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"Liberal" vs "Conservative" Christianity
it's “more importanter” than you think
why is this important?
first of all, it’s “importanter”
Second, he word “theology” simply means “the study of God.” You and I have a way that we study God. As with most things in life, our theology can be either by design or by default. The way we see God is important because it will ultimately determine the way we see everything else. How can we begin to decide what our theology is? Let’s start with a 30,000 foot view.
In the world of theology, similar to politics, there are a spectrum of ideas. There are two primary camps, one is conservative and one is liberal. That doesn’t mean conservative or liberal politically.
Liberal theologies are those that allow for the accommodation of current social or political movements into their doctrine and teaching. Liberal theology seeks to modernize the Bible and Christian teaching and teaches that the Bible is not fully sufficient for Christian living. Liberal theological teaching can often include progressive social stances.
Put simply, liberal theology is Biblical interpretation from a post-modern worldview.
Conservative theologies are often called “fundamental.” Conservative theology often sees Scripture and its doctrines as a direct challenge to social or political movements. Conservative theology places an emphasis on the sufficiency of the Bible for christian living. Conservative theology is often engaged socially, but does not embrace progressive social viewpoints.
Put simply, liberal theology is Biblical interpretation from a Biblical worldview.
Can you know the Bible without applying it correctly? Yes. The knowledge of scriptures is of supreme importance. So is the application. We must attempt to apply scripture the way God intended. How can we know how God intended us to interpret scripture? That’s an interesting question.
liberal vs. conservative theology
Scripture - Liberal theology says that Scripture is not infallible, inerrant or sufficient.
Liberal theology teaches that the Bible can be wrong historically. It can also be wrong socially and otherwise. The Bible is a product of its time and is not a perfect document. God’s will is perfect, but we can’t truly know it. The Bible was written by imperfect people. So, it must be imperfect itself. It is important that the Bible is recontextualized and reframed in the context of modern society. The Bible serves as a guide for morality, but is not to be taken literally.
Scripture - Conservative theology is about sola Scriptura.
The Bible is the only thing necessary to equip us to live the life that God designed us for. It is also infallible and inerrant. The authors of scripture were led and shaped divinely by God himself to write what they wrote. This does not mean the entire Bible, or its approach to history should be taken literally. There is a difference between a literal and figurative interpretation. We must use wisdom in assessing what is literal and what is figurative. Conservative theology looks to the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Miracles - Liberal theology says that there were, and are no “supernatural” miracles of Jesus, or anyone else.
Liberal theologians believe that virgin birth of Jesus did not happen and he most likely didn’t physically rise from the dead. Jesus’ miracles, death and resurection are an allegory. Jesus was a moral teacher and a great man, but his followers most likely exaggerated his miracles to give greater weight to his life.
Miracles - Conservative theologians believe that the life of Jesus and the miracles described in Scripture are factual.
Eternity - Liberal theology often subscribes to Universalism, the belief that Hell is not real.
Liberal theologians often have a tough time reconciling the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent God sending people to a place called hell. If God knows everything, then why would he create people to send them to hell?
Eternity - Conservative theology believes in the utter depravity of humanity.
Even though God created us, we are born with a wicked heart that wants to do evil (Jeremiah 17:9, Isaiah 64:6). If we never accept the gospel of Jesus, we will find ourselves eternally damned after our death to a place called Hell (Matthew 25:41, Matthew 11:20-24). If we embrace Jesus, we will find ourselves in Heaven with him (John 14:1-7).
Truth - Liberal theology embraces subjective truth.
The “truths” of Scripture must be reinterpreted subjectively based on cultural progress. As long as a person pursues what they believe to be socially good and is doing their best to live according to how they interpret scripture, that is enough. People are mostly good how they are, where they are. God didn’t create objective standards for us to live by. Instead he asks us to embrace the concept of goodness and model it after Jesus. Not grace + truth, just grace.
Truth - Conservative theology presents Scripture as bedrock and unchanging truth.
Scripture’s demands of us and its definitions of sin and morality are not subjective based on cultural “progress.” We must allow God to change our entire nature from the inside-out in order to become who he has destined us to become. Yes there is always grace for our sins, but we must also consider the objective truth of Scripture when defining right and wrong.
default or design
Most people aren’t divided evenly between these. And there’s also more divides than these listed. That’s not intentional. But it is of vital importance.
When the Bible calls a sin a sin, that’s not a cultural difference between us and the ancient world. That’s God shaping the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven.
When scripture teaches us that we can heal the sick and raise the dead. That’s not fictional. Jesus did miracles, his followers did too. Miracles still happen all over the world today.
There can also be no goodness without God. We as humans are more than flawed. We are sinful, and we are in need of a savior.
Jesus was more than a good man. He was God in flesh. He gave his life so that our eternity could be spent with the God who created us.
If we do not accept Jesus as our savior, we will be forever separated from God after we die.
The only way to life the life God wants us to live is to live like Jesus did. To follow his way of living completely. The New Testament shows us how to live this kind of life. The grace of God does not guarantee that we will have a good life. God’s grace guarantees our eternity. Our obedience to God’s word guarantees a good life.