Can a Theological Liberal be "Evangelical"?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    On another thread it was contended that a LIBERAL COULD BE EVANGELICAL.

    Politically, perhaps, but it is really hard to find a liberal theologically that would fit the criteria.

    My thinking is that a liberal theologian would reject or question key doctrines that are foundational to Evangelical thought. (Inspiration, Virgin Birth, Sinless Life, Vicarious Atonement, Bodily Resurrection, Second Coming)

    The floor is open for discussion . .
     
  2. Pete Richert

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    Semantics semantics semantics. It all depends on what you mean by evangelical. Dr. White from Alpha and Omega thinks Open Theology is not evangelical so the fact that the Evangelical Theological Society (which meets today BTW), voted to keep the open theology adherents in thier fold means the word evangelical has lost all meaning.

    Basically, I think of conservative or evangelical anyone who takes as their unconditional baseline the position of inerancy to the Bible. Some of my views are "liberal" or "moderate" as compared to some, but I feel only because I am rejecting tradition with sound Biblical exegesis. I will listen to anyway who wishes to make a point as long as they are doing so from the Bible and with at least at little honesty and common sense. However, if you don't believe the Bible is the word of God then we don't have any forum of which to exchange ideas, and you will fall under my Liberal definition.

    The ETS BTW agrees, with its only membership clause (besides a certain degree) being loyalty to the innerancy of the Bible. When some within the ETS tried to remove Open Theology people they had to prove its very acceptance was a denial of innerancy, something their opponents seemed to sucessfully refute.

    Off the subject, I wish they were kicked out.
     
  3. Pete Richert

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    I take that back. My own definition of evangelical would include all these. I guess it goes hand in hand with the belief that any honest reading of the Bible would include these.
     
  4. Pastor Larry

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    An evangelical, by definition, has to hold to the evangel, the gospel. Once they give that up, they are no longer evangelical.

    But to answer the question, No, a liberal cannot be an evangelical.
     
  5. Bro Tony

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    Unfortunately, Dr. Bob, the matter of labels does not mean much today. It really depends on who is defining the label. Take the other thread that asks the question about fundamentalist. You can't even get people to fit into the Calvinist or Arminian camps, because someone always feels they are more Calvinistic than someone else. It seems we live in a time where everything has to be explained to the enth degree. My goodness, what does the term Christian mean today? These are confusing times, because we have gotten to the place where it depends on "what the definition of what the word is, is".

    Bro Tony
     
  6. Jim1999

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    What does one do with te Evangelical Lutheran Church, which does have liberal pastors? What of the evangelicals within the Anglican fold?

    There are a number of liberal baptists who clearly preach the gospel of grace, but deny some of the precious doctrines held as sacrosanct to fundamental theology.

    There was a time, say the fifties, when the term evangelical was exlcusive to those who held to all the fundamental doctrines of Christian theology, but such labels are much broader to-day.

    Barth had no qualms about calling himself an evangelical, and I could name a few others of a dubious theological foundation.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. Johnv

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    I've heard the phrase "theological liberal" handed back and forth in numerous topic besides the ones you list. For example, I don't adhere to a strict 6 day YEC view as mandatory for the Christian, yet I've been called a theological liberal. This despite the fact that my theological stance on the aforementioned topics are strictly fundamental and conservative.

    Another note. Even if one believes in a (generally) literal secong coming, many have voiced the opinion that if you don't believe the second coming is imminent (in the next 25, 50, or 100 years) then you're a theological liberal as well. This supports the idea that the label is overused in some cases, thus losing efficacy.
     
  8. Craigbythesea

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    I certainly agree with Pastor Larry that for one to be an evangelical it is necessary that he hold to the gospel, but one does not have to be conservative in one’s theology to hold to the gospel. I believe that we should reserve the label “evangelical” for those individuals and Churches that emphasize the gospel over and above the other concerns of the church. Furthermore, I do not believe that one has to be a “fundamentalist” with his head in the sand to be conservative in his theology.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Grasshopper

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    Bravo Pete!
     
  10. Ed Edwards

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    I note that "Liberal" in the KJV1769 is used
    in four verses. Each verse puts a positive
    conotation on the term "liberal"

    For comparison the HCSB translation is given.
    THe HCSB, a modern version, does not use the
    term "liberal".

    Pr 11:25 (KJV1769):
    The liberal soul shall be made fat:
    and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

    Proverbs 11:25 (HCSB = The Holman Christian Standard Bible)
    A generous person will be enriched,
    and the one who gives a drink of water
    will receive water.

    Isa 32:5 (KJV1769):
    The vile person shall be no more called liberal,
    nor the churl said to be bountiful.


    Isaiah 32:5 (HCSB):
    A fool will no longer be called a noble,
    nor a scoundrel said to be important.


    Isa 32:8 (KJV1769):
    But the liberal deviseth liberal things;
    and by liberal things shall he stand.

    Isaiah 32:8 ;(HCSB):
    But a noble person plans noble things;
    he stands up for noble causes


    2Co 9:13 (KJV1769):
    Whiles by the experiment of this ministration
    they glorify God for your professed subjection
    unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution
    unto them, and unto all men;

    2 Corinthians 9:13 (HCSB):
    Through the proof of this service,
    they will glorify God for your obedience
    to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity
    in sharing with them and with others.


    Introduction to Logic, Fifth Edition (Macmillan Publishing Co, 1978)
    pages 114-115
    quote:
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    The term "fallacy of composition" is applied
    to both of two closely related types of invalid argument.
    The first may be described as reasoning fallaciously from
    the attributes of the parts of a whole to the attributes of
    the whole itself. ... The other type of composition
    fallacy is strictly parallel to
    that just described. Here the fallacious reasoning is from
    attributes of the individual eelemsts or members
    of a collection to attribulates of the
    collection or totality of those elements.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Tandem fallacies of Composition is most common.

    A person has an attribute, they favor abortion for victims
    of rape. Type two fallacy of composition: all liberals favor abortion
    for victims of rape. Type one fallacy of composition:
    This person is liberal and is homophilic.
     
  11. Charles Meadows

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    It would be convenient to define "theological liberal". I personally tend to consider those who deny the fundamentals to be liberals. Those who would deny the virgin birth or resurrection certainly cannot be called evangelical - indeed they can hardly be called Christian.

    I do not consider one a liberal if he/she simply disagrees with certain facets of literal fundamentalist theology. A belief in an old earth or in an amillenial eschatology does not make one a liberal.
     
  12. Dr. Bob

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    Guess I assumed everyone knew in general what a theological liberal believed. I know that like conservatives, there will be great differences within the gamut of people.

    JW Bowman of Western Seminary (Pres) said "It was the church that added these mundane traditions [virgin birth, sinless life were his examples] to the Gospels."

    ES Brightmann of Boston (Method) wrote "The Christian Church will to recognize in Buddhism, Confuscianism, and Modernism other roads to God. The Christian will treat representatives of these religions as brothers and not as heathen enemies of the faith."

    HE Fosdick (Baptist) said, "I do not believe in the Virgin Birth or in that old-fashioned doctrine of the atonement, and I do not know of any intelligent person who does."

    EE Aubrey (Baptist) said "Jesus is not the Creator of all the Earth, nor is he God."

    GA Coe (Union Seminary) said, " . . twice-born men are probably determined by some persistent, though not yet defined, physical depression."

    THAT, my friends, is historic, written, Liberalism by the LEADERS of Liberalism, and I cannot see any concord with Evangelical thought.
     
  13. Jim1999

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    They are extreme examples of the old school, Dr. Bob. Those are the blokes we fought against in the fifties and sixties, especially Fosdick.

    However, one group of fundamentalists cannot hijack the term "evangelical" as I pointed out, some claim "evangelical" in the sense that they preach the gospel of grace fervently as opposed to a passive gospel which is inherent in Christian thought.

    I am conservative in theology. I believe all the fundamentals of the scripture. I say this just to affirm where I stand on this issue, I just don't like some of the labels which tend to be inclusivistic.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    I agree. I too, believe an evangelical is conservative in theology. I was making a different point, namely, that since theological liberals do not believe in the gospel, by and large, they are not evangelical.

    I don't think one with his head in teh sand is worthy of hte name fundamentalist. I think they should be called something else.

    I do think labels are increasingly meaningless since people want labels without the meanign. Take for instance hte issue of Calvinism vs. Arminian. It is a very simple issue and most (except for far right (e.g., primitive Baptists) and far left (e.g., open theists) fit into one or the other. But we have some people so scared of labels that they claim to be a "biblicist." Well, what does that mean? Nothing. All Calvinists claim to be biblicists. All arminians claim to be biblicists. The term biblicist in meaningless in that context. The truth is that most people who call themselves biblicist are arminians ... They don't believe that God sovereignly elects individuals to salvation without respect or partiality. Which, incidentally is fine ... You can believe that, but why run from the label? That is what arminianism is.

    The same is true of evangelicals. People want to claim the name because it is somewhat socially acceptable, not because they are what evangelicalsim is. in the first half of this century, the evangelicals were the fundamentalists, and the only other group was the liberals. STarting in the late 30s and early 40s, there was a split of new evangelicals (a new kind of evangelical) and the old evangelicals (the fundamentalist). That distinction remained solid for about 30 years or so until the 70s-80s where they began to be less distinct. Now you have several brand of fundamentalism, as well as conservative evangelicalism, other kinds of evangelicalism, etc. Some want a label without being defined by that label, it seems to me. Others don't want a label; they are too pious for that. But labels are helpful in that they are shorthand. If honesty wasn't such a problem, neither would labels be. We would all accept the definition of the label and use it appropriately.

    What is the answer to the label problem? Who knows ... Probably nothing.

    I call myself a fundamentalist, Calvinist, dispensationalist, Baptist ... or for short, just call me a biblicist since that is what I am. :D The rest of you can make up your own labels. Just don't steal mine :D
     
  15. donnA

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    Aren't the two completely opposite of each other?
     
  16. Dr. Bob

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    I'm a historian, Jim. Besides, didn't you go to school with these guys? [​IMG] [​IMG]

    They are the "heroes" of Liberalism when the battle line between Liberal and Evangelical/Fundamental was clear. Easier to see.

    That's why folks are scratching their heads and saying "Arent' they the opposite?" Which is my point.

    (present company excepted, of course)
     
  17. Jim1999

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    Yeppers, Dr.Bob...I remember some well. I sat under Barth, the last lectures of Fosdick (who was a Presbyterian at the end,Brunner, Tillich et al...I think I know the old liberalism well, and joined the battle against it in the erly fifties...that is why we named our group The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada. (Back when evangelical meant something)

    I understand what you are saying, but I still don't like labels to-day.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    Isn't the FEBC pretty non evangelical today?
     
  19. Jim1999

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    Sorry, Larry,

    Not in the least. Every single man adorning a pulpit in our group is soundly evangelical, in the traditional sense, or he would be soon removed from office. Why, we even have some dispensationalists still serving....

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  20. gb93433

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    I agree. There are those who claim to be conservative and believe all the right things yet don't live out what they say they believe.

    True theology comes out in one's life not in just hat he says he believes. There are those who think if they proclaim something loud enough and long enough they will begin living that out. It starts with the heart not the mouth.
     

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