“Traditionalists” and “Revisionists”


Several comment-writers on my posts have either objected to or asked about the terms “traditionalist” and “revisionist.” I meant them as purely descriptive labels: on the one hand, those who hold to traditional Christian teaching on sexuality and on the other hand, those who think that teaching should be revised. I thought that these were less fraught terms than, say, “conservative” and “liberal.” 

Of course, whenever you assign labels to parties in a dispute, they inevitably become “fraught.” After all, “Left” and “Right” originally referred to the seating arrangements in the French National Assembly of 1791. But notice that I’ve by no means assumed that the “traditionalists” on this issue represent the great tradition faithfully in all respects; I’m in fact writing to advocate that we should do so more fully than we have. And I haven’t said much at all about revisionists except to call them sisters and brothers and note that traditionalists are not that different from them in many respects. I don’t know how to be more even-handed than that.

It would be nice to avoid “labelling” as some have advocated. But when confronted with real differences, it’s necessary to make distinctions, and those distinctions need to be marked with words.

7 Responses to ““Traditionalists” and “Revisionists””

  1. Michael Dooley Says:

    Seems to me that even the word “traditionalists” is now outdated after the CWA. “Restorationists” seems closer to the truth.

  2. Lawrence804 Says:

    1. Not sure if things can be restored in the ELCA at this point. That ship has sailed.

    2. Dr. Yeago, your fellow South Carolinian Kendall Harmon uses “reasserter” and “reappraiser” as terms in TEC disputes. Perhaps that is an option for we Lutherans too.

  3. Robb (LP) Says:

    I like Harmon’s nomenclature.

  4. David Says:

    I don’t think it makes too much difference what “label” you use. Someone is going to either take offense, or interpret other than one intends. Best we can do is consider the author and understand that he/she speaks in a pastoral tone while writing in this non-verbal medium.

  5. Rafe Allison Says:

    “I don’t think it makes too much difference what ‘label’ you use. Someone is going to either take offense, or interpret other than one intends.”

    Given the truism of your statement, perhaps we should in our future conversations simply defer to our varied “bound consciouses” on these matters. After all, that makes any and all labels we choose to invoke, (and also what we have to say,) so supremely “relative” in the end. That makes it so much easier to get along, mind our own business, and not offend anyone. The diversity of opinion is well represented by the “labels” you’ve applied… I see no reason for apology or repentance.

  6. Erich Heim Says:

    Rob Gagnon uses the term “homosexualist” to describe supporters of the Why would that be offensive? BTW, he has a new paper regarding the outcome of the CWA that’s worth a read on his website, robgagnon.net

  7. Brian Says:

    I’m still partial to orthodox vs heterodox.

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