Take It Slow

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

Growing Dominion, Part 32

We have been emphasizing the possibility of progress, and, because we believe the promises of God we may even assert that progress is inevitable. Using the glorious imagery of the prophet, the lion will lie down with the lamb, and the children will one day play with the cobras. No longer will we study war, and the spears will be fashioned into pruning hooks.

But this progress is slow, and taking the long view, entirely dependent upon the progress of the gospel in the world. This means that since the gospel works through the world the same way yeast works through a loaf of bread, we ought not to expect progress as a series of lightning bolts, instantly available to everyone the day after tomorrow. We must deal with the world as it is, and as it will be in the foreseeable future, and refuse to traffic in all forms of utopianism. The wise Christian will be on his guard against any project that depends upon the thesis, “Everything you have heard about [fill in the blank] is wrong.”

This provides us with a balance between the best of conservatism and the best of progressivism. Ambrose Bierce once pointed to the contrast between the worst of both characteristics when he defined conservatism as that which is enamored of the existing evils, as opposed to liberalism, which wishes to replace them with others. Conservatism exists in all areas-medicine, culture, music, law, etc.-and conservatism gone to seed refuses to adapt to anything, or concede anything. But progressivism (in any area) refuses to see how dangerous change is, particularly when it is rapid change. The Bible teaches us to look for cautious progress, or flexible conservatism.

Douglas Wilson