Why I am a Reactionary

It is a term that is generally meant as a perjorative.  Reactionaries rebel against all the wonderful progressive ideas that all right-thinking people know make the world a better place. In a word, liberalism. Well, I am a reactionary. I react against all of the ideas that see separation from God as progress. That it because these ideas are not progress at all. Progress is to move toward God’s desire that creation be reconciled to Him.

In being a reactionary, I follow in some pretty big footsteps. When someone called me a reactionary recently, I began to think of other reactionaries among whom I am not worthy to be counted.

I think of that young Jewish boy 3000 years ago, not old enough to be drafted into the army, reacting against the challenge of a giant man who had defied the armies of the living God. He reacted with a stone in a sling.

I think of Elijah in the midst of a government that had rejected the historic worship of God for worship of Baal. He reacted by calling down fire from heaven.

Elijah was but one of the prophets who reacted against the apostasy, injustice, and bad governments of the day. The people still chose captivity, but it was reactionaries who warned them and showed them another option. Being a reactionary has long been a thankless task.

Then I think of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – usually known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.  The government said bow to the statue. It’s not a big deal and you won’t notice any real difference to your everyday life. Just bow and everyone will be happy. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were reactionaries. They just weren’t willing to buy into the spirit of the age.

They had a friend called Daniel. When the government said all petitions must be made to the state and not to any god, Daniel reacted by opening his window the exact same way he always had (conservative that he was) and knelt down and prayed the same way he always had. It cost him a trip to the lions den, because the state doesn’t like to be defied when it has set itself up as the font of all blessing and the focus of worship.

And there was that carpenter from Nazareth. He reacted against “you have heard it said” with “but I say to you”. But wasn’t this progressive? No, quite the opposite. He peeled back all the Talmudic layers of Pharisaism and brought it back to the revealed truth. And when it came to moneychangers in the temple, He was very reactionary. You might even say He was reactionary after they killed Him. He reacted by rising from the dead, trampling down death by death. That was the ultimate reaction.

So while I will never be as significant or successful a reactionary as David, Elijah, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego, Daniel, or Jesus, I will be a reactionary nonetheless.

Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.
Also, I set watchmen over you, saying,

‘ Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not listen.’
Therefore hear, you nations,
And know, O congregation, what is among them.
Hear, O earth!
Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people—
The fruit of their thoughts,
Because they have not heeded My words
Nor My law, but rejected it.

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4 Responses to “Why I am a Reactionary”

  1. Lucy Says:

    A reactionary is the complete opposite of the Great and Holy Fathers you’ve named. A reactionary blindly reacts as a knee jerk reaction to a stimulus without consideration and forethought.

    Those who are remembered or considered as great and successful people or leaders are rarely reactionary. Rather they are insightful intelligent and measured. They make considered judgements based on sound research and thought and their first decision is their only decision because it is the right one.

    Reactionary is nothing to do with being progressive or not. I think you’ve misunderstood the person who called you reactionary. I would consider reactionary a perjorative, I can’t see how you can spin it to say reactionary = Christ-like. This is one of the most bizzarre things you have ever written.

    Who called you reactionary anyway?

  2. Lucy Says:

    Would you say that the Orthodox Church is reactionary? I see it as the exact opposite. I think the Anglican Church could be said to be reactionary, identifying a ‘problem’ and working double time to react to it and solve it.

    The opposite of reactionary is sitting back and saying ‘is this really a problem?…do we need to do anything?…let’s think carefully and intelligently how we sort this out without rushing into a decision which might be the wrong one…’

    I think you don’t understand what reactionary means.

  3. anon Says:

    I too consider myself a reactionary by name.

    To be reactionary is to free your mind from the fallacy of determinate progress and historicism.

  4. sol Says:

    Sadly, no, for the most part the Orthodox Church is not reactionary. It has been reticent to react against most of the flagrant unrighteousness and the spirit of the age. I have blogged about this previously.

    Reactionaries do not always have blind knee-jerk responses. Just because there are blind knee-jerk responses by some people and some of those people read the Daily Mail, this does not define reactionaries.

    Reactionaries respond to what “progressive” ideas are urged by those who would leave the old paths. Reactionaries stand up and say “no”. Reaction is not the antithesis of insightful, intelligent, measured, considered judgements. This is a false dichotomy.

    Oh, and the definition:
    –adjective
    1.
    of, pertaining to, marked by, or favoring reaction, esp. extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change.


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