Liberal, Conservative or Christian?
Bill H. Reeves
New Braunfels, Texas
There are those decrying the use of the terms "liberal" and "conservative" (although we are using them within a given context), telling us that they themselves aren't either, but only "Christians"! That sounds nice," doesn't it? They speak contemptuously of any who use these terms, and tell us that the use of such terms does not make for unity.
During the last century and at the turn of this century, the controversy over the introduction of the missionary society, and the use of instrumental music in the worship of the local church, produced the use of the terms "progressives" and "conservatives" (source: Stephen J. Corey, President of the United Christian Missionary Society, Religious Bodies, 1936, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, p. 541). (As a side-point, we might notice that the "liberals" of today, among our own brethren were the "conservatives" of yesterday!)
Well, "what saith the Scriptures?" (Rom. 4:3) The apostle Paul speaks of "false brethren" (Gal. 2:4) and "faithful brethren" (Col. 1:2). Will one of these modern compromisers step up and tell Paul that he is neither "false" nor "faithful," only "Christian"?
Was Paul opposed to unity?
Where would these modern compromisers have stood in the battle against Judaism? Would they have been among the "false brethren" (Judaizers), or among the "faithful brethren"? Would they have opposed Judaism, as Paul did (Acts 15:1,2), or claimed to have been "Christians only," seeking "unity"? Where would they have stood in the last century in the battle against institutionalism (missionary societies) and the introduction of instrumental music in the worship? Would they have been "progressives," "conservatives," or "Christians only"?
Where are they today? They are with the "false," the "progressives," the "liberals," their protests to the contrary! The reason for this is simple: there are not three alternatives (liberal, conservative, Christian). There are only two: false brethren and faithful brethren. We are either "with" Christ and his doctrine (2 Jn. 9), or we are "against" him and it (Matt. 12:30). We are all Christians in these conflicts; we are all brethren. But some are "false" and some are "faithful." Let us not be deceived by "smooth and fair speech," which is sound without substance.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 23, p. 711