Conservative Christianity vs. Conservative Christianity

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The cognitive dissonance surrounding this hermeneutical dilemma can find its modern controversial root in the propoganda distributed by conservative Christian groups that support the Creationist cause.

On Labels
The "liberal" label is utilized as a less harsh version of "heretic" within some theological circles. It is not uncommon to hear a theological stance that is in conflict with a fundamentalist stance be labeled as "liberal theology."

Catholics and Protestants alike share this commonality. If an interpretation of a particular passage becomes the traditional and widely accepted understanding, any challenge is not considered something to explore, rather it is considered a threat. This is nothing new in Christian history. However, the repercussions of presenting views that are alternative to the traditional stance are far less harsh in present times than what we read in historical literature.

There are two meanings for the "conservative" label:
1) Effort to conserve the original meaning of the biblical text. 2) Effort to conserve a theological and/or church tradition.

How are the two different? The first is from where interpretation is derived; the second is the result of interpretation of the text with a preconceived notion of how the interpretation should turn out. The challenge to this is to bring the two into harmony.

Primary Theology and Secondary Theology Defined
Within conservative/evangelical Christianity, the primariy theologies are non- negotiable, whereas the secondary theologies are. The diagram below illustrates the differences.

Unfortunately, some of the leading Creationists have attempted to take the secondary theology of how God created and equate it with primary theology. Some take it even a step further and attempt to allow it to determine whether or not someone is a Christian, regardless of their personal salvation experience and personal relationship with Christ.

Let's summarize the logic here: if a Christian chooses not to believe in a literal interpretation of the first creation account in Genesis and decides to accept (or lean toward) a different creation viewpoint (e.g. Theistic Evolution), that person is still a Christian. Thus, the decision to accept Theistic Evolution or even the Gap Theory does not alter one's personal salvation; nor does it mean a person is theologically liberal.

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