Roger Olson – What is Liberal Theology?

Here are, according to Roger Olson, the ‘hallmarks’ of modern liberal theology:

1) A tendency to reduce the Bible to “the Christian classic” that is “inspired” insofar as it is inspiring;

2) A tendency to reduce Christianity itself to ethics such that doctrine is an expression of collective opinion always open to revision in light of changing cultural conditions;

3) A tendency to embrace and promote individualism in spirituality and doctrine while insisting on certain controversial ethical positions as matters of justice and therefore beyond debate;

4) A tendency to deny miracles or “demythologize” them so that belief in no miracle is essential to authentic Christian existence;

5) A tendency to emphasize the immanence of God over God’s transcendence;

6) A tendency to believe in the essential goodness of humanity and to deny hell except as inauthentic existence in this life;

7) A tendency to interpret Jesus as different from other humans only in degree (e.g., more spiritually and ethically advanced) and not in kind;

8) A tendency to promote authentic Christian existence as a life of love only without judgment (except of “injustice”).

(Source, Roger Olson, The Journey of Modern Theology, as found on Scot McKnight’s Patheos blog.)

NOTE: In case you wonder if you are truly a liberal. Some think they are liberal (often because of the stupidity displayed by some self-described conservatives) and they are not really, while others think they are not, when if fact they are. Roger Olson might help solve this dilemma, at least in part.


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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