Embracing the Ultra-Conservative
Amusingly, some Christians in Australia have recently been labelled “Ultra-conservative”. What makes this strange is that some of the churches who receive this label are often not conservative from the perspective of Christian history!
How come they’re not conservative from a Christian perspective?
Um... let’s call it heterodox teaching. That is teaching that is not necessarily heretical, but it is often different the historical Christian understanding of the Bible.
So then, why do secular media organisations call such churches ultra-conservative? Because even these heterodox churches are a long way away from what is now considered “normal.” It seems the new label applies to people who are not towing the popular line around things like abortion, gay-mirage, homosexuality, transgenderism and other such things. If you oppose the mainstream narrative with beliefs that are more than 5 years old, you're "Ultra-conservative."
Lets assume for the moment that the media represents the common mind of the people of Australia (a stretch, I know), and look at it from their perspective. They see this apparently conservative Christianity as this far-away strange worldview. It is so opposed to so much of what they hold dear.
They would probably see Churches as remnants of a less civilised past that most people have graduated from. It would not surprise me if I heard them using words like "draconian" and "archaic" to describe people like us.
We haven’t moved. But they have. Many popular modern beliefs are very far down the track from traditional faith in Jesus Christ.
For thousands of years there have not been any seismic shifts in Christian theology. We believe and live according to the same doctrines as we always have. Yes, there are the more progressive (and I would say errant) movements in some parts of the Christian landscape, but the Bible itself has not changed, and so faithful Christians are still sticking to that text as their rule of life and faith. We contextualise differently over the years, but the actual content of Christianity has not changed.
So we have sat still on the firm foundation of Christ, and the culture around us has been moving this way and that way. So to call us "conservative," or even "ultra-conservative" is probably fair. We want the eternal truth of the Gospel, God's design and God's law to be the guide and standard for our communities and nation. We are conserving age old beliefs in a world that looks on them in disdain.
"Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son." (2 Jn 9).
For many of us, we have begun to see progress as a moral good. The "new" is automatically assumed to be better. Progressing is always better than staying still right?
Well, not if you're progressing from truth into error, or from light into darkness, or a soldier progressing away from your post!
What good is a lighthouse if it moves? It must stay still as a fixed point to warn mariners of the danger ahead. It is a fixed point in a sea of chaos and darkness that leads ships to the joy of safe harbour.
"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." (2 Ti 4:3–4).
Our culture has defiantly rejected the light of the Gospel and taken up increasingly open rebellion. They see the lighthouse of the church as old and unnecessary. They think they have GPS mapping where they can plot their own course to the harbour of their choice, but really they're children sketching fantasy worlds and dooming many lives to be driven against the jagged rocks.
Yes the church is thousands of years old. Yes our beliefs come from the past, but they have stood for thousands of years because they are true and right and good. The truth of God will be still standing long after the current fads have come and gone. God's ways are worth conserving, so that people may yet see the light of Christ and find eternal life.
So call us "ultra conservative", we'll take it as a compliment!
"Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (Jas 1:16–17).
"All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.'
And this word is the good news that was preached to you." (1 Pe 1:24–25).