Since the late 1980s or early I990s the American conservative movement has begun to break ap8l1. The movement had been held together for many years by a common fear of Soviet expansionism. With the collapse of the Soviet empire, divergent elements in the Conservative movement began to reassert their distinctive emphases. Broadly speaking, the movement has fraclured into two groups, the "paleoeonservatives" and the 'neoconservatives" ("'paleo" meaning "old" and "neo" meaning "new"). The "paleos" hold to Ihe original position of the Old Right, namely, opposition to Big Government and support for conservalive cultural morality. The "neos" are much more willing to compromise with Big Government, and have less enthusiasm for cultural conservative issues such as opposilion to fetal murder (abortion) and "homosexual rights." The terms "paleoconservative" and "neoconservative" are therefore helpful in making distinctions between hard core conservatives who are committed to the original conservalive position, and those who are willing to water down genuine conservatism for the sake of expediency or respectability (see Raimondo 1993).

Similarly, among the broad Presbyterian movemen~ a type of fracture has also begun to emerge. Some Presbyterians are returning to the original Presbyterian position of full subscription to the Wes\minster Standards including obedience to the continuing moral obligation of the National Covenant of Scotland and the Solemn League and Covenant. This group could accurately be labeled "paleopresbyterians" since they hold to the original conceptions of what Presbyterianism means. In contrast, those Presbyterians unwilling 10 accept full subcription to the Standards or the binding nature of the Covenants could be called "neopresbyterians" since they have effectively watered-down the original Presbyterian position. Using these terms will help 10 clarify the issues at stake in the emerging debate between Covenanters (Paleopresbyterians) and all other Presbyterians (neopresbyterians).

 

-Michael Wagner's introduction to his book, PALEOPRESBYTERIANISM VERSUS NEOPRESBYTERIANISM

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