The Bible led me to conservatism. It didn’t lead me to a political party or movement. It lead me to a philosophy that helps to govern my political beliefs. There are five things in conservatism that I believe are compatible with my biblical expressions. These are the five things that conservatism is all about.
- Conservatism is about PRINCIPLES
- Conservatism is about PEOPLE
- Conservatism is about PROSPERITY
- Conservatism is about POWER
- Conservatism is about what’s PRACTICAL
Allow me to briefly explain each one.
First, conservatism is about PRINCIPLES. The Bible is also about principles. When I examine the text of scripture from the Mosaic Law to the coming of Christ I see that there are certain laws and principles that God has given to man by which he may govern himself. Early in my study of the Bible I identified three types of law in the Old Testament. There is judicial law, ceremonial law, and moral law. The ceremonial law, unique to the Israelite nation, governed the religious life of Israel. But, since Christ has come, the ceremonial law is fulfilled in him. This left me with the judicial law and the moral law.
Much of the Mosaic Law—the judicial law—was given to govern Israel’s society as a political entity. The judicial law meant that men would be governed by law and not by whim or by men. Certainly there were men who ruled as kings during Israel’s history, but the Mosaic Law was supreme. It also governed kings, unlike many of Israel’s contemporaries which were governed by men of whom the law may or may not of governed them.
This leaves the moral law, which is still in effect today. Basic to the idea of law is the concept of right and wrong. Those things deemed wrong, such as murder, adultery, theft, lying, and so on, were punishable by law, exercised by authorities that the law established. This law, or set of principles, were higher than any king. In fact, God command that the king write a copy of the law and that he study it everyday so that his heart would not be lifted up against his countrymen (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).
Conservatism holds that principles are of greater authority than any politician or elected official. This is compatible with the scripture.
Second, conservatism is about PEOPLE. The Old Testament law was given in order to bless the people of Israel and bring order to society. God gave Israel the law because he loved them. Thus, the law is an expression of love to his people. Notice what Moses said to Israel about the law and the people. “I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5-8).
Third, conservatism is about the PROSPERITY. Under mistaken ideas like socialism, prosperity is what the state tries to create (but fails). But conservatism desires to let people make and spend their own wealth. This is not a prosperity like we see in the prosperity movement that has polluted so many of our churches. Rather, this is simply the way that people earn wealth that they might enjoy life, care for their families, and bless those in need. Political leftism denies this and seeks to bring wealth under the control of the State. The Bible doesn’t permit this. Under the Mosaic Law wealth was a private matter. Certainly wealth could be abused. But it wasn’t controlled by the State.
Fourth, conservatism is about POWER. But not what you might think. Socialism collects power for the use of the State. But conservatism believes that the power of the State lies in the hands of the people. Additionally, conservatism seeks to reduce the power of the State and lessen the State’s interference in the lives of its people. This is very much the way Israel’s good kings reigned. With a few exceptions the kings of Israel and the law of Israel exercised minimal power. There were no prescriptions collecting the resources of the people to allow the government to control the lives of the people in such detail as we see today.
Fifth, conservatism is about what is PRACTICAL. Israel did not have a sweeping and intrusive system for social control. The only thing that might be similar was the cult worship centered around Jerusalem and the Temple. Israel’s religious life was the ultimate expression of its law and there were many rules for behavior and religious duties. But these powers were not granted to the government. They lay squarely in the hands of the religious.
We might say about the practical that it is about what works and what doesn’t work. Governments are notorious for repeatedly doing what doesn’t work, or what may be termed as inefficient. The war on poverty is a classic example. No one can say that the government has lifted anyone out of poverty. While it is good and noble to want to help the poor and oppressed, the government tries to do this in a most inefficient way. Whereas capitalism has brought many people up from poverty into the middle class or greater. This is simply a matter of what works on a practical level. Conservatism is very practical.
Now, I’m not saying that those who have a liberal perspective cannot get their principles from the Bible as well. I’m simply pointing out that conservatism’s principles are very compatible with the Bible. The Bible doesn’t prescribe conservatism, but it would seem to allow it as a practical and principled way to govern a society. This is different from leftism and socialism, which seeks to reduce or eliminate religious roles in society, or at least bring it under the control of the State, which lifts itself up as the supreme authority in society.
Because conservatism is so amenable to the Bible, I choose to express my political views and cast my vote for conservatives as conservatives seem to be the most friendly to the biblical principles that I use to govern my life.