Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The 'Liberal' Label

Tuesday night at our small group my view on a particular issue was labeled 'very liberal' by one of the great members of our fun lil gatherings. I believe this is the first time a position of mine has been labeled 'liberal' (of course, the discussion wasn't hostile at all, but an edifying discussion of some pretty deep theology). But this got me to thinking about the 'liberal' label.

Years ago, I would have been very offended to have any of my views placed in that camp. Republican politics branded the word as a synonym for evil. In reality, though, the label should be dealt with on a case by case basis. A political 'liberal' likes to tax and spend. I'm not a fan of that kind of liberal. But it's good to be 'liberal' with your money when dealing with the less fortunate.

Even in theology, the label 'liberal' can be good or bad in different cases. It's considered 'liberal' to reject the historicity of Jesus and His resurrection. That kind of liberal is bad. But in our group, my position that 'those who have never heard of Jesus' may still be saved by Jesus was rightly labeled liberal. Now that's a label I can be proud of in that it recognizes the liberal amount of grace and love that extend from Jesus. If the source of your liberality is love and faith, that's my kind of liberality. If, however, the source of your liberality is self and unbelief, I reject your liberalism.


Aaron Perry said...

Hey Matthew,

As usual, your posts always stimulate a thought in me. :)

You have rightly called for a defining of liberal when applied as much as it is. Classical liberalism, for instance, is something that Republicans, at least in theory, ought to support wholeheartedly! :)

Interestingly, the theological view you hold, as I'm sure you know, has long roots in the Christian faith and in the Wesleyan tradition as well. Here's a quote from John the Man the himself, "We have great reason to hope, although they lived among the heathen, yet (many of them) were of quite another spirit, being taught of God, by his inward voice, all the essentials of true religion." (From the sermon, 'On Faith.')

Steph said...

I think "liberal" in theology is (as with most things) relative as well. I'm considered very liberal by some, and extremely conservative by others. I try not to let either label bother me.

Tammy Craig said...

Jesus was a cultural and theological liberal.

I choose to follow in His footsteps. :)