Near Emmaus put together a nice synopsis of recent articles regarding “liberal” and “conservative” Christianity in America.
I found Ross Douthat’s piece in the New York Times to be a great read.
As I have read the comments on Douthat’s page and other responses, what I have wondered about is just how far we will go as “labeled” Christians to hold onto to what vestiges of theological ground we think we have left to defend. There were some really upset comments made toward Douthat’s opinion. Then, of course, there were the columns wishing a pox (so to speak) on “conservative” Christianity as well.
Growing up “conservative” I have watched other “conservatives” become “liberal,” but in doing so, they don’t just become liberal. They become liberal with a decided bent toward tearing down what they came from. I have watched “liberals” moving to “conservative” Christianity doing the same.
And it just leaves me wondering, “Is Christ divided?”
Well… no. Christ is not divided. But his people sure don’t like each other very much, and that is the shame. And in the age of the internet the world gets to watch our squabbles. I’m fairly sure they’re not saying, “See how they love one another!”
I am not pure as the wind-driven snow on this… or any other subject, for that matter.
I watch “conservative” Christians get upset over “liberal” Christianity for some good reasons. I watch “liberal” Christians return the favor, and with good reason at times as well. The problem is this: There are plenty of times we are firing at each other for no good reason.
In the town where I pastor we have a fair mix of “liberal” and “conservative” Christians. We have met together for years over lunch once a month during the school year. Many years ago we had a great pastor who only wanted to discuss our differences. He was a great friend and I deeply admired him, but we all found we didn’t want to get together to discuss our differences. Attendance dwindled a bit.
What brought us back together was the determination to do something together in the name of Jesus. We put together a project that everyone agreed was something done in the name of Jesus and represented the Body of Christ. We dropped discussions over our differences.
That didn’t take away the differences. They are still there. At one point I went intentionally to a very good friend to quietly discuss the theological differences we had on an issue. But what I said in that meeting was though that difference existed there was nothing that would cause me to cease loving him as a brother in Christ. He is an incredibly close friend to me to this day.
There are things I hold to as a “conservative” that I wish I heard more from on the “liberal” side. There are things on the “liberal” side I hold dear as well, and wish my “conservative” friends would pay more attention to as well.
But I do not wish a pox on “liberals” any more than “liberals” should wish a pox on “conservatives.” That has just got to stop.
We are not dividing Christ, necessarily, but we are looking foolish in the process.