The Relation Of Theological Liberalism To Political Liberalism -- By: Ernest Pickering
CenQ 7:4 (Winter 1964) p. 1
The Relation Of Theological Liberalism To Political Liberalism
Dean and Professor of Systematic Theology
Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary
That both political and theological liberalism are enjoying a heyday in this century is an axiom that seems all too evident. What may not be as evident to some observors is the fact that political and theological liberals make very cozy and compatible bedfellows because their operating principles are so similar. It is the thesis of this writer that the strong political liberalism of today has been greatly aided and abetted by the influence of liberal theology and its advocates.
Without endeavoring to discuss at length a definition of political liberalism as used in this article, it will suffice to say that by this phrase is meant that political philosophy which, in general, ascribes to most, if not all, of the following principles: growth of centralization in government, emphasis upon the executive branch, emphasis upon “human rights” as distinguished from “property rights, “the tendency to seek the answers to social needs in government rather than individual initiative or private enterprise, a desire to “equalize the wealth” by taking from the more enterprising and successful and giving to the “needy,” and an absorbing interest in world government and the subjection of national interests thereto. By theological liberalism is meant that religious outlook which
CenQ 7:4 (Winter 1964) p. 2
holds, among other things, the following: the rejection of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, the acceptance of the findings of destructive higher criticism, the denial of the efficacy of Christ’s blood atonement, a considerable emphasis on the social aspects of the gospel, a favorable interest, to one degree or another, in the current ecumenical movement, and a general disparaging of the historic, orthodox Christian faith. No attempt is made in this article to differentiate between the old liberals, the neo-orthodox, the neo-liberals, and other schools of modern theology. They are all called “liberals” because they advocate a liberal interpretation of the Bible and the Christian faith as over against the historic Christian position.
Theological liberals tend to be, and to support, political liberals, while theological conservatives tend to be, and to support, political conservatives. There are, of course, exceptions. Some theological liberals are political conservatives and vice versa. There is, however, a close connection between the liberal systems in both politics and theology though individuals may not be consistent in their attitude toward the systems.
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