A liberal Christian is one who is either (1) an atheist or naturalist who still believes in the moral and social teachings of Christianity usually with a humanitarian emphasis (2) a Westerner who is trying to adapt Christianity to an Eastern form of mysticism in a garb more familiar to his own cultural tradition. Liberal Christians reject the supernatural elements in Christianity and try to retain certain other elements that they find attractive--e.g., the moral teachings or the sense of community or the feelings of fusion with God.
Liberal Christians also reject the inerrancy of the Bible. They do not look to the Bible for divine revelations from God nor do they view it as historically accurate. They view the Bible as they would any other piece of ancient literature, such as *The Iliad* and *The Odyssey* or the *Aeneid.*
The atheist type of liberal Christian emerged from the more radical aspects of the Enlightenment. Taking the Protestant skepticism about Catholic additions to the biblical text where stories of the supernatural seemed far-fetched and applying such skepticism to the Scriptures themselves produced an indiscriminate aversion to anything that violated the natural order. The result of this rationalistic scrutiny produced doubts about God's creation of the universe ex nihilo, miracles, the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, Jesus' resurrection from the dead, and following this logic to its conclusion--to doubts about the existence of God himself.
The emphasis on scientific and rational scrutiny produced a sterile religion that prompted a backlash among those who did not return to orthodox Christianity. These liberal Christians began to explore more supra-rational approaches to the Divine. They studied Christian mystics from the past and found parallels with Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi mystics searching for a direct encounter with God. The emphasis here became immediate experience rather than the intellect or study of the Bible and intermediary institutions such as the traditional church.
Much of what is termed "mainstream" Christianity in the U.S. has been taken over by liberal Christians beginning in the mid to late nineteenth century. This takeover has prompted a withdrawal of people with more traditional views of Christianity from these Protestant denominations. Fundamentalism was a more belligerent, separationist reaction that failed to capture wide segments of the American population. A milder, less hostile defense of orthodox Christianity that has exploded in growth and in influence is Evangelicalism. Each Protestant denomination now has liberal and Evangelical branches with their own churches that differ sharply in theology and tone. Catholics also have liberal and orthodox theologians and priests.
The University of Chicago Divinity School that began around the turn of the 20th century was the intellectual spearhead of liberal Christianity. From Chicago, pastors and theologians fanned out across the U.S. taking over churches and other schools of divinity. It would take nearly 100 years before the Evangelicals would make significant inroads in intellectual circles. Even today, the leading schools of divinity in the U.S. are controlled by liberal theologians who believe very differently from average lay members of any Christian church. Religious Studies programs at most colleges and universities in the U.S. teach religion from this liberal perspective. Evangelical Christians are not welcome in these departments.
Much of this intellectual movement began in Germany with the influence of the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel who was influenced by a strange combination of mysticism and rationalism. Friedrich Schleiermacher, an 18th-19th century German theologian, who was a prominent figure in "Higher Criticism" (the attempts to find historical inaccuracies and textual and logical contradictions in the Bible in the spirit of rational and consistent inquiry) was also a guiding light for theological liberalism. Albrecht Ritschl was also a leading light for liberalism with his critiques of traditional theology centering on humans' limited ability to understand divine revelation in cognitive terms, and his emphasis on subjective personal experience.
Contemporary theological liberals include John Shelby Spong, Peter Gomes, members of the Jesus Seminar such as John Dominic Crossen. Martin Luther King was a liberal Christian as was William Sloane Coffin.
If you were to die tonight and appeared before God and he asked you why he should let you into his Heaven, what would you say?
Liberal Christian's rely: "I thought that Heaven and personal God stuff was all an allegory. I cannot believe this is really happening. Since it is, I'll mention my work with the poor and my meditation sessions where I thought I once felt your presence momentarily...I can't really say for sure."
A liberal who plays at being a Christian to appease their conscience.
The term 'liberal Christian' is an oxymoron because it is not possible to hold the beliefs of liberalism and be in harmony with Biblical teachings at the same time. This would make the phrase 'liberal christian' is akin to the phrase 'evil, good person'.
A 'liberal christian' typically denies the blood sacrifice of Christ for attonement of our sins, does not attend church regurlarly, and does not pray. A 'liberal Christian' is infact, 'Christian' in name only.
Further, a liberal Christian does not recognize Christ as the sole avenue for salvation as taught in the Bible. A 'liberal christian' therefore does not have salvation, which, according to biblical teachings, is attained through the name of Christ exclusively.
Person1: I know this person who says their a Christian but gets drunk, parties, and supports murdering innocent babies. I thought the Bible teaches that getting drunk is wrong, Christians should seperate from the world (evil), and that murdering babies is wrong, what gives?
Person2: Don't be fooled, thats what one would refer to as a 'liberal christian', please do not confuse people like that with true Christians who follow the Bibles teachings. They are not Christians in any sense of the word.
A follower of the Christian church (any of them, since there are about 30 different denominations) that supports liberal ideology including but not limited to pro-abortion, sex whenever between any 2 legal adults, stem cell research, pro-legalization, anti-war movements, and, most importantly, the two things that set them apart from the Christian Right: FREEDOM OF RELIGION and SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, which if you'll remember is written and implied in the Constitution. Needless to say, there aren't too many out there, and most of them are really just moderates in the political spectrum.
Steve Irwin: Crikes! Looks like we've got ourselves a reeeal rare one here! If you'll look in the church here, you'll see a liberal PRAYING! This must be one of those Liberal Christians, a real rarity in the USA indeed!
A person who religiously identifies as a Christian but dislikes creeds and religious exclusion in general, has Open Communion, embraces views of salvation that emphasize social and personal transformation as more important than some after-death status conferred by God onto the individual, views the social and moral teachings of Christ as integral to his role as Redeemer of the world, doubts or rejects Biblical inerrancy, is open to panentheistic, pantheistic, and deistic notions of God, and/or is generally allergic to anything that smacks of fundamentalism. Liberal Christians tend to be in mainline Protestant denominations. Liberal Christians are not necessarily liberal in politics, though many of them are. Listening to Christian rock music does not make one a liberal Christian.
The first liberal Christian whose liberal religion I respected was a highschool classmate of mine. We were talking about homosexuality, and she reminded me that among the many things forbidden in the New Testament is that vain and haughty aberration of braided hair on women (which you will find in 1 Timothy 2:9).