WFT- liberalism

04 February 2011

Anyone who frequents this blog knows about the "Words For Thought" series where I examine words, their meanings, and their use in a Scriptural context.

Two of the words that I found to be rather interesting lately are liberalism and conservativism. They don't always mean what we think they mean.  This article (and the next few that follow it) will examine these words.  Let's start with...


1 : the quality or state of being liberal 2 aoften capitalized : a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity    b : a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard    c : a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class)    d capitalized : the principles and policies of a Liberal party

Look at #2a: the Protestant "liberalism" simply means that believers are free to read Scripture and think for themselves rather than blindly adhere to the Catholic teachings that preceded it.  In this sense I am a liberal.

2b was an eye-opener for me: liberalism as an economic theory emphasizing individual freedom from restraint, supporting free competition, self-regulating markets, and the gold standard.  In this sense I am definitely a liberal.  Wait until my family hears about this. :)

Now consider #2c: I do believe in progress, however, I do not believe in the essential goodness of the human race because Scripture tells us the exact opposite:

  • There is none good but G-d (Luke 18:19)
  • There is no one who does good in our unredeemed state (Psalm 53:3)
  • All have sinned (Romans 3:23)

I do acknowledge the autonomy of the individual but I don't support it because it's really not a good thing:

  • Apart from Messiah nothing would exist (John 1:3)
  • Yeshua says that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5)
  • He has authority over all flesh (John 17:2)
  • We can do all [good] things through Him (Php 4:13)
  • He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

From what Scripture says, it really doesn't sound like we are autonomous, does it?

The only way that we are "autonomous" from G-d is in our sin.  G-d has no part in that [for what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14)].  I think that we should flee from personal autonomy and cling to Him instead:

You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:4- emphasis mine)

My biggest departure from this form of liberalism  is in regards to the  philosophy that considers "government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities."

I do not disagree that it can be that.

I disagree that it should be that.

A person can use a screwdriver as a shovel but it's wayyy too small for the job.  If you make it big enough to do the job (that it was never intended to do) then it can no longer be used for its original purpose.

A person can also take a perfectly good Swiss Army knife (with just a few blades and tools) and try to turn it into a "use it to fix everything" device with hundreds of tools.  At some point in the "let's make it do this, too" process it becomes unwieldy, uncontrollable, and the functions it once performed well can't be done at all.

Plus it no longer fits in your pocket.

G-d tells us that we should provide for strangers, orphans, and widows:

When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.  (Deuteronomy 26:12)

But Messiah Himself tells us that we will never solve that particular problem of the poor (Mark 14:7).  He alone will correct it with the coming of His Kingdom.

My dad taught me about tools when I was young: "Take care of your tools", he said, "and use them for their intended purpose and they will last for a long time."  We should not ruin the perfectly good screwdriver of government in ways that it should never be used.

Next let's look at "conservatism"...


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