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Liberal Theology

R. John Elford

Subject Religion » Christianity

Key-Topics theology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405135078.2009.00065.x


“Liberalism” is here understood as the right to reserve and amend judgment in the face of evidence and to respect others who do the same, particularly when they come to different conclusions. A liberal is thus a person who is ever open-minded and at the same time generous toward the different opinions of others, with the proviso, only, that they are similarly open-minded. Even to those that are not, the liberal is expected to show a genuine charity. Alec Vidler captures the spirit of liberal theology when he writes: Here the word “liberal” denotes not a creed or a set of philosophical assumptions or an ‘ism, but a frame of mind, a quality of character, which it is easier no doubt to discern than to define. A liberal-minded man is free from narrow prejudices, generous in his judgment of others, open-minded, especially to the reception of new ideas or proposals for reform. Liberal is the opposite not of conservative, but of fanatical or bigoted or intransigent. It points to the esprit large and away from the idée fixe. ( Vidler, 1957 , 21–2) In general, theologians who are liberal hold the view that there is no such thing as an original Grand Narrative of Christianity that contains a once-and-for-all revealed faith in a form which is applicable to changing circumstances for all time without ever changing itself. Different expressions of the Grand Narrative view can be found throughout ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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