Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Conservatism

Conservative religious belief is an interesting phenomenon.

I have many friends who have conservative views on Scripture, church, the cross etc. Yet they hold onto their beliefs with a vulnerability and openness; a belief that we live with mystery.  It is not this conservative religious belief that I mean.

It is the conservatism that seeks to unwittingly reinforce a cultural way of life that is indeed opposite to the nature of the Gospel and a calling to be a people of peace following the Prince of Peace.

And so we find churches become a group of like-minded volunteers from similar economic backgrounds jostling for position amongst all the other voluntary groups in the community.

The teaching that is given becomes a means to reinforce a cultural way of life and serves to make Christian theology all about 'what it can do for me.' Christian belief becomes inward looking, defined by my own desires and wants. We use the term 'making the gospel relevant' but end up with a humanistic message. It is the assumption that religion is about making me happy and fulfilling our desires.  Yet since when do we know what we really need?

Christian faith therefore is defended, not because it is true, but because it reinforces a cultural way of life that people want to keep.  And rather than being a people of peace who witness to the truth of God in Jesus, relying on nothing else than its witness, the 'truth' is sought through violence and coercion.

Conservatism therefore sees no problem with violence, power or coercion. It promotes the desire to control and be in control at all times. it seeks status and recognition and refuses to be wrong. And what we find is something that sits at odds with a faith the is defined in Jesus of Nazareth.

Liberalism holds up no better, but I'll reflect on that another time.  

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