Saturday, June 4, 2005
'Christian humanism': Broader than liberal Protestantism.
Father Jake (an Episcopal priest) also likes the Christian Century's proposal that we stop talking about "mainline Protestantism" and "liberal mainline churches" and instead promote "Christian humanism."
When I endorsed the phrase last week, I lamented that Unitarian Universalists might feel even more isolated as proponents of theological liberalism if other Protestants shied away from the "L word." In response to some of Father Jake's commenters, though, I offered a different take on the phrase, which I'll repeat here:
One advantage of "Christian humanist" is that it isn't a euphemism for "liberal Protestant": It includes (descriptively, at least) Evangelicals who write for Books & Culture, Roman Catholics who revere people like Erasmus, poets and novelists from Richard Wilbur to Katherine Paterson, etc. (One could develop a very long list of Christian thinkers and artists who exemplify Christian humanism: C.S. Lewis, Czeslaw Milosz, Frederick Buechner, Annie Dillard, Madeline L'Engle, and Jane Kenyon come to mind pretty quickly, for example.)
The journal Image is published by the Christian Center for Religious Humanism, which is clearly at odds with the American Humanist Association's brand of secular humanism and is much more clearly aligned with this ecumenically-minded Christian humanism.
But I'd caution my fellow liberal Protestants not to embrace it as a euphemism for our theological liberalism. Liberalism is one expression of Christian humanism — one I'm deeply committed to — but it isn't the only expression. It's a useful label if it helps us enter a broader conversation, not if it's just a rebranding effort. (You know, kind of like the anti-religious Humanists who decided to rebrand themselves as "brights.")
Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 4 June 2005 at 4:18 PM