Key Causes of Ideologically Biased Christian Theology And PracticePosted: May 9, 2012
I suggest that when most people compare liberal Christian theology to conservative Christian theology, they tend to think of liberal theology as being about ‘heart’ and conservative theology as being about ‘rules’. Liberal Christians will tend to talk about “welcoming minorities”, about “equality”, and often whatever the political left are fighting for at the time. Their basic message tends to ultimately be one of sharing and love and encouraging unified happiness in the present. In the other camp, Conservative Christians will tend to talk about what the Bible says, about traditional family values, and often whatever the political right are fighting for at the time. Their message tends to focus more on enduring the difficulties of life by working hard, by following and possibly suffering under the rules, but then ultimately being rewarded for that. Amiright?
And of course there is value in either of those perspectives. There are also flaws in both perspectives. From a Christian point of view, the conservatives have a valid point when they say that the liberals dont take the rules (ie the Bible) seriously, and likewise, the liberals have a valid point when they say that the conservatives tend to lack loving attitudes.
And from where do these biases arise? Well, I have some theories…
I think conservatives are very much influenced by fear. Fear of slipping into sin, fear of going to hell, fear of having no money, fear of societal anarchy. A conservative is more likely to stay away from those they deem to be big-time sinners; homosexuals, prostitutes, criminals. In the continuum between fearing and avoiding the sinner in order to keep ones self safe from sin, compared to the opposite of loving and befriending the sinner, the conservative is more likely to err towards the former. Fear can be a blessing, and also a curse. Jesus supported the idea of fear though; fear of God and fear of hell. But if a conservative falls in love, or comes to a place of greater security, then for a while at least, the fear reduces, and their location on the continuum shifts. Love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
And I think liberals are very much influenced by their hearts. They seek to love anyone who they feel might be missing out on societal sharing and caring. In the continuum between fearing and avoiding the sinner in order to keep ones self safe from sin, compared to the opposite of loving and befriending the sinner, the liberal is more likely to err towards the latter. Love can be a blessing, and also a curse. Of course, Jesus is recorded as being a huge supporter of love. But the liberal has a greater tendency to listen to their hearts rather than to the specifics of what the Bible teaches. Paradoxically, the heart actually leads well-meaning people away from a Biblical perspective (Matthew 15:18-20).
Rare is the Christian who is a deep lover of people, but who also fears God enough to truly honour what the Bible states.