Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 30, 1963
NUMBER 5, PAGE 2,10a

Are You "Liberal" Or "Conservative"?

W. C. (Bill) Hammontree

In regard to the term "liberal," one must recognize it as a comparative term. It may be in varying degrees. In most cases, one is called "liberal" who wants to break over established rules, or read into existing rules rights or liberties not specified or granted. It has no reference to the position of "Higher Critics."

The term "antis" is not a new one. The debate held in 1908 between brethren W. W. Otey and J. B. Briney on "instrumental Music and Societies" was full of the word. It literally means, "one who is against." However, since we are all against something or other, it should be joined to some particular word or words to denote what one is against. For example, "anti-instrumental music in worship," "anti-Missionary Society," "anti-church financed institutional homes" or whatever may be involved.

The term "conservative" is an expression to denote one whose desire is to hold to established paths, and who will not branch out beyond what has been established, and opposes taking liberties not granted. It, too, may be in degrees.

When division arose in the early 1900's, loyal brethren called those who went beyond what was written "The Digressives." However, they did not accept that title, but called themselves "The Progressives" They in turn called us the "Anti-brethren." Today, part of this is still true, only those who see liberties where silence reigns and brand as "anti" these who refuse to act without scriptural authority, refer to themselves not as "the Progressives" but as ' Churches on the March."

Have you ever stopped to try to classify yourself? It might surprise some to find out what company they are keeping. The following positions are generally held as a part of the two classifications, "Liberal" and "Conservative." I do not mean to imply that all in either group hold every view mentioned. That is why I pose the question. Won't you consider where you stand by considering these views and reflecting on what you may have once accepted, what you now accept, and whether the way you are going is "liberal" or "conservative."


The conservative view on benevolence is about as follows:

1. The Church is responsible for its needy saints.

2. When one congregation has more needy saints than it can support, other congregations can assist it in caring for them.

3. The family is to provide for its own.

4. When the Christian cannot support his own family, the church can assist him to do it.

5. The non-Christian's care is the duty of the Christian. When a non-Christian becomes the responsibility to the Christian by virtue of his relationship or proximity ("as we have therefore opportunity"), the Christian is to be the "good Samaritan."

6. Such a Christian could become unable to meet his just responsibilities, and could be assisted by the church.

7. The Church is all-sufficient to perform every work, commanded to it by God, in benevolence and in evangelism.

The liberal view on the subject of benevolence is about as follows:

1. The congregation is responsible for all the needy.

2. Congregations can supply money to human organizations so that these organizations may perform benevolent works.

3. The church has no responsibility to determine who is being supported by any given organization before contributing to it — just so long as it is known that the organization is "doing good,"

4. The church cannot care for its needy without placing Elders over two institutions. Therefore, a second institution is needed, separate from the Church. (Some say, however, that the Church may help only those institutions which are under the Elders of some church.

5. The church is its own "Missionary Society" but is not its own "Benevolent Society."


The conservative view on the subject of cooperation (among churches) is generally:

1. That New Testament churches cooperated with one another; and helped one another.

2. That churches cooperated by sending directly to the same preacher in some chosen field.

3. That no church was assisted to do a work for other churches, or to which they were equally related.

4. That if one church could assume the world-wide radio and T. V. work for all the churches, another could assume all the benevolent work, and another could assume the oversight of sending out all preachers. Each would be wrong.

The liberal view on the subject of cooperation is that:

1. Churches should cooperate and send to one another, whether a need exists or not. For example, one Church receiving help from dozens of other churches to perform a work, may in turn, be contributing to a dozen other churches, and even to some of the same ones who are contributing to her.

2. That one Church may assume a work to which all are equally related; and that, once she has assumed that work, al other churches can perform that work through one group of elders. Example: A world-wide T. V. program.


The conservative view on the subject of education holds that:

1. Secular education, though given with Bible training, is the responsibility of the family.

2. Schools for secular education (even though teaching the Bible) have no right to the funds contributed to the church.

The liberal view of the subject of education holds that:

1. Education is a "good work" and if parents can support any school, the church can 2. There is no difference in the church's money and the individual's. What the individual Christian can support, the church may support also.

3. The Bible teaches parents to "nurture" their children; therefore, the schools can be supported by the church to help in this "nurturing."

Recreation The conservative view on the subject of recreation is that:

1. The church is not a recreational agency.

2. Clean recreation is wholesome, but it should be provided by parents and interested Christians, not by the church.

3. That which has been built or provided by the "Lord's money" (money contributed to the congregation's treasury) should not be used for social or recreational purposes.

The liberal view on the subject of recreation:

1. Every time the doors of the Church building are opened to a boy or girl even though for entertainment and recreation, this provides an opportunity to reach them.

2. There is no difference between the church building and one's own home.

3. If we eat dinners in our homes (and since some churches meet in a private home), why not eat dinners in the church buildings?

4. Church buildings are not in use all the time. Why not put the building to use for such good works as entertaining young people?


The conservative view on the subject of authority is that:

1. We must have divine authority for all religious acts and practices.

2. God's silence is negative — not consent.

3. We are taught by three means, command, approved example, and necessary inferences.

The liberal view on the subject of authority is that:

1. Examples of approved practices cannot be depended upon as furnishing "Bible authority" for any act or practice.

2. Since examples teach very little, the absence of a pattern for such things as sponsoring churches, benevolence institutions and cooperative arrangements under a single eldership does not restrict our liberty in devising and providing such things.

Now, friend, what are you — "liberal" or "conservative"?

— Rossville, Georgia