There are two words I suggest we avoid in describing Christianity. The words are liberal and conservative. At face value, a liberal is “marked by generosity, broad-minded.” A conservative is “marked by moderation or caution.” I have been called both, and at face value I can be.
But each word has been bundled with other ideas that can be inconsistent with the essence of Christianity. Many people associate these terms with the political continuum. Liberal describes those a little left of center, and conservative describes those a little right of center. Historically, those were two sides of the same coin in a democracy. History also documents that when either position is taken to an extreme, it ends in totalitarianism, which is “centralized control by an autocratic authority.” Meaning, you better accept the whole bundle or else.
When people describe their faith orientation as conservative or liberal, it makes me wonder. Are they stereotyping themselves? Are they the stone-cold law-and-order types? Or are they the bleeding-heart, anything-goes types? It also makes me wonder: would I fit in with them or not and do they tolerate dissenting points of view?
Christian values are broad and deep. Jesus is the nonpartisan Savior of all people. We seek to express our faith in a diverse society. The Christians I know are a mix of people who love the stability God’s Word produces and the generosity his grace inspires. Those convictions defy a one-word description.