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Michael Webb

Dr. J. West
The Great Conversation- Section F
Is Liberal Christian an Oxymoron?
The Christian left is one of the most underpublicized social groups in todays American
culture. They are for the most part ignored by the liberal media, which oft attempts to pigeonhole
the Faithful as being ignorant and hypocritical (and the Christian left as not being truly earnest in
their liberality). To contrast, progressive believers are frequently damned by the far Christian
right; having been painted as a picture of followers that abandoned core tenets of their faith to
join the ranks of the worldly. These claims, in personal experience, could not be farther from the
truth. In a recent TED talk, Chimamanda N. Adiche warns about buying into the concept of a
single story about an individual or group of people. Such a single story takes a person, a
human with unique experiences, and puts them into a box. A societally constructed box. This is a
box that historically has been used at times to create stigma, and this is a box that at other times
has been used to remove personhood.
In truth, I would consider my single story of Christian liberality to be but a minor
inconvenience compared to the single story of, for example, all Africans being a people who
know not a life without poverty, disease, and violence; thus perpetuating the all-too-common
practice of patronizing the impoverished that many Americans, especially American Christians
have embraced. Regardless, it has had a profound impact on my life, faith, and social outlook, as
well as the way I view alternative viewpoints. I assert- contrary to my own single story- that

being a liberal Christian does not make me any less of a Christian or any less convicted of my
Among the oft antitheist liberal community, a Christian is nothing more than an
individual who engages in the active suppression of logical reasoning (in the words of a
friendly online blog post written under the pseudonym Uberathiest- a fine example of fringe
far-left opinion in regard to Christianity). To contrast, among the typical religious right
community, we as liberal believers are viewed as second-class Christians of a sort. In fact, just
the other day, I was informed by a well-meaning individual in my hall that you cant be a liberal
and a Christian at the same time. Ouch. I would have to disagree with both of those statements,
in truth. While it is fallacious logic to assume personal experience can provide basis for a
conclusion about a group of people, I hope by providing my own experiences I can shed some
light on the misrepresentation of the Christian left stemming from the idea of a single story.
Although I grew up in a conservative household, I didnt begin to refine and develop
what was, for a long time, my parents faith until high school, a period when my friend group
was for the most part very far left and very atheistic. I was faced with a lot of genuine, albeit
probing questions about what I believed and why, and because it was so difficult to answer such
questions at first, I took it upon myself to come to my own conclusions in a logical manner. I
ended up significantly changing my stance on certain topics (gay marriage, prayer in public
schools, evolution), and in the process of doing so, my faith was strengthened. I still believe
certain things, such as scriptural inerrancy- I think the biblical scriptures are the perfect word of
God, but I also believe that human error in translation and interpretation must be accounted for.
Another example is the sanctity of human life at every point in time- which for me means Im
pro-life in regard to abortion, but also pro-life in regard to an individuals whole life. This

means I am against the death penalty, against human euthanasia, for increasing the assistance of
the poor and for the empowerment of women in modern society. In the words of Pope Francis,
"The church is called every day to be close to every person, beginning with the one who is poor,
the one who suffers and who is marginalized, so as to continue to let everyone experience the
compassionate and merciful gaze of Jesus". Better yet, in the words of Jesus of Nazareth, Truly
I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for
me. At its core, this is what living out the gospel into the lives of others entails- liberating the
oppressed and the broken so that they may one day see the truth of salvation.
I believe with every fiber of my being that the God of the universe is a living, triune God
who fulfills the Platonian philosophical requirements of perfect being metaphysics, and who
purposefully came to earth in human form to die for the forgiveness of all sin so that by our
sanctification in Him we can be called to do good and to infectiously spread unconditional love
and compassion in His name. I am also registered to vote as a Democrat. My personal faith
journey stands to illustrate that the single story of a liberal Christian being an insincere Christian
is simply not accurate, like all single stories. Just like Ms. Adiche stated, one risks a critical
misunderstanding by assuming the consistency of a single story.