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Liberal Christianity

Discussion in 'Christianity DIR' started by Green Gaia, Aug 12, 2004.

  1. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

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    What do Liberal (from a theological perspective, not political) Christians believe about evolution, homosexuality, abortion, the Bible, Jesus, the Trinity, and just God in general? How do Conservative Christians view Liberal Christians?
     
  2. Helios

    Helios New Member

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    From your question it sounds as if you are saying that in our present time we have both liberal and conservative Christians. However it cannot be this way. For both liberal and conservative Christians to exist at the same time is implausible. One of them is not Christian. Because the issues you mentioned have entered the public eye most recently (homosexuality, abortion), Christians who have 'liberal' opinions about whether or not homosexuality or abortion is correct are simply adopting behaviors they have grown up with in their lifetime and are integrating it into their belief systems. Therefore there are no conservative and liberal Christians. In Christianity it is a sin to be homosexual (ie: Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra) also abortion is a sin as the practice of sacrificing/killing infant children as the result of sex was outlawed by god according to Christianity. Therefore those Christians who hold what we call today 'conservative' beliefs are simply holding fast to Christianity, those who have what we call today 'liberal' beliefs, well arent being Christianity. This is fact, not opinion. The same is true for evolution. According to the old Testament, Adam and Eve were created by god and each brother from the two sets of twins that were begotten were ordered to marry the other brother's twin sister. To address 'macro' evolution, that is the evolution of man from ape, it is also tradition that god transformed a tribe of israelite idol-woshippers into apes, and that this particular tribe with both man and ape features was stricken of their reproductive organs thus dying off quite rapidly. I do not believe that these so called 'liberal' and 'conservative' Christians have any differing believes concering scripture or god's existence, at least not anything technical. You would only find such bold differences in faith between different sects of Christianity. However, to be a Christian and support homosexualiy and/or abortion, is simply not possible.

    This is fact and truth according to Christianity.
    I am not Christian, but I speak the truth.

    Helios has spoken.
     
  3. Linus

    Linus Well-Known Member

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    Where in the Bible does this accour? Just curious.
     
  4. Helios

    Helios New Member

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    I am sorry to have confused you. Perhaps you read too fast and misunderstand my knowledge. As stated above I referred to the bible in the story of Adam and Eve. However I mentioned the word 'tradition' when refering to macroevolution. When one is discussing the oral transfer of information from one historical time frame to another, the word 'tradition' is most used. As you know, before the innovation of written languages and books as a facilitator of the passage of information, oral stories were told over and over, and it was the trade of some to memorize these stories or songs and pass them on to new peoples and new generations. Of course this practice ended a long time ago with the creation of the written word. But the use of the word 'tradition' is still used today.

    I bid you well.

    Helios has spoken.
     
  5. brotherjim

    brotherjim Member

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    Whoever,

    To say that liberal and conservative Christians do not exist concurrently, is from another planet and one that cannot even be a parallel universe.

    Of course both types of Christians exist, and have since the Day of Pentecost 2,000 years ago when many who visited Jerusalem for the holiday were converted at the preaching of Peter, and then went back to their homelands to be isolated without an apostle or possibly even anyone who ever knew Christ and heard His Gospel--and possibly lived the remainder of their life as such, and most probably fostered many liberal Christian offspring as a result.

    In a nutshell: a "conservative" Christian, AKA one of the "Evangelical and charismatic Christians," believe that in order to have a relationship with God there's a spiritual rebirth needed that takes place instantly and supernaturally in the unseen spiritual realm, and that it must take place at or after the person is able to consciously decide to accept such (this rules out infant baptism insofar as that baptism being the only requirement). Most believe that a person is then baptized in water--and regardless if they were baptized as infants, and that this is, in the least, a confession as to their newfound relationship with God. Furthermore, the conserv. Christian believes that there's absolutely no good thing that a person can do to have this relationship, other than to receive from God the Graces He offers.

    (A major problem with the above, however, is that the conservative Christian has failed to learn the lesson of the churches of Galatia, the leaven of the Pharisees, whereby those who start out on the principle of Grace only, soon succumb to attempt to continue their relationship with God based in ongoing good works--when what Paul stressed in Galatians was that the continuence must be the same as the onset, i.e. "just" continue to receive more Graces (UNearned Gifts from God) one after the other.)

    On the other hand, the "liberal" Christian, AKA those of "mainline denominations" (although of course there are always minority exceptions from either "side"), always will assert that there's some thing, some ritual, some act, some type of good works, that a person must do (or have someone do for them) for them to have a relationship with God. They may also believe in a "rebirth," and likely do, but will believe that such happens in conjunction with what a person does through either voluntary (e.g. self-denials) and/or involuntary (e.g. infant baptism) participation, and such would also most likely not belive in an instantaneous "born-again experience."

    But there are no clear-cut denominations representing either groups, and we can only generalize. For example, what may have at one time been an Evangelical or charismatic denomination by every definition of the Word, after a couple or three generations from the time of its inception the congregartion may then be composed off strictly offspring of the originals, who did not have the same spiritual manifestations as their forefathers and who therefore are just, through good works of their flesh, feigning what was once experienced in their ancestors by unfeigned works of the Spirit.

    Also the exception: many mainline denominations, if not by now all, have had in small nooks and crannies of their entities, "reforms" or "revivals" or "renewals" where a particular congregation and/or minority group of people have had a return to relating to God through miraculous manifestations of Grace instead of just liturgy and ordinances and the like.

    As to what each believes in particular, as it relates to the thread starter's questions, I will leave that to others.

    As I said, the above in a nutshell (and therefore is limited), bj
     
  6. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    brotherjim,


    Great post, but I would like to make a few comments:

    I would have to say that is not even close....... many of the Protestant evangelical/charismatic Christians in the US are becoming "open and affirming" , that is to celebrate homosexual unions and abortion "rights".

    I assume that your church is not like that (thank God) but don't assume that all those that profess to be "born again" think like you do.

    Here again, I disagree. The Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Conference are some of the only major Christian groups to speak out against the liberal tide that is rising in the US. "mainline" denominations might not be your thing, but please remember that it is the number and size of these groups that can affect real change in the country/world........

    Something to think about I hope.

    Peace be with you,
    Scott
     
  7. brotherjim

    brotherjim Member

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    Greetings, Scott/SOGFPP.

    Thank you for being very gentle and "conservative" {-_-} in your comments directed towards me.

    Your points were well-taken.

    The thread's starter, however, painted with a very broad brush. It asked as to theology, political views, etc.--i.e the whole gamut of life and thought.

    I, on the other hand, narrowed down my post to the theological perspective, choosing to leave the other facets of life to others.

    But you are of course correct, that although we as Evangelical and charismatic Christians have a conservative theological view as an ideal, in practice we have succumbed to liberality--to which affect I believe I included a couple of "disclaimers."

    Also true is that although "mainliners" have a liberal ideal (in the opinion of the Evang./char. of course) of how someone can have a relationship with God, certainly among them is a huge constituency that is highly moral, and furthermore from that segment again a large populace that's highly politically active regarding those morals.

    As for me, my only concern is how someone can inherit eternal Life. There will always be a majority of seemingly well-meaning "good" (in the eyes of the world) people who will fight our wars and vote for conservative political candidates (and thank God for them), that all I have to do as a member of a very small minority is seek the Kingdom of God and the perfection of His Love in me by Grace alone (i.e. "HIS righteousness")--what the Word clearly states as being the only Way to eternal Life. Such is the great and wonderous "freedom in Christ" spoken of in the Word--or so I allege. To wit (1 Jn. 2:3-5):

    "And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments.

    "He that says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His Commandments, is a liar, and the Truth is not in him.

    "But whoever keeps His Word, in him verily is the Love of God perfected: hereby we know that we are in Him."

    But the Word also declares:

    "By the works [of the flesh] of the Law, no man is [ever] justified in His Sight."

    and:

    ". . . by Grace . . . so that no man can boast."

    So our eternal salvation can be known to be waiting for us when we are found living in obedience to the Commandments, and such obedience is the eventual result of us TRULY knowing the true and complete Christ Jesus of the Bible and being perfected in His Love, and all that ALL by God's Grace and Spirit.

    "Peace and GRACE BE MULTIPLIED onto you," bj
     
  8. brotherjim

    brotherjim Member

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    P.S. Scott, btw, I have no "thing." And not to at all patronize you (after all, you may yourself despise the man), my favorite "TV evangelist" is Ralph Martin, a lay Catholic minister. I first suspected He knew the true path to the Heavenly Father when I observed His unfeigned Joy of the Lord and Meekness and Love on TV, and this suspected true Gospel was then confirmed in me when I procured and read a copy of the free booklet he offers on his broadcasts, it offering an explanation of The Way.

    bj
     
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  9. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    bj,

    God bless you for your post..... loved those Bible verses!

    Peace,
    Scott

    ps ... I think Ralph is great.... glad you are open enough to listen to a Catholic minister!
     
  10. true blood

    true blood Active Member

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    I Corinthians 6:9: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither adulterers, nor effeminate [lesbian], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [homo], nor theives, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
     
  11. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Only lesbian women are effeminate???? I think you may be confused......

    Peace,
    Scott
     
  12. true blood

    true blood Active Member

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    Where did I say ONLY lesbian women are effeminate???
     
  13. GPV

    GPV Member

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    I would have guessed that as a UUer you would have had some thoughts on this already.

    For myself, I believe in theistic evolution, homosexuality is okay but I think it's better to be monagomous/married, abortion up until 2nd trimester or due to rape, incest or medical need (BUT I vastly prefer to see it not used as birth control and would be glad to funnel my tax money in to halfway huses for pregnant teens with nowhere else to go), I believe the Bible is God-inspired but that man's free will and just plain misunderstandings have made their way into the Good Book (I also believe that too many people have made it into an idol of sorts in that they allow legalism to interfere with having a personal connection with God and His grace), and I think God transcends labels and religions.

    Jesus said "I am the Way" but to me, Jesus is God. I believe anyone who is sincerely yearning for a relationship with God will find Him, and that He does not care about the name of the faith that they may or may not find Him through. (And I use "Him" loosely here, as I believe that God is both male and female. After all, I am a woman and I am created in God's image. ;) )

    And most conservative Christians do not view anyone who holds beliefs that vary from their own as having a viable relationship with God. Even if that person calls him or herself a Christian. On the other hand, I think liberal Christians are inclined to see conservative and "fundagelical" Christians as being brothers and sisters of the same faith. (Though we do shake our head in bemusement sometimes over the differences in our beliefs. *lol*)

    I guess to put it in a nutshell, conservatives worry more about what is different between Christian sects, and liberals look more at what common ground ties them together. :)
     
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  14. Feathers in Hair

    Feathers in Hair World's Tallest Hobbit

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    Well said! I love people in general, and it physically hurt when a few people would single out my beliefs and say that I wasn't a 'Christian' (and, in these people's opinions, therefore inferior).

    When I was growing up, I had the interesting experience of having two rather liberal parents who would always manage to join the most conservative church whereever we lived. (Since we moved quite a bit, these were varied.) Although I was a free-spirited child, this didn't seem to matter until I was able to question what was being preached. Since we were always very active in the fellowship (Volunteering in the choir, youth programs, library organization, etc.) there was ample time for my fellow church-goers to hear these questions. I was not wise enough to see that most of my beliefs (at about 12) did not concur with those of the congregation in general. "Why are women 'allowed' to be missionaries, but not pastors?" I would ask. "If Jesus loves everyone, why wouldn't He want us to love everyone, too?" While it was true that, in this congregation, the words of a young girl meant very little (and, again, I don't for a moment believe that this is true with every conservative group!) I was looked upon as a trouble-maker. Having acted-up less than the other children, I could not understand the glares I would get as I sat in the church pews, both from the kids and the adults. While I'd loved the spiritual aspect of Christianity, organized religion was almost irrepairably harmed to me. I continued volunteering with any church we joined into my 20's, but the joy had been replaced with a humiliating feeling of being judged.

    Like I said, most conservatives are wonderful people, individually. (Actually, it's my opinion that most people, whatever their belief, are wonderful, individually. :) ) In my convoluted way, this is the primary difference between conservatives and liberals. Liberals keep their opinions as hotly as anyone else, and are willing to defend 'em just as much as anyone else. They are able, however, (and again, we're talking individuals and not as a group) to accept that there are other paths toward the Divine than their own belief. Conservatives seem to be on fire with the Truth, the only way to salvation, and while this has wonderful evangelical attributes, it can be easy to forget that some people get burned in the process.

    (I hope I've been self-effacing enough to get the point across that this is only my humble opinion, and I mean no offense to anyone or any group by stating my meandering thoughts on the matter.)
     
  15. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

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    Of course I do. :) I wanted other's perspectives on it. ;)
     
  16. brotherjim

    brotherjim Member

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    GPV and Feathers,

    You make good, valid points. As a "conservative," I indeed am guilty of what you two claim, and can objectively (believe it, or not) say such is true of the masses of Evang. and charismatic--as the two of you and others already know to be fact.

    Please understand, however, that "we" have taken a literal interpretation of the Bible in most cases, and as such we fully believe that a relationship with God cannot be had through any work of our intellect. We could even be accused of gnosticism, I suppose (although we would most all staunchly deny it), because we believe that any eternally profitable knowledge of God comes only via specific, divine revelation, whereby God reveals to our inner person His Truth and His Ways. The intellect, then, merely is engaged after the fact, as a conveyance between what is revealed to our inner person and what then must be consciously considered.

    In other words, bringing it home, "we" are fully persuaded that those approaching Christianity by any way other than what I described, are deceived and beguiled by the adversary. Our zeal then--and as a result our staunch assertions of error in liberal Christians, to be analogous, is as pre-Columbus seafarers who warn of a cubical earth to those who we see sailing off and over one of its edges to eternal destruction.

    That said, and notwithstanding in ideal, most are wearing down (at least here in the West), want to be pleasers of people more than pleasers of God, and therefore are becoming increasingly tolerant and accepting of those outside Evangelical and charismatic factions. (Good news for you and those like you; deep, woeful sorrow for me and those like me).

    bj
     
  17. brotherjim

    brotherjim Member

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    Maize/whoever,

    I'm sensing that this thread needs to further divide Christendom for the purposes of its discussion. Two categories does not seem to work. How about four? Lib. "mainline"; cons. "mainline"; Lib. Evang/char.; cons. Evang/char.

    ??

    bj
     
  18. GPV

    GPV Member

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    Brother Jim, too bad we can't plot out Believers the way that the Political Compass does for political beliefs. :)

    I guess I would say for myself, I am definitely a liberal. I believe in God in the form of the Holy Spirit interacting in my life when I let Him/Her/It, so that might qualify me as a charismatic. As far as evangelical, well, I am trying to spread the word that there are such people as liberal followers of Christ. Does that count? ;)
     
  19. Kaonashi

    Kaonashi New Member

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    [font=Arial,Helvetica]When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
    1 Corinthians 13:11
    [/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica] What is a Liberal Christian?
    [/font] [​IMG]
    Sometimes liberals are thought to be Christians who have backslidden; people who don't have enough faith, or are too "in the world." Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth. Liberal Christians are committed believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, who have thoroughly studied the scriptures and traditions of the Church, and have examined their faith in the light of reason and experience. They believe in:

    [font=Arial,Helvetica] Diversity [/font]

    Perhaps the defining characteristic of liberal Christians is that they are comfortable with ambiguity and diversity. They realize that life is a complex spiritual journey, and that each person on that journey is confronted with unexpected revelations and unique experiences. Liberal Christians therefore welcome a variety of approaches to understanding God, and are open to new ways of talking about the divine. Religious questions are seen as complex, and answers only tentative. Certain that "now we see through a glass, darkly" (1 Cor. 13:12), liberals are cautious about making dogmatic statements or claiming to have a monopoly on the truth. They see the search for truth as an ongoing task, rather than one that has already been completed.

    [font=Arial,Helvetica] A Non-Literal View of Scripture[/font]

    Conservative Christians are often content to answer religious questions by appealing to the absolute authority of Scripture. Liberal Christians, on the other hand, find such an approach to be flawed. Many see the Bible as a witness to revelation, or generally inspired, rather than completely inspired in all its parts. Just as Jesus was fully human and wholey divine, so one must also see the Bible as a product of both human and divine influences. Indeed, liberal Christians are quick to point out that the falleness and imperfection of its human authors gives the Bible an imperfect quality and authority.

    Liberals view Scripture through a critical lens, and are not afraid to challenge traditional assumptions and interpretations. They rely heavily on higher criticism of the Bible, which looks into the origin and composition of the biblical texts, revealing a great deal about the human aspect of Scripture. Modern philosophical, biological, and cosmological theories that are well supported by evidence, and reflect the true nature of the world around us, can also shape the way liberals interpret Scripture. Traditional Christian doctrines, such as the Virgin Birth, the Atonement, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the Resurrection, are sometimes given new interpretations by liberals.

    Perhaps more so than evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians, liberal Christians see the teachings of Jesus as having a central place. Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience are each given equal footing in determining Christian faith.

    [font=Arial,Helvetica] An Intimate, Personal View of God[/font]

    Imminent and personal images of God in Scripture are attractive to liberals. For some this takes on the form of a belief in panentheism (Everything-in-God-ism). Liberals also see little distinction between the natural and the supernatural, and therefore do not look for "miracles" to confirm the existence of God. Instead, they feel that faith in God allows one to see the Spirit moving in the everyday stuff of life.

    [font=Arial,Helvetica] Universal Salvation[/font]

    The concept of personal salvation is not typically stressed by liberal Christians. Accordingly, traditional images of heaven, hell, and the End Times are not given much weight in their theologies. When salvation is discussed, liberals are more apt to stress its "this worldly" aspects, and appeal to a universalist interpretation of Scripture when confronted with questions of eternal punishment and rewards.

    For many liberal Christians, social justice is a central concern, and the transformation of society, rather than that of the individual, is more typically stressed. Equality for racial minorities, women, homosexuals, and the economically disadvantaged is seen as an essential part of the Gospel message. A concern for the environment, and other typically liberal social issues, also find a great deal of support among liberal Christians.

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]Fellowship & Community[/font]

    Liberals tend to stress the centrality of community in the Christian experience. They can be found in almost all churches (from Roman Catholic to Southern Baptist), but tend to be in greater numbers in the mainline Protestant denominations: American Baptist Churches, USA; Disciples of Christ; Episcopal Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Presbyterian Church, USA; United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church. The Unitarian Universalist Association and the Metropolitan Community Churches are even more liberally minded.

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]The Truth[/font] I find many of the liberal Christian views on God, salvation, women, homosexuality, Scripture, and Creation to be convincing. When I was an evangelical Christian, I often felt the need to wash over historical and scientific evidence with "faith" because the world around me did not mesh with my preconceived notions about Scripture. I had questions about Evolution, the Bible, other religions, etc., but those questions were always met with criticism or simplistic answers by my fellow evangelical believers. As a liberal Christian, I don't feel like I have to be intellectually dishonest to myself any more. I can incorporate what I know about science, history, and theology into my world-view without conflict. In other words, liberal Christianity just makes more sense! It is ultimately the reason why I became one.
     
  20. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

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    I find the discussion confusing. The Church of Sweden is labelled "Evangelical-Lutheran", and its views match most of what you-all have labelled "liberal".

    Considering the bewildering diversity in the US, I should perhaps point out that there are very few Swedish Christians of other denominations. Those are normally neither seen nor heard. For example, I can't think of more than four "church" buildings in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest town, belonging to other Christian communities than the Church of Sweden, and during my years as a Christian, I visited at least some twenty of the CoS churches in this town.
     
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