In the spectrum of Churches of Christ, I am conservative. What I mean is, I seek to restore New Testament Christianity, I believe in the inspiration and authority of Scripture.
But, if I can put it kindly, there are those who have made caricatures of us conservatives, who have put words in our mouths. Please don’t do that! If you need to know what we believe, ask us.
So with that in mind:
Even though I am conservative, I believe we can still learn and grow. We cannot afford to become proud and assume we have “made it” spiritually. We are a restoration movement, not a restoration achievement, and we continue to study God’s word and learn.
Even though I am conservative, I believe in God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). I do so because the Bible speaks of grace. We cannot fully restore New Testament Christianity and ignore such a central biblical theme. I do not believe grace removes our responsibilities before God, however. I merely believe that God in his mercy forgives us when we fail him.
Even though I am conservative, I believe the Holy Spirit dwells within the baptized believer (Acts 2:38; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:12,13). Again, please don’t put words in my mouth; this does not mean I believe in modern day tongues and miracles. Nor do I speak in terms of the Spirit leading me (a common phrase among us, I have observed). The Sprit inspired Scripture, and that is what leads me. I am merely taking the passages above seriously when they say that at baptism, Christians receive the Spirit as a gift.
Even though I am conservative, I do not spend the majority of my preaching and teaching opportunities bashing the denominations and my brethren. I try, in Paul’s words, to teach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). As a preacher in a local congregation I am aware of the need to feed the flock – young and old, with messages from the Old and New Testaments, messages on God, the church, heaven and hell, the Christian home, grace and works.
Even though I am conservative, I do not insist that only one Bible translation is perfect. God inspired the Scriptures; human beings translated them. I do believe we should be conscious of the translation(s) we use, their translation philosophy, and urge that we use translations that take seriously the task of rendering as accurately as possible God’s word to people today.
Even though I am conservative, I believe in love (John 13:34,35). Conservatives get a bad rap for being unloving, but make no mistake, I have heard (and read) some pretty harsh things from our progressive brethren, too. Love does not mean pretending that sin is not sin. Of course truth can be taught unlovingly. Yet truth must still be taught (Ephesians 4:15). Fellowship among conservative brethren is warm, deep and Christ-like, in spite of the clichéd characterizations of our behavior.
Even though I am conservative, I believe in sincerity (Matthew 6:1,2). I don’t know why only conservatives get the “pharisaic” moniker so, but you have no idea the condition of my heart when I worship, you have no idea how deeply my commitment to the Lord is, unless you know me personally and have actually observed me. Conservative does not equal hypocritical. Hypocrisy does not refer to a perspective on the Bible; it refers to one who pretends to be something that one is not. This is a characteristic shared by both conservatives and progressives.
Why do all of these things? It’s simple. I am conservative. I drink deeply from the well of Scripture and am committed to follow its declarations to the best of my ability. Those who return to the Scripture have a much better chance of becoming the warm and dedicated Christians they should be, because the fuel they use is God’s word.