In my wanderings in the post evangelical world, I have to rethink my concept of the definition of a conservative. In a society where everyone gets labeled, I always considered myself a conservative, and those mainline denominations as liberals.
But what is a conservative? According to dictionary.com, the first definition is “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.”
This does not match the current evangelical world. It changes constantly. The theology of the baptists of my youth certainly doesn’t match the theology of baptists today. Non-denominational churches seem to change theology constantly. The concept of “How to be a better person in x easy steps” didn’t exist in baptist or non-denominational churches 40 years ago. Worship styles have changed dramatically. Organizational and leadership structures are dramatically different in baptist churches than from 40 years ago.
But in the mainline churches, often labeled “liberal”, change seems to happen much more slowly. The core theology of denominations such as the Lutherans and Anglicans hasn’t changed. The approach to some social issues may have changed slightly over the years, but I don’t see much core theology change.
So maybe I had it wrong, are baptists and non-denominational churches “liberals” and the mainlines “conservative”?