Am I Theologically Conservative or Progressive? The Answer May Surprise You

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Progressive-ConservativeLabels are everywhere. You cannot avoid them and in many ways they are helpful in making sense of our world. Labels are shorthand for understanding things…we are always trying to understand things but we don’t have the mental capacity or the discipline of our attention to fully comprehend anything much less reasonably comprehend much of what is going on around us.

Labels are like a name tag that I don’t fully read. I see a name tag on someone’s shirt and read “M – A…” and assume their name is “Matthew” but it could well be “Mark” or “Mason”. Labels are shortcuts that help the mind fill in the gaps by assumption. We put a label on someone based on a couple of clues and then we have a hard time seeing that person through any other lens or filter than the label we assigned based on limited knowledge.

It is important that we don’t label people. It is important that we actually get to know them and let them speak for themselves rather than me assume I already know what they believe based on their position or another issue or because of their race or age or sex or political party or denomination.

So back to the original question. Am I theologically conservative or progressive?

Here is the answer. It depends on how conservative or progressive you are. Theological progressivism or conservatism is actually quite subjective and is based on a sliding scale that depends on where I am in my thinking and then basing my view on where I believe you are on the line/spectrum. To some I am a hard line, fundamentalist, theological conservative. To others I am a liberal progressive.

Instead of labeling myself I would prefer you get to know me and me get to know you. That is going to require patience. It is going to require grace. It may even require that we both exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. But that should be normal for Christians, right?

I told you my answer may surprise you. Well, surprise!

2 Responses

  1. I don’t think there are any true liberals in the Churches of Christ if we look at what the word liberal means in the wider range of Christendom. True liberals think Jesus was a good man who taught that we should love our neighbor but who wasn’t born of a virgin and is not the son of God, they think he was either taken down from the cross before he was dead and was revived or who died and that ended it, they doubt the existence of a literal heaven and hell and they think scripture is a collection of stories. No one with beliefs like that would still consider himself a member of the CoC. Compared to some other members of my congregation I am liberal but compared to a Unitarian I am conservative. I would prefer to be thought of as a sinner who is doing his best to live up to the standards of scripture but who is saved through the blood of Jesus. Are my opinions about women speaking in the assembly really that important if I don’t try to make you think the same way I do?

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