The Eight Deadly Sins of Political Conservatism

Given that my primary allegiance is to Christ and his church, my commitments to political parties, platforms, and leaders should always be tentative.

Thus, since I land on the right side of the American political spectrum, it is especially helpful to beware the dangers found on the right. That’s why I enjoyed re-reading The Revenge of Conscience, by University of Texas (Austin) philosopher J. Budziszewski, in which the author exposes the “sins” of various political ideologies on the Left and Right. After reading, I decided to publish a couple of articles familiarizing readers with J-Bud’s thought. 

 

Political ideologies are a lot like individuals in that they tend to ascribe ultimacy to some aspect of God’s creation, rather than ascribing ultimacy to God himself. Once they have ascribed ultimacy to their chosen idol, they look to it to “save” their society by eradicating “evils” that threaten their idol. And “We the People” are tempted to embrace these ideologies as political saviors.

I’ve described and critiqued this phenomenon in a recent book, Letters to an American Christian. I’ve also critiqued it in a summary article entitled, “The Intellectual in Canada Who Unmasked Political Idolatry in America” and in countless articles on my website.

Given that my primary allegiance is to Christ and his church, my commitments to political parties, platforms, and leaders should always be tentative. Thus, since I land on the right side of the American political spectrum, it is especially helpful to beware the dangers found on the right.

That’s why I enjoyed re-reading The Revenge of Conscience, by University of Texas (Austin) philosopher J. Budziszewski, in which the author exposes the “sins” of various political ideologies on the Left and Right. After reading, I decided to publish a couple of articles familiarizing readers with J-Bud’s thought. Recently, I published a summary of his criticisms of political progressivism. Now, I publish a summary of his criticisms of political conservatism:

  1. Civil Religionism: Some conservatives think America is God’s chosen nation and thus envision God as the underwriter of American aspirations, even when those aspirations are more nationalistic and less Christian. Even Americans who have little interest in Christianity sometimes exhibit a missionary-like zeal to spread secular conservative ideology. They confuse America with God’s coming kingdom.
  2. Instrumentalism: Secular conservatives are often instrumentalists; they want to use Christianity to achieve state ends. (I see Budziszewski’s point and I’ll raise him one: many of these secular conservative view evangelicals as useful idiots.) Budziszewski writes, “Although language describing Christianity as the law of the land has disappeared from our cases, judges and legislators are just as interested in the social utility o the faith as they were before—and just as indifferent to its truth.” Many culturally powerful conservatives do not believe in the truth of Christianity, but merely that it’s socially useful.

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