"And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."
~ Acts 11:26
There's no such thing as a "liberal Christian," at least not one who is mature in the faith. To be clear, you can be born again of the Spirit ("saved") but still growing in your understanding of the faith, and thus still stuck in old sins or old ways of thinking. While in the baby stages of your walk, you may still hold to some liberal or even progressive views. I know I did. In fact, I still held many liberal views even 2-3 years into my Christian walk (although the Democratic party's response to Obergefell woke me up like a ton of bricks). So if you're in a similar boat -- if you're genuinely saved and know God, but are still in the fairly early stages of your Christian walk -- then take heart and be encouraged that the Holy Spirit will gradually lead you into all truth. But to be clear, and leaving issues of Christian maturity aside for the moment, the words "liberal" and "Christian" are about as opposite and "rebel" and "saint," or "abortion" and "life," or "homosexual" and "marriage." Let me explain.
First, let's consider the meaning of the word "Christian." Do you realize that the word Christian(s) (the singular and plural forms combined) is only mentioned three times in the entire Bible? Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16. That's it. Only three times. And only one of those instances provides anything resembling a definition of "Christian," that being Acts 11:26, which is quoted in full above. But the relevant part is this:
"And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."
In other words, being a Christian isn't a game of "Choose your own identity." Nor does simply calling yourself a "Christian" make it so. And to borrow from the logic that Paul explained to the Jews in Romans, you're also not a Christian (let alone right with God) simply because your parents were Christians or even in the ministry, and certainly not because you were "raised in church." (See, e.g., Romans chapters 9 and 10.) Rather, a Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ. And a "disciple," in plain English, is a pupil or a student, depending on your word choice, although they both basically mean the same thing. (I'll go with "student" throughout this post, since that word is more common in our modern vernacular.)
Now, something bears explaining at this point. And this might go against a lot of your sensibilities, but please bear with me. (And if you doubt what I have to say, or find it confusing in any way, then please do as the Bereans did and search the Scriptures to see whether these things are so. I'll try to provide links to Biblical citations as I go along, to help make your job easier.) But without further ado, that something is this:
You can be a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ before you are saved, the latter of which requires being born again of the Holy Spirit. Being a disciple (student) and being born again are two distinct, albeit related, things. You have to look no further than the first five books of the New Testament to see this clearly. (In fact, the word "disciple(s)" appears 252 times in the ESV translation of these five books, but is only mentioned once (Isaiah 8:16) in the entire rest of the Bible, and even there it still carries the same basic meaning.)
Indeed, as can be seen clearly in the Gospel accounts, there were many disciples that walked with and learned from Jesus when He was physically on this Earth. But yet, none of them came to saving faith until close to Jesus' death. And none were born again of the Spirit until the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 disciples who were in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, which occurred 50 days after Jesus' death on the Cross. So the Gospel accounts are quite clear that many became disciples (students) of Jesus' teachings during his public ministry (which covered approximately the last three years of his life), but yet none were saved until shortly before His death (arguably) or when the Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost (more likely). So, you can be a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ and His teachings before you are actually saved (and to be sure, in some situations, the opposite is true as well). Thus, being a disciple and being born again are clearly two distinct (but related) things.
So, to recap what I just said: (1) A disciple is a "student," and (2) Being a disciple (student) is a separate (but related) experience to being saved. And to clarify these points further, in the Christian context, a disciple is specifically a student of Jesus Christ.
Thus -- and more importantly for the sake of the instant discussion -- a Christian is not just anyone who wants to take that name; but rather, a Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is no other kind of "Christian," except perhaps a false or misguided or not-yet-mature one.
Now, why does this matter? Well, because a Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ, and "a disciple is not above his teacher." (Matthew 10:24), that means that you can't claim to be a Christian (i.e., a disciple, or student, of Jesus Christ) and claim to know more than He knows. You can't be a Christian (a disciple, or student, of Jesus Christ) and claim to add to His teachings, or to reject or relax any of His teachings. The former was a major issue with the Pharisees, the latter was one of the main problems with the Sadducees (and keep in mind that Jesus was not exactly pleased with either group). Quite to the contrary, in order to be a Christian (a disciple, or student, of Jesus Christ) you must be willing to both study the Scriptures (which are all His Word) and to do what He says. To become like Christ, you must obey Christ -- not yourself or the shifting winds of doctrine and the culture around you.
And now that we've shown that Biblically speaking, a Christian is a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ and that there is no other kind of mature Biblical Christian, let's revisit the point I made at the top:
There's no such thing as a (mature) liberal Christian.
Or to rephrase that somewhat, there is no such thing as a "liberal Christian" who is mature in his or her faith. As I said at the outside, you can (and many will) still retain some sinful and worldly beliefs even after you begin your discipleship under the teachings of Jesus Christ; I know that was the case with myself, and presumably with others as well. And as I also said at the top, being a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ is a distinct (but related) experience to being saved, so I am not suggesting that salvation is by works. I am, however, suggesting and even stating quite strongly that Christian maturity requires work on the part of the Believer, and a mature Christian most certainly cannot be a liberal.
Why do I say such a bold thing?
Well, consider the definition of "liberal":
A Christian is a disciple (or student) of Jesus Christ, and a student is not above His teacher. Therefore, a student cannot intentionally ignore his teacher's teachings, nor can a student add to those teachings or remove anything from those teachings. But yet, a liberal is a person who does just that by being "open to new behavior or opinions" (an addition or modification) and who is "willing to discard traditional values" (i.e., deleting or blatantly ignoring the things taught by Christ and His Apostles).
Now, that's not to say that you have to reject every new technological advance (e.g., the computer I'm using to write this post, or the printing presses used to print my Bible) in order to be a good student. But the Word of God does say quite clearly that, in order to be a student of Christ (i.e., a Christian), you have to reject everything that adds to, removes from, or otherwise changes His teachings. And to be equally clear, the entire Word of God is His teachings:
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
~ Paul the Apostle (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
"If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I [Paul] write to you are the commandments of the Lord."
~ Paul again (1 Corinthians 14:37)
Therefore, beloved . . . consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
~ Peter the Apostle (2 Peter 3:14-16)
The very example in the screenshot above captures this truth perfectly: Jesus said that marriage is between male and female, and throughout His Word, He makes clear that all homosexual actions and any other sex out of wedlock is/are sinful (e.g., Romans 1:26-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Revelation 21:8), and and that He hates divorce, which is another area of extreme liberality in modern America (see, e.g., the definition above again). But yet, according to the example given in the definition above, a liberal is someone who has "more liberal [i.e., open, or non-traditional] views toward marriage and divorce than some people." As anyone who has been following the homosexual marriage debates / divisions in this country is all too well aware, this but one example of where a liberal thinks he or she knows more than The Master -- the very one who is our Lord, but yet who so many refuse to do as He says.
And so again, I repeat: There is not such thing as a "liberal Christian" who is mature in his or her faith. You may be saved before you come to maturity as a disciple of Christ, but if that's the case you should be currently growing in both knowledge of and obedience to the Word. (And conversely, if you've considered yourself a "Christian" for much more than three years and still think it's OK to reject the plain teachings of Jesus Christ, and/or simply haven't had a desire to study and learn those teachings yet, then the very Spirit who wrote the Word quite likely does not truly live in you.) But to be sure, there is no such thing as a disciple (student) of Christ who think s/he know more than Jesus Himself. And as a result, there is no such thing as a Biblical "Christian" who is not a disciple/student of Jesus Christ, and there is no such thing as a disciple/student who is open to rejecting the fundamental truths of his or her Teacher . . . even though being a "liberal" requires you to do just that.
Truly, no student is above His Teacher, especially when that teacher is Jesus Christ Himself, and for at least that reason, there is truly no such thing as a mature "liberal Christian."
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"For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." (Acts 20:27)