At this stage of my development I was a thoroughgoing liberal. Liberalism provided me with an intellectual satisfaction that I could never find in fundamentalism. I became so enamored of the insights of liberalism that I almost fell into the trap of accepting uncritically everything that came under its name. I was absolutely convinced of the natural goodness of man and the natural power of human reason.
The basic change in my thinking came when I began to question some of the theories that had been associated with so-called liberal theology....
It was mainly the liberal doctrine of man that I began to question. The more I observed the tragedies of history and man's shameful inclination to choose the low road, the more I came to see the depths and strength of sin. My reading of the works of Reinhold Niebuhr made me aware of the complexity of human motives and the reality of sin on every level of man's existence. Moreover, I came to recognize the complexity of man's social involvement and the glaring reality of collective evil. I came to feel that liberalism had been all too sentimental concerning human nature and that it leaned toward a false idealism.
I also came to see that liberalism's superficial optimism concerning human nature caused it to overlook the fact that reason is darkened by sin. The more I thought about human nature the more I saw how our tragic inclination for sin causes us to use our minds to rationalize our actions. Liberalism failed to see that reason by itself is little more than an instrument to justify man's defensive ways of thinking. Reason, devoid of the purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations.
King speaks of theological liberalism, but TOG points out that the definition of political liberalism is "A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority." (From the American Heritage Dictionary, see full definition here.)
Sometimes when evaluating the worth of public policy, it is difficult to ascertain what a Biblical or Christian opinion should be. Can we really say what Christ would have us do for health care? For wealth-transfers? Regarding the economic stimulus package? But the path is a bit clearer when one examines the beliefs that underpin the policy, as King relates doing in this article. We can say with confidence that a belief in the natural goodness of man not only conflicts with our experience, as King found, but it also conflicts with Scripture. We can beware of policies that depend upon this belief.