The Problem with Liberal Theology

‎”I would repeat that liberal theology is only humanism in theological terms.” –Francis Schaeffer

In certain liberal churches, there is a tendency to accept the idea that there are “many ways to God”. The idea that there isn’t anything particularly special about Christianity, and the many kind and generous Muslims and Hindus of the world have found their own way to God and should be left to themselves.

I assert that this isn’t a sign of love, or acceptance, or tolerance. It’s a sign of cold indifference.

“I don’t think Christians know what they mean when they proclaim Jesus as Lord of the world. That is a massive claim. If you took that seriously, you would probably have to be a fundamentalist. If you can’t be a fundamentalist, then you should give up Christianity for the sake of honesty.” –Gerd Lüdemann, a former liberal Christian

Many of these same churches also hold to “progressive” views on issues like homosexuality, cohabitation, and the sacredness of human life. Passages of the Bible that are deemed offensive are either ignored or creatively reinterpreted. Rather than confronting sinful behavior like Jesus commanded (Matthew 18:15-17…also see Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11), openly sinful lifestyles are accepted – even celebrated – as normal among the congregation.

In the end, these kinds of churches cease to resemble anything like historical Christianity. They become social clubs.

On his blog, Andrew Collins contrasts this with the Evangelical approach:

“Many Evangelicals, if they’re honest with you, don’t like what the Bible says about things like God’s sovereignty, hell, or homosexuality, but they choose to believe them anyways. These Christians have a unique freedom to admit that their own perspectives, even their own moral sensibilities, may be a little tweaked. As such, they seek an external standard by which to correct themselves….what sort of relationship can you have with a personal God if He does not contradict your beliefs, assumptions and sensibilities every once in a while? If you find that your God is always exactly who you want Him to be, could it be that you haven’t found God at all, but rather created a god in your own image?(emphasis mine; read the full post here)

Most recently, we’ve seen examples of liberal writers and theologians advocating for various forms of Universalism and denying the existence of hell. I’ve been getting a little carried away with the quotes – so I’ll close with an excellent video from Francis Chan addressing this issue. For the “short version” watch the two-minute segment starting at 3:32.


10 thoughts on “The Problem with Liberal Theology

  1. Amen! Brilliant, concise and powerful. Universalism makes the gospel into a pathetic joke, and means that God sent his Son for nothing, and Jesus’s crucifixion was a charade. My sister is heartbroken: the church she was going to attend this coming weekend cancelled its Easter service to hold an “Honor our Ancestors” weekend complete with pagan rituals! Churches have lost their senses, because they have traded Jesus for something else…they are virtually mocking and scourging him all over again. Thanks for your post!!

    • Thank you! It’s great to hear from you, as always. I am sorry to hear about the church you mentioned.

  2. Great post and what a great video. The more that absolutes are erased, the more we want erased. You know, I use to think that the things in the end times were exclusively about God – meaning His actions. I’ve come to see that the way man has developed will lead to many of the things God tells us about the end times. Paul said it in 2 Timothy 3, just how people will look in the end. Jesus mentioned it in Matthew 24:9-12. We get to see a picture of what humanity becomes – much the same as or worse than the days of Noah – where we’re told men’s hearts were continually evil. (Gen 6:5). It’s “just a picture of who we can become”? Or will become? Or, are? When we read what I believe are Paul’s words, that our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:28-29), we’re thousands of years away from the account of 1 Kings 18 where Elijah and the prophets of Baal had it out about God and don’t necessarily relate well to those verses. Baal’s failure to appear and God’s appearing in a consuming fire to a pile of wood doused with water . . . it’s tucked away with so many of the accounts about Jehovah God … buried under a mountain of things we chose to believe instead. Because we could. Because we’re proving what God said we would do. Thank God for His grace and mercy. And, that’s the point. Just like that … He’s God and we are not. But that desire to ascend to His throne … from the deception of Eve (be like God) onward, hasn’t changed a bit.

    I’ve rationalized things just like Frances Chan spoke about . . . just like you mention in your post. It’s a trap, that’s for sure. In the long run, God puts it like it is and then reminds us, “He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. . . so that whoever will, may.” I think it’s Ezekiel 18 that also says He grieves when people make the wrong choice, but He is just in having given us a free will to decide. If He goes back on His Word, He’d be a liar. We’re just not use to thinking in absolutes like that. Reminds us of who we are … clay. He is the potter.

    Thanks for the post and video.

  3. well said, Matt! well said indeed. i so appreciate your candor, but also the way you get to the heart of the matter. ive always been a ‘cut to the chase’ kind of person, and i always ask ‘where does this lead in the final analasys?’. and i liked all your quotes ;D

  4. The problem with fundamentalist theology, on the other hand, is that it tends to be utterly illogical in many ways. It tries to defend things which found their way into the Bible which are, quite frankly, utter balderdash. They were apochryphal at best, or were created as health rules for a bygone era.
    The stuff of missionary zeal which insists that the only way to salvation is through Christianity is presupposing a completely unfair and unreasonable God, condemning all those who have never been given any knowledge of it whatsoever to eternal damnation? It also takes a very small and petty view of the greatness of God, who is seen in the dimensions of humanity when He has to be so much more.

  5. So often we are afraid to take a position. Many times this is false humility… the desire to avoid conflict is not always honest. Glad to have found you today! Many blessings.

  6. I went to a meeting at an Episcopal Church on grief. I thought I couldn’t get into too much trouble. How wrong I was. Since it was my first (and last) meeting I spoke about my depression and suicidal desires as having 2 possible origins. The first was some sin I haven’t confessed or a trial by God. Everyones eyes got big at the mention of sin. Until that moment I really hadn’t understood liberal religion. They really don’t believe in sin. I told them if there is no sin then I certainly don’t need a redeemer. And most of all if I don’t need a redeemer I don’t need a church.

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