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Why I am not a theologically liberal person

By Spencer Gear - posted Monday, 20 September 2021

John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar and a supporter of postmodern deconstruction stated: "In discussing the crucifixion, I argued that the story of Jesus' burial by his friends was totally unhistorical. If he was buried at all, he was buried not by his friends but by his enemies. And not in a tomb hewed out of stone, but in a shallow grave that would have made his body easy prey for scavenging animals."

This is an example of theological liberalism in action. Crossan has added to the text, defining Jesus' resurrection as "an apparition" (i.e. a ghost or phantom).

Jesus' resurrection

When I lived in Bundaberg, Rev. David Kidd was the Uniting Church minister who wrote an article at Easter time 1999 in The Bugle, Bundaberg, Qld, a local freebie newspaper that was titled, "The Resurrection of Jesus." In it, he stated: 'The resurrection of Jesus. It's impossible. Even our brain dies after a few minutes of death. It's just not possible'.


This is a characteristic example of what a person's theological liberalism does to the Bible, by denying the supernatural and imposing a naturalistic, individualistic interpretation on the text. It is called eisegesis – imposing one's own meaning on the text instead of allowing the text to speak for itself and for meaning to be obtained from the words of the text (exegesis).

He did not get that view from the Bible. It was out of the mind and theological liberalism of David Kidd.

I would break the rules of grammar and syntax

For me to follow the examples above, I would discard the rules of grammar and syntax I use everyday for the reading of the Brisbane Courier-Mail. I would not go to the Bible for a literal understanding of its content.

Grammar is 'the set of rules that explains how words are used in a language' (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2021. "grammar.") Syntax is 'the way in which linguistic elements (such as words) are put together to form constituents (such as phrases or clauses)' (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2021. "syntax").

I would be ashamed of the Bible's literal content.

To be a theological liberal, I would be ashamed of the literal interpretation of the Bible. I would be classified as a "fundamentalist" who would be scoffed at. I'm not afraid of the scoffing because that's how I read the Brisbane Courier-Mail and anything else I read.

I would be accepting heresies.

In New Testament (NT) Greek, the term from which we get 'heresy' is hairesis. Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich's Greek Lexicon (1957:23) states that hairesis means 'sect, party, school'. It was used of the Sadduccees in Acts 5:17; of the Pharisees in Acts 15:5, of the Christians in Acts 24:5. It is used of a heretical sect or those with destructive opinions in 2 Peter 2:1 ('destructive heresies' ESV).


The research article on hairesis by Schlier (in Kittel, vol. 1) states that its 'usage in Acts corresponds exactly to that of Josephus and the earlier Rabbis' but the development of the Christian sense of heresy does not parallel this Rabbinic use.

When the NT ekklesia (church) came into being, there was no place for hairesis. They were opposed to each other. This author states that 'the greater seriousness consists in the fact that hairesis affect the foundation of the church in doctrine (2 Pt. 2:1), and that they do so in such a fundamental way as to give rise to a new society alongside the ekklesia'(Schlier).

Surely that is what we see in the Uniting Church today in Australia (UCA) with its support of theological liberalism's unbiblical doctrines and most recently endorsing homosexual marriages conducted by its clergy in its churches?

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About the Author

Spencer Gear PhD (University of Pretoria, South Africa) is a retired counselling manager, independent researcher, retired minister of the The Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia, and freelance writer living in Brisbane Qld, Australia.

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