Context: the Enlightenment (in  German ‘Erklärung’) challenged conservative beliefs as irrational supernaturalism in the nineteenth century. Kant and other secular philosophers emphasised the primacy of reason,science, nature, tolerance, critical philosophy, humanism and freedom. Ethics was to be independent of theology and of authority.
Christian Liberalism was a response to this onslaught – an attempt to save something from the ashes.

   Liberal beliefs:
(1) No preconceived notions of biblical inerrancy; approach the bible in the same way as any other historical document. The bible is an anthology of narratives symbolising the essence of christianity with human authors in their respective historical/cultural contexts. The bible is only inspired in the sense that a poem is.

(2) The universal fatherhood of god who is/may be the “ground of our being”  (Tillich’s depth metaphor) rather than a supernatural being “out there”.

(3) Jesus’s moral teachings are more important than the unlikely miracles. He is an example to follow. Ethics count for more than doctrines.

(4) Experience is more important than scriptural authority. Faith is viral rather than pedagogical. Dialogue, observation, self-reflection, feelings and emotions count for more than bible-study and preaching.

(5) An ethical Kingdom of God is to be set up on earth, based on a belief in the brotherhood of man and the infinite value of the human soul.

(6) As liberal christians are relativistic, pluralistic and non-doctrinal they cast doubt on all the listed conservative christian beliefs and indeed may be considered a totally different religion.

bible.org “Liberalism” by M.J. Sawyer

Offshoots of liberal theology:
Liberation theology, The Jesus Seminar, The Social Gospel (Rauschenbusch), The Death of God movement, Feminist theology, Process theology, Jesusism, Christian Humanism, Christian Atheism, Christian Socialism, Christian Communism, Christian Anarchism, Progressive Christianity, Radical Christianity.

Related Posts:
What Conservative Christians believe
Radical theology
Theology for the masses


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