Liberal Theology in the Churches: Part 2 :: By Ron Ferguson

Liberal Theology in the Churches: Part 2 :: By Ron Ferguson

Section 3: The Elements of Liberalism

(I am presenting some thoughts on this subject, helped by some excellent material by Matt Slick, founder of CARM, the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. I have used some wide quotations from Matt Slick, one of the best logical thinkers I have found on this subject.)

In the context of Christianity, liberalism is the moving away from traditional, historical interpretation of Scripture into “new” interpretations that are more consistent with secular views. Let me give you a case in point. A century ago, no church would have promoted homosexuality, but today, a number of them do. Why has this changed? It is because the church has moved away from the foundational truths of Scripture and is adopting the world’s values. The feminist movement has made the same sort of inroads into the foundation of Scripture.

Liberalism occurs in different forms and intensities. Some liberals deny that Jesus even existed or say that the Bible is a good book full of moral teachings or that Adam and Eve were metaphors, etc. On the other hand, there are liberals who hold to the essentials of the Christian faith but depart from its literalness in historic understanding in areas such as male-only elders, which is what Paul set out in Timothy and Titus quite clearly. So, since liberalism is a constant threat to Christian teaching, it would be a good thing if we are aware of it and what it stands for.

I have here a list of basic principles and examples that reveal some aspects of liberalism. Of course, not all liberals hold to all the points, but all liberals accept a mixture of these. If you can make a generalized statement about them, then it is this – they do not believe the entirety of the Bible for what it says. Let us now look at a fairly precise summary of the position Liberal Theology accepts (there are a lot more and many shades of them):


Saying that the Bible has errors, or is “written by man,” or is only a guide is absolutely not true. When the Uniting Church of Australia formed the union a few decades ago from the Methodists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians (who later pulled out), it tried to be all things to all men. It did not want to upset the evangelicals by saying the Bible is NOT the word of God. It did not want to upset the liberals by saying that ALL scripture is inspired by God, so they wrote in their Constitution, “The bible contains the word of God.” Once they weakened the very foundational truth of the faith, it was not that difficult to move to the next step, and now, in their Constitution and supporting documents, the Bible is not even mentioned. (At least, I could not find it any longer.)


“Modern Church” is the main proponent of liberal theology in the British churches, especially among the Anglicans.

In explaining their own position, they set out their guidelines –

>By “liberal theology,” we mean that religious beliefs can and should develop in the light of new insights. [This means that the Bible must be adapted to the new socialist ideas of the world. I suppose that means WOKE and sexuality also.]

>Divine revelation has not come to an end. God invites us to believe in ways appropriate to the 21st Century. Science is used to interpret the Bible, and modern society will adapt the Bible in line with changing values. [The position adopted here is not evaluating science in biblical light but trying to make the Bible subservient to science so-called. Liberals want science to define the Bible. It should be the opposite.]

>New ideas should be judged on their merits. They may be true today even if they have not been officially accepted by church leaders in the past. [This excuse is a platform for approving homosexual marriage – not accepted in the past but can be now.]

In their writing on Liberal theology called “WHAT IS LIBERAL THEOLOGY, AND WHY THE CHURCH NEEDS IT,” in an article named “Appeals to authority,” this is said – {“Some argue that true believers acknowledge a single supreme authority, usually the Bible, which overrides all human reason. On this view, instead of a spectrum, there is a simple division between conservatives who accept God’s word in its entirety and liberals who can doubt any part of it.”} These liberals promote the modern acceptance of General Theology, Christianity and Society, Women Bishops, Marriage, Sexuality and Gender Issues, Science & Religion, Interfaith Dialogue, Worship, and a list of other items. [In the past 6 years, no doubt many other things have come into being in their acceptance.]

Now just A FEW OF THEIR SPEAKERS at a recent England conference: (I did this about 6 years ago, so it is slightly dated but indicates what the Liberal concentration is.)

>Geoffrey Rowell. Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell is Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe. He is the author of several books, including Hell and the Victorians.

>Brian Smith. Rt Revd Brian Smith is Bishop of Edinburgh. He studied theology at Cambridge, focusing on the philosophy of religion, and held a number of posts in the Diocese of Oxford, including that of Senior Tutor at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He keenly pursues the subject, “Liberating the church for today and tomorrow.”

>Helen-Ann Hartley. Revd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley is New Testament Tutor at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. She is a consultant to BBC television in the development of program ideas in Religion and Ethics. She believes in “Liberating Scripture: holding on to fundamentals without being fundamentalist.”

>Gary Dorrien. Gary Dorrien is Reinhold Niebuhr, Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, Professor of Religion at Columbia University, and an Episcopal priest. He wrote a trilogy called, The Making of American Liberal Theology, and it has been accepted as a major work in promoting Liberal Theology. He speaks all over the place on the great necessity of Liberal Theology.

>Lucy Winkett. Lucy Winkett is Precentor and Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, with responsibility for music and liturgy at the Cathedral. She is a founder adviser to Theos, a think tank launched in 2006.

>Jonathan Clatworthy. Jonathan Clatworthy is General Secretary of the Modern Church people’s Union. He has worked as a parish priest, university chaplain, and lecturer in Ethics. His latest book is Liberal Faith in a Divided Church.


(1). Denying that Adam, Eve, Moses, Jesus, etc., were real people. (2). Denying that the Exodus happened. (3). Denying that there was an actual Garden of Eden, etc. [Denial is one of the lies of Satan, so it’s no wonder his followers do the same. Wolves in sheep clothing.]


(1). Denying that Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. (2). Denying Paul’s letters as authentic. (3). Denying that the Gospels are accurate, etc. (4). Claiming someone wrote under the name of the Apostle John. [A lot of this higher criticism came from Germany and insidiously worked its way through the churches.]


(1). Denying the Trinity, deity of Christ, resurrection, the virgin birth, etc. (2). Denying Salvation by grace. (3). Denying that Jesus is the only way to salvation, the doctrine of hell, etc. [We used to place these wicked teachings in the realm of the cults, but they are now evident in the thinking of church attendees. In fact, some of the surveys done are utterly surprising.]


(1). Redefining salvation as self-deliverance from oppression. (2). Saying that Jesus didn’t literally rise from the dead and that it is a metaphor for rising up in success over trials. (3). Claiming Homosexuality is not a sin; it is an alternative lifestyle. [Modernist thought predominates thinking among people, and these processes seep into the churches, especially where ministers are themselves uncertain about the Christian faith and can’t, and don’t, and won’t teach it.]


(1). A person’s feelings supersede biblical revelation. (2). “Feeling” that Jesus isn’t the only way to God. (3). As long as you are sincere, God will let you go to heaven. [This is more commonplace than people believe. When the absolute authority of the Bible is rejected, people wash around like jellyfish in the tide, and their feelings become their way of life.]


(1). Use of psychology manuals (people are basically good – ways to improve your life), self-help books (power of positive thinking), science books (the ascent of man and evolution), etc., and THEN subjecting the Bible to their teaching. [Again, this all hinges on the one and only ultimate authority, the Bible, but when other authorities are placed on the same plane, then anything is believable, and liberals do.]


(1). This is an attempt to invalidate scripture by dismissing it as ancient and, therefore, not true. (2). It also negates the inspiration of Scripture because it implies the patriarchal structure is due to cultural influence and not scriptural revelation. [This type of thing is more common among those who consider themselves to be intellectual. It is the University approach. Remember, Jesus did not call those inflated with their own intelligence. He called those who knew their need.]


(1). Women ordination. (2). Pro-homosexuality. (3). Denying moral absolutes. (4). Upholding evolution as how mankind arrived on earth. (5). Defending “abortion rights” from scripture. [A considerable number of people in churches may not like the pointers in this ninth statement against liberalism, but the bottom line is each of the points can’t be defended by scripture, but is the opposite. With that dilemma, one must decide if it is God’s way or man’s way. Man’s way must never replace God’s way, as His statutes are eternal and do not change over the course of time like socialist thinking does.]


(1). Referring to God as Mother God or Father-Mother God. (2). Referring to various references of male leaders as people. [There is a separate handout on the 2011 NIV, which is an erroneous translation. The whole gender issue has been turned upside down in the past two years by Governments following the hard left of humanism and WOKE.]

You may have come across some of those views, or you have heard of them. They are evil and are numbered among the tares or weeds Satan has sown among the good seed of the infallible word of God. I know of many theological colleges in Australia that teach liberalism or have on staff someone who is liberal. We have an enemy who wants to destroy the credibility of God’s word, and we must be on our guard. I find it lamentable that people in churches have such a shallow knowledge of the Bible. That is not always their fault because they have been subjected to false teachers and such shallowness. Trace it all back to theological training colleges, the laziness of ministers, and the ethos of the so-called Christian community.

There needs to be a resolve in these dark days to dedicate one’s time to God and His word. All around the walls are crumbling and difficult times, growing in intensity. Only a foundation in God will endure. All who read this or hear this, be connected to God by the strongest link. Give Him your time and commitment.


(Some of this below – and some above – comes from Matt Slick, who is disturbed about his own particular denomination in the USA). Yes, liberalism is dangerous because it leads to a denial of biblical truth, and denial of biblical truth usually means that things contrary to Scripture are often affirmed. Consider this quote which comes from the USA: [“If we look at the denominations that approved women’s ordination from 1956-1976, we find that several of them, such as the United Methodist Church and the United Presbyterian Church (now called the Presbyterian Church USA), have large contingents pressing for (a) the endorsement of homosexual conduct as morally valid and (b) the approval of homosexual ordination.”]

Those who have spearheaded women’s ordination and other inaccuracies are now turning to other errors, namely, supporting abortion, affirming homosexuality, and a denial of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. It is rare that heresies are singular. They come in clusters.

Since Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh (John 8:24) and said that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6), then we must make a decision. Either what Jesus said is true, or it is false. Either Jesus was crazy, or he was telling us something so profound that we had better listen carefully. Which is it? If you hold to biblical authority and inspiration, you will believe what Christ said. If you hold to liberalism, why should you?

Since Jesus rose from the dead, walked on water, raised others from the dead, performed miracles, healed people, etc., He has demonstrated His right to speak authoritatively. Therefore, we must consider His words carefully. When He warned people about eternal damnation, are we to consider His words as metaphor, or as absolute truth? Did He really rise from the dead, or is that just an illustration of how we can have victory over our problems?

Either what the Bible tells us in its totality is true, or it is to be dismissed as fable, and we can discount anything we want to. Eternity is too long of a time to be wrong, and we cannot dismiss the words of Christ as being fabrications. I trust in the absolute inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, and authority of the Bible. It stands or falls on every single line. When Paul wrote that all scripture is given through the inspiration of God (breathed through the Holy Spirit), then one error, just one, will cut down the inspiration for all of scripture. The credibility of the whole Bible depends on each single part. The Bible is like an unbroken, linked chain that stretches from God to man with – just for purpose of illustration – say, 10 trillion links. Just one single link anywhere along that chain, if it is faulty and gives way, it demolishes the entire connection.

Liberalism leads away from biblical fidelity, and it compromises Scriptural truth. It only needs the door to be open a crack in order to push its way through. The only guarantee against the liberal influence on the church is to set our minds and eyes upon the word of God, study it diligently, and believe what it says. Be immersed in the word of God.

That will end Part 2 of this small Series.

Part 3 will follow.