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Religious Liberalism

Religious Liberalism

by Brad Shockley

Published in
The Christian Informer
September, 2001

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Last updated:
September 9, 2001.

ON A MOON-SHOT from Kennedy Space Center, if the launch were off by just one degree leaving the earth, it would miss the moon by hundreds of miles (Anders 12). This is exactly what happened to today's religious world. Someone a long time ago altered God's word, just a little, and from there it was like that rocket shooting for the moon, it has been forever "off course." Many people in the world today are doing what they think is right. They do not believe that there is an absolute truth for all people, at all places and for all time. People are more interested in having an entertaining religious life rather than a spiritual one. Many have strayed far from the ways God has intended for them to travel and are doing what they think is right in their own mind. They have become liberal in their religious life. Webster's dictionary defines liberalism as "liberal principles and theories, a movement in Protestantism, emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity."

Religious liberalism is man centered rather than God centered. A person who modifies Christianity so that they may be able to do as they please whenever they wish is in danger of being a liberal. They will not let the word of God be the final authority. The purpose of religion is to praise and worship God and we must do that in the way God would have us. God must be the center of our religion, not anyone or anything else. We cannot stray from the holy word.


The New Testament scripture gives warnings of liberalism that can be found in our spiritual life. Jesus tells us "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matthew 22:29). The words of Christ point out that we can be deceived by not knowing the scriptures. When we rely upon impure passions instead of the infallible truths of God's word, we will likely become liberal in the lives that we live and stray from the truth. If we allow impure passions to rule our life, liberal acts in our worship and service to God will spring forth. We must study the Bible and meditate upon God's word so that we can know the truth and see the path that God would have us to travel.

When we become liberal in the lives that we live concerning religious matters, we have stepped off the highway to heaven and have started down a swift road to destruction. A person who goes beyond the prescribed limits of worship is not abiding in the doctrine of Christ. When we go beyond what is written in the Bible, we have gone off the deep end, and if we do not stop, that path will lead to an eternal punishment. Jesus describes to us what happens when we teach the commandments of men in Matthew 15:7-14: "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (NKJV).

Every time I read this passage of scripture I get the impression that Jesus is scolding these people for the things that they are doing. Jesus is telling them that their worship is idle, empty and without profit because they are teaching the doctrines of men (v. 9). This shows that when a man has written some creed, confession of faith or church manual, that is not accepted! That would be the work of a human and it is not the inspired word of God. This rebuke that Jesus is giving is to the Pharisees who had added to the Law of Moses many traditional human precepts. This teaching applies to all religious modernists who have modified the Christianity of Christ and the apostles. For example, those who have tried to install in our religious practices the birth of our Savior with a celebration called Christmas are adding to the worship. Whatever cannot be found in the New Testament is a teaching of falsehood and should not be observed. The Catholic Encyclopedia records, "Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church." The devout Christian should go right to the New Testament for their religion and should reject any ordinance that cannot be found there.


"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). We are living in a time in which people think it is all right to tamper with God's word. With the push of equal rights among genders, many modernists have allowed for women to take a leadership role in their denominations by letting them do the public teaching. That is a teaching that is in complete opposition to the scriptures. Women must remain silent in the teaching services, not because they are in any way inferior to men, but because the apostle Paul forbids them to speak (1 Corinthians 14:34,35). Many see nothing wrong with changing their spiritual life to keep up with the reconstruction of their society. Perhaps the most wide spread addition to the worship service is the addition of Sunday school. This is an addition that can be found nowhere in the Bible and should not be practiced in our services. Historically speaking, no religion provided classes before the 1790's (Barnes 2). We should strive to worship God in the same manner that the first century Christians did. In the article What Is Wrong With Sunday School Or Bible Classes? the following argument can be found, "such an arrangement is without divine authorization. There is no Bible for such a practice. It was not taught or practiced by our Lord, nor was it utilized by the early church" (Wade 10). Numerous people think they are spiritually minded and are doing what God would have them to do but they are just simply traveling down Deceitfulness Lane.

Regardless of the changes that we find in our communities, we will never have the power to alter the words of Christ. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). The unerring words of Christ will never pass away. The words of scripture are powerful and can never be defeated. The words of the Bible are trustworthy, and as long as we follow all the teaching and obey all the commandments that are found therein, we will never stray from the high road to heaven. God never has and never will allow man to tamper with His word. The Holy word of God is perfect and needs no correction. Despite college degrees, intellectual learning and writing experience, no one can ever be an editor to God's word. God's writings are perfect and no person has the right to edit His works. In Old Testament times God would not allow anyone to add to or take away from His commandments (Deuteronomy 4:2). The God that we are serving is an all knowing and all powerful God and we have no right to change His teachings today.


When people decide to play with the word of God and bring things into religious practices that can nowhere be found in the great book, they will be punished for straying from the truth. There are several examples that can be found in the Bible about straying away and the punishments that were handed down. The example that can be found in the actions of Nadab and Abihu should serve as a lesson for all of us to heed (Leviticus 10:1,2). Nadab and Abihu were in the process of serving God. They thought that their worship would be acceptable in His eyes, but because they did something that they were not commanded to do they lost their lives. They were severely punished for diverging from the word of the Lord. If God would punish His people under the old law for not worshiping Him in a correct manner, would He not punish us today if we do not worship Him as we should?

When we become liberal in our religious lives and start committing sin, we are in the same boat Nadab and Abihu. When we have sin in our lives and we do not do anything about it, we are not living an acceptable life in the eyes of God. The apostle Paul states that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).

Peter warns us about following the ways of men and he is telling us we need to be aware of false teachers (2 Peter 2:1-5). There are many in this world today who would lead us astray, and the last thing that a Christian should desire to do is to step off of that pathway that God would have us to follow. We will not be able to pick out false teachers by the way they look. When the devil and His servants come to take away the truth, they will not show up holding a pitchfork, dressed in a little red suit with horns and a forked tail. Instead, they will be dressed in nice suits and will be smooth and eloquent speakers. They will mesmerize entire groups of people with their presentations. We need to know the truth for ourselves so that we will not be lead astray from the truth. We also need to be mindful of godly things so that we will not have to face the punishments that those who disobey the truth will have to pay.

The words of Christ are the truth and they will certainly never falter. It is in the teachings of Christ that we shall know the truth and commands that must be obeyed to obtain salvation. "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31,32).

Works Cited:

  • Anders, Max. 30 Days To Understanding The Christian Life. Tennessee: Wolgemuth and Hyatt, 1990.
  • Barnes, Irvin. Bible Classes and Women Teachers. Springfield, 1985. "Christmas." Catholic Online Encyclopedia. 1999.
  • Wade, Ronnie. "What Is Wrong With Bible School Or Sunday Classes." Old Paths Advocate.
  • Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 1941 ed. Cambridge: G. and C. Merriam.