Author Archives: Michael Riley

There are no conservative hermits

There are no conservative hermits

The following is excerpted and adapted from an address that I had the privilege of offering at a recent gathering of conservative friends, on the nature of pastoral love. As many of you have found (and despite accusations to the contrary), conservatism is a much broader set of commitments than a particular music preference. Among… Continue Reading

Article 12: On the Cultivation of Christian Tradition

Article 12: On the Cultivation of Christian Tradition

This entry is part 13 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

  This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm the importance of beginning our pursuit of sound worship and holy living within the bounds of traditions that we have inherited from the saints of the entire church age (2 Tim. 2:2, Phil. 3:17). Many of these believers,… Continue Reading

Article 2: On the Whole Counsel of God

Article 2: On the Whole Counsel of God

This entry is part 4 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm that the center and apex of Christian faith and fellowship is the whole counsel of God, including right belief, right living, and right affection (Deut. 6:1–9). We further affirm that the transmission of biblical Christianity necessarily involves the preservation… Continue Reading

Article 1: On the Gospel

Article 1: On the Gospel

This entry is part 3 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the boundary of Christian faith (1 Cor. 15). We also affirm that to ignore this boundary by granting Christian recognition to those who deny the gospel is to demean the gospel itself… Continue Reading

Lewis, liturgy as dance, and the regulative principle

Lewis, liturgy as dance, and the regulative principle

Some time ago, I posted a link here to one of my favorite quotes from the eminently quotable C. S. Lewis. Lewis offers a comparison between liturgy and dance: both must be learned, he suggests, so that when they are employed, they needn’t be thought about. When dancing (I suppose, not having any experience here myself),… Continue Reading

What music does

What music does

In my last post, I had shared a brief argument that, at least for me, undergirds my conservatism in worship, without forsaking the principle of sola scriptura. I noted in the post that it originated as a letter to a friend of mine, so I was taken aback a bit when some of the comments said… Continue Reading

Accepting sola scriptura and arguing musical style

Accepting sola scriptura and arguing musical style

This is a little intro piece that I’ve written for some friends who have asked for a basic defense of musical conservatism. It hardly gets us to full-blown conservatism, but at least offers the structure of why I think the Bible, while not addressing musical style, still gives us a standard for musical style. _____… Continue Reading

Sound Theology

Sound Theology

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series A Sound Church You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

(The articles in this series were originally written for publication in the local newspaper of the town in which I pastor.) So far in this series, I’ve argued that a church wishes to align with God’s priorities will have two characteristics: a commitment to follow the Bible as an absolute authority, and (following from the… Continue Reading

Some cautions on children’s ministry

Some cautions on children’s ministry

This week, Calvary Baptist Church is hosting its annual Vacation Bible School, so I thought I’d say a word or two about the privilege and challenges of ministering to children. The faith of a child is precious thing, and should be cultivated with the utmost care. It is my hope that my own children and… Continue Reading

A Sound Church: Expositional Preaching

A Sound Church: Expositional Preaching

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series A Sound Church You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

(The articles in this series were originally written for publication in the local newspaper of the town in which I pastor.) In the previous weeks’ essays on the commitments of a sound church, I’ve argued that the Bible alone functions as the highest authority in the church. If this is true, then it becomes exceedingly… Continue Reading

A Sound Church: The Regulative Principle

A Sound Church: The Regulative Principle

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series A Sound Church You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

(The articles in this series were originally written for publication in the local newspaper of the town in which I pastor.) Last week, I proposed that we would do well to consider what God looks for in a church, and our first characteristic of such a sound church is that it will be one that… Continue Reading

A Sound Church: Submitted to Scripture

A Sound Church: Submitted to Scripture

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series A Sound Church You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

(The articles in this series were originally written for publication in the local newspaper of the town in which I pastor.) What do you look for in a church? Most people, I’ve found, are looking for are specific kinds of programs: children’s ministries, support groups, outreach plans, and so on. And none of these things… Continue Reading

Cultural skepticism, the opposite of worldliness

Cultural skepticism, the opposite of worldliness

Conservatism will have little attraction for those who fail to be skeptical of their own culture. The skepticism of which I speak must run deep; there is a sort of piecemeal skepticism that is insufficient for the task. A pack of these two-bit skeptics is currently busy occupying various cities. It is comparatively unusual for… Continue Reading

On being elitist

On being elitist

Those who advocate conservatism in worship become accustomed to accusations of elitism. This comparison is employed for several reasons. We are elitists, it is alleged, because we advocate styles of worship that are associated with Western high culture: the music we would use in worship is more commonly played at symphony hall than anywhere else,… Continue Reading

The conservatism of the normative principle

The conservatism of the normative principle

At this year’s Conference on Conservative Christianity (which concluded Tuesday), Steve Thomas of Huron Baptist Church made a point in one of his sessions that I found remarkably insightful. Most of those attending the conference would either embrace the regulative principle of worship outright, or would advocate something very much like the regulative principle. The… Continue Reading

An enduring moral order

An enduring moral order

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Conservatism Beyond Music You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. This is the foundational principle of conservatism; as a Christian conservative, I would modify it thus: there is a created, enduring moral order. The point here is that the conservative is convinced that at least some things in this changeable world are unchanging, and that… Continue Reading

Conservatism Beyond Music: Introduction

Conservatism Beyond Music: Introduction

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Conservatism Beyond Music You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The central concern of this blog dictates that discussions of conservatism almost inevitably reduce to discussions of musical conservatism. This is not, in itself, a problem; we have no need to apologize for creating a place to discuss one particular interest. That said, I contend that our discussion would be enriched if we gave some… Continue Reading

Corrupt affections are the soil of heresy

Corrupt affections are the soil of heresy

Christian discipleship tends to be taught as a linear process: we fill the head with right doctrine, and people should learn to live lives consistent with that doctrine, and then they’ll be happy. In other words, the movement is from doctrine to ethics to affections, or (to say it yet another way) from the mind… Continue Reading