(Lisa Robinson)

Well, its happened again, rumors of liberalism infiltrating the church.  This is bad, very bad and nothing to be remotely associated with.  It is a sure sign that you have one foot out the door of orthodoxy and will soon abandon the tenets of the faith.  So I’ve come up with a list of sure-fire ways you can stay as far away from a liberal classification as possible and avoid any slippery slopes.

1)   Never question the parameters of inerrancy.  You may have tons of questions related to perceived gaps but it is best to keep that to yourself.  Raising questions will definitely raise eyebrows.

2)   Never refer to the entirety of God’s word as “narrative” regardless of how much you want to show the grand story that sweeps across all 66 books.  It’s probably wise not to use the word “story”.

3)   Never place an adjective with the word “hermeneutics”, unless it’s “Evangelical”

4)   Don’t cite sources from those marked as even possibly liberal, unless its to levy criticisms at their disastrous consequences.  Neither say anything nice about their books or blogs.  It does not matter if they actually have something valuable to contribute.  Any alliance will make you guilty by association.

5)   Don’t capitulate to the culture through means that might actually connect with people where they are.  They need to know the word of God.  Period.

6)   Never use the word “culture”, unless it is something you are against.

7)   Make sure that when an evangelical figure is publicly chastised for maybe possibly going down a slippery slope (possibly because they used the aforementioned words), that you quickly hop on the band wagon.  Don’t bother with actual facts or taking time to do some evaluation.  Hesitation will only raise suspicion.

8.)   Never question the validity of women’s participation in leadership or contribution to the body at large.  That is a sure sign to show you are headed down a slippery slope and destroying inerrancy.  They should know their place anyway.

9)   Don’t support a church catering to seekers (see also #s 5 and 7).  They can find their way with a good sermon.

10)  Don’t contaminate evangelism with “good works” or anything remotely associated with meeting tangible needs.   The four spiritual laws is all anyone needs and “good works” is something liberals do.

11)  The only “mission” you should be on is stocking your library with MacArthur resources and warning others against liberal infiltration.

12)  Never, ever use the word “emerging” in any context.

Well folks, I hope this helps.  Follow these 12 easy steps and it will keep you firmly planted from rolling down any slippery slopes so that no one can ever accuse you of being liberal.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    56 replies to "12 Ways to Guarantee You’ll Never Be Called “Liberal”"

    • Mike O

      Awesome!

    • Bob Anderson

      Excellent.

    • Mike O

      Serious question – can I post this on my FB wall? It’s that good.

    • Carrie

      But isn’t John MacArthur accused of advocating good works by way of his Lordship position? At least that it what I always hear his opponents say.

      So we could read John MacArthur books and run the risk of being called Liberal! 😀

    • Lisa Robinson

      Mike, that’s what the Facebook share button is for 😉

    • Mike O

      Ah. I don’t get these via FB, but I’ll take that as a yes. 😉

    • Lisa Robinson

      Carrie, may it never be! 😀

      I don’t think he would see it that way, anyway.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Mike, I meant the share button on this site. Although when I post links I rarely use those. In the land of blogging and social media, it is very rare that one would ask permission to share. In fact, I don’t know that anyone would think to ask and just post whatever they way. So your request is very much appreciated 🙂

    • Mike O

      Never saw the share button until now …thanks, Lisa. I would rather drive the traffic here than just post it as my own.

      100% on the page you’re on on this one! While I don’t consider myself theologically liberal, there is a LOT the Christian community at large could learn from them – watching how liberals connect with “the people Jesus misses most” (to quote a liberal leader I respect). Conservatives seem all to happy to provide cynics with options #9 and 10. And while they are true, the missing piece is that cynics *don’t care* so they don’t listen, rendering #9 and 10 ineffective.

      Did it ever occur to anyone (it has to me) that liberals, right or wrong, break up the hard ground, making it possible for the good seed of #9 and 10 to take root? Did it ever occur to anyone that we may *need* liberals to get their attention? The church is a body, after all. We all have different functions and perhaps liberalism is actually *useful* in God’s kingdom.

    • Steve Martin

      Liberalism in the church is great, as long as it is confined to the gospel.

      It gets off track when it reaches into political and social agendas…which it quite often does.

      Staying Christ centered has always been a big problem for conservatives, and liberals, in the church.

      Better to be a centerist. That Center being Christ Jesus and His law and gospel.

    • mbaker

      I made up my own list, tongue in cheek of course.

      Be sure you wear your ‘I hate MacArthur t-shirt’ to casual church gatherings, just so THEY know.

      Be sure you use the word ‘fundie’ liberally just so THEY know.

      If anyone even dares to even mention creationism make sure you let them know how poorly Ken Ham represents it.

      Snarkiness is in regarding theological correction now, the more pointed the better. because those other folks have to know how out of touch they are, and the only way we can do that is to put them down as harshly as possible publically, so they don’t dare try to sneak back to the blog.

      Have exclusive country club blogs where the requirement is everyone patting everyone else on the back for keeping the rest of those ignorant dissenters out, because unless it agrees with our opinion,of course, it is irrelevant and too divisive for our hallowed group.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Mike, that’s exactly what I’m getting at in this satire of sorts. We allow fear to force us into corners that ultimately may not be helpful to the body of Christ and her witness to the world. Yes, members of the body all need each other. I think some valuable contribution gets dismissed because of our fear of liberalism. I actually wonder if the liberal terminology needs to be abandoned in favor of something that more accurately describes faithfulness to orthodoxy vs unfaithfulness. Liberal now has come to mean anything I think is to the left of me.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Mbaker, I don’t think I could advocate for a t-shirt that says any member of the body is hated, not even in jest. This write up was not to be snarky, exclusive or about particular individuals but a mindset that exists with respect to concerns of liberalism.

    • Jonathan

      No, Lisa, your post does not help. Was it meant to?

    • Mike O

      I think where this post is helpful is in helping conservatives realize that, whether we’re right or wrong, we’ve a) got a connection problem with those Jesus misses most, and b) we’re ignoring a lot of what the Christian church is supposed to be doing – so the liberals are doing it.

      Why can’t we be both conservative *and* socially involved?

    • Scott Barber

      Mbaker

      If being snarky makes someone a liberal, your post was the most liberal post ever written, and you are the greatest liberal of all.

      (written without snark)

    • Lisa Robinson

      Hi Scott, please be mindful of blog rules and steer from disrespectful comments directed towards people personally. Thanks.

    • Scott Barber

      Sorry Lisa,

      Was trying to imply that I was being snarky as well and therefore a liberal – joke failed!

    • ScottL

      I think these might be more identification markers for ‘progressives’ rather than liberals. Of course, some might identify these are markers for liberals.

    • Luke Geraty

      I think a LOT if what you bring up comes directly from a pretty common “ethos” within evangelicalism: fear.

      There is a lot of fear about questions that are generally perceived as questioning the commonly assumed dogmas. To even ask questions is taken as not only a step towards “liberalism,” but also as an indication that a person was never “really” a theological conservative.

      Me thinks that some of the doctrinal lines are a tad bit too narrow in some people’s thinking (e.g., young earth creationism). It is too bad that fear is often more of a motivation than love 🙁

    • mbaker

      Ah folks just making ironic little jests about what I see around the blogsphere that everyone does. J. Mac. seems to be the one everyone loves to hate nowadays. Actually, I’m pretty much of a centrist myself. I just we need to lighten up on one another.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Hmmm, I don’t see where this post reads a hatred for MacArthur. It wasn’t directed against any one in particular.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Luke, exactly! You know, I take Jesus at his word when he said that he would build his church and the forces that come against it will not prevail. Why do we let fear rule like this? And I think its more than just not being conservative but having a questionable Christian commitment if one even looks like they might be going down that path.

      Scott raises a good point and the distinction between liberal and progressives. But the way in which “liberal” is generally defined (or is it?), there is no distinction between liberals and progressives. They are all liberal and damaging the faith, as some would see it.

    • mbaker

      I didn’t see the post that way either. It’s just J Mac is a favorite target of those who oppose his stand on certain hot button issues. Unfortunately, it’s popular in some circles to ‘hate’ him in that sense by making him a symbol of a religious culture (oops, there’s that bad word again!) who opposes everything. There was nothing personal in it on my side at all either.

    • […] 12 Ways to Guarantee You’ll Never Be Called “Liberal” Well, its happened again, rumors of liberalism infiltrating the church.  This is bad, very bad and nothing to be remotely associated with.  It is a sure sign that you have one foot out the door of orthodoxy and will soon abandon the tenets of the faith.  So I’ve come up with a list of sure-fire ways you can stay as far away from a liberal classification as possible and avoid any slippery slopes. […]

    • mbaker

      I do think that are serious issues here that need to be addressed. One is if the fear of asking questions on either side is going to be an impediment to fair theological debate. then we are all caving.

      The second is what we questioning? If we are questioning the essentials on the basis of an “I think” aprroach then. yes. we have a problem, because we are going to run into opposition when our interpretation of those things runs counter to the biblical view. Yet we seem aghast at that.

      Many folks on both sides in the church are doing that now, without producing a shred of realevidence to the contrary.

      Recent discussions on the deity of Christ, and did the resurrection really happen seem to have a lot rooted more in personal disatisfaction with the basic tenets of the Christian faith, than they do with reality. It’s fine to speculate but when speculation becomes a kind of replacement rtheology in and of itself, and people object to it, is it reallyliberalism that is being…

    • mbaker

      attacked?

    • mbaker

      And forgive me for making this a piecemeal type thing. But I think too often the question is really that Christianity, as it has been state turns into “This doesn’t work for me” and we cater to that instead of the real gospel message. That’s where I think we get turned around on both sides, in that we need to something ‘more’ to convince ourselves or others that it is real thing.

    • BJohnson

      “Don’t bother with actual facts or taking time to do some evaluation.”
      Careful, Lisa, careful 🙂

    • Lisa Robinson

      Mbaker, nothing on this list is really referencing an essential such as the deity of Christ or the resurrection. I think we can all agree that where this is being tampered with, there certainly is cause for concern. But I’m thinking more things that are perceived to challenge inerrancy or church practices that succumb to the culture where the “L” starts being used.

    • mbaker

      Lisa,

      I am talking of the blogosphere/church in general. isn’t that where you are coming from too? Otherwise I don’t quite understand all the objections.

    • mbaker

      Sorry, just didn’t see where you were separating the essentials and non-essentials in your OP, especially when you referred to the ‘entirety of God’s word.’

    • michael

      What a sarcastic, mean-spirited letter

    • Lisa Robinson

      Hi Michael,

      Please know that this post was not meant to be mean-spirited. I was merely using satire to demonstrate a point about our fears although I do understand not everyone appreciates satire.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Mbaker, now I’m kind of confused. I think to focus on the particulars of the objections gets off track to what is being addressed, which is how we allow fear of anything that smacks of liberalism to make us run the other way. The items are just examples of stuff that I have observed come up.

    • Mike O

      Lisa, I think your post is generally true and makes the right point. To parse it into specifics and whatever, is losing the forest for the trees. As satire or caricature of conservative Christianity, it is a little too true to be ignored. I mean, let’s face it … we do this to people or ministries we are not particularly on the same page with.

    • Nick

      Being caught in the midst of the Geisler-Licona controversy, I entirely agree. Anyway, here’s another one.

      “Watch how you handle non-essentials.” You can be sure the moment you express serious doubt about the pre-trib rapture or the Earth being young, that people will immediately assume you are attacking Christianity itself.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Mike, you said

      “As satire or caricature of conservative Christianity, it is a little too true to be ignored. I mean, let’s face it … we do this to people or ministries we are not particularly on the same page with.”

      Yes and here’s the thing. As one who is conservative I’ve been guilty of some of this myself.

    • Marv

      Hi, Lisa.
      A couple o’ cents. Congrats on a kinda clever-ish post…

      First, isn’t your number (8) kind of backward? Check it out. Unless I’m misunderstanding your irony.

      Second, in re: “rumors” of liberalism infiltrating the church, I’m afraid that’s a done deal. Is that bad? Yeah, I’d say so.

      More specifically, liberalism infiltrating “evangelicalism” (whatever that is), um, yeah, and doing so with a vengeance. A healthy body has a sound immune system, and foreign matter kicks off a response. This is a little concept I like to call “reality.”

      There’s masses of “stuff” floating around in the theosphere that is pathogenic to the body, opportunistic agents. Things antagonistic to faith and sound doctrine. Is this true??? Bleeping right, it’s true.

      Are some people playing with said pathogenic material as if it were no biggie. In my opinion, yes.

      I guess you’re saying we don’t want is an autoimmune reaction. False positives. But we don’t want false…

    • Nick

      Lisa said “Yes and here’s the thing. As one who is conservative I’ve been guilty of some of this myself.”

      SARCASM ALERT!

      You mean a supposed conservative! I thought we had a liberal in our midst denying Inerrancy! Everyone gather up the stones and remember, do so in Christian love!

    • Charles

      “Hmmm, I don’t see where this post reads a hatred for MacArthur. It wasn’t directed against any one in particular.”

      “I think some valuable contribution gets dismissed because of our fear of liberalism.”

      “Please know that this post was not meant to be mean-spirited. I was merely using satire”

      1. Satire is meant to ridicule. If when your ridicule names names, even as you claim, who are not themselves guilty, why do you name the name if that is the case. John MacArthur, for instance?

      2. Since you are ridiculing ‘fear of liberalism’, and you have invoked MacArthur, perhaps you would like to illustrate how he aids and abets this fear

      3. Are you afraid ‘some valuable contribution’ gets lost because…. perhaps you could provide even one case involving you or someone of significance, and how it might profitably resolved? Perhaps even twelve or so?

      4. Well, as you say, you aren’t aiming at anyone in particular. Just so; aim at nothing, and you will surely hit it.

    • Charles

      Being caught in the midst of the Geisler-Licona controversy, I entirely agree. Anyway, here’s another one.

      “Watch how you handle non-essentials.” You can be sure the moment you express serious doubt about the pre-trib rapture or the Earth being young, that people will immediately assume you are attacking Christianity itself.”

      Nick that is a very broad generalization involving all future contingencies including ones in which you are not personally present. An ability verging on the almost god-like. If these are in fact, as you adjudge, non-essentials, why must you use them as illustrations of the presumptive future behaviour of folks you don’t even know and whose points of argument you have yet to hear or to understand? If you must make veiled insults to unknown people concerning these points, perhaps they are not as “non-essential” as you claim? Perhaps you are merely trying to point out how annoying it is to be around people who have the wrong position on non-essentials?

    • Nick

      Charles. Christianity only hangs on one proposition.

      Jesus rose from the dead.

      That proposition does not hang on the age of the Earth, the question of evolution, whether Jesus will return before or after a tribulation, or even on if the Bible is Inerrant. We could have an errant Bible and Jesus still risen from the dead.

      If you think one of those is essential to the question of if Jesus rose, feel free to show it.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Hi Charles,

      One thing about humor is the more it has to be explained the more it loses its punch. The tongue and cheek is directed to the person who should be on mission. The action is not related to MacArthur but the person who should be conservative as possible by making sure their library is full of conservative resources. That is all I meant by that statement. So please know that I meant nothing insulting about John MacArthur. And to say that MacArthur is conservative is really not an insult, is it? At least I don’t think he would see it that way.

    • mbaker

      i think the greatest problem with this whole thing is that when we don’t disagree with someone’s approach we want to label them liberal, conservative, new age or fundie, because it can take the focus off the real reason: we don’t want to bother go any further ourselves in the learning process or even in hearing all the facts. Lot’s easier to write someone off as the problem.

    • mbaker

      That should have been ‘when we disagree. Excuse my oops.

    • helvetica

      Blah.

      Parchment and pen blog tends to do these snarky lists now and then and all I can say is blah every time. Was that really necessary? I concur that it wasn’t helpful. It comes across really unprofessional.

      Just… blah.

    • Mike O

      @helvetica I couldn’t disagree more. It caused me to look at myself and see the potential for error and unnecessary division.

    • Charles

      “Charles. Christianity only hangs on one proposition.
      Jesus rose from the dead.”

      I don’t think that is accurate, Nick. But that leaves a lot of non-essentials, does it not?

      Was my first hunch right; you are looking for people you can correct on non-essentials?

      I thought someone who was ‘in the middle’ of such and such a debate would have some acquaintance with epistemology; it seems I was only marginally right.

    • Charles

      Lisa, MacArthur is the only actual person you named in the article. What I would find helpful if you could name, for just one of your propositions, an actual case that you have knowledge of and how it proceeded and how you yourself or someone you respect for his wisdom might advise or help to clarify the misunderstanding?

      After all you did suggest that it is wrong to proceed without facts or background information. And what ‘rumours of liberalism’ are you talking about anyway?

      And at the risk of appearing non-essential, liberalism is damnable. In my opinion, after some study.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Charles, I think you have missed what I’m trying to do here. It’s not about the thing but the reaction to the thing. It’s not like I’m supporting liberalism but am addressing a reaction. Sometimes we allow the fear of it to produce unwarranted reactions. And I’ve already explained why I used a name because just saying “conservative” would not have had the same impact in context of the humor I was going for. So yeah, I could go through each one and give you an accounting of reactions I’ve seen that have prompted these pithy points expressed in jest such as reactions against narrative theology (#2) to demonstrate my knowledge to your satisfaction but I won’t. It wasn’t that kind of post.

      Thanks.

    • Charles

      “So yeah, I could go through each one and give you an accounting of reactions I’ve seen that have prompted these pithy points ”

      Perhaps you might be missing a point; I don’t dispute your point about what you’re trying to do; I’m saying be more helpful not in the sense of ‘giving an accounting’ but how when such an issue comes up, how a person wise in the ways of apologetics and gentle with the naive and troubled, a guide to the ignorant , would approach such a situation in a helpful way. I didn’t ask for another clarification of why you used a name; but asked what’s wrong with using specifics to illustrate a resolution to such a problem.

      This work is funny in a drunk lying in vomit kind of a way; (to borrow you colleague CMP’s new vocabulary). It is not worthy of your ability or training or aspirations.

      Thanks also.

    • Nick

      Charles. If I was looking for people I could correct on non-essentials, why would I a Preterist have attended a dispensational seminary? Why would I have married a dispensationalist? I’m Old-Earth and she’s young-Earth. We’ve had zero arguments over it. In fact, when she has a question I’ll say “Well this is what someone from your perspective would say and this is what someone from mine would say” and seek to give the fairest example.

      My point was too many Christians make non-essentials essentials and when you start questioning those you’re denying the faith.

    • Charles

      “Hi Scott, please be mindful of blog rules and steer from disrespectful comments directed towards people personally. Thanks.”

      Lisa, you could set a good example here by retracting your reference to MacArthur. You are old enough and wise enough to understand that his name is so widely used in this domain as a foil for holding up ‘fundies’ and ‘heresy hunters’ and wotnot, to ridicule, that it has almost become a self explanatory meme.

      Despite your protestations, I think you know exactly what you are doing. Is John MacArthur a fellow-soldier in the gospel, a colleague in ministry, or is he someone whose name you can throw out for a laugh because, when you set out to ridicule, for some reason it just seems to be right there, waiting for you, saying, “Pick me!” “Who will go for us, and whom shall I send?” (Is.6)

    • Charles

      Nick, re: “Christianity hangs on only one proposition”

      Please, yes or no, does that not leave a lot of non-essentials?

      What seminary taught you that?

      As to non-essentials, again; you started out by adding to Lisa Robinson’s list, with “here’s another one”; correcting people who are touchy about certain non-essentials. You now have four posts, sarcastic and otherwise, all of them about non-essentials.

      Frankly, your claim to have no dog in the non-essential fight does not have the ring of truth.

    • Nick

      Charles. I’ve made my case. My whole point was people make non-essentials into essentials and it leads to chaos. I’ve said this is problematic and why. You instead wish to argue with me about that as if I believe otherwise.

      I’m done wasting my time with you.

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