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Neo Liberal Conservatism

What I mean to say with that made-up bit of jargon is that we need to get WAY past our current categories, or we won’t be able to think creatively about the Church today -- not our church, and not anybody’s church.

The Holy Spirit is at work like the wind; blowing where God wills. Not always where sailors have their sails set, and not always where the weather forecast predicts.

The old easy terms, liberal and conservative, aren’t working well for the Body of Christ anymore – if they ever did. The term “evangelical” isn’t useful either, since the political pundits seem to have a pretty outdated understanding of what it means, and so add confusion to the conversation. Social justice activists are beginning to experience spiritual renewal, and congregations in liberal denominations are recovering their understanding of what it means to belong to Jesus. Evangelicals are finding immigrants, refugees, and people of color in the tent, and radical church folk are rediscovering Kuyper. Our understanding of what and who defines us is being blown wide open and not all bedfellows are politicians.

So we need to pay more attention to Jesus and his teaching, his life and his Spirit among us, and less to who is on our side. We need to aim our structures more toward mission and less toward stability and predictability. We need to take our piety and our theology with utmost seriousness, aiming our efforts toward praise and obedience and not toward exclusion and security.

So what’s this got to do with classis? Everything. Classis is the place where healthy dialog can take place; it’s local enough to be personal, and participatory enough to ward off congregationalism. It’s the arena where good homework can be done so that synod is productive. It’s the arena that can safeguard congregations against “prophecy from afar” coming from the top down. Classis is the place that is flexible enough to invite the Spirit to dance, and formal enough to insure decency and good order. Classis is the place where new congregations can be birthed, supported, evaluated, celebrated.

Frankly, I don’t see another place in the denomination that’s got as much potential for revitalizing the CRC. I’m putting my eggs in the classical basket.


I often feel that labels do more harm than good: They are limiting, create stereotypes, and cannot account for nuances or differences that individuals may have from the label that has been put on them. The only label I'm comfortable trying to apply to myself is "biblical." ~Stan

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