It’s been the opinion of some that theological liberalism is dead. Simplistically, theological liberalism describes those who call themselves Christians but deny many (if not most) of the doctrines that make Christianity Christianity. Some believe that liberalism’s sun has set and its dead and buried.
I don’t think so. Come to Orwell sometime, and I’ll show you. Or Grand Rapids, MI. Or Mentor, OH. But if you can’t make the visit, consider Martin Thielen…
Thielen is pastor of a United Methodist Church, and has also served as a Southern Baptist pastor. He served for four years as a national worship and preaching consultant and editor of Proclaim for the SBC.
He’s just published a book titled, “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still be a Christian?” In it he lists ten things Christians do not need to believe to be a Christian–
- God Causes Cancer, Car Wrecks, and Other Catastrophes
- Good Christians Don’t Doubt
- True Christians Can’t Believe in Evolution
- Women Can’t Be Preachers and Must Submit to Men
- God Cares about Saving Souls but Not about Saving Trees
- Bad People Will Be “Left Behind” and Then Fry in Hell
- Jews Won’t Make It to Heaven
- Everything in the Bible Should Be Taken Literally
- God Loves Straight People But Not Gay People
- It’s OK for Christians to be Judgmental and Obnoxious
You have to note the whimsical, almost sneering tone of this list. That kind of attitude is typical of theological liberalism, almost an ecclesiastical snobbery, looking down the nose at “those fundamentalists.”
It would take a significant post to comment on each of these. It almost makes me want to get the book and read it so I don’t misrepresent him. From the list, though, it appears that one can believe that–
- Either God is not sovereign over all things or that there is no such thing as the effects of sin in the world (#1)
- Genuine faith does not require absolute submission of the mind, will, and emotions to God’s Word (#2)
- The Bible should not be taken as an authoritative standard on the issues it speaks to (##3-4)
- Salvation and ecology are on the same plane (#5)
- The biblical account of divine judgment should not be taken literally (#6)
- There is not an exclusiveness to salvation, despite what Jesus taught (John 3:18; 14:6; #7)
- The Bible is not the written Word of God divinely authoritative in all it addresses (#8)
- Homosexuality is not sinful (#9)
- You can believe whatever you want to believe (#10)
Read some of the reviews of this book, and you’ll see that theological liberalism is not dead.
Thankfully, we’re not caught offguard by this sort of thing, nor are we left without hope–
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 3:14-4:5).
Continue in the Word! Preach the Word! Faithfully serve Christ until He comes!