Although recently it appears to have lessened, the division in society between the progressives and conservatives has often been violent. Since the church exists in the world, confrontations on many of the social issues are present in the church.
A seminary professor writes in the Catholic Times of this divide and asks the readers on what side are they on. Are you progressive or conservative, left or right? What side is the church on?
With these questions, many will select one of the two as the direction of the church. But is that the reality? Is the church progressive because it opposes the death penalty and conservative because it opposes abortion and contraception?
The church is evangelical only. It judges, chooses and acts on the basis of Jesus Christ and not according to the values of the world. It is neither conservative or liberal, socialist or democratic but on the side of Christ.
Archbishop Helder Camara of Brazil said: "When I give food to the poor they call me a saint when I ask why are they poor, they call me a socialist."
The world loves to give food to the poor but when you try to make a society without the poor you are condemned as a socialist. Pope Francis was acclaimed for the many things he did after becoming pope but also called a Marxist.
The church wants to follow gospel values. It's not against the death penalty because it's progressive but because it promotes the dignity of human life that God has created. It's not against abortion and artificial means of contraception because it's conservative but because of the dignity of the person.
Consequently, members of the church must inquire constantly about who is Jesus and how to follow him.We must question whether what we judge and pursue is truly in accord with gospel values. We can not be sure our thoughts and judgments are evangelical, but the more confident we become the stronger our voice. In prayer, we will find the answers on how to live as Christians.
Christians do not live in a progressive or conservative manner but according to the teaching of Jesus. We need to search for the answers continually. For we are weak human beings and yesterday's answers may not be today's answers. We find the answers in the encounter with God and through prayer.
"I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the superior advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8).