Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Are you a Liberal or a Conservative?

I recently ran across the following that was submitted to the last newsletter of the Church of the Good Samaritan in Corvallis, Oregon. Written by The Very Rev. George Back, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City, OK, it was originally published in The Anglican Digest in Lent 1991. It casts a new light on the so-called “conservative/liberal split” and is well worth reading. It also expresses my viewpoint far better than I could.

I have heard rumors that conflicts between conservatives and liberals are tearing the church apart. Don’t believe it.

Few of these people exist. I have had letters and phone calls from some who claim to be one or the other. As far as I can tell, they are imposters. Of course, I can only judge from their behavior.

If the church had many conservatives, the buildings would be packed on Sundays as they keep the Sabbath holy. Our Church would have money since they would tithe 10 percent of their income. Our Church life would be glorious as they would undertake all the traditional Sunday School, retreat, and holy day obligations. An authentic personal morality would be exemplified in their holy lifestyles

If the Church had many liberals, they would be enthusiastically including people all the time. The Church would grow as they reached out to the poor and isolated in various ministries. Our service ministries would be overwhelmed with volunteers and resources. An authentic social conscience would be exemplified in the compassionate lifestyles.

Judging only by behavior, the Church has too few religious conservatives and religious liberals. God bless the ones we have, they are doing wonderful work.

Then where is the problem? There are numerous anti-conservatives and anti-liberals. These are people who compare their particular theology with other’s actual behavior. Their convenient posture enables them to be both righteous and removed and the same time. Both know that others need to change their bad habits. The sins, failures, hypocrisy, and mediocrity of these others provide a good reason not to attend worship and not to give money and not to serve energetically and not to love affectionately in the Lord’s name.

Religion is behavior, not theory. To worship God with all one’s heart, mind, soul, and strength is not an idea, it is a practice. To love one’s neighbor as in “idea” is an illusion. Love must take up space and time; it costs lots of money and much energy. Church is a place for religious behavior, where one worships God and serves God’s children. It is large enough to include true religious conservatives and true religious liberals, since they only emphasize one or the other aspect of true religion.

The Church will never be at peace until the commitment to God and the Gospel of our Lord take priority over any personal warp to some left or right ideas. People who have a primary commitment to their own opinions and a secondary interest in religion always threaten to destroy the church. What good reason and right opinion do you have to excuse yourself from the costly practice of true religion?


Fred Preuss said...

Basically, it's because I think that religion is an inaccurate description of the way things are.
And I think that men dressed in dresses look fruity. Based on the significantly higher of sexual minorities in all churches' clergy, this seems to be an accurate intuition.

Fred Preuss said...

Oh, and I have better things to do with my time than talk to a non-existent being-like sleep in.