WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN

Joined: January 2nd, 2005, 6:45 am

January 14th, 2009, 5:29 am #1

Dear Readers:

In this 21st century there are three variations of faith found within the Lord's church. On the left are those who are liberal in their approach. On the right are those who are ultraconservative...sometimes radical. Between those two extremes stand the majority of our brethren. They are Christians who reject extremes. They love Christ and wish to conserve the faith delivered into their hands. Today's lessons offers a profile of Conservative Christians. Please share this with others.

-John Waddey


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WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN

The conflict in today's church pits conservative Christians against liberals. Liberals try to discredit conservatives by painting them either as mossback traditionalists or wild-eyed radicals. To dispel this slander, let us explore what it means to be a conservative Christian.

William Bennett writes that conservatives "seek to conserve the best elements of the past." He notes that Abraham Lincoln once asked, "What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried" Bennett continues, "It understands the important role that traditions, institutions, habits and authority have in our social life together." He adds "Conservatives are interested in pursuing policies that will better reinforce and encourage the best of our people's common culture, habits, and beliefs"(William J. Bennett, The De-valuing of America, p. 35). It is true that Bennett spoke about social, cultural and political conservatism, yet his description of this mind-set is easily applied to Christianity as well.


The Myth Dispelled: Some Things Conservative Christians Are Not!
  • We are not in the business of preserving the traditions of men. God does not accept them, nor should we (Matt. 15:9). Only those traditions set forth in the Word of God are we prepared to fight for (II Thess. 3:6).

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  • We do not insist that other Christians must yield to our opinions in matters of religion. We are tolerant of others and ask that they extend the same tolerance to us.

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  • Conservatism is not legalism. We seek to travel the middle road of truth avoiding both the ditches of legalism and liberalism (Prov. 4:27). Both are wrong and destructive.

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  • We are not shouting, screaming bible-bangers as some try to depict us. We search the Scriptures to determine the will of God (Acts 17:11). We also read widely beyond the Sacred Page to educate and inform ourselves. We speak and write that which we know to be true, in a logical, reasonable and intelligent way.

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  • We do not have to rely on bombast, bullying or intimidation to establish our case. We let the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17), do the convicting when we dispute with others.

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  • We do not quote the Bible indiscriminately when making our points. We "rightly divide the word of truth" (II Tim.2:15). We seek to place each verse in its proper context. We can and do distinguish between that which is symbolic, poetic, figurative and literal in Scripture. We do not twist or distort the meaning of words or thoughts to make our points. We do not find that to be necessary.

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  • We are not anti-scholarship. Many of our best preachers and teachers of the past and present have held the highest educational credentials, yet were conservative in their faith and teaching. It is a huge mistake to think of conservatives as ignorant or unlearned men. While progressives might glory in their university training, the conservative is content to know Christ and his Word (Phil. 3:10).

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  • We do not put our confidence in human wisdom (Jer. 10:23). Rather than citing our educational credentials, or the schools we attended, or the scholars under whom we studied, we go to the law of God and to his testimony (Is. 8:20).

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  • We do not go about looking for a fight with other Christians. As much as in us lieth, we seek peace with all men in Christ (Rom. 12:18). However if men attack the Cause of Christ, his church, her faith and worship, we are set for the defense of the gospel (Phil. 1:17).

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  • The conservative approach to Christianity is not destructive to the faith of people or to congregations. Our efforts are constructive. We evangelize. We plant congregations. We care for the unfortunate. We seek to show brethren the biblical basis for our faith (I Pet. 3:15). We help them to understand and recognize error that might lead them away from God. We seek to call those who have gone astray back to the Bible.

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  • Our conservative faith is not one of fond hopes and dreamy wishes, but conviction based on the word of God. Our faith comes from hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

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  • True conservatives, while strong in their faith and convictions, are neither proud nor arrogant. Such attitudes have no place in the Christian's life. Their confidence is in Christ (II Thess. 3:4).

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The Conservative Christian Described
  • He loves God, Christ, the Spirit, the Bible, the Church and his fellow Christians. He has pledged himself to be loyal to God, faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10).

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  • He believes that the omniscient, omnipotent God gave us precisely and exactly what He wants us to know in the Bible and that it does not need to be changed or adjusted to please the ever-changing wishes and desires of sinful men (their cultures and philosophies).

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  • He is content to be a Christian no more nor less.

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  • He is not embarrassed to embrace and follow the faith of Jesus, even though it is some 2,000 years old.

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  • He prefers to teach sinners what the inspired Apostles said about salvation (i.e. faith, repentance and immersion (John 8:24; Acts 2:38) rather than the recommendations of Billy Graham and Bill Bright (Salvation by faith alone and the Sinner's Prayer).

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  • He acknowledges and operates on the full authority of the Bible in all matters of religion (Matt. 28:20).

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  • He does not rationalize and seek to escape difficult or unpopular portions of the Bible by declaring them to be figurative, spiritual, symbolic or culturally irrelevant.

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  • He speaks God's truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

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  • He does warn men of the dangers of disobedience by pointing to them the wrath to come (I Thess. 1:10).

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  • He is a true and faithful soldier of Christ (II Tim. 2:3-4). He recognizes no Lord and Master save Jesus.

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  • He is ever ready to defend God's Word when enemies attack it (Phil. 1:17).

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There is a Scriptural Basis for the Conservative Approach
  • Jude exhorts us to "Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). The faith of Christianity was given by the direction of the Holy Spirit and our job is to earnestly endeavor to protect and preserve that faith for those who come after us.

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  • Men chosen to serve as elders of the church must hold fast the faithful word as they have been taught (Tit. 1:9). To hold fast to ones original instruction is to conserve it.

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  • Like Timothy, we are to "keep that which is committed to (our) trust..." (I Tim. 6:20). To do this is to preserve the gospel truths committed to us.

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  • We are to "hold the pattern of sound words" which we learned from the Apostolic writings (II Tim. 1:13). We cling to that which is most valuable. God's pattern is essential if we are build as He wishes.

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  • We are warned, not to follow the example of them "what have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray..." (II Pet. 2:15). They were not staying with the teachings they had learned from the apostles!

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  • Paul warned of men who shall "depart from the faith..." (I Tim. 4:1). The conservative resists every effort that would cause them to depart from the faith.

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  • John warns us not to go beyond the doctrine of Christ. To do so means we will not have the blessing of the Father and the Son (II John 9-11). The liberal does not mind going beyond. He will not be constrained by the mere Scripture. The conservative dares not do so. He stays with the old ways provided by God.

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  • Paul reminded the Corinthians, "not to go beyond the things that are written" (I Cor. 4:6 ASV). To take his advice seriously means to be conservative in your approach to Christianity. We must be constrained by the Word of God!

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  • Jesus' closing admonition is that we must not add to nor take away from his Word (Rev.22:18-19). Dreadful consequences await those who dare to do so. The conservative takes this warning seriously. He is happy to abide in the teaching of Christ, no matter what others may think, say or do.

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Now that you understand what the conservative approach to Christianity is, I pray that you will take your place with us in the army of Christ and stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" (I Cor. 16:13).


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John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
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Dr. Bill Crump
Dr. Bill Crump

January 16th, 2009, 2:31 pm #2

In describing conservative Christians, John Waddey first writes:

"We can and do distinguish between that which is symbolic, poetic, figurative and literal in Scripture."

Further into the essay, he describes this about the conservative Christian:

"He does not rationalize and seek to escape difficult or unpopular portions of the Bible by declaring them to be figurative, spiritual, symbolic or culturally irrelevant."

These two statements seem contradictory at first. However, I believe Waddey means that, even though conservative Christians are able to discern the various forms of Scripture (symbolic, poetic, figurative, literal), conservative Christians don't cast off difficult passages as figurative or culturally irrelevant to avoid addressing them. Does anyone else get that impression?
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