Modern Liberalism has shaped our world more than any other movement in the past 200 years — and particularly the past 100 years in America.
My grandfather, being a staunch Libertarian, detested FDR for his New Deal in the 1930’s. And my father, being a WWII veteran and imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit, was disgusted with LBJ’s Great Society in the 1960’s. And now, the very fabric of our society is being torn apart as the current crop of liberals exert their political power over the western world.
Yet, you may be surprised to learn that the philosophical basis of liberalism is not political — it is religious. It all started as a deviation from orthodox Christianity.
It was begun in Germany in the early 1800’s by a protestant theologian who fundamentally altered the historic Christian faith. He altered it so significantly that great Presbyterian theologian Gresham Machen, a hundred years later, was forced to write a book “Christianity and Liberalism”. In that work, he makes the argument that Liberalism is a completely different religion, devoid of any of the basic tenants necessary to call itself ‘Christian’. Yet Liberals continue to claim the name of Christian while denying the set of beliefs that comprise Christianity. How is that possible?
In order to understand, let me introduce you to Frederick Schleiermacher, the acknowledged Father of Liberalism. To know Schleiermacher and his work is the first step to understanding our present hour.
Schleiermacher was born and raised in Prussia in the later 1700’s as the son of an army Chaplain. His parents raised him in a Christian home, where the Bible was the presumed Word of God. The basis for his parent’s ethics and morality was rooted in the authority of the Scriptures. Yet young Frederich came to a crossroads in his own beliefs when he was a teenager, as he could not accept the historicity of the Bible. In a letter to his father, Frederich wrote:
“Faith is the regalia of the Godhead, you say. Alas! dearest father, if you believe that without this faith no one can attain to salvation in the next world, nor to tranquility in this — and such, I know, is your belief — oh! then pray to God to grant it to me, for to me it is now lost. I cannot believe that he who called himself the Son of Man was the true, eternal God; I cannot believe that his death was a vicarious atonement.”
In one short confession, Frederich pierced the heart of his father. For in it, he denied the essence of Christianity — the person and work of Jesus Christ. No clearer statement of unbelief could there have been. Yet, Frederich was not willing to walk away from the religious realm. If he had done so, it would have been better for him as well as the rest of us. But no. He applied his great intellect to search for a way to justify himself before God in his unbelieving heart. Through that effort, he invented a new religion that salved his conscience. And we have been suffering ever since.
Liberal Christianity was born.
In my next article I will explore the nature of this new religion and its enormous influence on our culture.