FAQ 12: Is Ekklesia liberal or conservative in its theological orientation?
Neither and both. We persistently try to question both labels, which are often deployed in a simplistic and polarising way.
Liberality is essential to public life and to the health of a faith community, too – but it requires something more substantial than "liberalism", a laissez faire attitude, to sustain openness. Similarly, conserving the inheritance of the past is vital. But the Christian tradition is about change not "conservative" fixity. It proposes a radical reformation of personal and corporate life - turning us away from self-absorption towards our neighbour, towards the world and towards God's unlimited resources of love and life.
We think of Ekklesia as ‘subversively orthodox’. Our outlook is shaped by the dynamism and variety of the biblical tradition, not the harsh ideologies which have often imprisoned it. ‘Orthodoxy’ has come to mean rigidity and dogmatism in modern popular discourse. Actually it comes from two Latin words which denote a rightful disposition of thankfulness (praise) – seeing life as God’s gift to be savoured, rather than a possession to be grasped. That is our approach to Christianity. And, we hope, to those of different persuasions.
Both theological ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ have made major contributions to faith and public life. But we prefer to probe such pigeon holes – even as others insist on using them in sometimes rigid ways: ignoring, for example, that it is possible to be radical in social commitment while being traditional in theological orientation (and vice versa), as Kenneth Leech and Rowan Williams have pointed out.
Overall, the word we prefer to use for our theological approach is transformative - honouring the Christian resources we have inherited, engaging them with contemporary insights, seeking out the best from all traditions (however labelled) and staying faithful to the Gospel's demanding, creative freedom.
Labels can’t be avoided, of course, but we hope they can be employed as contextually as possible.
We value the 'core convictions' of the Anabaptist Network UK - http://www.anabaptistnetwork.com/coreconvictions
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