An example of drifting to liberalism

Yesterday’s blog post outlined a way of checking against a slide from a biblical worldview to a liberal or non-biblical one. To help see how the check works I thought I’d do a worked example.

The diagram below shows basic tenets of liberalism and how each tenet falls into place one after the other.

A route I might take if backsliding

Let’s say I start as holding to the 39 articles or UCCF doctrinal basis of faith or The Westminster Confession as a summary of what God says in the bible and my attitude is that the bible shapes my worldview.  In other words, an evangelical, biblical worldview holds against each of the “liberal” tenets shown in the diagram above.

My Achilles heal is catholicity as in wanting everyone to be friends. The view that humanity should be united by just being friends, regardless of creed, leads to toleration. I will put up with what others say, in the name of Jesus, even when it is against his word, because I want to remain friends with them. I am not saying I should deliberately and ungraciously go out to make enemies by being dogmatic but there is a point where I should graciously and gently stand up for Jesus when someone is consistently against his teaching and in doing so risk the friendship.

However, once toleration has set in, I must become anti-dogmatic. I no longer believe anything strongly enough to risk friendships. And so, anti-voluntarism follows:  it’s okay to do what you want, even if it’s against the good and pleasing will of God, because I no longer believe the dogma which says God cares about what we do.

After that, the dominoes fall in quick succession.  I lose enthusiasm and start to see the good in people. I forget that all have sinned and have had their mouths stopped before the judgement seat of God because no one can save themselves by what they do.  I start to explain things empirically or inductively; we evolved, we’re still evolving, sin is not sin but only needs counselling. I’m now into natural religion, the bible’s gone as authoritative revelation. So God is not sovereign after all and my human reason tells me this is system of thought works. Ta-da, I’ve drifted to liberalism.

That’s why I do this check once a year. Do I still hold the the basic tenets of evangelical, biblical, scriptural, reformed theology and worldview? Am I still reading my bible as the final word of God on all matters relating to salvation, law and wisdom or has something else begun to take its place?

My emotional entry point is catholocity.  Find your emotional entry point and do the same exercise, then be on your guard.

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
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