Where I take a class called “Bible as Literature” in college and come away scratching my head. Hard.
The January/February Nine Marks journal on New Liberalism brought back old memories of a particular class I took While in college:
“Bible as Literature.”
That course title was very misleading. Perhaps I was a bit naive.
The course was an elective and since I was a English major and a Christian it would serve two purposes: college credit and religious devotion.
While I got the credit, I didn’t get the devotion. [This was a secular school after all.]
Instead I got a low-grade bender on liberal theology.
A Shock to My System
Understand: I didn’t expect this. I wasn’t prepared for the challenge. Thus, it struck fear in my heart–and probably a handful of other Christians who thought to take the class for the same reasons I did.
[My own experience reminds me a lot of Daniel Wilson's battle with skepticism.]
Soon after the class began I loathed it. All parts of it. The readings before class. The discussions during class. The reeling sense of disappointment following the class.
It was the first time I ever seriously fought for my faith. Not in a public forum. But quietly within my soul.
That fight eventually went in the wrong direction.
Running Rabid and Roughshod over Scripture
Granted, we all have commitments and can never declare strict objectivity in our arguments, but it became quite clear in the first class that the professor wanted nothing more than to dismantle any Christian faith.
She had an agenda.
The classes usually ran like this: Show up to class. Read the text in question. Professor declares what Christians believe. Professor declares why Christians were wrong.
I don’t ever remember reading it as literature.
In fact, I don’t ever remember any serious textual criticism going on or effort root around the historical context.
It was a raw reading and the professors reaction to it. Nothing more.
While it’s not fair to call the professor a liberal [she was an atheist through and through], her approach WAS liberal.
Repulsive and Primitive Doctrines
Any feature that sounded primitive and offensive she dismissed. And like the Jesus Seminar she eliminated many of the words of Jesus to mere legends.
But in doing so, she, the Jesus Seminar and any liberal Christian reduced Him to a non-controversial figure instead of the unique Son of God.
If that was the case, why was He crucified if He didn’t offend anyone?
Liberals Love Affair with Man
Back in the early 20th Century, J. Gresham Machen denied that liberalism was Christianity. Whereas Christianity was rooted in supernaturalism, liberalism was rooted in naturalism.
One of the common characteristics of liberalism is an obsession with gaining the world’s approval and admiration–at any cost.
It’s the approval of the culture that counts–not Christ.
“I risk becoming a liberal, because I don’t just love God. I also love the sheep. And I love myself,” Michael Lawrence said. ”And it’s those two loves, wrongly focused, that tempt me down a gospel-denying path.”
Liberalism too often chooses the gospel-denying path.
Liberalism trims God’s Word in favor of the love and esteem of others. This explains why a historically Christian school like Harvard would slip from orthodox to liberalism.
Man has become our measure. Not God.
Remember liberals operate out of an apologetic motivation. They want to craft something the culture will happily swallow.
What they end up doing is trying to save Christianity from itself. And themselves from academic ridicule.
As Albert Mohler says, “The lesson of theological liberalism is clear—embarrassment is the gateway drug for theological accommodation and denial.”
But Christians are forbidden to court the spirit of the age. We are to cling to the orthodox gospel and all it’s ugly permutations.
One of the main reasons the gospel is such a stumbling block is that it cannot be adapted to suit cultural preferences or alternative worldviews.
Instead, it’s built to confront them all, including the liberal worldview.