Vol.IV No.IX Pg.7
October 1967

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Please discuss the use of labels, such as "Conservative" "Liberal" and "Anti," to designate brethren. LT


There are "brand-name" labels, and there are labels that designate the actual content of package. "Superior" brand products (if there be such a brand) are not superior to all others simply because they are so branded. On the other hand, I have a can in my pickup truck labeled "Kerosene" -- and that tells me the contents of the can and avoids dangerous mishandling (I also have "coal-oil" written beneath, for people of that faith.)

"Conservative" and "Liberal" have differing meanings in different contexts. Used in a conference of some denominational ecumenical council the term "Conservative" might be rightly applied to some preacher most of "our" brethren would consider very liberal. Further, the recognition of various "brands of Christians" is equivalent to the denominational conception of a universal church which embraces many different churches. Such "branding" of brethren is misleading. I am no more a "Conservative Christian" than I am a "Methodist Christian." I would like to be simply a "Christian" -- a member of Christ's church.

But to maintain such a position with reference to all brethren, I must deny that differing attitudes toward divine authority (the written word) may exist, and those differing remain "brethren" (Honest difference in interpretation is not under consideration. Where two brethren equally believe the verbally inspired word of God to be our perfect guide in all matters religious, but differ in their understanding of its teaching; these are not Liberal and Conservative Christians. They will continue to study together, and respect one-another's conscience, until a meeting of minds is found.) (Jn. 7:17). If, in the course of investigation, it becomes apparent that one brother is less concerned about finding a Bible solution to the problem -- if he "leans" toward the opinion of majorities, papers, or colleges for his conclusions -- perhaps even refuses to continue a Bible investigation; we must either say he is no longer a brother, or we may say he is liberal (NOT a "brand-name" but a common adjective, descriptive of his lack of respect for divine authority). If he is very cautious, slow to come to a conclusion for fear he may be wrong, leaning toward the "better be very safe than very sorry"; we may say he is conservative (Again, not a brand-name, but a simple adjective describing his attitude.)

"Liberal" and "Conservative" used as "brand-names" are often misleading, prejudicial, and are unwarranted. But "liberal" and "conservative brethren" is actually a concession that the one under consideration is still a brother. I believe there are liberal and conservative brethren, and I believe some have gone so far afield from the teachings of God's word as to no longer be my brethren in Christ.

"Anti" is a prefix, and needs an object to be used intelligently.