Evangelical Liberal Asks: Does Liberal Theology Undermine Christian Morality?

One of the joys of blogging for me, over the past twenty months, is finding so many other bloggers who share a perspective similar to my own. I did not really expect that; for decades I felt somewhat isolated, but now I have a sense of community with those who think much as I do.

Evangelical Liberal Banner

Perhaps the blogger with whom I identify most is Evangelical Liberal. We both embrace progressive theological views without abandoning our evangelical roots. Recently, Evangelical Liberal posted an article titled Does Liberal Theology Undermine Christian Morality?.

The title itself captured my attention because conservative Christians often claim that without having to follow rules and laws, and without the threat of punishment if they do not, people have no motivation to live morally—to which I disagree!

Evangelical Liberal delves into the question, makes some excellent observations, and arrives at a very good conclusion: So, does ‘liberal’ theology, or re-interpreting the Bible, undermine Christian morality? I think it can do, but it needn’t.

Please consider reading his post for its benefit and also as an introduction to my next post, in which I interact with his very important question of whether liberal (progressive) theology undermines Christian morality. Click the link below to see Evangelical Liberal’s article.

Does Liberal Theology Undermine Christian Morality?

Image credit: Evangelical Liberal blog
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11 Responses to Evangelical Liberal Asks: Does Liberal Theology Undermine Christian Morality?

  1. sheila0405 says:

    Thanks for the referral to an excellent article. This certainly has helped me as I am wrestling with exactly this right now.

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  2. Chas says:

    Tim. I went to the Evangelical Liberal’s site for a time, but now no longer do so. His concern about morality is covered by our definition of sin as actions that might lead to suffering, although to avoid such actions consistently requires us to be in the Presence of God. There God helps us to do only those things that avoid suffering. However, there are people whom I know to be in the Presence of God, but they still cause suffering to themselves by failing to accept the authority of God over their lives, through giving other people authority over it. Note that it is they who cause the suffering, not God. Their wives must also be suffering, through feeling their husbands’ suffering.

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    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, the thing that excites me about Evangelical Liberal is that he is certainly an evangelical on a journey of discovery and change. I do not agree with all of his assumptions, but I think he has a progressive heart. I can imagine him as I was some years ago.

      Were I to distance myself from everyone with whom I disagreed in some way, I would be alone in the world and of no value to anyone.

      Point me to a person who is perfectly wise and without fault, and I will follow them; but I have never encountered such a person.

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      • Chas says:

        No-one is perfectly wise and without fault, but God is, so it is Him whom we should follow. We cannot follow Jesus, since we do not have his true words, only those which someone else has attributed to him.

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        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Chas, if we cannot follow Jesus from his words as shared from the memories of his earliest followers, then how can we follow God at all? Where else do we have insight into God faultless wisdom?

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          • Chas says:

            By asking Him to show us what He wants us to do and to give us the boldness to do that. This is what we are shown by the actions of the Holy Spirit listed in the gospel attributed to John.

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          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I think I understand what you are saying–that we should follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But this seems very subjective to me. How is it that people who insist that they are guided by the Holy Spirit arrive at such different, even conflicting, conclusions? And then they claim they know it through the Holy Spirit.

            Regarding your reference to John, if we can not trust the writers, including John, to deliver us a somewhat valid report of the words and actions of Jesus, then how can we have confidence in his depiction of the actions of the Holy Spirit?

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          • Chas says:

            Tim, I agree that there are many people who claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit, maybe because the Bible tells them that they should be; however, the evidence, such as dogma, churches dividing and new denominations being created, show that some, perhaps many of them are not truly being guided by the Holy Spirit, because God would never contradict Himself. The fact that you speak in tongues confirms that you are in the Presence of God and so are capable of receiving His guidance. All you have do do is to ask God as stated in my previous post, then just trust in what you experience.

            In regard to what we are told about the Holy Spirit in John, the words there explain what I am experiencing: that God teaches us and shows us what is true, and shows us what He wants us to understand from the Bible. (Note that what we understand might change with time, because our needs change as we move closer to God).

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          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, you stated that “The fact that you speak in tongues confirms that you are in the Presence of God and so are capable of receiving His guidance.”

            I spent 20 years among Pentecostal churches in which speaking in tongues was a normal occurrence. I regularly spoke in tongues myself. However, I witnessed many tongues-speaking people, claiming to be guided by the Holy Spirit, who produced obviously bad or erroneous guidance or behavior.

            I cannot see how being in that situation guarantees truth. In addition, Pentecostal bodies themselves have had many divisions and disagreements over the past century or so since their beginnings. May I ask if you are a speaker-in-tongues and what type of church you are part of?

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          • Chas says:

            Tim, the problem with regard to speaking in tongues is that, because of the Pentacostal belief that people must speak in tongues to show that they are being guided by the Holy Spirit, and have made this a compulsory requirement for people to be given membership of their church, some people have learned to fake it (and some of them have then gained positions of influence in their churches and have undermined them). If you truly speak in tongues, you will be able to tell when someone is speaking false tongues. Not everybody who is in the Presence of God speaks in tongues (yet). It took some time for me to do so, but I had the expectation that it would be possible, from the part of the Alpha course that dealt with the actions of the Holy Spirit. Of course, you can then ask the question: How do I know that I am speaking true tongues? My reply would have to be ‘experience.’ A leader in a church where I was a member spoke in false tongues. Because I was aware of some things that he had done, which were contrary to what I was being shown, I was made so angry that I began to speak tongues voluntarily, but this became entirely involuntary and out loud; I could not have stopped it, even if I had wanted to do. When this finished, there was deep silence for what seemed a long time, but was probably just a few seconds, then someone gave the interpretation, which told me that this leader was going to be removed from his position of leadership, because he was opposing the actions of the Holy Spirit.

            The main churches in which I have had fellowship were not specifically Pentacostal, but there were other people there who spoke in tongues. In the first, their tradition was that there had to be interpretation, so that was the way that prophecy (which I believe is God speaking to us, not a foretelling of the future) was brought to that church. In the second, people spoke in tongues, then gave the interpretation themselves, so it was speaking in tongues and prophesying. When I asked one of them about her experience, she told me that she had to concentrate hard to make sure that she was giving the exact words that she received, which implies that somebody could put something of themselves into their prophecy, if they were not careful. That tells us that even somebody who is serving God has the capacity to be unfaithful in that service, if they seek to serve themselves. There is a need for us to ask God to help us to serve Him with total humility, keeping ourselves out of it.

            At present, I do not attend any church (although I would dearly like to do so) because this is what God requires of me. When the time is right, He will bring me back into fellowship.

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