What is a ‘liberal Christian’?

2007/03/22 at 08:41

I frequently describe myself as a liberal or progressive Christian. Twice in the past couple of weeks, I have been asked exactly what that means. While I have some general statements, it bothered me that I didn’t have a concise, easy-to understand answer. In response to this frustration, I started reading Brian D. McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy (which Rick Diamond, who I recently met, recommends on his blog.
I haven’t yet gotten too far into the book, and I don’t yet have an answer to my question, but I found the first chapter of the book to be an informative brief theological primer. In this chapter, Mr. McLaren describes “the seven Jesuses I have known;” he writes a short summary of the unique characteristics of seven ‘branches’ of Christianity. At the end of the seven characterizations, Mr. McLaren writes:

I am a Christian because I believe the real Jesus is all that these sketches reveal and more. Saying that, a question comes to mind…
Why not celebrate them all? . . . I’m recommending that we acknowledge that Christians of each tradition bring their distinctive and wonderful gifts to the table, so we can all enjoy the feast of generous orthodoxy–and spread that same feast for the whole world.

I definitely identify with this viewpoint, so I think I’m looking in the right place to help me voice my views. Stay tuned…
By the way, ‘the Liberal Protestant Jesus’ is one of flavors that Mr. McLaren describes. Since I identify much more with Mr. McLaren’s viewpoint than this one particular flavor, I see why I’ve had trouble describing my own theology. I have a feeling I’ll end up abandoning the word ‘liberal’ as soon as I find a more accurate and less charged description.