Where to now for Christian conservatives?
As things that we used to look to for security, for reassurance, for help, for protection, and for reliability and dependability more and more let us down and disappoint, proving to be fakes, frauds and empty vessels, that can actually be a good thing. That means we will then hopefully return to the one genuine source of these things: the living God.
Some very recent and glaring examples of idols which have greatly disappointed Christian conservatives and let so many of us down are the federal Liberals and the Victorian Liberals. I have of course written about both in the past few days. As to the former, see here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/05/22/on-the-albanese-labor-win/
As to the latter, see this piece: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/05/17/dying-political-parties-and-dying-babies/
As so-called conservative parties become ever more woke and left-leaning, they are letting us down big time. It seems there is little hope to be had by relying on these parties to help stem the tide of cultural and political decline. While I am not yet calling for a full withdrawal from these disappointing parties, I may be getting close to doing that soon enough.
One simply has to look at how conservatives – and often Christian conservatives – have been treated during the last few years. Look at how politicians such as Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews, Craig Kelly, Amanda Stoker and Bernie Finn have fared, to name but a few. They were all either kicked out, marginalised, demoted, or basically forced to look elsewhere for greener pastures.
Speaking of Bernie Finn, I have over the past week or two penned three pieces on this champion who was unceremoniously booted out of his own party. The most recent article appeared yesterday: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/05/24/a-tale-of-two-downfalls-finn-and-the-libs/
A few more things can be said about this disgraceful move by the Victorian woke Liberals. One, Bernie said this about the whole sad saga:
For those who have missed out on the events of today, this morning I was expelled from the Victorian Parliamentary Liberal Party. My crime is I spoke up for those who cannot speak up for themselves – and I refused to stop. I have been a member of the Liberal Party for more than 41 years. I have spent my entire adult life working for the principles of freedom and equality. Matthew Guy’s party has stomped on freedom – in particular freedom of speech.
In Victoria, the party of Menzies is dead. It is heartbreaking! Until relatively recently, such was the strength of my support for Matthew Guy, I would have taken a bullet for him. Today, he has decided to shoot one of his own through my head. Loyalty is not a word in his lexicon. The real tragedy is for Victorians: the fact is the leaders of both major parties in this State are as bad as each other.
And I have been saying over and over again that we must keep Bernie in our prayers. As I was praying for him last night it occurred to me what a rough road he is now on. Imagine waking up, suiting up, and going to work, fully knowing you will be surrounded by colleagues who treated you like dirt and stabbed you in the back. It would be so difficult for Bernie as he goes into parliament each morning. What a heavy weight to bear. Please keep praying.
Whither mainstream political involvement?
I am old enough to know that politics will not save us, and our only real hope is in Jesus Christ. Yet for many decades now I have encouraged believers to be involved in politics and all other areas of life. We should let the Lordship of Christ extend to every area. We must be salt and light in our culture.
So I have long asked Christians to be active in politics, including in the main political parties. But as they seem to be getting worse and worse by the month, one has to ask if it might be time for a bit of a rethink. I am not yet calling for a “Benedict Option” as per Rod Dreher – although that may become more of an option in the near future.
But I and many other Christian conservatives have been let down far too often, certainly by the Liberal Party here in Australia. Let me just mention two friends who have recently spoken on this, and how I replied to them. One friend who was in the Liberal party years ago objected somewhat to an article I wrote about the decline of the Libs, especially in the light of the Bernie Finn saga.
He spoke about all the great evangelical Christians that had been in the party, and all the good they had done. He said that he did not think the Libs were in decline and that “the party will survive and hopefully thrive into the future.” This is what I said in reply to him:
Thanks ****. Yes, you and the others did a good job back then – I knew you and them quite well. But that was 20-30 years ago now! So you might be living in the past. Things are different now of course. Today the Libs do not have as many Christians and conservatives sadly, and they increasingly seem intent on pushing out or supporting much less those who are, be it Kevin Andrews, Amanda Stoker, Bernie Finn, and so on. And given that Bernie is one of the few solid Christian conservative prolifers left in Victoria, while Atkinson is one of the most loony secular lefties around, it is rather sad that you seem to support the latter over the former. Political loyalty should never trump loyalty to Christ and biblical values. So I will stand with Bernie every day of the week thanks. We need many more champions like him, and not all the spineless wonders that mainly are to be found there now. Having said that, I of course do hope that Labor does not win the federal election.
And today on the social media another friend said something I had always tended to say:
I encourage MORE conservatives to actually join the Liberal Party, National Party, LNP.
Have a say.
Influence debate & policy.
Be involved in preselections.
We need conservatives AND moderates in the parties – to respect each other, work together, develop policies together.
Running away, fracturing the parties/votes into more & more minor parties, just gives power to the Left.
Get off the sidelines.
Shape the future.
This was my reply:
Such advice was certainly true 40, 30, 20, maybe even 10 years ago, and I shared it often. And conservatives can still try I guess. But Christian conservatives need to really pray about this nowadays. Things are changing so radically, and the main parties are becoming so anti-Christian, that the chances of being salt and light there are becoming increasingly unlikely. If God is specifically leading a Christian in that direction, fine, go for it. But the days of seeing the Libs and Labor substantially influenced by Christian values may well be over, unless God does some real miracles in this area!
I know this fellow is both a conservative and a Christian. He went on to say we should also be involved in education and the like. I was tempted to reply to that remark as well, but did not. Had I done so, I would have said something like this:
Again, like the issue of politics, for decades now I have been saying the same thing. We need to be involved in all the institutions, be they politics, education, law, the media, and so on, acting as salt and light. While I still hold to this view more or less, I am becoming increasingly aware of just how dark things are getting to be out there.
How long before trying to become involved in these areas in fact become counterproductive and perhaps even harmful? Sure, we all must do what we can, when we can, and where we can. If God calls you into a certain area, then go do it. But it seems that as the darkness gets heavier, we need to think carefully and prayerfully as to what are our best options.
The two main texts dealing with government in the New Testament can be applied to other areas of life – and they present quite contrasting views. Romans 13 talks about how we should submit to civil government – within limits – because it is established by God. On the other hand, Revelation 13 talks about the demonic and nonredeemable nature of the world system, including the state, commerce and everything else.
Whether the present darkness is all part of being in the last days is not fully clear. Someone asked me a few days ago if we are living in the “last days” and I said the New Testament says that we have been – for the past 2000 years now! But yes, at times it seems the gathering evil and diabolical darkness is reaching epidemic proportions, and perhaps the end of all things is upon us.
But as I say, I have always challenged believers to be involved in all areas of life, including the world of politics. But a tactical, if not strategic, question arises: just how far can Christians now rely on political parties like the Liberals in Australia – and perhaps to a lesser extent, the Republicans in America?
While I have always worked with and appreciated many secular conservatives over the years, there are limits to this. For example, I have often spoken about Sky News, the one main conservative media outlet here in Australia. Christians are often disappointed with it, and for good reason: the majority of presenters there are NOT Christians – and some are even proudly atheists.
And it shows: most of them are pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality for example. The Christian conservative can appreciate them when they call for limited government, strong national security, and the like, but when the important moral underpinnings (provided by the Judeo-Christian worldview) are largely lacking, then they will only be of limited use and help.
So if Christian conservatives cannot fully rely on and be aided by a mostly secular conservative media, the same with a mostly secular conservative political party – especially those that seem to be growing less and less conservative, and often, more and more anti-Christian by the day.
In sum, Christians must think and pray about how they can best impact our world today. If God is calling you to join the Libs for example, then go and do it – with gusto. But we need to seek God carefully as to just what is the best path forward as those things we have relied on in the past become evermore unreliable.
The advice of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 still holds true: “And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.” The question is, in today’s political climate, what is the best and wisest way to do what is right?