Liberal Christianity

Liberal Christianity, also known as liberal theology, is a movement that interprets and reforms Christian teaching by taking into consideration modern knowledge, science and ethics. It emphasizes the importance of reason and experience over doctrinal authority. Liberal Christians view their theology as an alternative to both atheistic rationalism and theologies based on traditional interpretations of external authority (such as the Bible or sacred tradition).[1][2][3]

Liberal theology grew out of Enlightenment rationalism and romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was characterized by an acceptance of Darwinian evolution, a utilization of modern biblical criticism and participation in the Social Gospel movement.[4] This was also the period when liberal theology was most dominant within the Protestant churches. Liberal theology's influence declined with the rise of neo-orthodoxy in the 1930s and with liberation theology in the 1960s.[5] Catholic forms of liberal theology emerged in the late 19th century. By the 21st century, liberal Christianity had become an ecumenical tradition, including both Protestants and Catholics.[6]

In the context of theology, the word liberal does not refer to political liberalism, and it should be distinguished from progressive Christianity. Historically, liberal Christianity has also been referred to as Christian modernism (see Catholic modernism and Fundamentalist–Modernist controversy).[7]