In response to the post from earlier this week “Leaving Behind the Liberal Label’ I got a fantastic follow-up question from the master of the question mark himself: David Fitch 

It was so good that I have made my response its own post.  I would love your feedback on this one. 


Just FYI, when I was at Garrett 20 years ago, virtually every “liberal” I knew referred to themselves as within the liberal tradition, but embraced the aggressive critique of all five things you bullet point, including the embrace of continental philosophy. They called themselves “revised liberals” and I worked among them wonderfully. They all categorically rejected Hauerwas/Yoder (as well as Milbank etc.) to whom I had become attached to as the means of working through these many issues. It seems that the issues of

1.) divinity of Christ and any exclusive claims attached to that,

2.) the central role of the church in God’s work in the world, were problems for them.

So, just a thought, aren’t you really a “revised liberal”- not that there’s anything wrong with that 😉 -. And could you clarify where you’re at in terms of at least these 2 categories. Love you man!! (please forgive unabashed expression of affection).

@David Fitch THIS is the perfect follow-up question for this post! So I will attempt to answer it as clearly as possible (break out the bullet points)

  • I am so happy to learn that there is such thing as ‘revised liberals’. They sound fantastic.
  • I love that revised liberals engage the 5 areas of concern that I highlighted.
  • If I were a revised liberal I would wear it like a badge of honor!  But alas I am not one.

SEE – this is my point!   You outline 2 distinctives here that are a fascinating delineation – and neither results in a classification of liberal concern for me!

  1.  divinity of Christ and any exclusive claims attached to that,
  2.  the central role of the church in God’s work in the world,

Both were problems for them as you say. Neither is a problem for me!  

  • With the help of John Cobb’s christological approach I have worked my way through the Creedal constructs as historic snapshots of theological expression in given periods and have come – in a narrative sense – so see how vital it is that we attempt to articulate for our time what they were attempting to articulate for theirs!

That is part of being faithful to tradition – not to simply parrot (repetition without difference) antiquated formulations based in former understandings of cosmology and metaphysics … But to actively engage in an incarnation-enbodiment of those convictions in our contemporary context.

We are attempting to be faithful to the historic trajectory … but trajectory is mission-al. It goes somewhere. It has a journey motif. Yes, it is incarnation-al but it also has univers-al implications.

  • Which brings us to the second point: The central role of the church in God’s work in the world.Poppy

I use this kind of language all the time! While you and I might differ from here on how this happens … we are in agreement here. Now, for clarity I will (and have) openly stated my disdain for the approach of Radical Orthodoxy and any similar attempt at counter-modern or anti-modern expressions of church as somewhere between fictional  at best and fantastical at worst. But as to the role of the church in God’s activity in world?  Christ has no body but us – to quote Teresa of Avila.

Nerdy SideNote: I recognize Lindbeck’s Cultural-Linguistic framework as a descriptive – not a prescriptive – diagnostic of what role scripture plays in the contemporary church.

Therefor – when you ask “aren’t you really a “revised liberal”? – not that there’s anything wrong with that”,  the resounding answer is ‘No!‘  It sounds like a completely valid way to participate in the christian tradition – and if I were one, I would be so proudly … but alas I am not.

I am a christo-centric hyperTheist.  See what I mean?  Neither ‘revised Liberalism’ nor ‘post-Liberal’ go far enough for me.