Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’ (Jeremiah 6:16).
Conservatives are prophets in every generation. Not because they predict the future, since this is not the primary task of the prophet. A true born conservative is a man who stands with an iron will, fulfilling a sacred task, calling a people to repentance, to righteousness, to justice.
The prophet in Israel may be, for our purposes, defined by three traits. He receives no honor among his people, he declares an unfavorable message which shall be ignored, and of course, he delivers dire warnings about future judgment to come. If any definition adheres to the lives of prophets, it’s that of conservative.
The conservative, like the prophet, is never popular among the people. It is a lonely road telling a generation they are headed the wrong way; to turn around. The conservative-prophet, like Edmund Burke, will stand against king, parliament, and country, as Burke did in his desire for reconciliation with the American colonies. Till death, Warfield preserved Princeton with a single hand. Kuyper and Machen by their denominations were defrocked. And let us not forget Martin Luther, who fought for a return to the gospel delivered 1,500 years before his time. The German monk fought alone, contra mundum, to conserve the message of salvation.
It is a sacred task, born out of love. For the prophet in each generation seeks its good, a depressing task in a Romans 1 world. As William F. Buckley put it, “[A Conservative is a fellow who is] standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’” is not inappropriate. We cannot remain silent because a love for the human race compels us to seek the flourishing of our fellow man.
Therefore, the historical fact that the conservative man rarely meets success is moot. Like a parent who knows the negligible likelihood of a procedure being a success, still will do all in his power for the beloved young child. The prophet, like Jonah however, often falls short of this love, being compelled by force, against the will, to deliver the message. The prophet-conservative shares the sentiment of Paul, “Woe is me if I do not.”
The world cannot understand us, because we give them what they need and not what they want.
The conservative stands with Jeremiah proclaiming, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it (Jeremiah 6:16).'”
Daniel MasonSee More Essays
Daniel Mason studied theology in his undergrad, and currently pursuing graduate studies, with a particular interest in the Dutch statesman, Groen van Prinsterer. Daniel Mason is the co-founder of The Reformed Conservative.