Neither Progressive Nor Conservative; Christ The Way

By Joel A Hess

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.”

Chesterton speaks of political movements of his day but, like most of Chesterton’s writings, surely we can apply his words today. In fact, this observation might be said about movements within the Church.

Where is your hope? What is your rock? Is it that things will get better? And we can make it better?  There is nothing wrong with trying, but is that the source of your peace and joy in life?  Is it that things were once great? Therefore, it’s possible things might be great again?  Surely there is nothing wrong with picking out wonderful ages or paradigms of the past, even traditions. But are you staring backwards for the sake of staring backwards.

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As I write this blog I am listening to the latest dude who blames the past and thinks he has a solution for the future of growing the church. Simultaneously I am laughing at tweets from guys mocking this fellow’s hope in the future because they cling to the ruins of the past, for the sake of the past.

Are you a conservative? Are you a progressive?  Which direction do you like to go?  Do you blindly go either way for the sake of its path?  Doesn’t matter, as long as it’s forward or backward.

So to you who are calling for the church to go one way or the other, for those of us who believe we have the way to something better, better for the United States, better for our church, better for our personal life,

Jesus says to us all, conservatives and progressives, “I am the way.” It’s not a direction. It’s not a plan. It is Him.  It is Jesus.

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He is, after all, the Alpha and Omega.  The one who owns the past and the future invites you to escape the tug and pull of which way the world is going or isn’t going.

And find rest in Him.

Jesus is neither a conservative nor a progressive. He is the way.  My hope is not in progress nor a glorious past.  It is in Christ; the Alpha and the Omega. The singularity from which all came and to which all shall return.  In Him I praise God for the past and look forward to His Future.

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3 thoughts on “Neither Progressive Nor Conservative; Christ The Way

  1. Good points. As a conservative, I see many problems with progressives, especially in the churches, where sin is redefined to suit contemporary social theory.

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  2. From a political angle, I can definitely agree with what Chesterton said to the point of having seen it happen. Back in 1980, we saw a radical economic theory adhering to supply side and mid- late-20th century monetarism and libertarian dogma become Republican, “conservative”. the radicalism was not lost on the elder Bush as he decried it – “Voodoo Economics.” That radical shift has become the “center” of discussion and marginalized anything as far left as Eisenhower’s economics as “socialist” and “non-traditional.” In essence, a people that was so afraid of appearing neutral in front of “godless communists” during the Cold War that they inserted “under god” into the Pledge of Allegiance (1954) and “in god we trust” on our money (1956), came to put their faith in a business model preached by a tiny atheist named Ayn Rand and through her disciples in academia – a wonderful irony.The “tradition” of godless capital against the old horror of “godless communism” as the only two options we face.

    The theological liberalism we face is nothing new, at least not in the US. Inclusivity (universalism) and holiness/ works righteousness (Quakerism, Methodism, Pentecostalism) have all met to reduce, be ecumenical, and syncretize throughout our nation’s history. Even “conservative” evangelicals point to personal righteousness and pushed to get clergy into congress following the legalization of gay marriage, advocating a church takeover of government – pretty radical stuff and not Christ-centered, at all. Fear of prison is not fear of God. Not doing something because it is illegal does not change the desire to sin and should not be the Church’s main concern. Freedom from sin and the desire to sin is found only in Christ. The criminal law does not change hearts and does not turn anyone toward God.

    Even the “pro-life” movement is polluted with a need to act legally, to criminalize. But sin is not a criminal issue, it is a moral one. A woman desiring an abortion sins in the desire but the movement would be happy to invent a deterrent that pushes the abortion to a back alley, if at all, as long as no citizen does it in the open. Kind of how it’s convenient that others in the pews cannot see our sins – makes it easy to be there and confess. Imagine being like the poor publican the Pharisee got to sneer at – would you still show up? We’re so confessional that our good works are for all to see but our sins are just between us and God. Sad fact, there are in the pews next to us child molesters, adulterers, closeted folk, wife beaters, drug abusers, drug dealers, and we’ve all broke the whole law of God. But that’s all OK because we can talk about “them”, the ones who’ve sinned openly and aren’t here and keep our doctrine clean of the current, “progressive” social thought. We can do it in church and in Republican Party meetings and keep all of our “conservatism” in one basket.

    There are people who, in their religious freedom, do not oppose abortion and many non-religious act in good conscience. A strict constructionist could not impede them. Should we speak out? Yes. But most of all we need to minister to the women in crisis and consider the ways which we can use government to minimize the reasons a woman would desire an abortion. An aborted child is in the hands of a merciful God, so is a mother who has committed an abortion or wants one. On earth, the church minsters to the living. It is possible to reject the world’s thinking on such issues and reject abortion as a moral course of action while shifting energy to ministry and secular action which minimizes it without trying to define human life or argue against a populace that, more often then not, sees abortion as self-defense against privation – a fine American value.

    Let graceless people argue for the condemnation of others and laws to “please” God. Let the true Church dispense grace and preach Christ crucified to all the condemned and criminals of the world. Let them feel the weight of sin , not crime, and the joy of pardon for something no jail term can pay for. So, Joel, I agree, Christ is our Rock – He is the center and purpose of our lives and the Church. In Him there is the sure hope of everlasting life and we don’t have to agree with each other, politically, at all, to be good Christians.

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