I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are a number of different types of conservatives: fiscal, social, constitutional, and what I call “undifferentiated” conservatives. But when a fellow Christian recently said to me that he probably wasn’t as conservative as I, I began to wonder if perhaps “conservatism” is part of our problem.
For those who know my “politics,” that’s probably an odd thing for me to say. It would likely make some of my former legislative colleagues laugh. They might label me a fifth type of conservative, an “archconservative.”
But after the conversation with my friend, I began to consider what these political descriptors mean in the context of the biblical meaning of Easter. I began to wonder if my own use of these terms was a reflection of a heart that had been taken captive by a me-centered view of Easter.
To my Christian friends, please don’t think I am denying that Easter is about me in the sense that the righteousness, death, and resurrection of Jesus can, by faith, be imputed to me. And I am not denying the blessed personal consequence of Jesus satisfying on my behalf the demands of justice that my rebellion against God’s authority deserved.
That part of Easter does affect me, but it is only in that sense that Easter is about me. Easter is really about God, just as the Bible, honestly read, would lead us to believe.
Easter is the story of God quelling the revolt of mankind against Him by raising up a “second Adam,” a title ascribed to Jesus by the Apostle Paul, in order to “replace” the first Adam. Adam and his progeny needed “replacing” because we were a rebellious lot that refused to submit to God and serve His purpose within His creation.
That God would need to quell the revolt and create a new “race” of mankind that understood God’s authority over them and had the power to submit to that authority should not be too abstract a thought. After all, just think about how some of our political leaders seem to “go after” those who challenge their authority.
For the Christian, Easter is the defining moment in all of history, even political history. What Easter represents is an abolition of political conservatism (and liberalism). Easter presents each of us with a life- and human history-shaping decision—will we submit to God’s authority or continue to be our own source of authority?
So what does this all have to do with the various stripes of conservatives? It seems to me that “conservatisms” can become, and for many, has become nothing more than another man-centered, man-contrived, man-defined political philosophy, no different in principle than the various stripes of liberalism; it’s just that the different “isms” are expressed in different ways.
Without the recognition of and submission to an Ultimate Authority in politics, no unity among political conservatives (or liberals) and in politics generally can be expected. In fact, it’s hard enough to find unity even among those who profess to submit to God’s ultimate authority, because we’re still so enamored with the thought we can be like God.
It is for that reason that I leave you at Easter with this statement by Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who worked with different political parties but was loyal to none. I think he said well what I’ve been trying to say:
“I have alternately been called an aristocrat and a democrat. I am neither. I am a Christocrat. . . . He alone Who created and redeemed man is qualified to govern him.”
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.