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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
            Wednesday, November 26 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Frames of reference: 2
biblical roots of conservative and liberal

The definitions of liberal and conservative are elusive; what they once meant isn't necessarily what they mean now.

The basic synonym for "liberal" is "generous," and in this root the liberal quality receives repeated endorsements in the Bible, beginning in Moses: "you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what the Lord has blessed you with, you shall give to him" (Deuteronomy 15:14). It is also used this way in the the epistles of the apostle Paul who pleads with those whose special gift is giving to do so liberally (Romans 12:8), and reminds those who've received God's blessings that He gave it to them liberally (2 Cor. 8:2 and 9:11), and commends those who've supported the poor for their liberality (9:13). And the epistle of James, the Lord's brother. speaks of liberality in one of the verses I've tried to live by: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (1:5).

In neither Old or New Testament, however, is "liberal" applied to the civil government. Neither is Israel (the Old Testament's main goverment) nor Caesar's Rome (the New Testament's) told to be liberal. On the other hand, though the word "liberal" isn't applied to governments in Bible times, Israel was by law required to provide for the nation's widows and orphans, and the law also required the vacating of all debts and loans in every jubilee year, every 50th year (Leviticus 25).

Neither the word "conservative" or "conserve" are found in Scripture, though certainly the basic synonym for "conserve," "keep," is found as one of the major motifs of Old and New Testament. After God enjoins Adam and Eve and their descendants to keep the land and the animals and His other provisions, the conservative sense of the word appears first perhaps in Genesis 17:9-10, "And God said to Abraham: 'As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised." Again in the next chapter: "For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him" (Genesis 18:19).

The rest of the Old Testament can be described as the record of how well and how poorly the descendants of Abraham kept the covenant, how they lost it and its blessings, how they refound it, how they reformed (going not forward, but backward, toward the place of blessing again); establishing the kingdom of God under His law. And in the New Testament the Lord begins His ministry as the Messiah by re-establishing the covenant, fulfilling its potentials, and bringing the promised kingdom to earth. In his Keynote Address, as it would be described in today's world, Jesus outlines what can be called the Conservative Manifesto:

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5-8).

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Quick reference for this series: First, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh. twelfth.

Fun facts (or "facts," so it says, but take with a grain)

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds; dogs have only about ten.

If you yelled for eight years, seven months and six days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. If you pass gas consistently for six years and nine months, enough gas is produced to create the energy of an atomic bomb.

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.
— Brian Tracy
Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz
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