What is wrong with liberal Christianity?
First, a point of clarification: this post is about theological, not political, liberalism. While the two often go hand-in-hand, that is not always the case. The issue I am addressing in this post is the liberal approach to theology in general and bibliology specifically. Liberal Christianity essentially accepts some parts of the Bible while discarding others; they are misguided and inconsistent in their approach to the Bible.
Some theological liberal viewpoints include the JEDP Theory, the synoptic problem, demythologization, and some forms of biblical criticism, etc. Let's take the JEDP Theory, aka the documentary hypothesis, as an example. The JEDP Theory essentially states that Genesis through Deuteronomy were not written by Moses, but by at least four different authors, identified by the letters, J, E, D, and P, and then a redactor who combined all the various texts. The primary problem with the JEDP Theory is that the New Testament attributes Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy to Moses. If the New Testament is wrong about the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, it is in error, and therefore not infallible or trustworthy. If the New Testament authors were wrong about this issue, what else were they wrong about? Theologically liberal Christians accept, or at least claim to accept, some of the teachings of Jesus, and some of the teachings of Paul, and some principles from the Old Testament, etc. But, liberal Christianity undermines its own viewpoint when it rejects the infallibility of Scripture. If the Bible is not the Word of God, how can we know Jesus and Paul actually taught those things? If the Bible is not trustworthy, why should we care what it says?
Liberal Christianity often denies the miracles recorded in the Bible. If there are no miracles, there is no Christianity, as the Christian faith is built on the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians chapter 15). If the miracles in the Bible are not true, the human authors of Scriptures were liars — they were the false prophets Jesus warned us about (oh, wait, did Jesus actually say anything about false prophets?!?!) Do you see the problem here?
If God decided to give us a book that is supposed to guide us through life and eternity, but allowed that book to be filled with myths, lies, half-truths, and misconceptions — is He a God worth following? What kind of God is that? How cruel, twisted, and...ungodly. No, if God is who the Bible says He is, He is perfectly holy, just, righteous, gracious, loving, and merciful. Giving humanity an error-filled book would not agree with any of those attributes.
Liberal Christianity essentially wants to pick and choose which parts of the Bible are from God. They want to accept "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows..." (James 1:27) and reject "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). I can't live my life like that. If God did not bother to give me a reliable instruction manual, why should I bother following any of His instructions? If God's Word is not infallible and trustworthy, why should I care what it says? That is where liberal Christianity goes wrong. Liberal Christianity destroys the very foundation of Christianity — the Word of God. Liberal Christianity essentially tells us to follow a book (or at least certain parts of a book) that they themselves do not believe in.
My wife and I recently ate at a Middle Eastern restaurant with some friends. The menu was so filled with spelling and grammar errors that we could not be confident regarding the ingredients in the food. Is “chickees” chicken or chick peas or something else entirely? Do I really want ricin with my kabob? We eventually found a few items we were reasonably confident about and enjoyed a delicious meal. Needless to say, despite the decent food, we likely won't be returning. And, that was just a menu at a restaurant. The errors theological liberals accuse the Bible of are infinitely and eternally more serious. Yet, they still encourage us to follow certain teachings of Jesus and assure us that those teachings are trustworthy. No thanks. I'd rather have the chickees.
S. Michael Houdmann
What is wrong with liberal Christianity?