From the Editor

Both liberal and conservative

Jesus displayed element of seemingly opposite passions

Lately I’ve been thinking about the great divide in American politics, and how it’s spilled over into church life. We have “liberal” churches and “conservative” churches. The former, most of us would argue, includes the United Church of Christ; the latter includes the Southern Baptists.

Lutherans don’t quite agree where they belong on the spectrum. Some think the ELCA is “left-wing liberal” and the LCMS is “right-wing conservative.” But some folk in both churches don’t fit those designations.

Everyone who takes Christianity seriously wants to claim Jesus for his or her persuasion. I thought about that recently. Jesus was liberal (generous, which is close to the heart of the meaning of the word). He embraced people I’d avoid. He liberally (generously) distributed salvation to every hungry soul requesting it. Some would say he was too liberal.

Jesus was conservative (a saver and preserver, two things conservatives do well). He held fast to “old values” in the midst of new realities — values like compassion and telling the truth and loving the people God loves. Some would say he was too conservative.

I’ve come to appreciate people who can embrace within their moral and religious universe the best elements of liberalism and conservatism. I’ve learned to admire people who can see merit in points of views not their own, and who can respect those who differ with them. In our government and in our churches, we have sometimes called these people “moderates” (although that suggests “middle-of-the-road,” which doesn’t really describe these people with accuracy).

Metro Lutheran has a charge to listen to people across the theological and political spectrum, to respect their views, and to welcome their diverse voices. I hope we are succeeding in this. The opinion and commentary pages are the platform for this discussion each month. We even print pieces from readers who think the editor is simply off base.

My resolution in 2006 is to work harder than ever to embrace both liberal and conservative values in my thinking and behavior.