The fact that many self-identified Christians, especially in the largest denominations, are extremely Leftist/ Liberal/ Politically Correct is very obvious - the current and previous Archbishops of Canterbury being prime examples.
Such 'Christian'-Leftists seem to be as convinced of the Leftism as anybody; they talk of it all the time, indeed compulsively - and their Christianity (however overt) is continually being adjusted and re-adjusted to fit around the changing needs of their primary political beliefs.
What puzzled me, until yesterday, is why such people bother to remain 'Christian' - even if it is little more than a matter of self-naming? In a world where when the mainstream of public discourse is secular Leftism - why do they insist on regarding themselves as Christian, advertising themselves as Christian; thereby alienating a sizeable chunk of the mass of Leftists?
Until yesterday my only explanation was a combination of careerism and fifth column subversion. For example, a middle managerial mediocrity like Justin Welby could never in a thousand years aspire to a position of such high status, privilege, fame and administrative authority as Archbishop of Canterbury - except in the corrupt and cowardly world of the Church of England bureaucracy. So as a career move, the Church makes sense for some people.
Once in position, many senior clergy devote their best energies into subverting real Christianity from the inside; leading their flocks, by incremental degrees, into the apostasy of evaluating Christianity by what they regard as the primary realities of secular public discourse (most notably in the realm of conforming 'Christianity' to whatever happen to be the currently fashionable imperatives of the sexual revolution).
But while both careerism and insider subversion are realities, they did not seem to explain the presence of so many low-level and passive ultra-Leftist individuals among the clergy and laity of Liberal churches.
The most likely reason dawned on me yesterday - when I found myself listening to a few excerpts from some conversations on the subject of spirituality and religion (including Christianity) between Rupert Sheldrake and a journalist called Mark Vernon.
(I would not recommend listening to these conversations, by the way.)
By his account, it seems Dr Vernon was ordained a Church of England priest - then left the CoE because it was Insufficiently Left Wing (especially concerning the agenda of the sexual revolution) - spent some time as an atheist - then re-identified himself as Liberal Christian (i.e an 'agnostic') who regularly - he said twice a week - attends services in what are (obviously) Liberal 'Christian' churches (plus, apparently, some kind of Buddhist practice as well).
So why did Dr Vernon stop being an atheist? The answer is that he discovered by experience that atheists are Insufficiently Left Wing - in other words atheists are 'intolerant'.
The situation is that MV ceased to regard himself as a Christian because it wasn't Left Wing enough, and subsequently came to regard himself as again a Christian for the same reason!
And so here we have the psychological mechanism which makes Liberal Christianity the ideology of choice for some of those who are most deeply, most viscerally Left Wing.
A Liberal Christian denomination like the CoE, Methodism, Church of Scotland or Wales, or The Episcopal Church in the USA is the best haven for those who most deeply value the 'softer' more 'feminine' Leftist values of tolerance, diversity, equality, human rights and the Undeveloped World (Fair Trade, Aid and all that).
For such people mainstream secular Leftism is too Right Wing in style; too dominated by rather alarmingly loud, brutal, tough and masculine values - as typified by such tub-thumping fundamentalist ultra-skeptics as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchins.
Liberal Christianity is thus an asylum for nice women and epicene men of ultra-Leftist persuasion who want a safe refuge from nasty atheist macho men.
(This also explains succinctly why there are zero conservative evangelic Bishops in the CoE; despite that this is the only successful, thriving, growing, money-making branch of the church.)
A splendid essay! You hit the nail on the head. I think,however, you ought to include the German Protestant (evangelisch-lutherische) Church in your list of liberal Christian denominations.
This does not account for the quite extraordinary treacherousness and persecution-mindedness I encountered among some very vocal "liberal Christians", who kept files on Christian ideological opponents and plotted their ruin while smiling at their faces and encouraging them to put themselves in dangerous positions. In my view, at least some of these people are man-eating tigers in disguise.
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