First of all, I wonder if the title for them presents us with a contradiction in terms. Some churches and church leaders have steered so far to the left that I wonder if we should still be calling them Christians. In this blog I want to explain this movement. I want to expose particular denominations along with some of their goals. I want to look at the Bible to give us directions in going against this trend.
Is liberal Christianity really a trend? It is hard to say because there are 2 different ways to answer. On the 1 hand, the mainline Protestant churches are on the decline at large. Most people that leave those churches do so with the intent of attending a more independent or non denominational type of Bible Church. On the other hand, the tendency away from traditional biblical Christianity is getting more and more severe in these churches.
Why is a major part of Christianity tending in this direction? I believe it all starts at the training ground for pastors and teachers, the University. Even Christian colleges and universities are having to compromise their academic standards to fit with the requirements nationwide. For them to be accredited certain textbooks have to be approved. I think there is a failing check and balance system for these university professors. They are smart people of influence that often steer the well intended Christian students away from biblical truth. The days are over that we can assume that a Christian college will always draw a person closer to God.
The second place that is failing is the testing of a pastor’s heart before he gets into ministry. Amongst many churches all the pastor has to be is academically qualified for his position. I wonder where that is derived from in the Bible. It seems like God always chose the least qualified to do his greatest works (Eph. 3:8). Qualification for church leadership needs to be based on direct calling from God, a heart that loves the Lord, desire to spread His truth, and faithful service. Instead, certain minister are getting jobs simply because it’s a job and they know how to say the right things. The leadership above such ministers need to expose the rotten heart and replace them with somebody with true fruit, wanting to see God alone glorified.
I want to address 4 key areas in which liberal Christianity has gone astray: ecumenism, biblical interpretation, homosexuality, and church leadership.
1. Ecumenism: this term means such a church wants to have an all-embracing nature. In 1 sense that’s okay, and another sense it leads to serious error. We know Jesus was a very embracing person to people that others did not expect him to embrace. But let’s not forget that Jesus was also harsh and confrontational with people that they wouldn’t expect him to be so with. He came to lift up the humble and bring down the proud. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted and whoever honors himself will be humbled (Luke 18:14). In fact, I think the people that Jesus would be the most harsh with are those that claimed to be great Christian leaders that wind up leading seekers astray! The ecumenical movement has become embracing toward the people, and by extension, the teachings of other faiths, such as Buddhism and Islam. Such churches blurred the clear line that the Bible makes between the saved and the unsaved. If you don’t preach Jesus, I don’t care how nice you are, you have no place of influence or authority in my Christian Church.
“I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. 3:8).
“Anyone who goes beyond Christ’s teaching and does not continue to follow only his teaching does not have God. But whoever continues to follow the teaching of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If someone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not welcome or accept that person into your house. If you welcome such a person, you share in the evil work.” (2 John 8-10)
2. Biblical interpretation: The Jesus Seminar is the apex of a severe problem in liberal Christianity. The seminar assumes the authority to be able to tell rest of the public what the authentic words of Jesus are- and what words are not authentic. Excuse me Robert funk and John Dominic Crossan, but what right do you have to tell us to go against God’s promise of preserving his word. (Ps. 2:6-7) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Mark 13:31)
Of further problem with liberal Christianity and Bible interpretation is that the liberal church seeks to spiritualize and take away the literal aspect of the Bible. They love to try to reinterpret things to try to fit with modern culture. This goes not only for the creation, Adam n Eve, the flood, and Jonah, but it is applied to Jesus as well. They will strip Jesus of his unique deity, explain away his miracles in a naturalistic bias, and deny his literal resurrection. You cannot deny these things about Jesus and be a saved Christian. “Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24) “If Christ has not been raised from death, then we have nothing to preach and you have nothing to believe.” (1 Cor. 15:14)
3. Homosexuality: the liberal churches generally stand in support of homosexuality as a valid alternative lifestyle. It is one thing to love a gay or lesbian person the way Christ loved the woman caught in adultery, but it is a completely different issue in supporting the behavior of such a person. Since we already know that they have issues with Bible interpretation, we can see how they might come to such an error. The Bible clearly laid out what appropriate marriage is and what appropriate sexuality is. It says that no homosexual has any inheritance in the king of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Homosexuality is the detestable to the Lord (Lev. 18:22). Homosexual behavior is a result of darkened minds and foolish hearts (Rom. 1:25-27). To call homosexuality a viable alternative lifestyle for Christians is to ignore the Bible teaching on the issue.
4. Church leadership: in many of the mainline Protestant churches, church leadership is taking on different requirements than the Bible seems to address. There are many pastors and ministers of liberal churches that do not even agree with a lot of the key pillars of Christianity. They know how to perform the rituals and they know how to please the congregants, but apparently they don’t know Jesus personally.
We know that without the resurrection the Christian faith is useless (1 Cor. 15:17). But only 13% to 51% (depending on denomination) of pastors accept the resurrection as a factual event. Between 19% and 60% accept the virgin birth. With all the unchristian heresies that are being embraced in so many churches, it is surprising that these ministers are allowed to maintain their positions of authority. There is a severe problem from the top down in such churches.
What are the churches and denominations that have compromised the truth and embraced this sort of all-encompassing ecumenical compromise? UCC- United Church of Christ, PCUSA- Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, ELCA- Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Episcopal Church, and the Metropolitan Church. This is the core list, but any church that does not hold its leaders accountable can fall into the same type of error. If you are going to a church like this, then you need to consider what your goal is in going to church. Is your goal to be around people that you know and recognize? Is your goal to be comfortable, yet have some discipline of religion? Or is your goal to glorify God and grow closer to Him?
Liberal Christianity is a force an our higher education system. It is a tantalizing compromise that would appear to give people the best of both worlds. You get to have your Christianity with it’s promise of heaven and you get to keep your private beliefs and lifestyle decisions as well, without any sense of remorse. However, truth is more important then your comfort, your cultural compromise, and your personal feelings and beliefs. The Bible is our instruction book, revealing the standard of truth. If these churches are going to be brought out of the error of their ways, then they are going to have to submit their positions to the biblical standards. The Bible, along with Jesus Christ and Him crucified, the fullness of the Gospel is going to have to be taught from the pulpits instead of self help and “be a better person” sermons. If the members of these churches are committing themselves to diligent study of God’s Word on their own, then these churches will fizzle out of our society. This does seem to be the trend right now, and it needs to continue.
Thanks for reading, God bless.