In our modern culture, there is much talk of “liberalism.” Whether it be the hard-left-veering Democrats or those who seek to rebel against certain conservative norms, liberalism has become rather trendy in recent times. And when it comes to the church, the exact same is true — overtly liberal theology is gaining influence at a staggering rate.
Of course, there are strands of liberal thinking which can drastically assist the church in carrying out its mission to serve those in need. Liberal thinking, in a traditional sense, should be in line with the virtuous qualities of liberty, equality and magnanimity. Unfortunately, modern liberal Christians have taken to hijacking the Bible for their own political ends, and as a result have trampled all over the true nature and worth of the Gospel message — namely, that Christ died for our sins so that we might live with Him forever.
So why is liberal theology so dangerous?
It is cherrypicking Christianity
The overtly liberal theologian is likely to embrace certain aspects of biblical teaching, while wholly rejecting other parts of the holy text. Liberal theology “plays fast and loose with the precepts and parameters of Scripture,” said Oxford theologian and author Rev. Simon Ponsonby in a recent sermon.
“They take the bits they like and cut out the bits they dislike,” he continued. “They stand over it and become the ultimate authority. The liberal accepts and adapts Scripture to their own appetites. Essentially, it is religion on their terms. The Bible becomes a self-service supermarket of their ideas, rather than the divine, inspired word of God.”
It undermines the truth of the Gospel
Liberal theology is marked by an absolute disdain for theological absolutes. Most liberals cower, disengage or criticize if you talk about things of heaven and hell, sin or even the idea of ultimate biblical truth. Everything is fluid, debatable and open to interpretation.
“The false prophet will always protest against the binary that Scripture lays down,” Ponsonby noted. “Marked by this liberal accommodation, the false prophet will tense, balk, resist, challenge and evade the truth of Scripture — that there is a narrow path and a straight, small gate.”
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” — Matthew 7:13-14
While these words appear crystal clear, liberals will often take serious issue with them — never mind the fact they were spoken by the Lord Jesus himself.
“It has ever been the mark of liberal theology to say ‘we don’t believe it, because everyone at the end of the wide broad road gets in,'” Ponsonby said. “It’s a lie.”
It leads Christians and non-Christians astray
Titus 2:1 instructs, “Teach what accords with sound doctrine.” Unfortunately, liberal theology often propagates a narrative that is far from biblically sound. As such, those who advocate and herald an overtly liberal doctrine are actively leading people astray. For those inquisitive about Christianity, liberal theology undersells the power of the Gospel and offers false promises. For those who believe in Jesus, it directs them down a perilous path. Ponsonby cautioned that liberals often “call people away from some of the things that Christ calls them to,” such as repentance and self-denial.
Even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who is for many a leading proponent of liberal theology, spotted some fundamental issues with it.
“One of the great weaknesses of liberal theology is that it too often loses itself in ‘higher criticism,'” he wrote. “In other words, the liberal theologian, in many instances, becomes so involved in higher criticism that he unconsciously stops there.”
Liberal theologians tend to engage in a perpetual deconstruction of biblical texts, tearing the promises of God to shreds with, perhaps, the good intention of piecing it back together again. The tragic reality is that many leave the Scriptures in tatters and never, ever return.
“Liberalism, at its worst, is false prophecy,” Ponsonby warned. “Actually, it’s blasphemy.”