The Rev. John Liebler, an Episcopal priest, lost his faith in an ironic place: seminary. Studying for the priesthood in the late 1970s, Liebler was inundated with a theological liberalism that left him believing that Christianity, and all religion, was just a mirror we hold up to our own wishes rather than a window through which we see true spiritual realities. After a few years pastoring, he finally realized his spiritual emptiness.
We asked Liebler, who now leads St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Fort Pierce, Fla., about how he returned to faith, and why he believes orthodox Christians urgently need to reclaim liberalism.
Liebler: Whereas classical liberalism believed in opposing oppressive or illegitimate authority (such as the American colonists opposing the tyrannical rule of King George III), anti-Christian liberalism believes in the right to reject all authority. That means the Scriptures themselves began to be rejected as a form of authority.
This kind of thinking emerged out of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the universities digested the writings of Freud, Darwin, and Marx. It first influenced theological scholarship through higher criticism, which in turn infiltrated the seminaries. Theologians who followed this strand of thinking felt free, in a sense, to create their own theology apart from the Scriptures. That is what I encountered in seminary. In a sense, we were taught that it is okay to take the parts of the Scriptures we like, and leave the rest. The Scriptures are not the authority; we are.
This is the opposite of biblical liberalism which finds its very source and power in the fact that a Benevolent Authority who himself designed us with free will is the foundation of all real freedom and liberty, cares for the poor and oppressed, and calls us to be agents of liberation. He conveys these principles to us chiefly through the Scriptures.
I would add that Scripture-read-independent-of-Tradition is a step closer to the anti-Christian liberalism the author warns against.
Indeed. Good point.
In addition, this quote is problematic:
The Scriptures are not the authority; we are.
Thus, each Protestant can believe themselves to be an infallible Pope.
The opposite thinking that Scriptures is the only authority is held by fundamental Protestants, but they are likewise in error as they reject the Church, which gave us the Holy Bible.