True conservatism is not mere progressivism in slow motion

Published July 18, 2023

WORLD Opinions

American conservatism has many roots, but the modern conservative movement traces at last part of its heritage to a 1960 gathering of conservatives and a manifesto of principles they adopted. The Sharon Statement became a hallmark summary of the most fundamental principles of conservatism. One of the most notable passages in the Sharon Statement was its affirmation of “eternal truths” and to their ultimate grounding in God.

Now, conservatives have always debated the essence of conservatism, and for good reason. As an intellectual project, conservatism insists that ideas matter, and not just in some abstract Platonic way. Conservatives understand that ideas must eventually be distilled and crystalized into workable policies and programs.

But note this: Central to conservatism has always been a belief in God. Take, for instance, Russell Kirk’s summary of a central conservative axiom: “Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.”

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Andrew T. Walker is the managing editor of WORLD Opinions and serves as associate professor of Christian ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center. He resides with his family in Louisville, Ky.

EPPC Fellow Andrew T. Walker, Ph.D., researches and writes about the intersection of Christian ethics, public theology, and the moral principles that support civil society and sound government. A sought-after speaker and cultural commentator, Dr. Walker’s academic research interests and areas of expertise include natural law, human dignity, family stability, social conservatism, and church-state studies. The author or editor of more than ten books, he is passionate about helping Christians understand the moral demands of the gospel and their contributions to human flourishing and the common good. His most recent book, out in May 2021 from Brazos Press, is titled Liberty for All: Defending Everyone’s Religious Freedom in a Secular Age.

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