Christianity Knowledge Base

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Conservative Christianity is a sub-division of the Protestant Christian community that adhere to what many consider to be conservative religious values of the Christian faith. There are a variety of threads including the Evangelical Movement, the Holiness movement, the Pentecostal Movement, the Fundamentalist Movement, the Charismatic Movement and the Confessing Movement. There is also some influence from Mennonites. Each has its distinctives, but there is considerable cross-pollination.


Conservative Christianity is often characterized by the following features:

  • A belief in the authority of the Bible and a belief that it is an incontrovertible source of God's revelation to humankind. Bible prophecy and Bible inerrancy are typically affirmed. This often includes a willingness to believe that the Bible is to be believed over science or any other source. [1] [2] [3] [4]. In short, some conservative Christians stress the provisional nature of science rather than any current science community consensus. Biblical creationist interpretations of scientific data regarding origins are sometimes adhered to.[5]
  • The resurrection of Christ is seen as a historical event. A central focus on Christ's redeeming work on the cross as the means for salvation and the forgiveness of sins.
  • Encouragement of evangelism - the act of sharing one's beliefs in salvation through Jesus Christ with others - through both organized missionary work and personal evangelism.
  • Traditional views on a literal heaven and hell.
  • A high level of involvement in charitable, medical, educational, and relief work, such as adoption agencies, crisis pregnancy centers, food banks, medical clinics, and schools at all levels. For example, the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin working together, with the former emphasizing evangelism while the latter does disaster relief. In many areas of The Third World the only medical care available is through mission clinics, mostly run by evangelical Mennonite or fundamentalist ministries.

Conservative Protestantism[]

Scholars, theologians, and writers[]

Contemporary Conservative Protestant scholars and theologians include: D.A. Carson, Norman Geisler, FF Bruce, Gary Habermas, Kenneth Kitchen, Bruce Metzger, R. C. Sproul, Edwin M. Yamauchi, Merrill Unger, John Warwick Montgomery, Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, and Bryant G. Wood.

Popular conservative Protestant writers and conservative Christian apologetists include:

  • Josh McDowell
  • Lee Strobel
  • David Weinberg
  • Ravi Zacharias
  • Edward John Carnell

Earlier Conservative Protestant scholars/theologians include:

  • Robert Pearsall Smith and Hannah Whitall Smith, leaders in the Holiness movement
  • Henry Venn (1725 - 1797) - founder of the small, but highly influential Clapham Sect in Britain. His grandson, also named Henry Venn (1796 - 1873), pioneered the basic principles of indigenous church mission theory.
  • Oswald T. Allis (1856-1930)
  • William Henry Green (1825 - 1900)
  • James Orr (1844 - 1913)
  • C.F.W. Walther (1811-1887)
  • Robert Dick Wilson (1856–1930)
  • William Mitchell Ramsay (1851-1939) Archaeologist
  • Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921) Reformed thinker.

Conservative Roman Catholicism[]

While about 52% of Roman Catholics in the United States showed support for conservative Christian politicians in the 2006 election, largely out of concern relating to the abortion issue (see Newsweek magazine), historically American Catholics have tended to support the left politically. The Vatican, and the American Conference of Catholic Bishops, condemn the death penalty as well as the US War in Iraq, in addition to abortion and embryonal stem cell research. The Vatican, and the American Conference of Catholic Bishops, also continue to call for arms controls, debt relief for poor nations, affordable housing for all, the right of workers to organize, a national US health system affordable to all, and increased protection and stewardship of the earth - all issues typically identified with liberals. (see

In contrast to the most conservative Protestant Christians, Roman Catholics do not believe that the Bible is literally true in every word itself privately interpreted, but says the sacred Scripture should be interpreted in its scriptural context (Scripture as a whole approach). The encyclical Humani Generis (1950) of Pope Pius XII, which has lasting validity, began the process of affirming that the doctrine of the Catholic Church is compatible with evolution. See also Evolution and the Roman Catholic Church.

Opus Dei[]

Main article: Opus Dei

One example of conservative Roman Catholicism is Opus Dei, the name is (Latin for "Work of God"), it is comprised of a prelate, secular priests, and lay people, whose aim is "to contribute to the evangelizing mission of the Church" by spreading the message that everyone is called to become a saint and an apostle. It "encourages Christians of all social classes to live consistently with their faith in the middle of the ordinary circumstances of their lives." [6] Opus Dei is considered by some Catholics to be an extremist movement.

Traditionalist Catholics[]

Main article: Traditionalist Catholic

A wide range of conservative brands of Roman Catholicism are referred to by the name "traditionalist Catholic", some of which are lead by institutions under Papal law, while others are in dispute with the Vatican on certain issues.

Criticisms of Conservative Christianity[]

Critics of conservative Christianity claim that these Christians de-emphasize what they perceive as the central message of the Gospels, such as social justice and concern for the poor. Liberal or progressive Christians note that Jesus spent most of his ministry in the company of "sinners," such as prostitutes and tax collectors. While the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day are said to have condemned Jesus for his emphasis on forgiveness and his association with these so-called sinners, Jesus in turn condemned the Pharisees and their supporters for their emphasis on judgment, their apparent self-righteousness, and what he perceived as a lack of compassion.

Critics of conservative Christianity also point out what they believe is an overly-focused concern about issues pertaining to things such as sex and a narrow view of morality. These critics say that more emphasis should be placed on concern for the poor and social justice, since they believe these latter issues are emphasized more in the Bible itself, especially in the New Testament and Gospels.

Interestingly, in 2001, Christian and musician Bono, who is known for many liberal views, was able to win the support of conservative Christian senator Jesse Helms in his effort to involve American politicians in an effort to alleviate extreme conditions of poverty in Africa. In doing so, Bono pointed out that the Bible contains thousands of verses advising believers to care for the poor, the sick, the widow, and the orphan.

See also[]

  • Christian right
  • Christian left
  • Separation of Church and State
  • Christian Fundamentalism
  • Dispensationalism
  • Covenant theology
  • Politics
  • Conservativism
  • Summary of Christian eschatological differences
  • Christian Voice
  • Family Research Council

External links[]



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