Whig and Tory came about in 18th century England. Opposing views on the succession of the monarchy gave birth to two opposing political parties in England. But before they were politically correct terms to describe parties, they were terms of abuse and derision introduced in 1679 amid the heated struggle over a move to exclude James, duke of York (afterward James II), from succession to the throne. Whig—it was an originally a Scottish Gaelic term—seemed to have meant a horse thief. Never without a religious application, it later applied to Scottish Presbyterians, non-conformists who claimed the power to exclude the heir from the throne. Tory came from Ireland where it meant something of a papist outlaw and it applied to those who supported the hereditary right of James -- in spite of his Roman Catholic faith. Ahhh, England!
Whig and Tory do not quite mean what they did. The agreement upon a constitutional monarchy seemed to salve over the wound of succession. For a while the Whigs were aristocracy and the Tories were Anglicans. Then there were the new Tory and Whig parties in the late 1700s. Now the Whigs seem to be but a memory and the Conservative Party has often used the moniker Tory (though without much precision as to why and what it means). But it was good while it lasted. Even Americans used those terms (at least around the time of the Revolution).
Our terms today are less descriptive and much more pedestrian. Liberal and conservative dominate the political discussion. Traditional and modernist seem to describe our cultural divide. Confessional and moderate are used for Lutheran distinctions within my own church body. What ever happened to good words like Whig and Tory? Why can't we invent better terms to describe ourselves and our opponents (never mind the venue) than relative terms? Liberal and conservative are almost meaningless (hence our flirtation with populist, progressive, and libertarian). Traditional and modernist may hint at the great differences here but they do not help to identify them clearly. In the Missouri Synod moderates insist they are confessional and confessionals are, to some degree, at war with each other as much as the, well, moderates.
So my challenge for a while is to invent better terms, short concise but descriptive terms to be used in our political debate, in our culture conflicts, and especially within my own Missouri domain. If you can help me, send me your best alternatives.