[quote=Kecharitomene]Is it possible for a Protestant to NOT be a theological liberal by virtue of the rudimentary definition of “liberal” in pertaining to such a subject?
I am struggling with this because I hear so many Protestant preachers condemn other assemblies because of thier “Liberalistic, spiritualistic approach to the scriptures”. It seems that in essence, every Protestant is embracing the liberal teachings of whomever it was who broke from the Catholic Church and started their specific congregation.
It depends on your point of view, and, a la Clinton, how you define “liberal” and “conservative.”
Classically, a conservative is one who wants to “conserve” the status quo, while a radical or a revolutionary, not necessarily a liberal, is one who wants to change it. However, the classical definition of “liberal” is not “not conservative;” it refers to someone who wants a broad, generous (too often with other people’s money) scope of action in society.
When you start identifying liberal with “left” and conservative with “right,” you run into problems. For example, in Russia in the 1990s it was the conservatives who were trying first to maintain, and then return to, the old left-wing status quo, while the liberals were trying to move Russian society more to what we would consider the right.
For another example, our society in America today is a very free, open, “liberal” society (with all the negative baggage that such a society brings with it). The political liberals are actually trying to maintain that status quo, which makes them conservatives, while the political conservatives are trying to change the statue quo back to something it used to be, which makes them anything but true conservatives.
Back to your question: In some cases ecclesiastical splits happened because the schismatic group wanted to loosen things up, perhaps to leave room for their sin. In this case, they would be rightly thought of as “liberals” when they broke away, but now that they are just trying to maintain their free-thinking status-quo, they are conservatives.
On the other hand, there have been schismatic groups that broke away in order to adopt a narrower, stricter, more rigorous lifestyle. These would certainly have been deemed radicals when they broke away, but certainly not liberals.
Look at the Catholic Church today. There are threatened and real breakaways at both ends of the spectrum, groups like Call to Action at one end, and groups like SSPX at the other. However, I don’t think both ends of the spectrum could be called “liberal.” They are both radical, however.
I hope I haven’t confused the issue too much.