Towards Conservative Christian Churches -1

A few weeks ago, I posted my opinion that the form of Christianity which omits certain distinctives is a truncated and emaciated Christianity. Conservative Christianity, as much as it is accused of adding non-essentials, is simply trying to preserve a healthy, full-orbed Christianity that can weather the era it is in, and be passed on to others.

If the Christianity that is not conservative is truncated, what are the marks of a robust, full-orbed Christianity? With a hat-tip to Dever, and a nod to Bauder, I’d suggest these might be the “8 Marks of a Conservative Christian Church”:

  1. A full understanding of, commitment to, and defence of the gospel.

  2. Understanding, teaching, and defending biblical, systematic and practical Christian theology.

  3. Understanding, practising, and defending biblically-regulated worship.

  4. Understanding, teaching, and encouraging individual piety.

  5. Understanding the Christian life as a life of love, therefore being committed to understanding rightly ordered loves and corresponding affections.

  6. Understanding and teaching the means of furnishing the inner life with those ideas and images that encourage these loves and affections.

  7. Committing to understanding the meaning of the world, so as to rightly parse worship, affections, and the correct application of biblical principles.

  8. Loving the Christian church past and present, therefore rightly viewing and using the Christian tradition. Reconciling  permanence and change.

I use the term “8 Marks of a Conservative Christian Church” not merely to play on Dever’s title, but because I strongly agree with Dever that reform must take place at the local church level. Restoring or reclaiming Christianity from its current abbreviated revivalist incarnation will require pastors steadily pruning what is foreign to Christianity, and including what has been omitted in the last two centuries. Let me be clear, I don’t think this is something which can be ‘fixed’ with a list. I think the kind of reform we need may take more than one generation to achieve. However, we must build with what we have, encouraging what is needed, removing with is unhealthy, and keeping some things alive for future Christians, who may be better prepared to love, honour and use them.

In the coming weeks, I would like to examine each of the eight points, with an eye towards how these things may be encouraged in the local church context. My aim is to encourage members in general and pastors in particular to consider practical methods to recover a more full-orbed Christianity in the context of a local church.

One Response to “Towards Conservative Christian Churches -1”

  1. Mark Penrith Says:

    re point 1 please sharpen your pencil and crit my last post. I guess these are succinctly positioned distinctives. Seeing that we’re both currently considering the same thing I’d benefit from your thinking.

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