What is the definition of ‘liberal’? Dictionary.com gives 13 points, I cite 6 of those points:
2.(often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
4.favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5.favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression:a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
7.free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant:a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
8.open-minded or tolerant, especially free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
9.characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts:a liberal donor.
How about ‘conservative’? Dictionary.com gives 12 definitions, I cite 5:
1.disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
3.traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness:conservative suit.
7.having the power or tendency to conserve or preserve.
9.a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
10.a supporter of conservative political policies.
These are generic definitions, which means at best, they are superficial! As you can plainly read, both definitions are excellent, neither liberal nor conservative definitions reject Biblical principles. Does this mean the two groups have the same values? This can be answered only when we understand the definitions of both groups change when applied to actual people. In other words, the two groups do not have the same values. On a practical level, which means how these definitions are actually fleshed-out, i.e.viewed in people’s actions or lives, the people of these two groups could not be more different! As a matter of fact, their actions are as different as day from night. Yet, this is why the actual philosophy, not the actions/behaviors, of the people who call themselves Liberals and Conservatives is so tricky! I repeat, on the philosophical level, both groups possess--at least what appears to be--godly practical principles; yet, on a practical level, they are as distant from one another as East is from the West!
First, on the most fundamental philosophical level ‘contemporary’ Conservatives, desire to conserve or preserve the principles in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Why do I use “contemporary Conservatives”? Because this has not been true, and is still not absolutely true, of ‘every person’ who elects the title of ‘Conservative’. I repeat, this is what makes these ‘political’ titles so tricky!! For example, historically, Southern Democrats were a.k.a. “Conservative Democrats”. They were totally different from ‘contemporary’ conservatives because their desire was to conserve their ‘way’ of life, which meant White supremacy, such as Jim Crow laws. Therefore, Conservative Democrats and Contemporary Conservatives are complete opposites. Remember, because these are political titles and not Biblical titles, they can change over time!
Second, the ‘historical Liberal’ has two names:
The two are synonymous, and at face value, both claim the previous Dictionary.com definition of liberal. On the other hand however, if we examine the ‘1828 Webster’s Dictionary of liberal’, we find nine entries:
1.Of a free heart; free to give or bestow; not close or contracted; munificent; bountiful; generous; giving largely; as a liberal donor; the liberal founders of a college or hospital. It expresses less than profuse or extravagant.
2.Generous; ample; large; as a liberal donation; a liberal allowance.
3.Not selfish, narrow on contracted; catholic; enlarged; embracing other interests than one’s own; as liberal sentiments or views; a liberal mind; liberal policy.
4.General; extensive; embracing literature and the sciences generally; as a liberal education. This phrase is often but not necessarily synonymous with collegiate; as a collegiate education.
5.Free; open; candid; as a liberal communication of thoughts.
6.Large; profuse; as a liberal discharge of matter by secretions or excretions.
7.Free; not literal or strict; as a liberal construction of law.
8.Not mean; not low in birth or mind.
9.Licentious; free to excess.
Like Dictionary.com, the first eight entries of the 1828 Webster’s dictionary are wonderful, any authentic Christian could claim these principles-—for they are Biblically sound. However, the ninth entry is ‘THE’ actual, literal, spiritual--behavior of the liberal/progressive. In reality, considering the 9th entry of “liberal”, it is perfectly described in Galatians 5:13: “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” This verse teaches that every human aspires to freedom—which is God’s freedom, the Creator of all freedom. Yet, freedom requires direction. In other words, without direction, we can become so enamored with the word freedom so as to use it to promote the flesh. This is what Galatians 5:13 means by the words: “opportunity for the flesh”. On the contrary, Scripture teaches that ‘the flesh’ is driven by the sin nature(Rom7:17,18,23), and must be kept in control daily(1Cor9:27). But…it cannot be controlled apart from the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit(Rom8:5-8). Very simply, because humans have a sin nature, we do not have an absolute freedom! What does that mean? God has given mankind the freedom to choose anything but sin! Incredibly, the choices of God are infinite, because He is infinite. Yet, when a man uses his freedom to choose sin, he becomes blinded and enslaved, which ironically, unwittingly, and dramatically, reduces, and even destroys his freedom!
Therefore, the definition for ‘Liberal’ in Webster’s Dictionary is actually correct.
The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking that it doesn't matter. -Jim Rohn