I Am Not Not Conservative
Phil Miglioratti @ The Reimagine.Network
“Most of us are not really approaching the subject [scriptures] in order to find out what Christianity says: we are approaching it [them] in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party.”— C.S. Lewis, (1898-1963)
I replied on a Facebook feed to a long string of comments blasting anything/anyone “liberal.”
- I did not defend liberalism in my post, I simply asked if those commenting thought being conservative made us inerrant because our we believe our conservative theology is based on an infallible text (Scripture). (several snarky replies)
- A different social media post of mine indicating I was concerned capitalism has become corrupted, offended a brother in Christ who replied by explaining the benefits of capitalism (he was knowledgeable and accurate, but my pont was only that a good system had been corrupted, infected)
- I commented in one other post, expressing my concern about a national political leader, resulting in a lengthy letter from a sister in the Lord explaining her disappointment with my viewpoint. (she unsubscribed too)
Until recently, I thought of myself as a most-of-the-time conservative person but the personalities and policies emerging from both the far-right and the out-in-left-field movements have forced me to revisit how I exegete (evaluate) culture.
To be clear, I am not not a conservative.
Unless being conservative requires me to declare I am not only not liberal, but I am also anti-liberal, declaring any liberal idea or insight as the enemy of both our culture and our "In God We Trust" American Christianity.
I am not that type of conservative.
But that doesn't make me a liberal.
I feel the same peer pressure from the left to disdain anything associated with the right. (how can the left ignore the fetus when debating abortion? absurdity)
I am realizing that while I was raised in a conservative family and church community, my experiences in the last chapter of my public ministry has prompted me to assess my worldview. Coaching citywide initiatives with all types of churches and Christian-based ministries, and facilitating interaction in gatherings much more diverse than my formative church culture had had a profound impact. It has opened my eyes and ears to the Body of Christ being significantly more varied than I gave thought to. I have been blessed to know and serve with many Christ-centered servants of God who apply Holy Scripture faithfully but with different emphases or applications than me-myself-and-mine. Christianity is not only American, nor predominantly white, nor theologically a closed, conservative, system of beliefs.
IMHO, neither liberalism or conservatism are complete philosophies from which to express the Christian Gospel.
- "Conservatism is a cultural, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional social institutions and practices. In Western culture, conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as organized religion, parliamentary government, and property rights. Conservatives tend to favor institutions and practices that guarantee stability. Adherents of conservatism often oppose modernism and seek a return to traditional values, though different groups of conservatives may choose different traditional values to preserve."
- "Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law. Liberals support individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), liberal democracy, secularism, rule of law, economic and political freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion." (Wikipedia descriptions)
Democracy is the best antidote to totalitarianism ("a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state"). Therefore, democracy and one-party-dominance is an oxymoron.
The exceptionalism of America is not the party to which any of us are wedded; it is the systemic balancing of primarily two differing but valid worldviews that work together to produce and protect both liberty and justice, freedom and righteousness, rights and law, individual and community.
If both left and right become entrenched in the belief their philosophy is always correct and the opposing party is not only always wrong but intentionally evil, dialogue and debate turn into dispute and defiance.
As a Christian, I am befuddled at how "churched" people assume their worldview is the only acceptable/accurate application of God's word (the teachings of scripture). Conservatives set boundaries as if God is the founder of the Republican Party. Liberals decry those boundaries as if God has forgotten the 10 Commandments.
Every philosophy, any theology, has a distinct set of foundational beliefs and applied values that emerge from a distinct understanding of how the world works (personally, locally, globally). These differences produce varied cultures, diverse styles of music or art or literature, plus distinct social practices and traditions. The solution could never be that everyone believes-thinks-looks-speaks the same about every issue nor should it be that everyone must be expected to hold to one identical position. But these differences, while difficult at times to navigate/negotiate, are not the ultimate problem; blind spots are.
- "The bias blind spot is a cognitive bias that causes people to be less aware of their own biases than of those of others, and to assume that they’re less susceptible to biases than others. This can cause someone to assume that other people’s politicalstance is influenced by various biases, whereas their own political stance is perfectly rational." effectiviology.com
- Blind spots are the cause of much of our disagreeing and disputing, miscommunicating and misunderstanding.
- Blind spots infect every person and perspective
- Your blind spots are obvious to me; invisible to you.
- My blind sports are obvious to you; invisible to me
- To ignore or refuse to believe I have blindspots can only cause me to promote an agenda that has invisible (to me but not others) faults or cause me to purse solutions that have weaknesses...this presumes my viewpoints are immune from the benefit of critical analysis
- Truth seekers have nothing to fear from discovering and uncovering their own blind spots; much to gain
- The most dangerous blind spot is thinking one’s personal or partisan perspective is the truth, the whole truth, and contains nothing but truth. Always. Every issue.
- Blind spots are dangerous to relationships (personal, social, political, national) because they stiflle an active listening approach to dialogue and sabotage authentic cooperation; both essential to democracy. Without respectful (open-minded) engagement we achieve neither progress (liberalism) nor preservation (conservatism).
- Ignoring blind spots is tantamount to saying me-and-my-people are inerrant and our perspectives/policies/programs are infallible.
- BLind spots do not nullify any philosophy or theology; they diminish eye-clarity, thereby infecting application and actions if ignored
My social media comments were an attempt to speak into a group-think dominated conversation by asking if we thought we had a viewpoint that was 100% true. My goal was not to defend liberalism nor was it to knock conservatism per se but to challenge each reader, conservative or liberal or something else entirely, to confront the reality that our preferences and policies, our views and values, are not faultless. Has believing in a true biblical text led us to believe our applications of that text are therefore foolproof or the only direction we must all follow? Conservative blind spots are different but not automatically better than liberal blind spots. For either red or blue to think their choices are authoritative for everyone, only makes their blind spot more dangerous.
The truths and wisdom of God’s word are foundational; bedrock. But that commitment to Scripture does not eradicate a blindness to the blind spot of conferring inerrancy on our interpretations and applications. Those human rules and restrictions are not flawless; even if we attach a Bible verse to them. We must invite the review of the Spirit, listen to other voices in the Body of Christ, and be ready to rethink; "not conformed but transformed by the renewing of our minds." (Romans 12:2)
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. Mathew 7:3-5
Someone messaged me with a question after reading one of my posts: “Are you saying you’re not a conservative?” My reply: I am not not a conservative…
I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God.