- So why am I a Christian? A short answer would be that it was within a Christian context that I had a life-changing religious experience. But given that I do not espouse Biblical literalism and inerrancy, some might ask whether I am still a Christian, and my answer would be that taking the whole Bible seriously is certainly no less Christian than quoting it selectively while pretending to believe it all and take it all literally.
I find very helpful an answer to this question that Marcus Borg has also articulated. I am a Christian in much the same way that I am an American. It is not because I condone the actions of everyone who has officially represented America, or that I espouse the viewpoints of its current leaders. It is because I was born into it, and value the positive elements of this heritage enough that I think it is worth fighting over the definition of what it means to be American, rather than giving up on it and moving somewhere else. In the same way, the tradition that gave birth to my faith and nurtured it is one that has great riches (as well as much else beside), and I want to struggle for an understanding of Christianity that emphasizes those things.
- In your view, Scripture is inerrant, and it inerrantly has different voices, and so its function is not to communicate the view of one of these authors or the other, but to (presumably inerrantly) illustrate to us that it is out of this conversation that truth emerges. This frees you to accept all that liberal and mainstream scholarship has to offer, including its recognition of a diversity of voices (and even invoke Hegel), and yet from that plurality to choose to draw as many conservative conclusions as possible, at least enough to justify continuing to think of yourself in those terms and bear that label.
- Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but it might be fairer if you were to acknowledge that you are thoroughly liberal in your view of Scripture, and only conservative in (some of) what you choose to build upon it.
- Conservative Christians today, though of course we want to be as intellectually responsible as possible in how we affirm it, stand with the early Christians. Liberal Christians do not (and the neo-orthodox in the mold of Karl Barth do not either; I’m not sure about Schweitzer; a lot of paleo-liberals were orthodox in a number of ways).
We cannot say that the early Christians were conservative vs liberal, in the sense that these words are used today. We can, however, note that some people are liberal with regard to the scripture but conservative in social and theological positions, or vice versa. Many visitors here are selectively liberal in many of their stances, but conservative in their view of inerrancy.