Thursday, July 14, 2005

Is this guy right?

From World Mag:

Todd Wilken, the Lutheran talk-show host, has identified another kind of liberal conservative. In an article titled "Bible-believing Liberals" in Issues, Etc. Journal, he observes that many Christians are conservative politically, economically, culturally, and in every other way except one: They are liberal/progressives when it comes to church.

"While they believe that the culture needs to return to its historic traditions, they think the church needs to abandon hers," Mr. Wilken writes. "While they believe men and women have defined roles in marriage and family, they don't see why a woman can't replace a man in the pulpit. . . . They want the Ten Commandments in the public square, but are unconcerned when those commandments are replaced with ‘principles for living' from the pulpit. To the Bible-believing liberal, ceremonies of a presidential inauguration are meaningful and inspiring, but the Sunday morning liturgy is boring. For the Bible-believing liberal, the differences between political parties are serious, but the differences between Christian denominations are petty. While they insist on a strict literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, they play fast and loose with the Bible and its theology, even while maintaining its inerrancy and inspiration. These are the Bible-believing liberals."

In other words, many Christians reject the dogmas of progressivism—the old is bad, what's new is good, we should change along with the cultural trends—in the culture wars, while embracing them in church.

"By definition, Bible-believing liberals consider themselves conservative," Mr. Wilken told WORLD. "They are completely unaware that they have started thinking and speaking like old-line liberals. When it is pointed out to them, they are incredulous and usually offended. They fail to see that, just like the old-line liberals, they have allowed the culture to call the shots in their church's teaching and practice. Most evangelicals consider themselves loyal footsoldiers in the culture war. However, while they have fought the culture's influence in society, they have surrendered to it in their churches."

Christians who want to conserve traditional values might start by conserving their churches.


At 11:28 AM, Blogger Thinking in Ohio said...

I wish I knew more about him... but coming from World Mag, he must have some credibility. I agreed with 80% of what he had to say, the other 20% I considered to be off the mark.

For one I don't believe we're seeing a falling away from liturgy and sacred worship in the church today, I think we're seeing revival of it. Churches today are becoming an odd mixture of tradition and contempoary culture. But he's probably dead right on most evangelical's view and use of Scripture and theology, diff. in denominations, etc.

I always grow a little leary of the use of the word "tradition" do the author mean the "Apostles Creed" or the use of Bill Gaither's "hymns" in Sunday evening worship? If I read this article correctly Wilken is refering to the "Apostle's Creed" tradition and I can agree with him that "Christians who want to conserve traditional values might start by conserving their churches".

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Matt Friedeman said...


Some people are just against change. And change, they love to suggest, is liberal. But what of John Wesley, William Booth, etc. who changed plenty but held firm to a staunch orthodoxy. Liberal conservatives? If that is what they were that is what I want to be.


At 5:04 PM, Blogger Steve Blakemore said...

The real question is what can we change and why are we able to change it in the practice of the Christian faith? Quoting the example of Wesley is quite tricky, because his version of change was only necessitated, he thought, because of the reluctance of the established church. Same could be said about Booth.

Hypothetical: would it be permissible to change Holy Communion celebration to include the use of Hiwaiian Punch and Ritz Crackers? What is open to change and interpretation? That is the question. So, change should be embraced slowly and even reluctantly, even if it is necessary. Why? Because it allows for careful theological reflection.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger whitehurst said...

I see a lot of churches bringing itself down to culture level instead of the culture growing up to the level to be adults in ministry and the church. I believe it to be the result of a stubborness to release old habits that strayed them away from God and try to wrap them up in what is sometimes called worship for the "new generation". Its a lack of putting in the time to spend with the Lord and study his word. We don't need to attach bells and whistles and sugar coating to the gospel becuase a few wants to be spoon fed. The "I gotta have it now" generation call putting time in for study and prayer "tradition" which gets labled as negative.


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