Wednesday 25 September 2013

Are there any Liberal Christian 'martyrs' - for Christianity?


At the foot of an earlier posting I wrote:

The reason why Liberals are all Leftists is because their Christianity is so weak - they do not feel sufficiently motivated by their supposed Christian beliefs - in fact their 'Christianity' is far too weak ever to win against the Leftism which is their true primary motivation.

This set me to thinking how to test this insight for validity. 

IF there were any Liberal Christians who had suffered some significant degree of martyrdom for their beliefs, then this would suggest that their Christian faith was strong. 

I could easily think of some Liberal Christians who had suffered for their beliefs to the extent of sacking, prison and even deaths; but on further reflection I realized that all the examples I could think of were actually related to politics, not religion. 

For example, being sacked for supporting Leftist rioters and revolutionaries, or for advocacy of the sexual revolution; prison in protest against Apartheid; people injured or killed when supplying material benefits such as food and medicine to impoverished people or countries... but then all of these are Left wing political causes.

What I could not think of was Liberal Christians who suffered for refusing to stop practicing their faith, for preaching the Gospel, for missionary work. 

Probably there are examples I don't know of - but the argument seems proven to the extent that it is very easy to think of Liberal Christian martyrs for Leftism; but difficult to think of Liberal Christians who have suffered for the Christian faith. 



Adam G. said...

I believe many of the last great wave of missionaries during the social gospel era contained many who were liberals and made genuine sacrifices, including martyrdom in China and elsewhere.

It isn't the liberalism is inherently incompatible with strong faith. It's that if the liberal has strong faith, its a form of consuming seed corn. He will transmit his liberalism, but he won't--he can't-- transmit his strong faith, because he has no basis for it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AG - Yes, you are correct for people who were brought up not-Liberal and became Liberal during adulthood - but you have to go back a long way to find many of them. In the Church of England you'd be reaching back into the early 20th century, and for people born in the 19th - e.g. some of the 'Lux Mundi' early Liberals (Christian socialists) were very devout - ascetic. And you are right about the problem - it was a transitional state, and could not be transmitted to the next generation.

JP said...

"it is very easy to think of Liberal Christian martyrs for Leftism"

Often enough the "martyrdom" is trivial in scope and intensity.

McCarthy couldn't imprison or execute anybody (unfortunately). The number of people who actually suffered the minor penalties "McCarthyism" imposed were small. But oh oh oh how the Left has milked their puny suffering with hugely over-dramatized movies, plays, and TV shows about the "witch hunts" of the 1950s...

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - I'm trying not to set the bar too high. I lost a (part time, but well paid) job (editor of Medical Hypotheses) and suffer a fair bit of public venom over a point of scientific principle, and it was unpleasant but not traumatic.

Anything at that level of punishment or worse I would consider reasonable for inclusion.

Dmitri said...

People of indeterminate political orientation do occasionally martyr themselves for liberal versions of Christianity.

But that's not the same thing I suppose. He probably doesn't realize how liberal American evangelical protestants are.

Sylvie D. Rousseau said...

...supplying material benefits such as food and medicine to impoverished people or countries...

I would say this example could count as persecution against Christians, if the martyr was known as a Christian and would try to feed the starving of any political persuasion.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Dmitri - I don't know anything about this specific case - but when you say "He probably doesn't realize how liberal American evangelical protestants are." you may be confusing theological Liberalism with political Liberalism.

I am talking about theological Liberalism (non-fundamentalism, non-literalism, regarding the Bible as a symbolic text (only), treating the text of scripture as if it was of purely secular origin, assuming that reported miracles must have natural explanations, open-endedly 'updating' the primary moral teachings and structure of the church, frequently 'revising' (i.e. 'Liberalizing') the prayerbook and Bible... etc.)

US evangelicals are NOT usually theologically Liberal - whatever their political views.

Nicholas Fulford said...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer