Who is Jesus to a liberal Christian?

And what role does he play in your salvation, if any? It’s fairly straightforward to see where most conservatives are coming from. For the most part, they read the Bible in a literal way, and take all of the miracles to boot as something that really happened; not some form of allegory or other message to be found, as some liberals may view it. To a liberal Christian it’s less clear the role Jesus plays. Having just read a small piece from A.J. Mattill Jr. entitled Three Cheers for Creationists, I would like to bring up some arguments from that and see how they are viewed. E.g., Mattill says the creationists maintain that, if the biblical stories of the beginning of the world are myths, then the stories of the virginal conception and of the end of the world may be myths, too. Once we get on this mythological slide, we cannot logically stop sliding until we hit the bottom at agnosticism or atheism. The creationists go further with it by stating that liberal Christians regarding the creation stories as myths or allegories are undermining the rest of Scripture, for if there was no Adam, there was no fall; and if there was no fall there was no hell; and if there was no hell, there was no need of Jesus as Second Adam and Incarnate Savior, crucified and risen. As a result, the whole biblical system of salvation collapses.

Many credible scholars state that the miracles stories were added later to the Gospels. Paul‘s writings, even in bibles of today, which were written decades before the Gospels, are also void of any of the miracles that were performed by Jesus. Paul also doesn’t seem to know about his teachings. This doesn’t seem to be much of a concern among quite a few liberals either. Many liberals can generally take or leave much of the miracles, save this one: the resurrection. Paul does speak of it, and says without that, their “faith is in vain.” I’m sure some don’t even put credence in that too, however. For those that can strip much if not all of the miracles out of the Bible, considering it along with the creation account as myth or some form of allegory, but never give up on the resurrection, what compelling reasons can you give for singling out this one? If one doesn’t even accept the resurrection as happening either, then why even consider yourself a Christian? What is keeping a liberal Christian from going over to agnosticism or atheism once they start accepting much of it as myth as the conservatives seem to think it should?


I would say that Jesus is the way-in that if we only followed him by DOING WHAT HE TOLD US TO DO, we wouldn’t have a problem.

It isn’t about salvation-it’s about loving your neighbor as yourself and doing unto others as you would have done unto you.

Didn’t Jesus say that was the most important thing, above all else?

Lord, Savior, and my reason for living.

Fall, schmall. I know I need His love. It’s that simple.

But since this guy talks about logic: FWIW, there’s nothing in this world less logical than Biblical literalism. It’s nothing more than a mess of colliding implication arrows. But there’s a ‘what it really means is…" or a "the word that’s translated X really means Y’ to attempt to somehow turn the Bible into something logically consistent in a sort of chewing-gum-and-baling-wire sort of way. But even that only works, in an extremely ugly sort of fashion, if you only allow the chewing gum and baling wire to be used in the ways that the fundies want it to be used. Allowing anyone to use the same ‘logical’ methods on any verse in ways generally consistent with the ways the fundies use them elsewhere in the Bible, would turn the Bible into meaningless mush in about five seconds.

Basically, what fundies do with the Bible is decide on the result they want, and then figure out a way to make it happen. This is a process that completely disrespects Scripture, in the name of devotion to it.

Jesus is a person. He is both God, and man. Because of the love God has for man, He lives among us, as one of us, that we might know Him. He was killed. Yet, He lives. So also shall you die, and yet live.

Creationism is the active work of Satan, dedicated to the destruction of faith among the Children of God. It is lies told by men, to gain power over other men. The bible is not a history book, or an archeology report. The Bible is a book. It’s about some people who came to know God. The book itself is not the miracle. The Bible is not the Word. Jesus is the Word. Open your heart to the Love of God, and read it. Expect miracles.

Someone else will have to decide if I am a Liberal Christian.


I think who He is to me is not all that different from who He is to my Fundamentalist brothers and sisters. I could quote the relevant bit of theNicene Creed for who my church says He is, but there is more.

He is my personal Saviour. Because He was fully human, He knows what it is to be human, to have a body that aches or needs to do inconvenient things at inconvenient times. He understands temptation and anger, and all the things that separate us from God. He is a manifestation of a Love so supreme It would be willling to give up Its unimaginable power to understand what it is to be one of us fragile, limited, frustrated humans. He is the Word of God incarnate, and the cornerstone of my faith. I owe my life and my sanity to His irrefutable, limitless love.

I do believe in the miracle of the Virgin Birth, and I most certainly believe Christ was resurrected after three days, even though I reject Biblical Creationism. If that is inconsistent, so be it. Miracles don’t have to be consistent. Part of my take on this is that Christ’s incarnation nullified large portions of the Old Testament in terms of Law, although it is still valid in how my religion was shaped.

Ultimately, when it comes to matters of faith and how I’m required to behave, I go back to the words and actions of Christ. He is teacher and master, and I am as fully dedicated to him as anyone who wears their servanthood in their handle. He has also told us clearly and unambiguously what is important:

This is the standard against which I measure my life and my actions. That business about loving God with all my mind is why I’ve rejected both contradictory Biblical accounts of creation in favor of evolution, and why I have no problem with people questioning their religion and why they believe what they believe. There are still passages in the Gospels, let alone the Bible as whole, which I don’t understand, but, to my way of thinking, I am encouraged and even required to keep working on them, to keep studying them, and apply heart and soul and mind to them.

One key area in which I do differ with Fundamentalists is this. The God I worship is unfathomably limitless and merciful. Therefore, to me, Christ’s atonement and death on the cross covered not only those who proclaim their faith in Him, but all people who have lived and who will ever live.

Bound and frustrated by my own, human limitations, I will not worship a God who is subject to them, although I am deeply and profoundly grateful that He Who created all things, all knowing, all powerful, all loving, should choose to give up all that for even a brief span of time to become subject to human joy, pain, pleasure, suffering and ultimately, death. He knows the comfort of a warm bed on a cold morning, and the pain of betrayal by a trusted friend. Having been human, He understands.

Excuse me. This has been yet another long post, but a shorter answer would be a disservice to a complex question. How’s this for a short answer? Jesus is my Lord, my Saviour, and, ultimately, the only Master I am answerable to. No. I feel another long post coming on, and the pleasure of a good breakfast awaits.


No He didn’t.

Well, I’m an atheist/agnostic, but to put words in the mouth of one of my good friends, who is a fairly devout Baptist (American, not Southern):

  • he, first off, admits he doesn’t know how the world works
  • he thinks perhaps that many religions have a common thread, that there are many ways to get to God, and that maybe each one is just a different facet of the same jewel, etc.
  • that said, since he was raised as a Baptist, and was taught about Jesus, he thinks Jesus provides the best example for him of how to live his life and try to get in touch with God, and he believes that he has derived great benefits from what he perceives as his personal relationship with Jesus/God

Svt4Him, granted loving God is the most important, what’s second, and, if it isn’t loving your neighbor, where does that rank, and how do you come to that conclusion?


Guinastasia said,

And Svt4Him replied,

To expand on this, to paraphrase Matthew 22, the greatest commandment is love God completely, the second is to love your neighbor.

My problem with a literal interpretation of the Bible is that it focuses on the letter and not the spirit. I believe the Bible is absolutely true, but the truth is in the meaning, not in the text itself. God granted us the intelligence to think for ourselves, and a myopic reading of the plain text completely misses the powerful, universal truths He wants us to try to understand.

My other pet peeve is the belief that the Bible is the Word of God. No, Jesus Christ is the Word; the Bible is only a witness to that fact.

What a bizarre dichotomy your mind supports. The Orthodox Church is the most conservative, doctrinally and in practice, of any Christian group I’ve seen. Indeed, we still argue over whether or not it is acceptable to permit pews, since this is a newfangled innovation. Our doctrinal statements always end up getting around to “as has been believed from the beginning”, or words to that effect.

Nevertheless, Protestant-style ultra-literalism isn’t something that is all that common in the Orthodox Church. Indeed, we consider the whole Fundamentalist program to be extremely new, extremely recent, and not at all conservative in the sense of “holding to the old beliefs”.

However, we are also certainly not liberal in our theology. Innovation is not a pleasant term in Orthodox theology. Our touchstone is what we hold to have always been believed, and we look askance, at the very least, on new interpretations and new beliefs.

So, what are the Orthodox? We reject much of “conservative” Christianity as being far too newfangled, yet we also are not “liberal”.

Pleonast, although I agree in part, as the Bible, IMO, is a love letter from God to His people. But to say that you don’t believe in a literal interpretation opens the doors to things that shouldn’t be opened. If it’s ok to murder because the Bible meant to not murder so and so, or it’s ok to steal, as long as it’s not stealing from babies. But at the same time, if you live by the letter of the law, you will die by the letter, but I do not believe that even a literal belief in the Bible will require someone to live by the letter.

Siege - The greatest commandment is the first one Jesus gave, and love your neighbour is the second.

I think the Love God/Love your neighbour instructions can be further condensed down to a single directive; consider Matthew 25:34-40 -

So yes, we have to love God and love our neighbours, but it turns out that loving our neighbours is the method by which God receives our love.

I noticed it didn’t keep you from using much of the same dichotomy, throughout your post, Mr. Kettle. Didn’t have time at the moment to address all 35,000 different Protestant sects, nor of all the divisions of the Orthodox Church as well, so I’ll just stick to those terms for now.


Guinastasia, I think Siege gave you the quote you were looking for which is in all of the synoptic gospels. There is also an earlier biblical precedent in Leviticus 19:18:Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.(KJV) Which was what Jesus was referring too. I think there is more that he requires besides this; at least that’s what I gather from the Bible.

RTFirefly, but what do you think? I’m familiar enough with fundamentalists interpretations, I’m interested in hearing how other Christians interpret it. You spent all of your post on how they view it. Fundamentalists don’t have a lock on “turning the Bible into meaningless mush in about five seconds.” And isn’t this exactly what allegory does when it is used where not intended? Fundamentalists don’t even use this form of interpretation that much from what I’ve seen, especially when it comes to the first creation account of Genesis where they take each day as 24 hour periods, while I’ve seen others use day to represent an era of time meaning thousands, millions or billions of years. Allegory is what many scholars say are the worst kinds of interpretation because of the infinite number it may bring you. It’s also known as, “letting the Bible say whatever you would like for it to say.” This isn’t to say, that some allegory isn’t recognized.


Seige, I appreciate the time you put into that post, so no apologies for running long with it. Concerning you accepting the “virgin birth” and “resurrection” too, I have plenty to say about this, and I’m sure you are aware of the critical amount of scholarship that has went into both of these events, so not sure why a Christian can know about that, and still be so accepting of it. I’ll address more of it later in the thread. Right now, I’m hoping to get some more to participate in this thread. I’m primarily wanting to learn not just what they believe, but what compelling reasons they have for still believing in certain aspects of it. I’m not even so much looking for debate material even though I put this thread under GD. We all know how these religious topics end up over here eventually, anyway. :slight_smile:

Tris, is there many Christians saying Creationism being the active work of Satan?


What “divisions” do you think exist in the Orthodox Church?

I used the terms of your false dichotomy because I wanted to show how Orthodoxy manages to be in neither of the groups you narrowly lump all Christianity into.


Why, because one seem like less of a miracle than the other. Supporting evidence for one over the other doesn’t seem that different.

But they do have to have really happened to really be miracles.

Yet Jesus himself said not one tittle of the law should pass away and this comes from the same book that describes the virgin birth and resurrection.

But just the words you want too, right?

Yet Jesus told you many other things clearly and unambiguously, so why stop at the stuff above aside from the fact that it does not require much in the way of genuine sacrifice?

So what about all the times when Jesus said this wasn’t the case?

Svt4Him said,

I’m not sure how the second sentence follows from the first. Can you explain more? In response to the first sentence: I think a literal interpretation (lit.int.) is more problematic than a non-lit.int. A lit.int. has to find a way around textual contradictions; i.e., a simple reading of one part disagreeing with a simple reading of another. A lit.int. also has to deal with factual errors; i.e., a simple reading describes something that is inconsistent with our best understanding of how the world actually works. These are not insurmountable problems, but the solutions I’ve seen are not satisfactory to me. Siege’s explanation of loving God with all of one’s mind is closer to mine own beliefs.

John Zahn says,

That is why I use heart, soul and mind to discern the truth from the falsehood. And, yes, I have doubts about my understandings of God’s Will. But the doubts are what spur me to more study and prayer for deeper understanding. It’s a lifelong process of growth.

Also from Svt4Him,

Can you explain further what you mean by this, the second part especially? I’m not clear what distinction you’ve made between “literal” and “letter”.

Dogface, can you describe how Orthodox Christians typically interpret the Bible?

Siege said,

and badchad replied,

It’s not clear to me that a miracle must have really happened in order to be a miracle. A miracle is a event that inspires wonder and awe in the power of God (in a Christian context). I think the wonder and awe of God are the important parts. A miracle can be inspiring even if it’s “just” a story. BTW, I’m not taking a position on whether any miracles really happened or not. That’s a completely separate assessment from whether miracles, by necessity, must have really happened.

(P.S., and don’t you all know how tempted I was to make snarky “shock and awe” comment. :slight_smile: )

Badchad; you seem to have very firm ideas about what religious people should and should not believe and what they should and shouldn’t do. And yet in spite of this, I’m not entirely clear what those ideas are.

Would you mind starting a thread detailing exactly what course of action you feel that believers should take to correct themselves of whatever errors you perceive them to have? I’d start the thread myself and invite you there, but not fully understanding your position, I can’t think which forum would be appropriate.