Understanding liberal Christianity,can it be done?


#1

I was searching Amazon using the keyword Dominic and I came
across this review for a Dominic Crossan book. I knew already
that he is an ‘out there’ pop theologian. What caught my eye was
the review below. It is a nice explanation for the position of
people who seek to make Christianity more ‘progressive’. To me it
really brings to light a sort of schizophrenic ideology that wants
to dilute Christianity into a worldly philosophy. I am interested
in reading what others have to say about this. Below is the link and the quote.

amazon.com/gp/product/0060699744/sr=8-5/qid=1141540823/ref=pd_bbs_5/103-9005113-0197403?%5Fencoding=UTF8

They are … dissatisfied, disappointed, or even disgusted with classical Christianity and their denominational tradition. They hold on with anger or leave with nostalgia, but are not happy with either decision. They do not want to invent or join a new age, but to reclaim and redeem an ancient one. They do not want to settle for a generic-brand religion, but to rediscover their own specific and particular roots. But they know now that those roots must be in a renewed Christianity whose validity does not reject every other religion’s integrity, a renewed Christianity that has purged itself of rationalism, fundamentalism, and literalism, whether of book, tradition, community, or leader.


#2

In other words, they want a christianity where they can be called christian, but do not have to be Christian.

Anything to avoid being called pagen, I guess.:rolleyes:

:twocents:

Z


#3

It is helpful if you are theologicaly sound to read the liberal scholars. So much of biblical scholarship and popular media presentation of Christianity is influenced by the presuppositions of this group. While their beliefs can be debunked, it is imperative to understand their perspective in order to effectively debate with them.


#4

There is no one “liberal” perspective. There are all sorts of “liberals,” and just who is a “liberal” depends on who is doing the labeling.

After all, many on this board would call Fr. Raymond Brown a liberal. Yet he’s in a completely different camp from Crossan.

Edwin


#5

[quote=Contarini]There is no one “liberal” perspective. There are all sorts of “liberals,” and just who is a “liberal” depends on who is doing the labeling.

After all, many on this board would call Fr. Raymond Brown a liberal. Yet he’s in a completely different camp from Crossan.

Edwin
[/quote]

This is true, although no one seems to be contending there is only one perspective from what has been said so far. It is quite common to put people into a particular camp based upon ideology, whether it be political or religious. To be completely accurate, one could list all of the particulars that seperates Marcus Borg from Crossan, but those particulars would quickly lose the audience these forums reach. Present company excluded of course.


#6

The problem with labels like “liberal” or “conservative” is that they don’t really describe the important features of the positions in question–they just describe how those positions differ from the position of the person applying the label.

There is a classic liberal position prevalent within Protestantism in the later 19th and earlier 20th centuries–Fatherhood of God, Brotherhood of Man, etc. One could argue that much contemporary “liberal” theology has some analogies to this old-fashioned position. But it is very different as well.

And the OP did speak of a single “progressive” perspective.

Guilt by association is a perennial problem in religious controversy. You create a label, you lump your opponents together under it, and presto! You’ve refuted them all. It’s shoddy methodology, even if some very great Christians have fallen into it (arguably Athanasius created an “Arianism” and Augustine a “Pelagianism” and Irenaeus a “Gnosticism” that had no internal unity). Precisely because such giants have fallen into this trap, I don’t think it’s possible to be too careful in avoiding it.

Edwin


#7

What is your postion of John Shelby Spong?


#8

[quote=Sagefrakrobatik]What is your postion of John Shelby Spong?
[/quote]

It is my opinion after reading all of his books, and hearing him in person twice, he is either an agnostic or Deist who cannot bring himself to leave the trappings of his Anglican background and thus attempts to redefine it to something more palatable for himself and other liberals( if the shoe fits…).

His books are a light read and probably reflect the opinions of many in academia and in the pulpit but cannot bring themselves to take it to the end that Bishop Spong does.


#9

Thank you for all your responses. I thought this would make an interesting subject for discussion. One of the things I have learned is to consider that there is diversity in modernist views as Contarini points out.

I help out with Pre-Cana and most the couples we get have a love-hate relationship with Christianity; hence, my intention with this post is to get insights into the modernist mind in order to better communicate with them. Frankly, I come away with the idea that they just want a church of social justice and have Christ as sort of a Santa Claus type to provide happy memories for their children. Many of couples get their theology from TV where Crossan, Spong, and others are the featured experts on Christianity.


#10

Some sociologists did a study of teens and young adults at UNC Chappel Hill and then used that study and did face-to-face interviews with some of the subjects to sum up their faith. They coined the phrase Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Moralistic because the subjects believed that going to Church helps people be good people; Therapeutic because faith is meant to make people happy; and Deism because there is the concept of a God there–a god that doesn’t really bother folk much.

There’s a write up here from an Evangelical perpective.


#11

[quote=Fredricks]It is helpful if you are theologicaly sound to read the liberal scholars. So much of biblical scholarship and popular media presentation of Christianity is influenced by the presuppositions of this group. While their beliefs can be debunked, it is imperative to understand their perspective in order to effectively debate with them.
[/quote]

You mean liberal scholars like Jacqus Maritain, Henri de Lubac, Yves Congar, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Raymond Brown and Karl Rahner?

Notice that many of these scholars were once condemned and later vindicate? Catholicism is moving in a liberal direction it seems, though there is a growing disparity between the progressive and conservative wings in the Church.

Ironically it was reading what is now concidered conservative scholars like Maritain and Gilson that moved me from near SSPX to something closer to modern a Jesuit.


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