Time to Stop Using Political Terminology for Theological and Moral Views December 11, 2017

Some portions of the American church, it is asserted, have gotten much more politicized in recent years.  It is at the point where many want to ditch the word ‘evangelical’, because ‘evangelical’ is seen by the public as a political category.  I think we need to do more than that.  I think it is time to stop using terms like ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’, ‘left’ and ‘right’, and even ‘progressive’ to refer to theological and moral views.  They are properly terms referring to political philosophy; how much we need to trust existing institutions versus replacing them hastily, and what classes in society should dominate the political world.  It was a mistake, I think, to talk about ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ theology, and in fact, in our time, it is causing confusion.

For ‘conservative’ we should say ‘orthodox’ or ‘classical’ or maybe ‘Biblical’, though the last may be a problem because many unorthodox people claim to be exegeting the Bible.  For ‘liberal’ we should use ‘heretical’ or ‘unorthodox’.

I cannot entirely go with just calling ourselves ‘Christian’ as the former Princeton Evangelical Fellowship did.  The ‘Christian’ label is claimed by people who have a very different view of Jesus than classical Christians do.  They may regard Him as mainly a moral teacher; they may be Arian, calling Him the Son of God but not God the Son; they may present Him as one to be set over against the rest of the Bible, seeking to diminish revealed Scripture to the so called ‘red letters’, which was not His view at all.  So let the orthodox believers call themselves orthodox Christians, or maybe better yet classical Christians; but not ‘conservative Christians.’ That communicates the wrong message.

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