I thought I understood liberal Christians very well. And then Orlando happened, and it was eye-opening. I’ve been forced to rethink much of what I thought I knew. Much of what I have observed comes from reading a blog written by a guy named John Pavlovitz, who serves at the North Raleigh Community Church. Granted, John is just one person, but he has quite a following on his blog and Twitter account, and it’s not uncommon for a blog post to accumulate hundreds of comments, mostly from like-minded liberal Christians. So I know John doesn’t operate in a vacuum. There are plenty like him. He speaks for many. So when I talk about “liberal Christians,” no, I can’t pretend to know every single liberal Christian, so what I’m about to write doesn’t apply universally. But I have come to understand a great deal of liberal Christians believe this way.
1. Whereas conservative Christians (sometimes called conservative evangelicals) tend to interpret the Bible as it is written and then let their faith guide their politics, liberal Christians are political liberals first, and then they let their politics guide their faith.
2. Liberal Christians are every bit as judgemental as they accuse conservative Christians of being. In other words, their accusations amount to projection. We all have our bogeymen.
3. Liberal Christians see conservative Christians as a more ominous threat than radical Islam. With one hand they will wave the flag of anti-Islamophobia and with the other they will wave the flag of anti-homophobia. They see no contradiction whatsoever. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, they actually blamed conservative evangelicals for cultivating a climate of homophobia which led to the shooting (while also blaming the gun). It never occurred to them that radical Islam was to blame, nor that Islam is quite possibly the most anti-gay BLT religion on the planet.
4. Liberal Christians do not believe sin is that big a deal. (Click here and read no. 5.) Except they do. Let’s take the statement “We believe sin is not that big a deal” and fill in the blank with an actual sin. “We believe the Orlando shooting is not that big a deal.” “We believe discrimination against gay BLT’s is not that big a deal.” “We believe racism is not that big a deal.” Say any of those to a liberal Christian and you will quickly find out they believe sin is a very big deal.
5. Liberal Christians believe it is judgemental to point out other people’s sin…except they do it all the time. Again, they’ll spend a great deal of energy pointing out the sins, or what they perceive to be the sins of, say, the Republican Party, Trump supporters, gun rights advocates, etc.
6. Liberal Christians play the game of “You can’t be a Christian if…” just as vigorously as conservative Christians. I’m not a big fan of kicking people out of the Jesus club either way. Conservative Christians tend to question a person’s Christianity if he, say, supports gay marriage or maybe doesn’t buy into the Trinity. Likewise, liberal Christians will question your faith if you, say, aren’t on the front lines fighting for gay BLT equality or if you support Donald Trump for president. The difference between the two groups is that conservative Christians questions people’s faith based on theology, whereas liberal Christians question people’s faith based on whether or not you are actively fighting for left-wing causes.
7. Liberal Christians’ primary objective is social justice, or what they perceive as social justice. Actually winning souls for Christ never seems to figure in.
My understanding of liberal Christianity continues to grow. Maybe there will be another eye-opening event in the near future, such as Donald Trump’s election, that will help me further refine or amend these observations. Liberal Christianity truly is a fascinating study.