Five Liberal Losses

I thoroughly enjoyed Os Guinness’ 2014 book, Renaissance.  In one section he talks about the biblical Christian way forward – not in liberalism and not in fundamentalism.  Speaking of liberalism in the church, he wrote,

“The liberal revisionist tendency was first seen in the eighteenth century and has become more pronounced today, reaching a climax in versions of the Christian faith that are characterized by such weaknesses as an exaggerated estimate of human capacities, a shallow view of evil, an inadequate view of truth, and a deficient view of God.  In the end, they are sometimes no longer recognizably Christian.  As this sorry capitulation occurs, such ‘alternative gospels’ represent a series of severe losses that eventually seal their demise.”

Here are the five liberal losses Guinness notes:

First, a loss of authority, as ‘Sola Scriptura’ is replaced by “sola cultura.’

Second, a loss of community and continuity, as ‘the faith once delivered’ becomes the faith of merely one people and one time, and cuts itself off from believers across the world and down the generations.

Third, a loss of stability, as in Dean Inge’s apt phrase, the person ‘who marries the spirit of the age soon becomes a widower.’

Fourth, a loss of credibility, as ‘the  new kind of faith’ turns out to be what the skeptic believes already, and there is no longer anything solidly, decisively Christian for seekers to examine and believe.

Fifth, a loss of identity, as the revised version of the faith loses more and more resemblance to the historic Christian faith that is true to Jesus.

J. Gresham Machen said very similar things 100 years ago in light of the liberal progressiveness he saw in the church.  It is true: a liberal revisionism of Christianity ends up not being Christianity at all!   I’ll come back to it another time, but if you want to see Guinness’ helpful direction in moving forward, you’ll have to get the book!

The above quotes are found on page 164 of Renaissance by Os Guinness.

Shane Lems

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