Friday, October 17

Deism, and Meism, or "So, What's a 'Liberal?'"

Hear O Israel, the LORD thy God, the LORD is one, and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind. The second is like unto it, that thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two hang all the Law and the Prophets.

It has been said that if a young man is not a Liberal he has no heart, and if when he is older he is not a Conservative he has no mind. In the Church we may have the opposite trend.

The young Christian finds it easy to believe the most hidebound dogma from whatever the tradition he finds himself. A Brethren convert will most adamantly support that group's teachings, and a Pentecostal theirs. Their Bible was delivered from God in just that form, leather binding and all.

As time passes, young Christian hears and reads a lot of differing opinions: The Bible is a contradictory collection of outmoded tribal traditions and priestly forgeries. Jesus learned His teachings from Indian Buddhists. All roads lead to God, however you imagine "God" to be. Sometimes young Christian believes that claptrap, and falls into all kinds of despair, even enlisting to spread that claptrap to others out of anger at being told that simplistic first story to begin with. So who, really, is at fault here, and what can be done to change things?

The first culprit, of course, is the one who started the first dogma. Does God demand that women either put on fancy hats for church, stay home? Or does any place in the Bible command that no female voice may be heard in the assembly of God's saints? Or that the elders must conduct a background investigation on a person before allowing them a place at Holy Communion? For that matter, do we have Bibles today because an angel showed up in 1611 with a leather-bound Cambridge Concord with maps?

Oddly enough, people who raise such questions are quickly labeled as "Liberal." Could the shoe really be on the other foot?

At the "core" of Liberal Theology is "reductionism." Classic Liberalism took Jesus' words, "on these hang all the Law and the Prophets," concerning what we variously call the "Summary of the Law," or the "Jesus Creed," and reduced all they saw "Christianity" to mean down to simply "Go to church and act nice." and relegated all the rest to the "details" bin to be sorted out later. Different strains of that thinking in the last two hundred years have turned their attention to reducing the Bible down to what they considered "authentic," or even reducing all we know of Jesus down to what they could force into their own political ideal. Where we once had a message of the eternal Son, incarnate by the Virgin Mary, living among us, suffering and dying for our sins, rising from death incorruptible and ascending to the Father to await His kingdom, we now hear about a very un-Jewish oddball philosopher who might have died in some kind of political misunderstanding. Miracles? Healings? Raising people from death? Well, we're sure he thought he did, but we know better now, don't we?

As much as any Spirit-born Christian would balk at such idiocy in scholars' clothing, how much do we know about the Bible, beyond the texts behind our favorite sermons? We believe, some of us, that God existed before all time, when He decided who He would save and who he would cast off "for His greater glory." We are told that "the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever," and that, since Jesus said, "he that comes to me I will not cast out," that means that no matter how deeply we fall into sin, or how vehemently we oppose His grace in our lives, we are still "walking with Christ" and guaranteed a place at, or in, His throne. Or that one must "speak in tongues," be baptised in such a way, or keep kosher in order to gain salvation. These, and many other, popular doctrines are based in the same kind of reductionism that produced the Liberal train wreck we see so much of in the news today. This or that verse is taken to support what somebody believes, and so the rest of the Book, the parts that don't support that interpretation, are tossed in the "details" bin to be sorted out later.

All the time, the Lord has been working through the race of man, to see who would simply listen and obey, and who would busy themselves with reducing His words down to excuses to disobey. All to be sorted out later!


  1. At the "core" of Liberal Theology is "reductionism." Classic Liberalism took Jesus' words, "on these hang all the Law and the Prophets," concerning what we variously call the "Summary of the Law," or the "Jesus Creed," and reduced all they saw "Christianity" to mean down to simply "Go to church and act nice." and relegated all the rest to the "details" bin to be sorted out later.

    Good thoughts.

    Having dealt with liberal theology with four degrees, and having been in the secular system for two degrees, it seems many modern religious scholars reason we have greater knowledge in some related areas than the writers of Scripture.

    These Biblical writers can then be considered as less than authoritative by some.

    The nature of humanity is corrupt, and newer knowledge does not change the need for divine revelation in regard to religious matters.

    I received a few comments on my articles this weekend.

    Thanks, Robert.

  2. Good job.

    The old saying was "The devil is in the details." Perhaps that is why it is easier to toss the details into the can. "Oooh, oooh, we can't go there because you know who is in there."
    Armed with Christ, we can go there, and conquer all those pesky details.

  3. Good to hear from ya, UP-ster! Sorry, S&T, for the delay- midterms and all that..!

    Yep, we have one group wrangling out what part of God's message is "authentic," and another hammering down what they call "essential," and it gets to be like trying to feed a child who refuses to eat anything but blue food!

    ("But green food is yucky, brown food looks like dirt, red food is scary, I don't like yellow today....") I've even heard it preached that, "God would never correct a Christian because that's "negative," ya know and Romans 8:1a says..." If we don't get those "details" out of the bin, it's ourselves that stand to wind up on the heap!

  4. I hope you don't mind, but I lifted a quote from this post as it applied to today's sermon. This link should work,
    Not Another Episcopal Church Blog

  5. So, the Underground Pewster is actually an altar ego? Glad t' have you aboard, Charlie! Ain't this a crazy mixed up world?


So what's your take?