Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Theological Liberalism vs Modernism: Can't We Just Get Along? Hey, Are You Listening?

So, last post I was talking about how Evangelical Christianity (EC) and Modernism interact and how there's a flaw at the heart of Evangelicalism. In case any Liberal Christians are feeling smug,* it's your turn next.

Liberal Christianity also arose in the context of modernism, and also takes on the modernist assumption that "real" truth is rational, verifiable and preferably scientific. However, where Evangelicalism asserts that religious truth is real truth (and hence rational and verifiable), Liberalism seems - I'm going here on inadequate knowledge because I've never been a classic Liberal Christian or moved in those circles, so correct me if I'm wrong - seems to say that religious truth is basically metaphorical truth, and tacitly accepts modernism's assumption that this means that it rates lower on the "real truth" hierarchy. So where extreme Evangelicals are sometimes motivated to show that anything in the Bible that sounds like an assertion is a rational, verifiable fact, even if its plain sense is metaphorical, extreme Liberals seem motivated to show that anything in the Bible that sounds like an assertion is actually a metaphor, or at least definitely not a fact, even if its plain sense is factual.

I have this mental image of a Liberal Christian who lives in a wooden house calling out to a couple of secular modernists who live in a concrete house. "Hey, look! Look over here! Wooden houses really are inferior to concrete ones, you're right! In fact, look, I'm setting my wooden house on fire right now. Do you respect me now? Huh? Huh?"

On the other side, meanwhile, an Evangelical in another wooden house says, "No, really, wooden houses are just as good, in fact, better. Look, totally fire-retardant," and he, too, sets his house on fire.

Upon which one of the secular modernists turns to the other and says, "These wooden-house guys really do suck, don't they? You'll never catch me living in one of them."

*I have no proof that anyone at all reads this apart from me, so these smug Liberal Christians are purely hypothetical.

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