Last Sunday a brother approached me and asked, "I read the bulletin article that you printed today on "What is a Conservative?" Are you going to follow up with an article on "What is a Liberal?" I thought for a moment and then replied, ""I just might."
We need to understand that labels are difficult at times. Sometimes labels are what the person wants to make of them. But there are some characteristics that we can look for to identify a person as a liberal.
In his book, Liberalism's Threat to the Faith, Rubel Shelly gives
six characteristics of liberalism:
"First, liberalism holds that there is no way to authenticate and prove
as true any one version of the Christian faith...Second, liberalism rejects
the Bible as being the actual Word of God to man...Third, liberalism restates
the doctrine of Christ to show his utter humanity...Fourth, liberalism
denies that the Bible has any inherent moral authority over men...Fifth,
liberalism denies that mankind is lost and under the condemnation of sin...Sixth,
liberalism has no concern with the New Testament concept of the church."
This quote is an excellent description of liberalism among brethren. It is sad that Shelly accurately described liberalism and eventually became a classic liberal himself. He has since repudiated his good work with several books.
Let's look at some other characteristics of liberals among us. While
all of these characteristics may not be present in all liberals, they are
Liberals downplay the necessity of a "thus saith the Lord" for what
they do. Scripture is either ignored, excused as being culture or gender
biased, or looked upon as being subjective.
Liberals tend to have an ends justify the means attitude. This attitude
is evident in the matter of the work and worship of the church. Lavish
entertainment schemes are devised to "draw them in so we can teach them
Liberals tend to downplay the necessity of baptism for the remission
of sins. Some will try to expand their definition of a Christian to anyone
who has been immersed. Some of the even more radical among the liberals
who claim that even those who have been sprinkled are Christians.
Liberals want to fellowship those who are not in fellowship with God.
Men are invited to liberal gatherings who are either denominational preachers
or openly fellowship denominations.
Liberals tolerate almost everything, with the exception of faithful
brethren who question their false views. They exercise an irenic spirit
toward those in denominations, while reacting with hatred toward conservative
brethren. They often get made when asked to justify their unscriptural
actions. Those who object are called "right wingers,Ñ "traditionalists,"
"radicals," "hide bound," and "moss backed," among other things.
Liberals do not believe in the distinctiveness of the church. They are
constantly talking about "the yellow pages church of Christ" and talk about
"our fellowship" and "our heritage." They seek to expand the church to
include many who have never even obeyed the gospel.
Liberals laugh about the "restoration plea" They believe that it is
impossible to restore New Testament Christianity. They have said, "What
church should we restore? Corinth? Ephesus? Laodicea?" They talk about
the restoration period as the beginning point for the church of Christ.
Liberals deny that there is a pattern for the church. To them it doesn't
matter how we worship, or how one becomes a Christian, or how the church
functions. Many of them will declare that "everything we do in life is
worship." With this casting off of the pattern our present day liberals
are inching toward the open use of instrumental music in the worship.
Liberals always talk about grace and deny the obedience is necessary
for salvation. Instead of holding a biblical view that balance both grace
and obedience, they, as a whole, deny the necessity of obedience. Some
have even begun to teach "grace only" and "faith only."
These are just a few of the characteristic of the liberals among us.
While we could easily give a refutation to each of these areas we need
only go to a couple of Scriptures to give us the answer. "Thus says the
LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the
good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But
they said, 'We will not walk in it'" (Jeremiah 6:16). ""You shall not add
to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the
commandments of the LORD your God which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:2).
Copyright 1999 by Grady
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