Monday, 14 April 2008

The problem with Liberal theology is...

I'm just back from the Presy College mission in the southern highlands of NSW - Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale. Had an interesting time. And my evangelistic talk last Sunday went very well - thanks for your prayers.
Steve North, the minister for these churches (yep - one guy, three churches - busy man!) loves Jesus, loves the Bible, and is totally clear about calling all people to follow Christ. That’s why he invited a Presy college mission in the first place.
But some parts of the southern highlands are still in the shadow of Liberal theology. As in so-called "Christian" theology that doesn't believe the Bible. Therefore, it doesn't believe the unique divinity of Christ, doesn't believe that humanity, by our wickedness, have alienated ourselves from God (“sin”), doesn't believe that God is personally affronted by that alienation (“God’s wrath”), doesn't believe that Jesus, by his death & resurrection, has achieved a unique, perfect reconciliation of humanity and God (“the atonement”), doesn’t believe in the need to abandon other belief-systems – including belief in yourself – to receive the benefits of this reconciliation (“repentance”), and everything else that Christians have historically believed.
Therefore, I don’t think Liberals have the right to call themselves Christians. They certainly have a theology – they have an understanding of God – just not a Christian one.
The result is… Liberal theology becomes boring! Yes, that’s right – boring!
Since Liberals don’t believe the Bible, they instinctively fill the void with something else. In the southern highlands, some church members – who have grown up under the influence of Liberal theology – view church the same as a gathering of friends. They’re not outsider-focused at all. Newcomers disrupt the comfortable gathering of old friends, you see. They really do wish newcomers would go away and leave them alone. They’re not interested in spending money to reach out to the community. They want to spend money to make the church building look nice.
That is so boring…!
I also met some teenagers, who’ve been taught by Liberals. These teenagers see church as totally irrelevant to modern society. And no wonder! What they’ve been taught is so… boring! It’s vague stuff about finding meaning for yourself in life, and some sort of “spirituality” or something. I couldn’t actually pin down what they’d been taught about God. It was really vague. I’m not surprised. Liberals aren’t sure what they do believe. All they know what they don’t believe – all that narrow-minded fundamentalist Biblical stuff. So these teenagers were really hardened against God, the church, the Bible, Jesus, and Christians. Because to them, they were all really, really boring.
The gospel of Christ crucified is so-o-o-o-o-o-o much more exciting. Don’t you think?


Roger Gallagher said...

Hi Kamal,

The other thing that Liberal Christianity (at least the Anglican version of Liberal Christianity) does is tell you that you can't know God. Reading and listening to Peter Carnley and John Shepherd, one can't help but be struck on their insistence that God is transcendent and mysterious, and he can't communicate to us through human words.

How different and exciting is the God of the Bible, where we encounter the God who speaks to us, and especially through Jesus, the exact representation of God's very being.

John said...


In your attack on liberal Christianity you set out what you perceive as an exhaustive, I presume, list of its shortcomings. Implicitly, this must also serve as a tick in all the right boxes for your own theological enterprise.

Isn't it interesting that among all that doomsday Calvinist stuff that your hate list is so proud of, you neglect that principally God loves the most rotten scoundrel and is Himself love.

The thought that occurred to me, Christian particulars notwithstanding, was that your speil wasn't all that dissimilar to Islam's.

Roger wrote: "one can't help but be struck on their insistence that God is transcendent and mysterious, and he can't communicate to us through human words."

Rather cheeky of you, Roger! I mean, look at the way the Sydney Anglican Diocese and Moore College liberals avoid the obvious meaning of Genesis 1 (and Exodus 20) and claim that 6 days equals 6 billion years. In this passage God is so transcendent that he can't speak starightforwardly through "human" words in Scripture.

Guys, people in glass houses....

Rajita said...

Hi Kamal!
I was reading a few of your posts, and I have an assignment due, and I shouldn't be writing right now -arrrgh. But..anyway.
I see what both you and John were saying, how in order to deal with modern "advancements" in knowledge, a progression into more 'I'-focussed mentalities and the "current ideological pursuits" that are trendy, there's a tendency to change the Bible, conform it to suit a more 'progressive' lifestyle (there are a lot of quotation marks here!) of this day and age.

But I do question what these 'materialist atheist beliefs' that he talks about. Is it everything else we learn and know about? How do we marry the two- the Bible and the increasingly disparate information we're getting today? John brings up creation (and by association, evolution). Do we then, in order to not manipulate the historical account of creation, completely ignore anthropological studies, avoid any complicating evidence to the contrary with blind faith? If we lived in a hole, I think wecould get away with that, but the world we live in is such that we are constantly bombarded with information, and I don't think you can just deal with it by just saying, 'They're wrong' and ignoring it. In fact, I would even say that such blind faith is impossible to achieve today.