About liberal catholicism…this is a summary of my beliefs, since I was questioned on it.
I believe that Jesus was an actual human, with the ample evidence of at least 5 written records (only one of which is the Bible). During his lifetime, he preached that he was the son of God and came to offer “free heaven” to all humans for the low price of “absolutely nothing except believing what I told u is true”. He also did a great many miracles, which are described as “good works” by believers and “demonic sorcery” by nonbelievers. The very fact that nonbelievers refer to the miracles at all, proves that they did happen. It is hard to be sorcerous about events that never happened.
This offer is “made valid” by the sacrifice of Jesus’ own life, who satisfied the punishment required for sin. Therefore all sin, be it past present or future has been forgiven. Christianity is about forgiveness.
Christianity does not solve the problem of evil acts. But we solve the problem of evil acts leading to punishment by God. Evil acts may still be punished by other people, using the law. But no evil act, no matter how evil, will cause an unwilling person to go to hell. Because God does not punish. Because God is love.
Why does God want to forgive everyone? Because God is good. And how do people go to heaven? They just walk in the front door. Absolutely no effort is required, in fact, trying to “earn salvation” by righteous acts is a perversion of the gospel.
Since then, I have modified my original belief. In the modification, the offer is “still valid” even after death. The soul of a person goes to sleep (as described by the Bible, unlike the unbiblical official version that we go to heaven immediately upon death). On Ressurection Day, everyone comes back to life, gets to see God, the proper and true version, and accepts “free heaven” again for the low price of “absolutely nothing.”
Therefore this modification solves the problem of people being born in the wrong religion or not hearing the gospel before they die. Or rejecting the gospel due to misunderstandings. Or anything.
I then hold to the additional belief that God’s grace is a bet. He is giving everyone the absolute freedom to do whatever they wish (they can also commit evil, because evil has been expiated by Jesus’ sacrifice). God believed in the goodness of every single man, so that they would use this powerful and complete freedom to engage in good and worthy acts, instead of choosing evil, even if there are absolutely no consequences for evil. Christianity is therefore a lifetime spent proving that God made a good bet. A bad Christian is dishonors God, but God will still honor the person because of his aforementioned goodness and sacrifice.
Even more consequentially, because Christ gave this perfect freedom, therefore as a Christian I oppose the banning of freedoms, except considering limits imposed by the Harm Principle and very few select cases. Therefore, this justifies the “liberal” portion in liberal Catholicism. There exists within my religion a significant conservative wing which seeks to ban or curtail many things. As a liberal Catholic, I oppose all these conservatives whenever they arise. “Everything is good” except when clear, reasonable, and proven harms can be shown about something.
As a Catholic, I also respect the position of Pope Francis, the legitimate leader of Christiankind, and the unbroken successor of Peter, the first Apostle. This respect does not mean I confer upon him papal infallibility, but I acknowledge that he has jurisdiction to represent Christianity. In other to strengthen the pope’s legitimacy, I also advocate a Proportional Representation democracy to elect the position of Pope, because this will make the Pope more accountable to people. The pope has to be accountable to God, but he also has to be accountable to Christians, because he represents them, even if only symbolically.
I reserve the right to criticise the pope, but so far, I have not used this right, because Francis has been a good pope, one of the finest and makes me proud to be catholic.
Regarding the duty of a christian…my position is the same as one of the former popes: “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.”
Is Christianity superior to other religions? If I did not think so, I would be an atheist or a Buddhist or a Hindhu (but never a Muslim). I studied the strengths and weaknesses of every religion before making my choice, and Christianity is not my first religion. However, it is not my duty to impress this superiority onto others, but everyone makes up their own mind. Some people prefer this religion, others prefer that.
Do atheists go to heaven? Quoting Pope Francis: “Just do good and we’ll meet each other up there. Even the atheists.”
Is the Bible infallible? Absolutely not. The Catholic church edited and compiled the Bible from 66 disparate sources. They took care to preserve everything correctly, but no human effort is perfect. We use the Bible in the same way we read our history books…as a good reference, but not as perfectly written Word of God. The Bible is simply a record of “what ancient Christians and Jews believed about God”, and their colorful interaction with Him.
Therefore, if the Bible contains some words about gays being evil and all that, then it is because modern science had not yet discovered that being gay is an inherent trait and not a choice. Such poorly informed verses can be rejected.
So, what about those Protestants? I’m not protestant. I used to be part of this Protestant church but I saw many problems related to Sola Scriptura, specifically in applying the literal Bible to university-level relationships. I saw many people leave the church because such relationships were banned. I might add that this banning contradicts the Bible but conservatives are never good at getting their own facts right.
If science says anything contradictory to the Bible then science wins, because proof > history book. But if God directly manifested as a burning bush and talked to me, then I will 1) Ask a doctor to check my sanity, 2) Follow what the bush says.