In the first of a two-part series, Theo Hobson looks at the tensions between the rational and ritualistic traditions of liberal Christianity in The Guardian:
What is “liberal” Christianity? Is it the attempt to do Christianity in an honest, modern way; or is it an attempt to dodge the hard bits of this faith? I have spent quite a large proportion of my life thinking this through, wondering whether liberal Christianity can be authentically Christian, or whether it gravitates towards a soggy compromise with secular humanism.
Well, eureka, I think have found the answer. The conclusion I have come to is that liberal Christianity has two meanings: there are two traditions here. They are deeply intertwined, but they must be pulled apart – for one tradition infects and corrodes the other. Only once this separation is made can an authentic liberal Christianity be affirmed.
Liberal Christianity became dominated by this rational-humanist reformism. A nuanced liberal Christianity – one that affirmed political liberty, but also understood that authentic Christianity must be rooted in faith and ritual practice – failed to emerge. Even the best Protestant theologians (Kierkegaard, Karl Barth) contributed to the problem, by treating “liberal theology” as a unity. Only connect. We must strive to reaffirm the best of liberal Christianity, without recycling the worst. This tradition can, and must, be reinvented. In the second article, next Sunday, I’ll suggest what the way forward might look like.
Read more here.