Those churches we can call “liberal” or “progressive” appeal to a section of modern culture which has at least three idols:
- Personal choice and freedom;
- Absolute tolerance and the rejection of exclusive truth and personal responsibility;
- Professional expertise and status.
They accept modern sex ethics, they do not do church discipline, they do not preach Christ crucified and resurrected (really and historically) and the only way to salvation. Their ministry is supportive and therapeutic, and no one is ever warned of the dangers of God’s judgment. In general, the popular opinions of modern culture are adopted and promoted. If churches preached judgment (of God), accountability, and moral virtue (as Jesus did) there would be conflict!
Churches that might be labelled “conservative” appeal to those who utilize:
- An idealized past;
- The nuclear family;
- One’s own race and traditional culture;
While liberals tend to be relativistic, conservatives are “moralistic” and make an idol out of “goodness” and respectability. They often value unquestioning deference to leaders, tend to idealize the “good old days,” tend to feel superior in its view of its own culture and tend to put so much emphasis on family life that singles and single parents feel like second class citizens. If these churches preached against racism, the need for justice for the poor, and challenged people to embrace the socially and morally unrespectable (as Jesus did) their would be conflict!