Just Plain Christian?


Simple, stark crossLast week at the Boar's Head Tavern, Josh Strodtbeck noted how easily we refer to any ideology as "liberal" or "conservative," and how those ideologies, even when theological, mirror those of the Democrats and Republicans.

The problem with those labels, however, is the same pothole I discussed in my post "Either Faithfulness or Relevance?" We're perpetually forcing dichotomies where none should exist. Instead, we cling to one ideological side or the other without ever asking if the truth can be found somewhere in-between.

I'm sure that most of you readers would self-label as conservative Christians if forced to choose between that and being a liberal Christian. But I wonder if a more "radical middle" exists that blurs the stereotypes we commonly attach to both of those theological ideologies.

Consider the liberal/conservative Christian trait emphasis table below:

Liberal Christian

Conservative Christian



God is Love

God is Holy

Jesus the Servant

Jesus the Savior

The Holy Spirit quickens

The Holy Spirit convicts

The Bible is the story of salvation

The Bible is the Word of God

The authority of the believer

The authority of Scripture

The Gospel is for Man

The Gospel is for God

Christ in community

Christ in the individual





The least of these

The saints



The stewardship of Creation

The New Heaven and New Earth

The poor in spirit

The rich in Christ

The imaginative

The concrete

Salvation is a process

Salvation is a singular event



Horizontal relationship

Vertical relationship



Corporate sin

Personal sin

Doubt is healthy

Doubt is crippling







For the one who is not against us is for us.

(Mark 9:40 ESV)

Whoever is not with me is against me….

(Matthew 12:30a ESV)

Is it possible that the boundaries defined by these oft-used traits are false? If so, why do we cling so readily to arguments that reinforce one side over the other?

What would a Christianity look like in 21st century America that sees no paradox in combining mystery and certainty? Or uniformly emphasizes both Christ in community and Christ in the individual?

Is it possible to be neither a conservative Christian nor a liberal one, but something altogether better than either? And if so, why is it so hard for us to live that out?