- Being objective.
- Appearing objective.
When we google Liberal Christianity consider the articles that pop up at the top of Google.
- Liberal Christianity (en.wikipedia.org): This article says that Liberal Christianity and Liberal theology are equivalent terms. Liberal Christianity is about theology, not politics.
Liberal Christianity, broadly speaking, is a method of biblical hermeneutics, an undogmatic method of understanding God through the use of scripture by applying the same modern hermeneutics used to understand any ancient writings, symbols and scriptures. (from here)
Undogmatic? The alternative is dogmatic? What is undogmatic and why is “undogmatism” needed?
- The Gospel Coalition (ca.thegospelcoalition.org) has a couple of articles up front, “Conservative” And “Liberal” Christianity and Seven Characteristics of Liberal Theology: These have a Conservative bent. Here is what the first says about Liberal Christianity.
The words “conservative” and “liberal”, when applied to churches, are indicators of a profound difference, which has no connection to how the words “conservative” and “liberal” are usually used. In the Protestant world, a “liberal” Christian is one who is redefining the Christian faith so that it is shaped by one or more contemporary philosophies and/or ideologies. In other words, the philosophies or ideologies change the “Christian” faith so that the “faith” is aligned with, and does not contradict, the philosophy or ideology in question. Fifty years ago, the liberal Christian faith was changed to fit with Marxism and/or the sexual revolution and/or Rogerian therapy and/or philosophical naturalism. Today it might be postmodernism and/or feminism and/or queer theory and /or transgenderism and/or native spirituality. (from here)
Is that what Liberal Christians mean by applying modern hermeneutics to the Bible? If it is, that is obviously a dubious undertaking.
- A Review of ‘Reinventing Liberal Christianity’ (commonwealmagazine.org): This is a book review, Reinventing Liberal Christianity by . Hobson explains that there are two traditions of liberal Christianity.
Bad liberal Christianity is rationalistic, humanistic, and prejudiced against the ritual practices of the church. Intertwined from its conception with liberal humanism, this tradition began with Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, who taught that toleration is natural to the rational state, which exists to protect the natural rights of citizens. Once in place, this bad tradition swiftly produced varieties of deism and Christian rationalism holding a merely pragmatic conception of liberty and developed radical forms of biblical criticism.
Hobson observes that Liberal Christianity is now dying and needs reinvention.
- Liberal Christianity: Ten things to know about this ‘middle way’ (vancouversun.com): Here we get a newspaper’s view.
When North American media look at religion, they home in on people who cite Jesus to condemn homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia, reject female clergy and organize Tea Party protests against taxation. This polarized portrait is amplified when famous atheists attack such views as backward.
Liberal Christianity offers an alternative. But few know about the option, which Columbia University history professor Gary Dorrien, the foremost expert on the subject, calls “a progressive, credible integrative way between orthodox over-belief and secular unbelief.” (from here)
Googling Conservative Christianity produces a similar set of contending views.
- Wikipedia produces two hits: Christian right and Conservative Christianity. Here is an extract from the first article. Wikipedia sees “Conservative Christianity” primarily as a political movement.
The Christian right or the religious right are conservative Christian political factions that are characterized by their strong support of socially conservative policies. Christian conservatives principally seek to apply their understanding of the teachings of Christianity to politics and to public policy by proclaiming the value of those teachings or by seeking to use those teachings to influence law and public policy.
The second hit provides a list of expressions that “Conservative Christianity” may refer to. The first is: “Christian fundamentalism, a movement within Protestantism upholding a literal reading of the Bible.” Apparently, Conservative Christianity can also involve biblical hermeneutics.
- Conservative Christianity (conservapedia.com): Conservapedia is supposedly a Conservative Encyclopedia. Here is how they define Conservative Christianity.
Conservative Christianity is a term used to describe identified Christians who tend to follow conservative values, and which stands in contrast to liberal Christianity. Some members of the clergy identify themselves as conservative Christians.
Conservative Christianity may refer to theologically conservative movements, which take many forms in modern Christianity. For example, Traditionalist Catholics who reject some of the Vatican II reforms may identify themselves as conservative Christians. Likewise, Anglicans who object to the ordination of women or homosexuals may consider themselves conservative Christians. Different forms of Conservative Protestantism exist, including Evangelicalism and Christian Fundamentalism. No comprehensive technical definition is provided for these terms, however, Christian researcher and author George Barna defines “Evangelicals” as a subset of those who meet the basic criteria defining born again Christians, but who also meet seven other doctrinal conditions.
Here is how Conservapedia defines Liberal Christianity. It is worth considering whether Conservapedia’s definitions are more objective than Wikipedia’s.
- The Truth about Conservative Christians (press.uchicago.edu): This is the introduction of the subject book. Curious statistical claims.
- “Conservative” And “Liberal” Christianity (ca.thegospelcoalition.org), which we have seen before, provides the next intelligible hit.
- The sad, twisted truth about conservative Christianity’s effect on the mind (salon.com): This article equates Conservative Christianity with a psychological disorder. You can read it if you wish. I didn’t.
So what’s the point? If we want to determine the difference be Liberal and Conservative Christianity, we have to figure out that difference for ourselves. How should we go about it? Well, how we interpret the Bible seems to have much to do with our values. So an article like this suggest which churches are Liberal and which are Conservative, Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage (pewresearch.org). That article includes Where Major Religions Stand on Same-Sex Marriage. What can we do with that list? That’s Part 2.