This post is the fourth in a series addressing New Liberalism and the Southern Baptist Convention. “New Liberalism” is a catch-all term for what some see as a theological threat similar to the liberalism of the previous century. This series does not assume that New Liberalism is in the SBC, but is intended to more clearly delineate the concept of New Liberalism in relation to the SBC.
The progenitors of the new progressivist tendency in Christianity might truly believe that they believe the Bible, might earnestly desire others to believe the Bible, and at the very least want others to believe that they believe the Bible. Thus sociological theories are read back into the text of Scripture in much the same way that scientific theories were read back into the text of Scripture, and especially Genesis 1-11, in the old liberalism. Terms are lifted from their texts to create a new Christianity commensurate with and thus subordinate to the spirit of the age.
What is sin? What is justice? What is race? What is partiality? What is woman? What is man? What is repentance? What are reparations? What is grace? What is faith? What is the gospel? Conservative Christians will share the use of these and other terms in common with advocates of New Liberalism, but mean something very different by them. Therein lies one of the greatest difficulties and dangers of New Liberalism for the Southern Baptist Convention. Like the old liberalism, like Mormonism and every other Christian cult, New Liberalism sounds Christian, but is not the same faith. New Liberalism reads another religion into the language of Christianity.
Sociological considerations are taken to be taught by the text of Scripture but were heretofore missed by the greatest theologians such that we stand in a position to save Christianity in a way they could not. Whereas the evolutionists of a century ago thought themselves more reasonable by way of scientific advance than their primitive predecessors, we believe ourselves more moral by way of sociological advance than our primitive predecessors. We believe that we can see better than what they in their whiteness saw. The bulk of the Protestant Reformers, Evangelicals, and most certainly the majority of architects of the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC, were white males. Why is this observation important? Because, according to New Liberalism, far from being based on the Bible, each of these theologies was created by and for white men.
In New Liberalism, the white theology of the Reformation, Evangelicalism, and CR has so clearly marginalized and mistreated minorities, women, and others that it is worth sifting through in an effort to discern whether or not white theology is corrupt to its core. The reasoning seems to be that Biblicist tendencies will save what was lost through the extra-biblical bigotry of a bygone age. But well-meaning believers who dabble with the deconstructionist tendencies of New Liberalism will find themselves ever deeper in redefinition of what they just a moment ago took to be the essence of Christianity.