Every now and then it’s worthwhile to take a step back from the news cycle and explore differences in first principles—to discover the deeper reasons why people disagree. How can people look at many of the same facts and come to completely different conclusions about the state of the world or the state of the church?
The answer often lies in starting presuppositions. For example, years and years ago I was taught that a key distinction between conservatives and progressives could be seen in their different conceptions of human nature. Conservatives were more apt to believe in original sin and man’s fallen nature. Progressives were more apt to believe that man was fundamentally good.
How did conservatives reckon with the great good that mankind could obviously accomplish? Well, God’s grace elevates us, and so do functioning institutions like healthy families, churches, and communities.
How did progressives reckon with the great evil that mankind obviously commits? Well, toxic systems oppress and destroy, creating the cultural pathologies that grievously wound the world. Patriarchy, fundamentalism, and nationalism all work their dark magic to twist human souls.