To wear any label, a person must have at least some of the traits or characteristics that are associated with that label. I have said that I am trying to become a libertarian, because there are still some libertarian views that I am reluctant to accept, but probably moving toward. I see myself as more libertarian than anything else, so I wear the label and wear it happily.
When I was in high school I met a girl at a party whose name has sunk into a vast ocean of amnesia. I remember the silver cross that she was wearing, though. I said, “I see that you are wearing a cross. Are you a Christian?”
“Yes,” she answered, “but a liberal one.”
I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.
“So do you go to church?” I asked.
“I prefer to enjoy God’s creation and just feel grateful for the blessings that God has given the world.”
“Do you pray?” I asked.
“I meditate. I try to receive positive energy from the universe and send positive thoughts out.”
“Do you read the Bible?” I asked.
“I sometimes look to the Bible for wisdom, but I prefer to gain wisdom from experience. The Bible was written long ago; we need more up to date wisdom for today.”
“But you do believe that Jesus died on the cross to save you from your sins, right?” I finally asked.
“Well, there are many paths to God. Jesus is one of them. I think that he set a good example and taught some good principles. I regard his death on the cross as a clash between institutional religions and a radically spiritual person.”
“Okay,” I replied. “What else could I say?”
It seems to me that when a person departs too far from anything intrinsic to a certain philosophy or belief system, that person has actually adopted a different system altogether. Christians go to a church of some kind, because the Bible directs us to assemble together as a group for corporate worship and mutual support. Christians pray, because Jesus set an example of praying and taught us to pray, and prayer is actually speaking to God–not just thinking good thoughts. Christians read the Bible, because they regard it as God’s Word or at least as a really good spiritual guidebook. Christians regard Jesus as more than just a good example or a masterful teacher. In fact, there is no choice on that issue, since Jesus presented himself as more.
I recognize that there are liberal Christians–liberal in theology or left-leaning in politics or both. I accept them as my brothers and sisters, as long as they hold to the basic tenets of the Christian faith and practice some of the traditional Christian practices. However, when a person does nothing that Christians do or believes nothing that Christians believe, it would be a kindness to everyone, including the person in question to recognize that he or she is not really a Christian.