Liberal and Conservative

Posted to Surefish 13th May 2004 at 01:21

Much of what goes on a conservative and liberal divide is sociologically driven, and is comparative to the wider culture. This is why what is liberal today can be conservative tomorrow. Many liberals who describe themselves as trinitarians would never have been recognised as trinitarians say back in Puritan times or even later. A lot of what is considered inessential now as maintaining a istinctive Christian faith was once more essential.
The conservative position is divided into traditionalists and conversionist because the latter defend from secularisation/ pluralism and the latter attack it. Their theologies are quite different. There are also liberals who seek a middle ground and negotiate: they keep to essentials like the resurrection and incarnation one way or another, but can question the virgin birth or bodily resurrection. They like to think that they are sensitive to church bureaucratic needs and holding it together. So they nip and tuck with secularisation. However, other liberals are quite happy to question anything and do so and are pro pluralism.
I am a pro-pluralist liberal and see boundaries as necessarily artificial.

Posted to Surefish 13th May 2004 at 19:42

...Liberals read the Bible just as well as they can, and have a full range of tools available for it. The conclusions happen to be more in keeping with the constructions and diversities of the texts rather than with a preformed answer.
All this has been done before. The English Puritan Presbyterians decided that they were so confident in the Bible that they rejected Church creeds. Eventually they liberalised their interpretations (and eventually became Unitarian). Others had protection of creeds and articles. The Bible itself has always been like this: it is itself open to wide understanding and does not match Church doctrines or, for example, evangelical beliefs. Yes liberals are dangerous because they do not (or should not) begin with the answers but begin with the questions, as in all other areas of thought.

Posted to Surefish 16th May 2004 at 19:52

jay's self declared liberal Christianity is quite orthodox: not very liberal as such. Liberalism does not necessarily imply universal salvation either. There are many varieties of liberal Christianity. I tend towards a postliberal Christianity but without the rigidities of the Yale position (Lindbeck and company). This is not about universalism at all but about the literate nature of religious faith. Dragging Buddhists into a scheme they do not wish to be in is not an issue either; however, use of Buddhism within Christianity is still posible with no implications for Buddhists as such. Conservative forms of Christianity have no intellectual substance worth the name, that is all that is wrong with that, oh and political influence in certain overseas places.

Posted to Surefish 17th May 2004 at 02:14

Well, Steve O, your conclusion is very liberal if what matters is not beliefs but behaviour. People keep assuming that Jesus has a narrow view of salvation and that it went through him; he probably thought rich people would find it very difficult to enter the coming Kingdom. But many of these narrow words are the view of the writer of John, not Jesus and imposed upon Jesus by someone who is theologising. Jesus would have regarded himself as a faithful Jew, where salvation (if we call it that) came from the action of God. The only narrow gate would have been that of God, and by all accounts his view of God was generous to those who prepared themselves, because Jesus was less interested in the purity of the Law and more in the stance of the person who saw the errors of their ways and made changes.

Posted to Surefish 18th May at 02:19

Just to go back to something Andrew said: actually liberal aspproaches to theology are quite favourable to the view that Jesus was a healer. It seems integral to the ministry and the active viewpoint he had about the poor (who were not as well as the rich, the rich usually considered more godly - sin and ill health go together in the ancient world view - and a view Jesus reversed). What liberal theology does ask is about the theological meaning of miracles: anyone can speculate if certain things happened or not but the important point is the meaning made of these events. My own view is that many of these miracles are constructions for the purpose of the bigger picture, but it must be the case that Jesus was a healer and this was part of his attraction to the Galileans.


Adrian Worsfold