In the now more vulgarly apparent ‘cultural dichotomy’ that has aggressively burgeoned in the past 5 years (and accelerated in past 5 months) over the so called ‘Progressive’ and so called ‘Conservative’ positions, I found myself pondering where I may fit?
The divide has seemingly abandoned any continuum mode, and for ‘cancel culture’ to work, it must create silos with gapping chasms between.
Because of my Evangelical Christianity (so labelled by non-Christians and those who want to claim the title, but none of this ‘extreme culturally insensitive religiosity’ they believe makes us look ‘bad’), I have already been pre-assigned to the ‘conservative’ silo – perhaps with a foot in the immediate neighbouring ‘fundamentalist’ silo (or whatever new definition that embraces.) Either way, I am now framed by the purported ‘progressives’ (and again, whatever rolling definition that conjures) in this poor and apparently ‘right wing’ socio-political light.
Yet, I don’t quite fit that mould either – and some of what I adhere to, proscribe and invest in bring more ‘progress’ to the agency, capacity and humanity of most ‘progressives’ I know, that I don’t fit in that category either?
In crafting a new and blended term to describe my position, as neither really fitted my paradigm, despite some ‘easy’ labels that are given simply because I subscribe to a Spirit-filled orthodoxy in the Protestant Christian tradition.
I am self-declaring as a ‘Pro-servative’! (You can join this new genre if you like?)
In short, it simply means I am passionate about both progressing and conserving God’s Kingdom values and best practices in whatever setting I find myself.
Of course, these Kingdom practices pre-date all the current socio-political categorization and if one cares to apply Jesus Christ model and God’s full Counsel to every environment, then elements of the proclaimed ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ political ideologies often emerge. However, they are mere shadows of Kingdom realities when trying to present in their socio-politically diminished forms.
You see we can’t do God’s best practice without the Holy Spirit, it all just falls apart under the gross ineptitude of fractured, frail and fallen creatures – I digress!
Invariably we see the attempted recruiting by many cultural shaping actors, of The Christ and the Biblical framework to affirm one’s socio-political flavour. This is not only foolish; it is completely misrepresentative of the One Who transcends all such (by comparison) trivialities.
Worse still, is the blasphemous attempts to label The Christ and His purposes as a manifestation of the egocentric and self-promoting propaganda of a particular political perspective.
I have mockingly said on many occasions that, “Jesus was a great Teacher, but not as good as His mentors Marx, Lenin and Mao!”. I have also similarly stated when in the company of aggressive ‘prosperity’ or rabid capitalism enamoured souls, “Jesus was a great Teacher, but not as good as His Life Coaches Rockefeller, Carnegie and Robbins!”
I was recently (very) ‘lead’ back to an older book in my library, one I read through around 30 years ago – a book that even at that time was well out of print, and difficult to find. The work was titled Christ the Controversialist.. As I was contemplating this post and began reading sections of this work again, the following gem (one of many) caught my eye…
The Christians welcome to change must be discriminating, however. It does not include the apostolic doctrine of the New Testament. Our responsibility towards this is not to abandon it but to hold it fast, not to modify it but to maintain it in its pristine purity.
Although the ‘oldness’ of the Christian faith is a stumbling-block to many, it is a stumbling-block which cannot be removed. Christianity is Christ Himself, together with the prophetic and apostolic witness to Christ. It depends on a historical event (the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and Spirit-gift of Jesus) and on a historical testimony by eyewitnesses. In the nature of the case neither the event nor the witness can be changed or superseded.
We live in the 20th Century, but we are tethered to the first.
What Jesus Christ said and did was unique and final. So is the interpretative teaching of the apostles, His chosen eyewitnesses and ambassadors. In Him, the Word made flesh, and in the apostolic witness to Him, God’s self-revelation was brought to its completion.
This completed revelation, by God’s providence preserved for us in Scripture, the church of every age is called to hold fast. It is in this sense that every Christian is (or should be) ‘conservative’, because it is his duty to conserve the truth which has been handed down to him from Christ and the apostles.
In everything else, however – in social and ecclesiastical structures, in patterns of ministry and Liturgical forms, in Christian living and missionary outreach, and in much else besides – the Christian is obliged to be as radical as Scripture commands and is free to be as radical as Scripture allows.
Rev Dr John Stott – ‘Christ the Controversialist’ (1970)