July 20, 2018

What Conservatism Is

by Johnie Edwards

I am afraid that not too many know what conservatism really is, even among “conservatives”! We have second and third generations of the Lord’s people who have never heard sermons on the difference between liberals and conservatives. Let’s compare the two. What do you say?


1. Ask for the Old Paths. Since there is “no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9), conservatives “ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein. . .” (Jer. 6:16). If a teaching is new, you had better watch it!

2. Demand “For What Saith the Scripture.” It is written in Romans 4:3: “For what saith the scripture?” Those who are conservative demand that every teaching be scriptural. There is no finer teaching than book, chapter, and verse teaching.

3. Speak as the Oracles of God. The instructions of Peter are heeded by conservatives. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever” (1 Pet. 4:11). The old motto, “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent when the Bible is silent; if the Bible teaches it, we teach it; if not, we remain silent” is still good.

4. Abide in the Doctrine of Christ. John’s teachings in 2 John 9 are respected by conservatives: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” The doctrine of Christ is the teaching of Christ. Paul’s command to Titus must be heeded: “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1).

5. Respect for the Pattern. God has never told man to build without giving him a pattern by which to build. This was true with Noah as he was instructed to build the ark (Gen. 6:14), of Moses as he was to build the tabernacle (Exod. 25:40), and for us today (Heb. 8:5). Whatever God says on any subject, that becomes the pattern for that subject. We have no right to “add to or diminish from” that pattern (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19).

6. False Teachers. We recognize there are still false teachers around just as in the first century. “But there were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you. . .” (2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1). We are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11).


1. New, Not Old Things. Many are not content with the old paths, but seek new unauthorized things. These, like those in the days of Jeremiah, say, “We will not walk therein” (Jer. 6:16).

2. Little Scripture Used. The use of Scripture is scarce in many of their sermons today. Maybe, none at all is used. Often the plan of salvation is never taught. Poems, stories, jokes, personal experiences, and the like are the focus of many of the sermons.

3. God’s Oracles Left Off. Sermon topics are unrelated to the Bible with no emphasis on “the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11).

4. No Doctrine Bounds. Many deny that 2 John 9 refers to the teachings of Christ, but assert that it refers to the teaching about Christ. So, no restrictions are placed on their teaching! Only the positive taught.

5. No Pattern. They fail to see that there is a pattern laid down in the Bible by which we must go. In fact, many are asking for a new way of looking at the Bible. This is called a new hermeneutic or teaching “where there is no pattern” concept. We are told the old way of a command, apostolic example, and necessary inference doesn’t work anymore!

6. Redefine the False. Many have redefined false teachers as those who have a bad character. This standard would eliminate many who are teaching a false doctrine. Isn’t a false teacher one who teaches false doctrine?

We need to get to teaching folks the difference in being conservative and liberal as Ezekiel said (Ezek. 44:23).