[This essay by DagoodS is much too good to be buried in the comments on this essay.]
Liberal Christianity is part of the problem because it uses the same erroneous methodology as Fundamental Christianity and thus is completely ineffectual when confronted by it.
Both use the method of first determining what God they would like (based upon upbringing, society, and interaction with others) and then looking for justification within the Bible, or popular authors supporting the particular Christian’s belief, or within their own minds if necessary. Each takes the same basic elements (the Bible, a God) and then liberally applies, “I think ____” by mode of interpretation to mash their particular God to fit the mold they desire.
Want a God who supports homosexuality? It is there for the taking by this method. Want one who hates homosexuals? Equally available. Hell? Sure—you can have it or not. All one has to do is spin the verses in the direction desired and voila—they unsurprisingly have their god.
While a Liberal may make social decisions more closely reflective of a non-theist, this resulted from the world’s secularization rather than of any actual doctrinally determined shift. Intel, iPod and the Internet have created far more Liberals than study and a new method for determining what actually exists. The method remained the same; just found a more-pleasing God to justify living in the 21st Century.
Thus when confronted by Fundamentalists, the Liberal has no place to retreat except to say, “We think a different determination is needed.” Neither can provide a method to demark inspiration vs. non-inspired writings. Neither can provide a method to use the naturalistic world to make supernatural determinations. Neither can provide a method to demark what is myth and what is history within the Christian framework.
Each picks-and-chooses what they desire to be “true” and what they desire to be “false.” They both happen to approach the same tree and argue over who is going to pick the best apples. Both unknowingly picking from a tree that produces no apples, and unknowingly are arguing over non-existent apples! Because their own method does not allow for such a possibility.
Until Liberal Christianity can develop its own theology, and its own method, it will be cursed with the genes of its parent—Fundamental Christianity. It may be more gracious to the poor; it may be more open to diverse lifestyles; it may allow bikinis at camp—but its DNA retains the same wrong reasons for doing so. Not out of self-determination of humanity, but to follow some God it cannot demonstrate exists. The Parent Fundamentalist acts in a way to please their god; the Child Liberal rebels against the parent and then finds itself using the same terms, the same songs, the same justifications for their own lifestyle.
Sure the Parent will not touch alcohol, and the Child has no problem with a glass of wine—but each are defining what they will/will not drink by their interpretation of a god. They each determine what they desire regarding alcohol and then justify that desire through the medium of Christianity.
I have lost count of the occasions when I have confronted fundamentalists with lack of consistent methodology while the liberals cheer me on. “Go get ‘im!” “That’s great!” “Wow, you sure know your stuff.”
But when I turn the same microscope and scalpel on the liberal, asking for the same methodology I hear cries of pain. “Why ya picking on me?” “What have we done to you?” “Why can’t you let a person live-and-let-live?” “Aren’t we on the same team?”
Did they think I was asking these questions because I was “angry” at their parents? That I was doing it as some sort of retribution to support the Liberal? I was doing it because it is a problem I see! In both.
I understand Liberals would like to differentiate themselves from fundamentalists. They find the comparison distasteful. Until they can show a difference at the root of the methods, I see them remaining part of the problem. Yes, part of the solution (the more who vote for gay marriage the better, regardless of theistic belief) but still part of the problem. Vote for gay marriage because it is the correct human thing to do—not because one wants to ascribe to a god the approval of such unions.
[DagoodS, the author of this essay, can be read at Thoughts from a Sandwich]