"The Bible I read teaches me to follow Jesus; sometimes that's the same direction that conservatives are taking; sometimes that's the direction liberals are going. But more typically it is another way altogether..."
I really detest labels. Typically, labels are used to place other people in boxes for our convenience, or so we can avoid actually understanding one another, or so we can demonstrate how wrong they are by association, so we can use things they don't even believe against them....
For example: "You say you're in favor of health-care for all Americans? That makes you a liberal. I won't listen to you because you don't support our troops and you want to bring Marxism to America...."
Here's another one: "So you think it's OK to pray in school? You must be one of those conservatives. You people want to keep health care out of reach for minorities and you want the economy to collapse because you're scared Obama will look good if there's a recovery..."
And so it goes.
I was told recently that it's a misnomer to call my Sunday-school class "Practical Christianity". Why? because if I really taught Bible, then I'd be teaching in a way that used the scripture to prop up conservative ideology. But, because I don't do that, the class title is misleading.
Consequently, that makes me - apparently - a liberal.
I get the same thing in response to newspaper columns. Typically, readers who have issues with a balanced perspective are people who get most of the opinions they spout from someone else. They haven't thought things through so they simply parrot - or "ditto" - ideas that sound compelling and feed their need for a tidy more clearly defined world view.
Labeling, stereotyping, demonizing, assuming, litmus-testing, fear-mongering... I could go on. All these come with the package once we try to apply ideological presumptions and preconceptions and pre-conclusions to people engaged in actual intelligent conversation.
The fact is I don't advance either "liberal" or "conservative" viewpoints in Sunday school or anywhere else. I find both "liberal" and "conservative" ideologies too often at odds with the Gospel; my point is that such generalizations seldom help us understand one-another and also tend to confuse our take on scripture.
I'll admit that my approach could come with more consistency, deeper Bible, and better scholarship. But I am faithfully committed to God's Word, and to finding out how it best guides us from day to day.
The Bible I read teaches me to follow Jesus - sometimes that's the same direction that conservatives are taking... sometimes that's the direction liberals are going. But more typically it is another way altogether. My category is that of "disciple". And, more often than not, that's a counter-cultural designation.
Love and blessings - DEREK