It’s the Worldview, Stupid

January 4, 2007

The American left exhibits ambivalence toward Christians and Christianity. On the one hand it routinely demonizes them and their values, and on the other, identifies with them. This sometimes looks like an insulting charade.

Liberals often mock the perceived backwardness of Christianity, yet their prominent politicians jump at the chance to appear at megachurches to rub elbows with their robust congregations.

They conspicuously wear their Bibles for photo-ops and cite Scripture in campaign speeches, yet deride Christian conservatives and condemn Republican politicians for allowing their Christian beliefs to inform their policies.

Their pastors write books upbraiding Republicans and conservatives for claiming the mantle of Christianity, then proceed to claim it themselves, asserting that liberalism, not conservatism, represents true Christianity.

Some Democrats indignantly deny that liberalism is at war with Christianity or that fundamental liberal principles contradict the Judeo-Christian worldview, insisting that many Democrats are Christians.

I agree that many Democrats are Christians, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Democrats’ guiding ideology (liberalism) fervently promotes secular values, even at the behest of government, whose endorsement of “religion” it unpersuasively purports to oppose. Nor does it negate the political left’s commitment to reducing Christianity’s influence, not just in government, as it claims, but in our culture and on our moral principles.

The left’s aversion to Christianity can be seen in several current books urging Christians to keep their noses out of politics or arguing that Christianity has been a destructive force in history and that diminishing its influence will benefit society.

New stories abound chronicling efforts of atheists and secularists to denigrate Christianity and its values. These aren’t just appeals to Christians to be more tolerant of nonbelievers. They are manifestations of the profound intolerance of secularists toward Christians.

Many liberals deny any antipathy toward Christianity, hiding behind the convenient pretext of vindicating First Amendment principles. But their selective opposition to the government’s “establishment” of the Christian religion and their hypocritical support for the government’s endorsement of secularism betrays their true mindset.

They also deny that conservatism reflects Christian values and maintain that liberalism is truer to the teachings of Jesus Christ, especially in its alleged heart for the poor — a point about which liberals, in my opinion, are most misguided, confusing the role of the individual with that of the government.

While I don’t doubt that many liberals sincerely believe liberalism is “more Christian” than conservatism, they can’t explain away the left’s abiding discomfort with Christianity. That’s because liberalism — no matter how you sugar coat it — is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian worldview.

Without preparing a flow sheet to compare the respective compatibility of liberal and conservative beliefs and policies — such as abortion — with Christianity, I refer instead to first principles.

I believe the main animating difference between conservatism and liberalism is that the former believes in the Biblically revealed sinful condition of mankind. Our Constitution’s framers established a system of government around their belief that man-operated government had to be limited and held in check in order for freedom to flourish. Liberalism generally embraces a secular humanist (or enlightenment) faith in the general goodness, perhaps even perfectibility of man.

Conservatives accept that government exists as a necessary evil, to prevent anarchy, establish order and maximize but not absolutize freedom. Human beings within this context will be freer to minimize, but never completely solve society’s problems.

By contrast, liberals place their secular faith in government to wholly eradicate societal problems (John Edwards will eliminate poverty in 30 years, following LBJ’s 40-year, multi-trillion dollar failure to do just that).

The writings of the father of modern conservative thought, Russell Kirk, affirm these essential differences between liberals and conservatives. In his work, Kirk sets forth certain conservative “articles of belief.” At the core of these, is an adherence to a Biblical worldview.

Conservatives believe in “an enduring moral order” and that “revelation, reason, and an assurance beyond the senses tell us that the Author of our being exists, and that He is omniscient; and man and the state are creations of God’s beneficence. This Christian orthodoxy is the kernel of [Edmond] Burke’s philosophy.”

Also, “conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability. Human nature suffers irremediably from certain grave faults, the conservatives know. Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created. … The ideologues who promise the perfection of man and society have converted a great part of the Twentieth Century into a terrestrial hell.”

If you won’t take my word for it, listen to Kirk: The differences between conservatism and liberalism flow from their competing worldviews.