Friday, February 09, 2007

Can You Be Christian And Politically Conservative?

Alan of Thinklings:

Conservatism aims first at preserving institutions and virtues that are gifts from God. We and our families, our work and our wealth, our bodies and our minds, our homes and our cities-- they are all gifts from God. We hold them in trust, as good servants, to give account at the last judgment for what we have done with our gifts. Have we squandered them? Or have we kept and preserved them, using them to the glory of God and handing them over to the next generation to further Christ's kingdom?

So conservatism does have a positive agenda: to hold and invest God's gifts, and pass them along as an inheritance. Its battle is not to create something out of nothing (which is why it seems so out of place next to programs which would radically re-create society, such as Marxism), but rather to tend a garden that another has planted.

I'm skeptical of this response, or any that tries to pin a modern political ideology on the Gospel. And let's not forget that conservative notions like limited government, personal and economic freedom, and republican (lower-case 'r') government are predicated more on humanism than on any Biblical worldview.

Hat tip: Jeff the Baptist


Dale said...


I started off replying to your post but I got too long-winded. I ended up putting it on my blog instead. Check it out and let me know your thoughts. I would love to think through this with you.


tim said...

I agree with John that it's hard and ultimately wrong to identify a particular political system with Gospel teaching. I do think that a political system, though, can take a religious attitude and apply it.

So while we can't read the Bible and say, "This tells us to be conservatives [or liberals]," we can create a political system that emphasizes personal religiosity or discourages it.

It's often frustrating to hear, even from my own side sometimes, "Jesus is a ___" (fill in your own party/ideology here). There have been people directly opposed to my politics who have emphasized the same Bible teachings.

I've thought for a while, though, that conservatism and libertarianism work (or work best) if you have a religious population. If people don't have moral guidance and can't control themselves, the state will eventually have to step in. If we want limited government, we need to have self-control, and religion is the best at that. (This is not to reduce Christianity or Judaism to merely a moral code--I'm just talking about political effects here.)

This is why I was surprised a few years ago to find that many libertarians were unreligious. As a conservative with libertarian leanings, I don't see how that system can work without religion.