From: [[url=mailto:email@example.com]firstname.lastname@example.org[/url]] On Behalf of John Waddey
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 2:46 PM
Subject: [fortify_your_faith] A Lesson to Fortify Your Faith - 05/12/07</font>
WHAT CONSTITUTES LIBERALISM?
<font color=black face=arial> Dear Friends in Christ:
The word "liberalism" is used in both religion, politics and social issues. It is a word with a hundred definitions since each person attaches his own meaning to it. In most cases it is used to described that with which we do not agree.
Today's lesson seeks to give a more specific meaning to the word as used among churches of Christ in this 21st century. I encourage you to share the lesson with others who share our faith.
- <font size=5>WHAT CONSTITUTES LIBERALISM?</font>
<font color=indigo size=3 face=times new roman> The word "liberalism" is often used to describe the teaching of those who trouble the Lord's church. Some are confused as to just what the term means. The word takes on different shades of meaning when used by different religious bodies. For example a liberal among us would probably be a conservative among Episcopalians or Methodists. A conservative Catholic would be a liberal among us. Even among our own brethren the word is used with different shades of meaning. It would mean something quite different to a change agent who teaches in a Christian University than to the preacher who is struggling to build a local congregation. This article will seek to clarify the meaning of liberalism as used among our brethren in this present generation.
What Liberalism Is Not:
- It is not the use of newer or different translations of the Bible. All translations are the products of uninspired men. They vary in quality. Each has strengths and weaknesses. One can use a different translation and still be faithful to Christ.
- It is not just a different interpretation or understanding of a verse or section of Scripture. Every student of the Bible will occasionally find a new understanding of some portion of Scripture.
- It is not just a new or different idea we have not previously heard or held. None of us have fully mastered every thing in God's Word. All will on occasion find that he had misunderstood something of God's message.
- It is not just the questioning of some fondly held view. God wants us to prove all things and hold fast that which is good (I Thess. 5:21). Like the Bereans we should always be ready to search the Scriptures to see if a teaching is true (Acts 17:11).
- It is not just trying to honestly understand our past history. Much of what is repeated by word of mouth becomes distorted or embellished. To seek out the facts of what our forefathers did and believed is a noble endeavor.
- It is not just using words or expressions unfamiliar to us. Anyone who has traveled among our churches in other nations knows there are dozens of ways to express a commonly held truth. The same is true here at home, although we don't always understand that.
- It is not just doing the things relating to our faith and worship in a different manor or way than we are use to. For example when we pray we might kneel, or sit or stand, bow with our face to the ground or lift up holy hands and be praying in an acceptable manner so long as we petition the Father through Christ the one mediator (I Tim. 2:5). There are numerous ways to participate in the Lord's Supper; but so long as we gather on the first day of the week and partake of the bread and fruit of the vine in memory of the Savior's death, we have properly obeyed God.
- A lack of respect for the complete and final authority of the Word of God which Jesus said will judge us in the last day (John 12:48).
- It is a rejection of what the Bible claims for itself. God calls his book, a "pattern of sound words" (II Tim. 1:13). Liberals vehemently deny this truth.
- It is a willingness to take liberties with the sacred things of God. It is a lack of love and respect for the church as the sacred body and bride of Christ (Eph. 1:21-22; 5:23-25). It holds no honor for the doctrines with which Christ adorned his bride.
- It is a spirit that despises its brethren and that disparages great Christian leaders of the past. It treats with contempt those disciples who do not share their elitist views.
- It is a desire to be something other than a simple New Testament Christians.
- It is a longing to be like the world, to find acceptance with denominational scholars, schools and leaders. It embarrassed by the exclusiveness of the Master's teaching.
- It is a willingness to exalt one's own opinions, ideas and feelings above the sacred Word of Christ.
- It is a spirit of deception; pretending to be faithful members of the church of Christ, when in the secret recesses of their hearts they know such is not the case.
- Rather than strengthening Christians and building up the church, liberalism erodes faith and undermines the kingdom of Christ.
- <font size=5>
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now