Weakness of Liberal Theology



It was around 1948, that Martin Luther King Jr wrote some profound statements on the weaknesses of Liberal theology which was popular then.

I believe that MLK who was considered to be a liberal christian would be surprised how true his statements would be 60 years later in light of the slippery slope of falling attendances of more liberal churches, in contrast to the rise of the mega churches. 

In the 21st century, liberal christianity has been strongly defined by the support for Gay rights which has been the great moral issue of social justice and equality. In the days of MLK, it was about the Civil rights movement. Will this be the last battle cry as many liberal churches fall into demise at least statistically?

The battle cry for the mega churches has been about the market place and they seek to be relevant and be involved in a market place evengelism seeking influence the kingdoms of this world. In contrast, liberal christianity has tended to move out from the market place, and may soon no longer considered mainstream.

What revelance does Jesus have in 2013 AD? What are we asked to "overcome" to be the salt to make this world a better place.

We shall live in peace
Some Day
Deep my heart, I know that
I do believe
We shall overcome some day



"The Weakness of Liberal theology" I, 1948, from the Luther King, Jr Papers Project.

For the last few years we have heard a great deal of talk about liberal theology. Ever since the turn of the century this system of theology has been gaining great recognition. This theology grew out of an attempt to wed theology to the dominant thought pattern of the day, which is science. It insists that the real theologian must be open-minded, as unbiased, and as disinterested as the scientist. Therefore, he can never speak in terms of the absolute. Moreover, liberal theology insists that truth is not a one-act drama that appeared once and for all on the Biblical stage, but it is drama of many acts continually appearing as the curtain of history continues to opne. The liberal believed that the light of God is forever shining through history as the blosom shines through the bud. Therefore, there can be no set theology. Liberal theology can never be static. It must forever adjust iteself to the changing conditions of history.

Personally I think this is the best, or at least the most logical system of theology in existence. But at the same time I must admit that there are certain weakness found in liberal theology which are well worth our attention. In this paper I will only discuss one of the weakness found in liberal theology; others will discuss next week.

One of the great weakness of liberal theology is that it to often loses itself in "higher criticim". In other words, the liberal theologian, in many instances, becomes so invlved in "higher criticism that he unconsciously stops there. This is certainly a weakness that the liberal theologian should attempt to avoid. After the Bible has been stripped of all its mythological and non-historical content, the liberal theologian must be able to answer the question - what then? It is certaintly justifiable to be as scientific as possible in proving that the Pentateuch was written by more than one author, that the whale did not swallow Jonah, that Jesus was not born a virgin, or that Jesus never met John John the Baptist. But after all of this, what relevance do these scriptures have? What moral implications do we find growing out of the bible? What relevance does Jesus have in 1948 AD? These are question which the liberal theologican must of necessity answer if he expects to influence the aberage mind. Too often do we find many liberals dodging these vital questions. This is the first great weakness of liberal theology.



The Weakness of Liberal theology last week we concluded that one of the great weaknesses of liberal theology is that is becomes so involved in higher criticism, in many instances, that it fails to answer certain vital questions. Today we will discuss another weakness of liberal theology which is equally pernicious. This weakness lies in its failure to contact the masses. Liberal theology seems to be lost in a vocabulary. Moreover, it seems to be too divorced from life.

This tendency to move out of the market place of everyday life has led liberal theology to become so theoretical that it forgets the practical. This is certainly a danger to any system of theology for it presuposses that all life is theory, when in reality theory is not effective until it can be reproduced in the realm of the practical. This is certainly a point of warning, for it is the danger that faced the scholastics when they lost their heads to logic. Liberal theology will be recognised only when it begins to grapple with the problems of the unsophisticated man.





Locations of visitors to this page