For a long time, I have resisted using the terms “liberal” or “conservative” when it comes to both theology and politics. My experience has proven that those who identify themselves as theological liberals tend to also identify themselves as politically liberal and vice versa. My reasoning for skepticism in using the term “liberal” with theology is a deep conviction that either you are a true believer in the central doctrine that defines the Christian faith, or you are not.
I have now lived long enough to observe two generations of so-called “theological liberals”.
In the 1950s & 60s, those in mainline denominations who claimed to be theological liberals began preaching liberally from certain biblical texts. They used Jesus' words to support their departure from the fundamental foundations of biblical Christianity.
"Love your enemies"(Matthew 5:44) is one of their favorite hobby-horses. They use it to water-down the clear exclusivity of salvation for those who acknowledge Jesus alone as their Savior. This wrenching of Jesus’ words out of their context led to full-blown universalism—the inevitable outcome of the misuse of these words of Jesus.
Today, the successors of the mainline liberals of the 50s and 60s are the liberal evangelicals. You would think that they would try an original attempt at departing from biblical truth, but alas, they have not. Modern day liberal evangelical preachers continue to pull Jesus’ words like “love your enemies” out of context, to justify turning their pulpits over to Socialists, Muslim Imams, and all sorts of non-Christians under the guise of "loving [their] enemies."
When Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” He was speaking to and exhorting persecuted Christians. He was urging them to love rather than resent their persecutors, even pitying them for the blindness that led them to persecute people who believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation.
Jesus never intimated to the persecuted Christians that they should give their persecutors platforms in Christian pulpits to mislead the flock of God. Never did He mean that Christian leaders should exploit their positions to encourage followers of Christ to water-down or hide the truth, all for the sake of making the enemies of the Cross happy. Never did He intend for us to find common ground with the enemies of Christ so that we would be liked or accepted by them.
The opposite is true! Loving them can only be genuine when the truth is not compromised and the invitation is given to them to come and receive full and free salvation, thereby assuring them that they, too, can become our brothers and sisters in Christ. Far from hating them, we invite them to be transformed by the same power that transformed us.
Christians know, by virtue of their faith, they are admitting that they are no better than anyone else. Indeed, we saw ourselves as wretches, and that is precisely what drove us to Christ as the only One who can forgive and transform us. It is the knowledge that there is nothing in us that we can hold up to others and say, "See what wonderful people we are. You need to be as good as we are.” Rather, we say, "We love you enough to share with you the greatest gift we have ever received."
I deeply long for these liberal evangelicals to admit that deep down they want to please those who hate the truth. I want them to admit that they want to make people feel good about their falsehoods because they want to be accepted so badly and that is why they have abandoned the truth themselves. I want them to repent of their desire to please man rather than be a servant of Christ and so be restored to the true joy and freedom of their salvation.