New York Times, Ross Douthat goes so far as to ask, "Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?" But that question necessarily prompts two others: What is Liberal Christianity, and Should it be saved?

Liberal Christianity is dying on the vine. Mainline denominations are taking big hits across the board. According to The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, among Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians, more adults are leaving the church than entering it. Methodists, Presbyterians, and Anglicans are retaining less than half of their children. And in these denominations, no one is sitting in the pews! Gallup reported in 2005 that weekly and near-weekly church attendees made up less than 45% of self-identifying Methodists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans, with Episcopalians at a dismal 32%. And the numbers aren't getting any better.

But what, exactly, is liberal Christianity?

Over the past several decades, liberalism has primarily defined itself by what it is not. Its message is "We're not like those stodgy old traditionalists—we're hip and accepting" (as long as they're not asked to accept unchanging morality or the truth of Scripture). Liberal Christianity rejects the core tenets of Christianity, including the belief that Jesus is God, that all of mankind is guilty of sin and condemned to hell, that God sacrificed His Son to bear the punishment for our sins, that Scripture is the absolute, unchanging, perfect Word of God, and that the only path to salvation is through believing in Christ's sacrifice and accepting His gift of eternal life by grace through faith.

In place of these tenets, liberal Christianity embraces a series of denials: Christ is not divine, mankind is not inherently sinful, the Scriptures are not authoritative and unchanging, heaven and hell are not literal, morality and theology are not absolute, and social mores do not flow from Scripture, but are an ever-changing product of our evolutionary enlightenment.

All of these beliefs allow liberal Christians to be more "comfortable" in the culture around them. The common message of the liberal Christian is that "God is love" and we need to speak to the rest of culture in the language of loving acceptance. "Love" here is code for the conviction that there is no absolute moral standard which humankind has violated.

Hence, to believe in justice, morality, sin, punishment or an unchanging God is to be "judgmental" and "unloving."

If this is the heart of liberal Christianity, is it worth saving? Douthat argued in his article that conservatives "should not be smug" about the failures of liberalism, but rather value the work liberal Christianity has done to advance the social duties of the Church. While liberal Christianity might have gotten the Church talking more about social justice, it provided all the wrong answers. Liberal Christianity looks primarily to the government to shoulder our social responsibilities. But the social duties of Christians are clearly spelled out in Scripture, and they are directed to individual Christians and to the church. Christians—individually and collectively—are primarily responsible for this work, not the civil government.

It is not the message of "acceptance" but the truth of historic, traditional Christianity that has transformed society over the centuries. The spread of the biblical Gospel message throughout generations has changed the world. Christianity has grown and spread because Christians have taken seriously Christ's great commission to go into all the world and make disciples. Animated by love for their neighbor (dictated by Scripture) and concern for their eternal future (heaven or hell), believers in historic Christianity have sought to spread the truth of the Gospel throughout the world.

Concern for their fellow man and the belief that ministering to the poor and needy is the same as ministering to the Lord Jesus Christ himself (Matt. 25:40) has been the impetus to build hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, pregnancy care centers, water purification plants and the like around the world.

Liberal Christianity undermines the Truth that has motivated so much good work. Liberal Christians reject the core tenets of historic Christianity. They have embraced the contemporary fancies of an ever-changing culture. They have nothing to live for, nothing to die for, and nothing to work for. For them, church is just another social club, devoid of power because it is not animated by transcendent truth and accountability for living in conformity with that truth. They have no authority for faith or action. They embrace a counterfeit Christianity, a pale image of the real thing, a hollow shell, a thin gruel that offers little sustenance for its followers or the culture at large.

It is no wonder that the ranks of liberal Christian churches are shrinking. Liberal Christianity is passing with a whimper, not a bang. Increasingly, its adherents have concluded it is not worth saving.


TOPICS: Current Events; Mainline Protestant; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: abortion; celebratesin; christianity; godgap; homosexualagenda; lavendermafia; liberal; liberalism; liberaltheocracy; religiousleft; samesexmarriage; secularhumanism; socialism; subversion

1 posted on 07/25/2012 3:03:50 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

if it isn’t, nothing can and if it is, it doesn’t need to be saved.


2 posted on 07/25/2012 3:10:38 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (If Bill Ayers had a son, he'd look like James Holmes.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Is Liberal Christianity Worth Saving?

Satan: Fer sure!
God: Nope.

3 posted on 07/25/2012 3:10:56 PM PDT by IronJack (=)
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To: SeekAndFind

LET GOD WRITE ICHABOD OVER THEIR DOORPOST!


4 posted on 07/25/2012 3:11:40 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek (He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will j rest in the shadow of the Almighty Psalm 91:)
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To: SeekAndFind

In a word, no.


5 posted on 07/25/2012 3:12:08 PM PDT by scottjewell
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To: SeekAndFind

liberal Christianity = oxymoron


6 posted on 07/25/2012 3:16:40 PM PDT by crosshairs (America: Once the land of the free. Still the home of the brave.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. If it denies that Jesus was God, that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, and belief and trust in Jesus as the risen savior is the ONLY way to heaven, then no, it cannot and should not be saved.

A bigger question is, why is it being touted as Christianity at all? You’d think the libs would come up with something completely different.


7 posted on 07/25/2012 3:16:54 PM PDT by Kharis13 (That noise you hear is our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The people still going to those churches are, in fact Jesus thought so much of them that he died for them.

The false teachers have some splainin to do though.


8 posted on 07/25/2012 3:17:17 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Before anyone attends many of today’s Episcopal or Presbyterian churches, they would best review Matthew 7:15.


9 posted on 07/25/2012 3:38:47 PM PDT by faithhopecharity
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To: SeekAndFind
First of all Liberal Christianity is not [Biblical] Christianity. They preach a different, watered down, corrupted gospel.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-8)

Only one gospel saves:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1,2)

I would venture to say that most liberal christians are in need of hearing the gospel and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ [God]. This is based on witnessing to hundreds of people who attend these liberal churches, as well as examining their doctrines in light of scripture. Granted my experiential base is small, but it is suggestive of what people believe (what they place their confidence in to save them) and whether it is biblically based. Further, I know many other preachers who have knocked on 10s of thousands of doors who have the same testimony as I.

10 posted on 07/25/2012 3:44:41 PM PDT by nonsporting
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To: SeekAndFind

Forgive my asking what may seem a simple question, but isn’t “Liberal Christianity” a textbook example of a contradiction in terms?


11 posted on 07/25/2012 3:52:01 PM PDT by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon freedom, it is necessary to examine principles."...the public interest)
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To: SeekAndFind
Liberal Christianity rejects the core tenets of Christianity, including the belief that Jesus is God, that all of mankind is guilty of sin and condemned to hell, that God sacrificed His Son to bear the punishment for our sins, that Scripture is the absolute, unchanging, perfect Word of God, and that the only path to salvation is through believing in Christ's sacrifice and accepting His gift of eternal life by grace through faith.

If some people can't believe in a literal Heaven and Hell is it better that they have no religious institutions and education at all -- no alternative to amoral materialism?

In place of these tenets, liberal Christianity embraces a series of denials: Christ is not divine, mankind is not inherently sinful, the Scriptures are not authoritative and unchanging, heaven and hell are not literal, morality and theology are not absolute, and social mores do not flow from Scripture, but are an ever-changing product of our evolutionary enlightenment.

I'm not entirely sure that's what the old "mainstream" denominations actually believe, but in any case some of the most influential of the Founding Fathers were "liberal Christians" in the understanding of their era. Their beliefs have been an important influence in American history -- and not an entirely malign one.

They have nothing to live for, nothing to die for, and nothing to work for. For them, church is just another social club, devoid of power because it is not animated by transcendent truth and accountability for living in conformity with that truth. They have no authority for faith or action.

"Life unworthy of life"? A little charity might be in order here.

One of the commenters at Town Hall said that it's not really the case any more that conservative churches are growing as liberal churches decline, saying that both have been having trouble lately, and that if anything is successful, it's a "prosperity gospel" that is neither liberal or conservative.

I don't know if that's true, but if you demand a "real" Christianity stressing total depravity and the rest, a lot of people aren't going to buy it. Some of those who do will do so for the wrong reasons.

12 posted on 07/25/2012 4:03:44 PM PDT by x
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To: SeekAndFind

Paul has already given us the answer in 2 Tim 3:

      1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

... So accurate for having been written nearly 2000 years ago, eh?


13 posted on 07/25/2012 4:09:52 PM PDT by Kommodor (Terrorist, Journalist or Democrat? I can't tell the difference.)
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To: SeekAndFind
The classic: J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism.

Worth a read, if you're not already familiar with it. It was published originally in the twenties. His conclusion, in short, was that Liberalism was a different religion from Christianity.

Do a little digging and you should be able to find a downloadable pdf.

14 posted on 07/25/2012 4:33:22 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." Isaiah 27:1)
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To: SeekAndFind

“Is Liberal ‘Christianity’ worth saving?”

No.

And there is no way of saving it.


15 posted on 07/25/2012 4:50:59 PM PDT by achilles2000 ("I'll agree to save the whales as long as we can deport the liberals")
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To: SeekAndFind
Answer: no, they're liberals but NOT Christians.

Christ died for them but they deny Him and His law.

16 posted on 07/25/2012 4:57:02 PM PDT by zerosix (native sunflower)
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To: Coldwater Creek

Yea, I agree with you. Think God has already done that.

Blessings, Bobo


17 posted on 07/25/2012 5:20:26 PM PDT by bobo1
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To: SeekAndFind
Right now, I have my doubts, and I think a lot of other people do too.

Is that why so many are seeking this?



18 posted on 07/25/2012 8:03:31 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Kharis13

Cardinal Newman defined liberalism as “the anti-dogmatic principle.” For the liberal, no moral proposition is certainly true. Of course, if we are talking about political proposition, they take it as given that what they call bigotry and racism is bad, even evil. That the State is God’s instrument for good.


19 posted on 07/25/2012 9:52:20 PM PDT by RobbyS (Christus rex.)
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To: SeekAndFind; OLD REGGIE

Liberal C becomes Unitarianism and like Unitarianism, eventually dies...


20 posted on 07/26/2012 12:54:27 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: SeekAndFind

No, Liberal Christianity is not worth saving. But the liberals in those churches are. Bring them back to the authority of the Bible, preach the authentic gospel, and people will be regenerated.


21 posted on 07/26/2012 6:58:06 AM PDT by dartuser ("If you are ... what you were ... then you're not.")
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