Conservative Christians Love Politics More than Theology

By Graham Glover

It’s sad, but true.

Conservative Christians, a group I consider myself to be a part of, have come to love politics more than theology. Recently, their political euphoria is utterly palpable. Theology? Eh, who cares about that…

Talk to most conservative Christians these days and they are much more likely to engage you in a conversation about politics over one of theology. They’ll have points, counterpoints, data, and illustrations to make their political arguments, but will recoil in seconds when you try to dive deep into theology. Disagree with them on politics, and you have committed an unpardonable sin. Disagree on theology, and they’ll find ways to make amends.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with loving politics. I wish people would love it more than most do! Nor is there anything wrong with being a conservative (although I’m increasingly unsure what that means anymore). My purpose here isn’t to rebuke the love of conservative politics. Rather, I’m taking to task those conservative Christians that spend almost all their time and energy talking about politics. You know the ones: those faithful adherents that love politics with every fiber of their being and look to political victories as the sign of conservatism’s success. They are the ones that think we make America great again (because for reasons still unknown to me, America stopped being great at some point) by winning elections and passing laws. In short, politics has become their means of evangelism. The ballot box is where they think nations are saved.

While this may be politically expedient, it’s theologically flawed. In the short-term, it may marginally advance conservative politics. In the long-term, it will do nothing for Christian theology.

Part of me understands why conservative Christians believe the election of Donald Trump and the Republicans was preferable to a victory by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. But I’m completely dumbfounded by the political euphoria of these same conservative Christians in recent weeks. That the Vice-President spoke at the National Right to Life March and that the President nominated a principled conservative to the Supreme Court does not mean conservatism, either political or theological, is now somehow victorious, or even on the rise. Remember, Trump is hardly a conservative on trade, foreign policy, marriage, and an innumerable number of personal characteristics. Just because his administration offers hope to a few conservative causes, doesn’t mean conservative Christians should be doing backflips. Lest we forget, we worship the Lord and not Caesar. We find hope in eternal things, not in the things of this world.

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So why the growing love of politics among conservative Christians? Why the incessant shouts for joy? Do conservative Christians really think their apparent political successes last November are somehow going to be the impetus to change things? Will a new law, or a new interpretation of a law, really change our nation’s heart? For a group that at least on paper proclaims to be about advancing the kingdom of God, there sure is a lot of talk about advancing the kingdom of man.

Conservative Christians should beware. For our love of politics over theology puts us on the verge of losing credibility about the One we say we represent. Conservative Christianity should never be about politics. It should be about Christ. About who He is, what He has done, what He will do, and how He and He alone can change the hearts of people and ultimately, nations.

Conservative Christians should always love theology over politics. And oh yeah, the same goes for Liberals too!

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7 comments

  1. Graham,
    It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the blog. I’m glad I stopped by this morning. You haven’t lost your edge. 🙂
    Have you gone into witness protection yet?

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  2. While I’m not so vain as to believe you took time to write an article specifically about me, I certainly count myself as one you describe as “conservative”. I think that even though you seem baffled by the very questions you pose, you have had enough dialogue with conservatives to understand how being conservative in politics and theology is as simple as it sounds. The liberal politicians have for many years shown complete indifference to what Christians believe and how we choose to live our lives, while fighting tooth and nail to accommodate concerns of ANY other religion. A Christian child can’t say a prayer for their lunch in public school but that same public school will provide a private place and prayer rugs for a muslim. I could go on for ever but you read the news as much as I do. President Trump wasn’t my first choice for a conservative president, but he was the only choice for a conservative president. His SCOTUS nominee is an answer to my personal prayers, justifying, in my mind, my vote for him. No one will deny the fact that if it were Hillary’s nomination to make that this great country would be heading down a completely different path than we are currently on. That is enough to justify my “incessant shouts for joy”.
    I wish you were here so we could sit and discuss this over a beer.
    God Bless

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    1. Toy, yes to the beer and discussion. Pray that can happen soon. We miss our friends at Trinity and in Savannah.

      I’m not arguing the merits of conservative politics or conservative theology here. I definitely adhere to the later, and although you and I disagree at times on politics, still consider myself a political conservative (whatever that means!). Nor am I suggesting that a Clinton administration would have been better for conservative causes. I understand why her defeat was a cause for celebration among those with conservative political leanings.

      My point is that political victories is not what conservative Christianity is about. Our victory is not found or won in the political realm. Yes, President Trump will advocate on conservative causes much more than Hillary would have, but I’m concerned that many conservative Christians are looking too much to politics instead of theology as the means of joy and purpose.

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  3. I think there are a lot of young adults out there who saw the Moral Majority and the merging of faith and politics create a monstrosity that paved the way for all that followed. I know that many are so disillusioned by both the Republican Party and the Christian faith they are both “none” and “done”. The more that people watch Christians cheer on the Republicans like a crowd of Romans cheering on their favorite gladiator as he slices and dices his opponents in the arena, the more outsiders will have their fill and want nothing more to do with either of them and be done with same old entertainment; the more that people will question what Christianity truly stands for.

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  4. Great post, Graham!

    Being a “conservative Christian” should not be synonymous with being politically or socially “conservative” in American terms. The identity of the two has become alienating to many good Christians, particularly in the bible belt. CS Lewis remarked on this notion and, even if you think Pope Francis is too “liberal” as a Christian (though, how an orthodox Western Churchman could be, I don’t know) he shares a social teaching with Benedict and JP2 which most Americans and most American Catholics find too far to the left.

    As one who has, politically, been cast out of both left and right, leaning to Christian Democrat/ Socialist, being pro-life (in the seamless garment sense), in my view at least Republican Christians, and mainline liberal protestants can find political homes. in a “first-past-the post” system which, inevitably, must lock in at two parties, I have none.

    Consider this, God can tell a woman what do with her body, the State cannot, nor can you. Nor can you make a law out of our scripture against the freedom of those who do not share it. Looking a the past, prohibition has never stopped the sin of desiring what is prohibited, discussing it, or advocating it. It only left people happy not to hear it, or happy to condemn. No one brought grace to bear on abortion. An aborted child is in the hands of a merciful God but the woman is often left in the hands of a graceless world. The law of the land cannot fix this.

    Likewise, we permitted the State to define and destroy marriage so long as it remained between man and woman. But when it offers not only to let people out into the open but to offer this perverted non-marriage that already existed to same-sex couples, people are offended. In the light of day, we must confront homosexuality and bring grace to bear upon it. Christ did not come to condemn, but to save a world that stands condemned on its own merits. We, as His Body, need to stand and forgive and let His Spirit guide their receiving it by instilling faith and remember that even imperfect faith and confession is sufficient to save and may not show great change to our eyes. Praise the new laws which do not permit sin to hide in darkness to be ignored by the Church for fear of offending our moral sensibilities!

    Many nations give their people freedom to assemble in their capitals without permits, they realize that shared responsibility leads to greater freedom than individual accountability, and we can learn much if we drop our exceptionalism and realize that we are, simply equal to all other men in all other nations. The Church is God’s Country and His People, the United States is not. Now, can we talk about this anonymous god we trust in and see our nation under and blessed by and why so many conservatives want to pledge in that god’s lack of a name and nature?

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