Why This Post
When I got a comment that began as follows from a commenter who calls himself “scout”, I decided to write this post.
Your last comment blazingly illustrates another major difference between our disparate “conservatisms”: the place of religion in secular political discourse. One, of course, can be some kind of “conservative” in a religious context. Bin-Laden and his murderous brigands can be said to be conservative Islamists, I suppose. But my political conservatism is very much an American (derived from 18th Century English) conservatism based on a constitutional secular government and economic theory. It has nothing to do with my discernment of Scripture. (continued here)
Why This Title
At first I thought to give this post this title: BLAZINGLY ILLUSTRATING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DISPARATE “CONSERVATISMS”. Then I read an editorial: Easter 2014: Hope for the dead by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. Here is the new title in the context in which I found it.
When the government takes away our free will, the government steals a gift from God; it violates the natural law; it prevents us from having and utilizing the means to the truth. The moral ability to exercise free will to seek the truth is a natural right that all humans possess, and the government may only morally interfere with the exercise of that right when one affirmatively has given it away by using fraud or force to interfere with the exercise of someone else’s natural rights. (from here)
When I was young, I was persuaded of the danger of mixing religion with politics. However, I have since learned of the danger of not resting our political beliefs upon the sound foundation of Biblical truth. Hence, when Napolitano makes the connection between Easter and slavery, I no longer have to be persuaded of what Truth Jesus manifested with his death and resurrection.
On Easter, three days after He died, that manifestation was complete when He rose from the dead. By doing that, he demonstrated to us that while living we can liberate our souls from the slavery of sin and our free wills from the oppression of the government, and after death we can rise to be with Him. (from here)
Why Not The Gods Of This Age
In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to build our house on the Rock.
Matthew 7:24-27 English Standard Version (ESV)
Build Your House on the Rock
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
I often wondered why, when I saw the flannel graph pictures of Old Testament idols, would someone carve an ear into wood and then talk to it? It’s a good question. But the idols of our day are just as contrived aren’t they? We are tempted by the god of stuff as if it will meet our deepest needs; the god of sex as if it could replace a Divine relationship; the god of state as if it will solve all our problems; and the god of self as if we could be a law until ourselves and there were no one else before us. (from here)
Jesus taught that to be free we must be freed from sin (see WHEN DO THE PEOPLE STEAL THEIR OWN FREEDOM?). And to be freed from sin, we must each learn to trust in the Rock, our Lord and savior, Christ Jesus. And while government cannot bring us closer to Him, when government seeks to prevent us from learning of Him and living as He commanded — prevents us from having and utilizing the means to the truth — those who rule trample on our God-given rights. Hence, these lines in the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (from here)
When Conservatives advocate God-given rights, Conservatives rest the foundations of our republic upon a fundamental Christian teaching. To be free, we must each learn how to love God and our neighbors, and no one can make any of us love either God or our neighbors. To those who will listen Christians can preach the Gospel, but only Jesus can save men’s souls.
Why We Don’t Have To Vote For “Christians”
Does basing our politics upon a Christian foundation mean we should only elect Christians to public office? No. Because we can only judge a candidate’s record, and not his heart, whether a candidate labels himself a Christian or an Atheist may not especially relevant. It is an unfortunate fact, but some candidates who label themselves Christian behave more poorly than those who do not.
The problem is one of truth in labeling. A candidate can label himself anything, but we can only judge what a man will do based upon what he has done in the past. Therefore, when we go to the polls, what should matter to us is each candidate’s record and his stance on the issues.
What we must strive to avoid are candidates who promote the worship the gods of our age. Because they are ultimately based of upon the pride of a mere man, when we bow to the gods of our age –stuff, sex, state, and self — we build both our lives and our republic upon a foundation of sand. When the floods come, those who place their trust in such gods, gods of their own making, will be washed away.
Is Mixing Our Religion With Our Politics An Extreme Position?
Think of the irony contained in that question. Doesn’t the founding document of our nation, the Declaration of Independence, mix religion with politics? Wasn’t King George III trying to deny the American colonials of their God-given rights?
We can argue all we want about the purpose of government, but in the final analysis we come down to one question: what is the right thing to do? For most of us, the difference between right and wrong — good and evil — is a religious question. Therefore, when people insist upon separating religion and politics, we should be suspicious. What do they have against our religious beliefs? If religion is an issue, then is it possible they wish to impose their own religious beliefs using the power of government?
Other Posts That Relate Christianity and Conservatism
Previously, the post I wrote that probably came closest to addressing the topic of this one was THE MYTH OF THE FISCAL CONSERVATIVE. Others include: