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 Vol. 8, No. 2 

February 2006

Since You Asked

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Image Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.

Conservative and Liberal

By Louis Rushmore

Image A reader inquires about "conservative" and "liberal" members of the churches of Christ. Really, nothing has changed since the first century when the New Testament was penned. The New Testament was penned largely to address problems among Christians in the first century.

In the first century, so-called "liberal" Christians were loosing what God had not loosed and making their own church laws.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. (Colossians 2:18)

(Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. (Col 2:21-23)

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

Virtually, the whole New Testament concerns correcting Christians, many of whom are not content to abide in the God's Word alone (Galatians 1:6-9; 1 John 4:1).

"Conservative," depending on how one is using the term can mean either of two things. It may refer to brethren who otherwise practice Christianity correctly, but they essentially elevate their opinions on some matters to doctrinal status, making laws where God did not make laws. The Judaizing teachers of the first century are a good example of this, and they plagued the church for which much of the New Testament addresses their error (Galatians 5:1-4; 6:13-16).

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. (Acts 15:1)

But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. (Acts 15:5)

Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment. (Acts 15:24)

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. (Titus 1:10-11)

If by "conservative," rather someone means that he accepts and practices the Scriptures as the New Testament was intended by God to be received, then that is a different matter. Though such a child of God stands in distinction from both those who would loose what God has not loosed and bind what God has not bound, the term "conservative" does not appear in the Bible. We ought to seek a biblical balance between the extremes of loosing and binding, in either case where God has not authorized. We simply desire to be "faithful in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 4:17), "faithful brethren in Christ" (Colossians 1:2) or Christians (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).Image

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