Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Conservatism, Liberalism, Islam, and the Gospel
When my conservative Christian friends justify their support for Uncle Sam’s wars in the Muslim world, they don’t say much before they note that Muslims want to take over the world for Islam. And, of course, they’re right. Islam has always had aspirations of taking over the world.
They also fear that liberals are out to take over the world. And they’re right again: the United Nations is already no less than a force for imposing the liberal versions of multiculturalism, “tolerance,” and “compassion” everywhere.
What my conservative Christian friends need to be reminded of is that Christianity also has aspirations of taking over the world: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:4). “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your possession. You will break them with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots’” (Ps 2:7-9). What Muslim or Marxist can miss that message? Why would they want to have next-door neighbors who believe that?
And, of course, as conservatives, they also have a worldwide vision. They support the CIA’s work wherever it takes place (e.g., overthrowing the elected president of Iran and installing a royal police state in 1953 and installing strongmen in Latin America and the Middle East for decades), to say nothing of the current military’s attempt at “full spectrum dominance” worldwide. Barring a fundamental change of heart (or, more likely, the economic ruin of the US), the conservative vision of “Christian morals”—criminalization of the use of some substances, to say nothing of prostitution and homosexuality—will become the law of the land all over the world, enforced at gunpoint.
And it is at gunpoint enforcement that I get off at least three of those buses.
When any of the three are making the rules, whether the issue is property or liberty, there is never a point when a dissenter can say, “This is mine. You can’t take it.”
While the visions pursued by Islam, liberalism, and conservatism differ radically, they have the same modus operandi. Muslims, liberals, and conservatives are all basically peace-loving people. They would prefer to convince those who disagree with them to change their thinking and so cease offensive private behaviors.
For example, all three (currently) find the use of cocaine offensive. (Cocaine use here is misconduct representative of all private behavior, including sexual and religious, found offensive by my opponents.) Given a choice, all would prefer to tell current users, “Don’t,” be obeyed, and get on with life.
However, all three, if the behavior persists, even if only in the privacy of the users’ homes, consider themselves justified to invade the homes and imprison or otherwise punish the users.
In all three cases, what those who do not use coke think is unimportant. Only what they do counts. All three would consider a world in which no one uses coke (or engages in any of the behaviors it represents here) complete in that sense no matter what the now non-users think.
Put another way, persuasion is fine for these three ideologies, but if it doesn’t work, they pull out the guns. It is thus ultimately the gun, not persuasion, that will bring about their kingdoms.
By contrast, my understanding of the Kingdom of Jesus is that unless the heart is changed, nothing else matters. While it is possible to force a person to act the way conservatism or liberalism says he should act, and it is possible to force a person to convert to Islam, it is absolutely impossible to force a person to submit to Jesus. Once the heart is changed the conduct will change (Rom 12:2), but no conformity to external standards will bring about the needed heart change (Matt 23:15).
So true Christians eschew the world’s weapons of intimidation and coercion for the weapons of the Spirit: the Bible and lives of loving service (2 Cor 6:4).
Marxists, Muslims, and statists of right and (especially) left need not fear that we will force them to go against what they think is right. But they universally fear and persecute us anyway because we know their ultimate weapon is not persuasion but violence. No peace-loving person wants to be exposed as violent—not to himself, and especially to others on whom he depends. So they need to shut us up—using violence.
As Uncle Sam’s current wars have been shown to be failures by any standard (except profitability for the politically connected), his puppets have been shown to be buffoons at best, and the revolutions mounted to topple those buffoons have become bloody squabbles between rival warlords, it is time for true Christians to seize the moment.
We have something radically different to offer: a God who knows and hates our sins more than we ever could, yet forgives us and gives us his Word and his very Spirit to change our hearts. And for icing on the cake, the Bible gives us the vision of a society where what our neighbor does in the privacy of his own home is between him and God, a subject for persuasion if we can earn the right to persuade, but otherwise none of our concern. We don’t want to take away their money or their liberty. We have a message to tell them, and until they accept the message, nothing else need be on the table.
I would like to live next door to people who believe that, and I think my Muslim, conservative, and liberal neighbors would also. My job now is to earn the right to persuade them that they want to become those people.