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Theological Liberalism

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Theological liberalism, sometimes known as Protestant Liberalism, is a theological movement rooted in the early 19th century German Enlightenment, notably in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the religious views of Friedrich Schleiermacher. It is an attempt to incorporate modern thinking and developments, especially in the sciences, into the Christian faith. Liberalism tends to emphasize ethics over doctrine and experience over Scriptural authority. -Theopedia


Liberal Christianity, broadly speaking, is a method of biblical interpretation,, an undogmatic (non authoritative) method of understanding God through the use of scripture by applying the same modern interpretation used to understand any ancient writings. Liberal Christianity does not claim to be a belief structure, and as such is not dependent upon any Church doctrine or creedal statements. Unlike conservative varieties of Christianity, it has no unified set of propositional beliefs. The word liberal in liberal Christianity denotes a characteristic willingness to interpret scripture without any preconceived notion of inerrancy (infallibility, no Errors) of scripture or the correctness of Church docrtrine.[2] A conservative Christian and a liberal Christian, however, may hold certain beliefs in common .

So I define Conservative Christianity as the opposite. of Theological liberalism.

Conservative Christianity

Conservative Christianity is dogmatic, and uses a authoritative means by which to interpret the scriptures. Conservative Christianity tends to emphasize Biblical doctrine as the means of defining ones personal experience. And furthermore, doctrine (Biblical Truth) defines one ethics. We believe in the Bibles account of a seven day creation, and will boldly say that if Modern Science doesn't believe in a 7th day creation. Then modern science is wrong. We believe the scriptures are infallible, and without errors. If supposed Biblical contradictions are found. We know that this is an interpretation problem. Not a Biblical contradiction.

By defining these two very different cultures of Christianity. In conversation we can see where a Christian is coming from very easily. Now is there going to be areas of Theology where Conservative Christians disagree. Sure they may not believe in a Rapture, they may have a different take on the Kingdom. However where there is disagreement the conclusions should be drawn from the scriptrues.

This may not be an easy thing. Theological liberalism has entrenched itself in many seminaries. So much so. That Pastors, Teachers, Evangelists, study habits maybe viewed as less involved at best, and at worst just plain lazy.

The main wall that must be torn down in order to adhere to Theological liberalism is the Wall of Biblical Inspiration.

A. Plenary Inspiration

Definition= God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the writers of scripture, that without waving their human intelligence, personal feelings, or any other human factor. His complete and coherent message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages os Scripture. The very words bearing divine authorship. Verbal meaning the bible in its orginal words first, to last is the exact record of the mind and will of God as He intended it to be.

B. Natural Inspiration = The men of the bible were great genius, but that their writings were no more inspiring than those of other geniuses of history

C. Mystical or Illumination. Sees the writers as Sprit filled and guided Believers just as any believer may be even today. Logically, one might conclude that any spirit-Filled Christian could write Scripture today. Similar to this idea that the biblical writers were inspired to a greater degree that others.

D. Dictation. That is writers were completely passive and God simply dictated to them what was to be recorded. True some parts of the bible were dictated like the ten Commandments and the rest of the law.) but the defintion implies God allowed varying degree of self expression as they wrote.

D. Partial Inspiration. Parts of the bible were inspired. This seems to allow for a measure of authority without the necessity of the words being completely accurate.

E Neo othrodox= The bible is the word of God, but only in a secondary sense. Christ being primarily the Word. And his Bible is full of errors because it is merely the product of fallible men.

F. Inspired Purpose = While the Bible is full of errors and unsolvable discrepancies in its content, it does have “Doctrinal Integrity.” and thus accomplishes Gods purpose for it. “Notice in this definition they carefully limit the Bible’s infallibility to the main purpose or principal emphasis of the Bible and do not extend it to include the accuracy of all its historical facts and parallel accounts.” - Charles Ryrie.

Other than the plenary inspiration view, or the Dictation inspiration view. The other Theological liberal can pick from any other view of inspiration and that is the starting point that can change his/her's whole outlook of the Bible.

The average Theological liberal probably hasn't categorized what each view, and then acknowledged themselves as being in any particular view. However by categorizing these views it will be easy to recognize where the christian you maybe talking to is theologically.

There is exists a third category the Theological Moderate.

I use this term because they are the Christian you run into more than any other. You will usually find them “Worshiping at a Theologically liberal Church. However they more than likely have many Theologically Conservative beliefs. For example

7 day creationism.

“Once saved always saved” (Although this view is fast fading and in its place Lordship is taking over”

They may still view the Husband as head of the household, while attending a Bible college that encourages Women to be Pastors.

They may study the scriptures as a family, while still viewing Tongues as a truly Spiritual way of getting closer to God. There will be views of the Theological liberal that may make the Theological Moderate feel uncomfortable. They maybe at a church that practices Tongues, and it makes them uncomfortable but they will not say anything for fear of being viewed as less Holy. Or they may not be able to explain why they are uncomfortable with it. I believe the Holy Spirit maybe convicting them of this activity being wrong. However I have ran into Theological Moderates who may be confused with the Tongues thing but still believe in the infallibility of the scriptures, and are not confortable with the Church Growth movement.

Even though the Theological Moderate doesn't go to the extreme the Theological Liberal does. They maybe a challenge to reach due to the fact they are moderate so they may adhere to experience defining truth on somethings, and doctrine defining other areas of there life.

For example. When it comes to living together while not married. The theological liberal most of the time doesn't have a problem with this.

The theological Moderate will most of the times have a problem with this. (Even if they are doing this themselves they will acknowledge it as being wrong, because the bible defines it as wrong)

So in that situation the Bible defined an experience as being wrong. However when it comes to Tongues they may strongly believe in that as being valid today based solely on experience, not the bible.

In contrast the Theological liberal will define all situations by experience. They will adjust their ethics with the time they live in. For instance Gay marriage. Or even if they are against Gay marriage their view of homosexuality in general.

I have found that the Theological Moderate Christian is easier to reach because they still sometimes use the Bible as the final authority on issues.

This however can be difficult as Theologically liberal Pastors twist scriptures using half truths to justify action. Rick Warren does this a lot in his book

“The Purpose Driven life.”

He encourages discipleship. However his view of a disciple is one who goes out and finds more disciples. And Spiritual gifts as people doing whatever they can to achieve Church Growth. If their gift is music, that's fine

Biblical Covenants.

Conditional:  God will do his part as long as man does his part.  Example Covenant with Adam before the fall.

Unconditional:  A promise of God that will be fulfilled in Gods time and in Gods way. 

On page 13 of the Purpose driven life there is a section that looks like this.

“My Covenant”

With God’s help, I commit the next 40 days of my life to discovering God’s purpose for my life..


Your Name


Partners Name


Rick Warren

I personally would never recommend making a Covenant with God. Keep in mind look at the context of this covenant . Its generic. Its cheesy. It's another Marketing ploy that sounds great on the surface but keep in mind the subject we have been on. Sanctification phase This is the true progressive Sanctification, because it is the Holy Spirit revealing Biblical truths, you believing and applying those truths in good times and during tests in your life. And the end result is Growth. I don't need 40 days to show you the meaning of your life. I will do it in 40 seconds!! this is it.

Now discovering your spiritual gift that comes with time, and growth. But remember Matt 4:4. Hebrews 4:12. 2 Timothy 2:15. Eph 5:12. Eph 5:7-10. Colossians 1:16. John 1:3

Ok so you want a purpose for your life?  Everyone probably has asked that question.  What am I here for?  How about considering that for a minute?  What is my purpose on earth?  

 Lets reflect on that last verse John 1:3.

If all things were created by Jesus Christ for Jesus Christ. Then doesn't it stand to reason that are purpose in life is to bring him honor and glory? To serve him? It seems to me the

On page 29 of the Purpose Driven life.  The author points out that many Christians are driven by MATERIALISM.  Correct!!! Amen!!  However lets take this a step further.  Which he does not.  Many Churches INCLUDING HIS  is driven my MATERIALISM. 

 A lust for money, for the church coffee bar, for the church library, (which is no more than a book store where members have to buy books),

So he’s right there many people are driven by materialism.  HIS CHURCH leadership should be thrown into that statement. 

The Church Growth Gospel.  I’ve seen it presented in churches as “Inviting Jesus into your heart?”  Well what does that mean?  I believe you would have to ask them, or do like I did.  Get it from one of their books.  On page 17 there gospel is defined as follows

You have to LEARN to LOVE and TRUST God’s SON and then you will be invited to spend eternity with him.  If you reject his love, forgiveness,  and salvation you will spend the rest of Eternity apart from God forever.

Notice a couple of things here. 

1.  The Progressive Gospel.  You have to Learn to LOVE and TRUST God’s  SON Jesus.  How long does that take??  Acts 16:31, John 3:16, Eph 2:8,

2.  No mention of Hell.  That’s not politically correct.  People are turned of by negative teaching.  And burning in hell that’s negative.  So just mention it as spending eternity apart from God. 


Rick Warren mentions in “The purpose Driven life” that we are created to serve God, However his idea on serving God maybe different than the Biblical perspective.

He states that we are designed to bring glory to God and that is Worship. However he goes on to say Worship may look different depending on what your religious background is.

On page 64 he State.

“ Depending on your religious background you may need to expand your understanding of “Worhip” . You may thing that Worship is Singing, praying, and listening to sermons as worship. Or you may think of ceremonies, candles, and communiion. Or you may think of healing, miracles, and ecstatic experiences . WORSHIP CAN INCLUDE ALL OF THESE. Page 65 of the purpose Driven life.

2 Timothy 4:3.

Rick Warren is using the “Big Tent” philosophy for the ultimate goal winning membership, increasing numbers. It's the reason why in the gospel message its all about God loves you and doesn't want to spend eternity without you. Instead of mentioning if you don' t accept christ you will burn in a lake of liquid fire for Eternity. No don't mention that. That's negative teaching. That's not uplifiting. Thats not inspiring.

I don't know about you but I'm inspired not to spend Eternity roasting in fire how about you?

You have to LEARN to LOVE and TRUST God’s SON and then you will be invited to spend eternity with him.  If you reject his love, forgiveness,  and salvation you will spend the rest of Eternity apart from God forever.

You don't have to wait for an invitation it has already been extended. And as far as Trust comes you have to have trust in what God is saying about Christ is true. John 3:16. Acts 16:1 However True love comes with time. You don't have to learn to trust when it comes to the gospel.

Let me give you an example. Here is $1000 dollars. Do you in this situation have to learn to trust what I am showing you? Or do you imediately see the money with your own eyes and trust that it is acutally $1000 dollars?

The same thing goes with the gospel. You don't have to learn to love and trust God. For salvation. Now you do for SPIRITUAL Growth. Or as I like to call it Sanctification phase 2. That is Salvation from the power of Sin in your life. Also refered to in Theological circles as Progressive Saintification.

On page 43 Sometimes God intentionally draws back and we don’t see his closeness. 

Temporary Indwelling

Yes, there are, but they are all before the Day of Pentecost (1 Sam. 16:14; perhaps Ps. 51:11; Luke 11:13; John 20:22). But there are no such examples after the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost

Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic theology : A popular systemic guide to understanding biblical truth (411). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press. 

He uses the example of Hezekiah .  “God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was truly in his heart.” 

This verse in used out of context by the author.  He is trying to say that sometimes we don’t feel God’s closeness, but it is because God does this to test us.  However what the author doesn’t mention is

1.King Hezekiah in 2 kings 20:14-15 Had pridefuly shown off the riches of the kingdom to Babylonians. 

2.In  2 kings 20:16-18  Because of Hezekiah’s pride God announced that the Babolyians would carry away all that Hezekiah had shown them. 

3.To be fair Hezekiah had confessed his sin of pride. 2nd Chronicles  32:26. 


So in context We pull away from God he does not draw away from us.  When we are out of fellowship.  Also he does test us even when we are in fellowship.  Yet in this dispensation we are filled with the Spirit.  So when we are out of fellowship we are not in communion with him we are being convicted of our sins by the Holy Spirit. 

Even when we are faithless he is faithful.

(Exod. 31:3; 35:31) (Num. 24:2; Judg. 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 1 Sam. 10:10; 16:13; 2 Chron. 15:1)

Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic theology : A popular systemic guide to understanding biblical truth (401). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.

(Exod. 31:3; 35:31). . Limited as to people. After God chose Israel to be His people, the Spirit’s work was with that group primarily if not exclusively. Israel, of course, was a spiritually mixed nation with unbelievers as well as believers. Yet the Spirit ministered to the entire nation by being present and guiding the people (Neh. 9:20; Isa. 63:10–11, 14). This seemed to be a general relationship. There were apparently closer relationships He had with some within the nation (see above and Num. 11:29).

Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic theology : A popular systemic guide to understanding biblical truth (402). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.

(Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:16; (John 7:37–39; Acts 11:16–17; Rom. 5:5; 1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Cor. 5:5). One

Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic theology : A popular systemic guide to understanding biblical truth (409).

B. Not to Possess the Indwelling Spirit Indicates an Unsaved Condition

Not to have the Spirit is the same as not belonging to Christ, Paul declared (Rom. 8:9). Jude also described apostates as those who did not have the Spirit (Jude 19) and who were “natural” (?niv?). This is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 2:14, another verse that describes

. First Corinthians 6:19

These categories are just that. They are trends. Similar to Soul trends you can have variations and usually do. I have met people who are very Theologically Conservative on most things. However when dealing with the doctrine of Prayer and addressing our prayers to the Father. They believe that you do that but you can “Talk to Jesus” Which is exactly what Rick Warren advocates. Which is totally an emotional thing. They use a phrase in the last verse on Revelation “Jesus Come quickly” as proof that you can talk to Jesus and that's OK.

You could also have a Theological liberal for whatever reason maybe theologically conservative as relates to Adultery.

You could also have a Theological Christian who is all about tradition like praying to Mary, lighting candles, observing Catholic Mass. And their tradition is just dead wrong. However this Christian is usually drawn there based on their belief that this tradition is rooted in truth. Not because the music made them feel the spirit.

However in most cases using these terms to define the christian you are talking to will make it easier to see exactly where they are coming from with there theology.

If you have someone saying something like we as Christians need to face the fact that science proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the creation story is allegorical in nature. Now you can think to yourself :

“Well that's Theologically liberal. Just as you would in the political arena engaging in a conversation about Gun control.

The funny thing is most theological liberals also view themselves as Politically Liberal. They usually twist scripture and present Jesus as a pacifist. Even though he states Luke 12:51 that his ministry wasn't designed to “bring peace on earth” in that dispensation. Rather it would divide believers in him from unbelievers. Mother against Daughter.

However the theological liberal paints him as a weak pacifist. Rick warren won't even mention Hell as the punishment for the unsaved. That's viewed as negative preaching.

So where do we start when it comes to witnessing to the Theological Liberal, or the Theological Moderate. First I would recommend with something that isn't necessarily viewed as a foundational truth to them. For instance first start by asking them how the believe they get to Heaven. If they respond accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord of their life. Ask them about verses like.

Eph 2:8. They may respond with James 2. “Faith without works is dead.” I always ask them what Faith is James referring to? You see in James 1:2 The faith that is mentioned is your Christian life. Sanctification Phase 2. or Salvation phase 2. Deliverance, Salvation from the power of sin in your life. Which is only accomplished by Spiritual growth. And Spiritual growth is only accomplished by K+B+A+TT= Spirtual growth. Which if this formula is put into practice over time accomplishes Spirtual growth which in turn will equal a true “Purpose Driven Life.”

Talk to them about Confession of Sin. When they state their beliefs ask them to provide scripture so that you may see where they are coming from. Most can't do that. However some may and at that point you maybe able to see through their misguided view of scripture, or you may find the Holy Spirit challenging you doctrinally to find the truth.

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