The Evangelical Liberal is a blog to discuss and debate ideas around more open, liberated and emotionally healthy ways of being a Christian, particularly for those who have struggled to find their way within the evangelical tradition. It’s a search for ways of emerging from the evangelical cocoon.
I can’t offer any hard-and-fast definition of what it means to be an Evangelical Liberal; rather this blog is a space to explore all that it might be able to mean. The best I can offer is a sketchy and personal Creed of my own current faith and doubt, with the proviso that actually it’s not so much about what you believe as how. The bottom line of my belief is that God is good, God is love, and God is most clearly shown in Christ – pretty much all else is up for grabs.
The Evangelical Liberal is also a conscious attempt to reclaim the ‘evangel’ of Christ’s good news from the religious right, and the ‘liber’ of Christ’s freedom from the opposite extreme. If nothing else, perhaps it can be a place of support for recovering evangelicals and fundamentalists – and maybe recovering liberals too.
I invite you to explore Evangelical Liberalism – or liberation – with me as a fellow pilgrim. I absolutely do not have all the answers worked out, and I welcome criticism and disagreement as well as encouragement and suggestion.
A Wayfarer waystation
In Alan Jamieson’s excellent Chrysalis, he talks of the need for ‘waystations’ for those who are entering or emerging from the chrysalis, dark-night or desert phase of faith. These are places where wayfarers and wilderness wanderers can stop awhile and find refreshment, encouragement and support for their new journey. I hope The Evangelical Liberal can be one such space. This blog is not really aimed at new Christians, eager for ‘sound’ teaching and worship resources. It’s much more for those who feel jaded or lost, battered or confused, or just looking for new ways and new expressions of faith – and doubt.
Moving out of black and white into full colour
So as an Evangelical Liberal I look to be more open in my beliefs and in my ways of believing; less hung up on right answers, sound doctrines and ‘correct’ ways of interpreting the Bible; more open to insights from other traditions and even other faiths; more open and honest about the flaws and inconsistencies in my own tradition, and about my own real doubts and struggles.
Being an Evangelical Liberal then means being less wedded to certainty and more open to mystery. It is a seeking after freedom from obsession with facts, proofs and systems of theology in favour of the divine paradox of the ‘God of Surprises’. Instead of a neatly sewn-up and watertight doctrinal system that allows for no alterations, it is about holding beliefs with a kind of radical provisionality and uncertainty allowed by a faith in God’s greater reality. It embodies a sense that Christianity and theology, evangelism and worship are at heart incarnational and relational, rather than primarily logical, factual and systematic. It is an eschewing of black-and-white answers, not for shades of grey but for the full vibrant spectrum of living colour.
Both/and, not either/or
So when encountering apparently contradictory views, I seek first a both/and synthesis (or paradox) before settling for an either/or dichotomy – hence ‘The Evangelical Liberal’. This doesn’t mean that anything goes or that there is never a right or wrong, but that often our theological arguments dramatically and tragically miss the point.
It’s my belief that Truth is greater, deeper, more complex and paradoxical than our usual categorisations allow. Again, the title of this blog is intentionally oxymoronic (or perhaps just moronic). I’m not committed to either Evangelicalism or Liberalism but to exploring new ways that blend and transcend the old stark category distinctions. (However, I did deliberately choose ‘evangelical’ as the adjective and ‘liberal’ as the noun rather than the other way round.)
I’m also very happy to listen to atheists and to engage constructively with people of other faiths or none. I do believe that there are good, even compelling, reasons to believe in God, and above all in the God revealed in Christ; but this blog is not about trying to force others to see things my way, or indeed any particular way.
My faith journey
A full listing of all posts is available via the Archives.