“I am tired of you and others like you predicting the end of the world!
You conservatives need to learn that history is full of shifting beliefs.”
My friend had been verbally attacked. The statements above were not an accurate representation of my friend’s conservative beliefs. No one said there is a prediction of the world’s end. No one said beliefs remain static throughout history. In point of fact, the person did not even identify themselves as a “conservative.” So what is a “conservative”?
Conservatives are conservators.
Conservators are concerned that historical precedents not be forgotten. Conservators want to maintain eternal, permanent ideals for temporal, temporary realities of life. Conservators affirm absolutes. Conservators know humans are bent toward evil as well as good. Conservators are concerned for people and for their future.
As a conservator, I believe that people must defend what is given them.
Free speech demands that folks who disagree with politicians speak out. So, free people should continue to exercise the free speech given to them. People should speak out for freedom. People should speak out against those who would suppress freedom. People must stand for truth. People must speak out against injustice and wrongdoing. People must not only defend those with whom they agree, they must defend those with whom they disagree.
I believe Edmund Burke’s famous line, “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.”
These are a conservator’s principles.
Sometimes, however, conservators focus too much on the temporal instead of the eternal.
Since Plato, conservators have been decrying the decline of their civilization. Some blame the youth. Some blame entertainment. Some blame politicians. Some blame an unnamed “culture.” Some blame groups or associations. But everybody blames somebody.
And since Plato, some conservators have valid concerns as they view the world. Some are curmudgeons who can see the potential for harm in so-called “new” ideas. Some are firebrands, passionate to communicate their view. Some are activists fighting the good fight for a good cause. Some are apologists, released from strategy sessions to sound the alarm. Some are lobbyists, their voice raised as the voice of others.
But now, conservators must take another tack.
As a conservator, I have been teaching and speaking on about the coming American-Christian persecution for years. In 1980 I preached through the book of First Peter reminding people then that the U.S. is not immune from persecution. For thirty years I have warned my students to prepare for persecution. I have written that Christians will always be pilgrims in this world. I have pointed out the inconsistencies of some who want to defame Christians but not other religions. I have asked why The New York Times Review of Books ignores conservative Christian publications. I have given an address at Moody Bible Institute about a Christian response to persecution. I have written about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese activist, about whom the movie Beyond Rangoon was filmed and U2 sang their song “Walk On.”
As a Christian conservator I have never believed that true justice comes from a political campaign, or, as Mao Zedong said, “out of the barrel of a gun.”
However, I have not shied from vocal support of preservative principles in my culture.
Here is a summary of Anyabwile’s four points about coming Christian persecution:
1. Learn to suffer with dignity and grace. We will need to learn how to endure reproach shame, ridicule, and physical beatings. The two models of response come from Jesus and the Black Church.
2. Learn to do theology from the underside. White, Protestant, Evangelical Christians have been privileged to live in a free culture, their theological viewpoints coming from “above,” a position of prominence. Experiencing persecution will shift views of justice which originate from “beneath,” from under the culture.
3. Learn how to fight for your oppressors, not just against them. Loving people is a simple concept, poorly practiced by some Christians who have enjoyed American privileges.
4. Learn to hope in God. Political, cultural affiliations should not be a Christian refuge.
Anyabwile’s final words must be heard: “I suspect that much of the lamentation I hear in the evangelical world may be the dying cries of long-standing privilege.”
Conservators should not attempt to maintain privilege but rather stand for principle.
When I was 16 I made a personal decision NOT to pursue politics as a vocation. As I told people then when asked if I would like to work to elect certain politicians, “I would be turning my fire hose on the flames, not the source of the fire.”
So, I began filling pulpits when I was sixteen.
I have been preaching and teaching God’s Word ever since.
Yes, I believe in cultural preservation. I am a cultural conservator.
But, the only lasting conservator for any culture is the gospel of Jesus.
Mark believes that Jesus’ person and work is the only temporal and eternal help for the whole person. His students hear Dr. Eckel’s point as a constant refrain wherever he teaches.