New Liberalism

Francis A. Schaeffer wrote around 40 years ago something that we could meditate upon for a few moments today:

Liberalism in theology is one unified system.  In a most basic sense, it did not change with the birth of existential theology.  The new existential theology is no closer to the historic, biblical Christianity than is the old liberalism.  It is really further away.  At least the old liberalism affirmed the concept of truth and spoke in antithesis.

Having come this far in our study of the new liberalism, it is obvious that it should be judged more completely than on some peripheral point which it produces in the area of morals or doctrine.  It should not be judged, for example, because its universalism weakens evangelism but because as a total unity it is wrong.  Unless we see the new liberalism as a whole and reject it as a whole, we will, to the extent that we are tolerant of it, be confused in our thinking, involved in the general intellectual irrationalism of our day and compromising in our actions.

The new theology is simply modern thought using religious words.  It is under the line of anthropology, dwelling only in the world of men.  It is faced with a “philosophic other” that is unknown and unknowable.  The new theology is in the circle of the finite, and it has no meaning and no authority beyond the authority and the meaning which finite men can give it.

In other words, not having any propositional, verbalized communication from God to man, in all forms of liberal theology, old and new, man is on his own with only religious words rather than religious truth.  Historic Christianity has nothing in common with either the old or the new secular rationalism, and it has nothing in common with either the old or the new liberal theology.  Historic Christianity and either the old or the new liberal theology are two separate religions with nothing in common except certain terms which they use with totally different meanings.

The Church Before the Watching World (IVP, 1971), pp. 33-34

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