Being a Passionate Moderate

I frequently am asked what I mean by “passionate moderate” or how I can be a committed moderate Christian. These questions come even more frequently than ones that ask how I can be a “liberal charismatic,” probably because “passionate moderate” is my self-label, whereas “liberal charismatic” was assigned to me by someone else.

The term “moderate” has a bad reputation in some circles. It’s connected with “middle of the road” where there are, supposedly, only skunks and a yellow stripe. But I reject that characterization. I have indeed met “moderates” like that. Their answer to every question is to place themselves comfortably in a non-threatening center between all the people they know, and thus they are always arguing a mediating position.

I simply reject that definition, and I don’t think it is even accurate in describing both moderates. For me, being a passionate moderate means that I do not accept the extremes as the only options. There are issues on which I am extreme. That’s because I have examined the spectrum as I understand it, and found that I belong on one end of it or the other. On many issues, however, I believe passionately in something more to the center. There is no reason whatever that I cannot believe passionately in any particular position I choose.

I could try for another label, but I don’t know what it would be. It sounds “moderate” to me. Most self-identified moderates that I know would agree with my characterization. While some people fit the stereotype, the yellow stripe and dead skunks slur is just that for most moderates–a slur by people who want to force people into their extreme camps.

I reject the “extreme” plan for spirituality, for politics, for my personal lifestyle, and for my way of thinking about everything. Thus I am a moderate, and I’m passionate about it. I’m a moderate Christian and I’m committed to it.

More here.

PS: One last thing. I don’t reject the label “liberal” either. It’s a bad word to some people, but there are many ways in which I can properly be called a liberal. An opponent once labeled me a “liberal charismatic” and that stuck, so much so that I used it as the subtitle to one of my books, Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Confessions of a Liberal Charismatic. Others label me as evangelical, which seems odd, but generally when they define how they understand “evangelical” I find I fit. Labels are troublesome that way. When one is moderate, one’s labeling can be confusing.

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  1. I believe that I am reaching the same conclusion myself. Coming from a conservative background we were taught to not really question or ponder the lifestyle that the church baptized as biblical……we were just told to “do it”. Then there were those (compromising liberals / did’nt agree with the concervative agenda) that took a beating at Sunday Morning service. From my perspective it seems that the conservatives as a whole want to choose what my freedoms in Christ are to be. “You can be free in Christ, but only within the perimeters and boundries that we erect.” Liberals seem to be primarily concerned with injustice and would promote a total equality to all created things and beings. I’ve got no problem with that but, only when it promotes an “equal access to sin” mentality.

    So, I do feel like like I am an “almost moderate” at this stage in my life.

  2. Speaking of moderates: I’m sorry but I would like to call your attention to the Parabiodox blog. I cannot find an email for the moderator of Moderate Christian Blogroll thus I leave this comment here. Do you know who the moderator is? I don’t think that the anti gay articles coming off of Parabiodox is appropriate here. I am quite offended by them. What do you suggest? Thank you.

  3. I’m the moderator, to the extent there is one, since I started the blogroll. I’ll take a look. Thus far I’ve generally taken people’s word that they belong and have only glanced at the entries.

    You can e-mail me (henry@energion.com) if you would like, though I have no problem with public discussion of this.

  4. Reply to Christine
    I am the owner of the parabiodox site.
    You will have to be more specific when criticising my ‘anti-gay’ articles, what is it you object to exactly?
    Or do you just object to me criticisng homosexuality at all ?
    Amazing, I don’t want homosexuality promoted, that’s not a subject a Christian site should discuss ?

    Chris Swift

  5. Chris Swift: what I object to is that your blog articles are carefully worded tools of hate propaganda designed to inflame the reader. That is not appropriate for anyone calling themselves “Christian”. It is wrong. I refuse to accept this fixation of yours as ‘moderate’ in any way. Your articles suggest that you are not open to any “discussion” at all. I object to your placement on this blog roll. I have asked Henry to remove my blog until your content either changes or you leave.

  6. Chris,

    The standards for the blogroll indicate:

    I will include any blog in the Moderate Christian blog aggregator that fulfills the following simple standards:

    * You identify yourself somewhere on the blog as a Christian blogger.
    * You either self-identify as a moderate or your posts clearly demonstrate that you’re moderate as defined below
    * You post predominantly on non-personal topics. These don’t have to be religious, but purely personal logs don’t fit the purpose of this aggregator.

    Number 3 is no problem, and I see indication of #1 on your blog. I don’t see any self-identification as a moderate, and the tone of your posts on homosexuality does not appear moderate to me. It’s not the position so much as the rhetoric and what seems almost an obsession.

    Right now that’s just based on reading a couple of posts that have been pointed out to me. I will read more over the weekend. People who join the moderate Christian blogroll should be able to expect that they will be linking to moderate Christian sites. That’s a bit subjective, but I’ll just have to figure it out.

    Any comment from any other blogroll members will be welcomed.

  7. Well I wouldn’t want anyone pulling their hair out over what’s the right thing to do.
    I’ll remove myself.
    Perhaps someone can post here a link to where a ‘moderate’ discussion is going on with the gay community.
    Anywhere that someone criticises homosexuality, in however moderate a tone, without receiving abuse.
    ‘Turning the other cheek’ does not mean ‘anything goes’.
    Christian morals can be very upsetting to a lot of people, why not just say we agree to differ and let them get on with it ?
    I notice Christine was not able to quote anything from my site she found offensive, she criticises the tone but can’t even quote an example of that.
    As to an obsession with homosexuality, well it’s a popular subject, look around you, look at the Christian Church in Africa, look at the Catholic Church in England.
    People are getting frantic because they see Christianity selling out to whatever popular opinion is eg. Christine.
    Some people just don’t like to confront the ‘awkward bits’ of Christianity and just want to hide their heads in the sand.
    I am proud of the ‘homosexuality’ discussions on my website, they provide a fair and informative debate for anyone who’s really interested in finding out about the issue rather than just a knee-jerk reaction where any criticism is seen as un-Christian or anti-gay.
    And obviously, unlike this blogroll, I am willing to engage honestly with people who have completely different views to my own.

    Chris Swift

  8. Well I wouldn’t want anyone pulling their hair out over what’s the right thing to do.
    I’ll remove myself.

    Pulling my hair out? Hardly. I’ve only read a couple of posts and would not make a decision based on that little reading. I would have gotten to such reading over the weekend.

    For future reference of the blogroll, the definition is a bit vague on what a “moderate” is. In the absence of something like a profile indicating someone is an “extreme satanist” I would look for considerable evidence that someone was not whatever they claimed to be.

    In the meantime, relaxation is good. It’s a big blogosphere, and I don’t even control my own little corner of it.

  9. Chris, you write that some people don’t want to confront the “awkward bits” of Christianity and stick their heads in the sand. I believe that you are missing the obvious fact that the awkward bit being addressed here is this: the continual obsession that Christians seem to have with what people are doing with with their private parts. It’s unhealthy for the Christians involved and irritating (if not outright dangerous) to the rest of us.

    People love. People love other people. Some love members of the opposite gender, some the same. Some love both. Love is oh so threatening… “Oh no! People in love! Our faith is being threatened! Help!”

    A small group of people stand up and demand to be treated like everyone else, to be left alone and not be persecuted, reviled and judged because of *who they love* and Christians are “frantic?” This says way more about the aforementioned Christians than it does about gays.

    Chris, you talk about “promoting” homosexuality as if it’s part of the marketplace of ideas or a religion that might win converts if the promotion is successful. “Hmmm, Gay? Never thought about it before, but gosh, maybe I’ll try it!” People who are gay have felt that way for as long as they can remember. It’s like saying blue-eyed people are trying to promote their lifestyles. Doesn’t make much sense does it? All that is being promoted is the idea that people like you should mind their own business, love whom you will, and leave others alone to do the same in peace.

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