I’ve been called a TR before. I’m pretty conservative in my Sabbath views, and I’m one of the few people I know who actually agrees with what our Larger Catechism teaches re: images of God (which makes it very difficult as a parent to find good children’s books for my kids, I might add!). Other times I may have been called a TR for just being a theological jerk. I have to admit: guilty as charged! Though the Holy Spirit is working on me in this area.
On the other end of the PCA spectrum, we have those who some call “liberals.” This is a curious title to assign to anyone who belongs to a denomination committed to the inerrancy of Scripture. I don’t know of a single PCA minister who can truly be labeled a theological liberal. Anyone who thinks, for instance, that a minister who implements contemporary worship in his church is a liberal really needs to get out more. [Instead of “liberal,” some will use the terms “broadly evangelical” or “progressive” to refer to the same group.]
Curiously, I could also be considered a liberal/progressive by some. I enjoy ancient/future worship, which sometimes involves guitars and drums, and I think it’s biblical for women to read scripture in corporate worship.
But wait – how can I be a TR and a progressive? Surely one person can’t be both. It’s easy for us to try to pin people down to a certain point on a theological spectrum, but the truth of the matter is our views resemble a mosaic much more than they do a definable point on a line. Take the views I’ve already mentioned: a Sabbatarian who won’t let his kids view children’s Bibles with pictures of Jesus in them but who also likes ancient/future worship and thinks we ought to have women reading Scripture in our worship services? It may sound crazy to you, but it makes sense in my head.
Instead of having a fixed definition of TR and liberal, I think we all have a functioning definition that is ultimately relative: a TR is anyone to the right of me; A liberal is anyone to the left of me.
Sadly, we often use these labels to dismiss others’ views out of hand. “What does he know? He’s a liberal.” “Meh, of course he thinks that. He’s a TR.” We quickly slap these labels on those with whom we disagree, giving us an excuse to disregard their position without ever carefully considering it. In this sense, these labels become ad hominem attacks.
(Jas 1:19–20 ESV)