I saw this on my Facebook newsfeed today, which got me thinking about Bill Baar's post today focusing on questions posed by Ross Douthal regarding the future of Liberal Christianity:
"Times change. God doesn't, but times do. We learn and grow, and the world around us shifts, and the Christian faith is alive only when it is listening, morphing, innovating, letting go of whatever had gotten in the way of Jesus and embracing whatever will help us be more and more the people God wants us to be." --Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis
Rob Bell is an evangelical, but also advocates a progressive, freed-up, missional Christian faith. He is a pastor of Mars Hill Church which is not tied to any of the historical denominations in America. His books and Nooma DVDs sell in their hundreds of thousands, his speaking tours sell out - with many young adults attending them, including in the UK.
He is arguably a small 'l' liberal Christian, of sorts - but many big 'L' Liberal Christians instinctively wouldn't recognise him as such because of his sense of conviction, and because the language & manner of communication he uses to explain his beliefs (and questions) is very different to that seen in recent generations by people speaking publicly under the 'Liberal Christian' banner. He also doesn't deliberately place himself within this box - he doesn't actively aim his work at Liberal Christians, he has much wider horizons.
It seems to me that established churches / denominations of Liberal Christian traditions need to continue to work towards becoming a vehicle for this kind of progressive, freed-up, missional Christian faith - one rooted in Truth and Spirit but highly-responsive to the issues and needs of the times, one not contented with simply talking to itself.
And if they cannot, then perhaps it is only natural that they decline and vanish, and that others emerge to take their place?