Is Liberal Christianity Ascendant?

It is said that President Biden is the most religiously observant president in half a century. He regularly attends Mass, and often talks about how his Catholic faith grounds his life and his policies. But interestingly, the beliefs he practices do not correspond to the traditional beliefs of his church. Biden departs in particular from the beliefs of his church as it relates to issues of life and sexuality. While he is faithful in his outward profession of his faith, the actual expression of his life is about as far away from Roman Catholic beliefs as one can get. President Biden professes to be a Roman Catholic, yet the tenets of the faith that he actually practices is not Christian at all.

But Roman Catholicism is not the only place we see this phenomenon. An almost identical faith expression is also seen in certain groups that self-identify as Protestant. These people attend Protestant churches, yet they don’t adhere to traditional biblical theology. So just what is going on here?

The type of theology that Biden and these non-biblical Protestants adhere to can generically be categorized as “Liberal Christianity.” To help clarify this, some of the specific forms of this theological position include Postmodern Theology, Liberation Theology, Higher Criticism, Existentialist Theology, and others. While there are various local expressions of “Liberal Christianity,” they all have a common set of core beliefs. That underlying commonality is based on the fact that they are all founded on beliefs that do not come from the Bible – they come from naturalistic philosophy.

According to a New York Times article written by Elizabeth Dias entitled In Biden’s Catholic Faith, an Ascendant Liberal Christianity, Dias tries to make the case that because of Biden and his ability to help make the liberal form of Christianity more visible, it is making these beliefs “ascendant” – that is, more prominent in the realm of Christianity. But is it really? Is this form of belief becoming more common, or does it only appear that way to some because it is becoming more visible?

The truth is, Liberal Christianity has been around for a long time, mostly in mainline Protestant denominations. These denominations used to be very prominent in America, but have gradually dwindled down to almost nothing – precisely because of their false theology. While in a slightly different form, and with a slightly different emphasis, this same essential belief also emerged in the Roman Catholic church and has grown there, as well. So just what is the focus of this approach to religious belief?

The first thing that needs to be understood relates to the core beliefs of this faith. Liberal forms of theology, of all stripes, do not accept the spiritual core of the gospel message. They do not emphasize, and most don’t even believe, that the death and resurrection of Christ was for the purpose of solving man’s sin problem. They don’t believe that God’s most important priority is to provide a way for humanity to enter into a personal relationship with God and gain eternal life. Rather, they get their central message from Naturalism – which causes it to have a “this worldly” focus regarding salvation, and a relativistic understanding of morality.

With that as a starting point, they end up with a focus on social justice, or what is sometimes referred to as the social gospel. To them it is not eternal salvation that is most important, but freeing humanity from the political and economic oppression of their social environment. To them, Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth was not to free mankind from the bondage of sin, but to preach a message of freedom from temporal oppression.

This message, which is promoted by Liberal Christianity, is not the message of the Bible. It is a false religion masquerading as Christianity, and it is only ascendent in the sense that it is getting more air time in the media. The churches and denominations that actually follow these beliefs are declining, and have been for a number of years.

 "The number of people who identify as “nones” (not having a faith) is rapidly increasing."

What we do see ascendant is naturalistic belief itself. The number of people who identify as “nones” (not having a faith) is rapidly increasing. The term “nones,” though, is not really an accurate term. These folks actually do have a faith, they just don’t identify it in traditional terms. They believe, by faith, that the natural universe operating by natural laws is all that exists. That is a position of faith – a religious belief.

As Christians, if we want to be able to have an impact on the faith that is really ascendent – atheistic Naturalism – we need to prepare ourselves to not only share the tenets of our Christian faith, but also be able to explain the reason why naturalistic beliefs are NOT true. It is important in these times to put ourselves in a position to effectively share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are separated from Him. In the meantime, Liberal Christianity will still not become ascendent. But traditional Christianity will also not see growth unless we become more faithful in expressing our faith out in the world.




Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.

You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.

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