The Pitfalls of Liberalism and Conservatism
We all have our ideological biases, and no matter how much we like to think that God shares our worldview, the truth is that, all too often, instead of our Savior, our surrounding environment shapes our ideas. The task for the Believer, throughout his or her life, is to systematically jettison any and all facets of our worldview that do not conform to scripture, and replace them with a biblically sound outlook on life. But how is one supposed to do this? Ultimately we will always be shaped by our environment, so how are we to perform the amputation of our environment from our worldview? I believe a starting point (and it should certainly be emphasized that this is merely a starting point) is to recognize the inherent pitfalls of our particular ideological leanings. While Liberalism and Conservatism each offer very contrasting worldviews, they both provide the Believer with certain assets and liabilities.
One of the main things that Liberalism has going for it is its ability to dream. Often criticized for being too utopian in their worldview, Liberals can posses the ability to look at a situation and envision the potential of what lies within. Ultimately the benefit of this outlook is that it encourages its adherents to strive for perfection; never satisfied with the status quo, they attempt to better their surroundings by pushing their vision of a utopian society. The shortcomings of this are also readily apparent. Their dreams can often be so picturesque that they lack any grounding in reality whatsoever, and by striving for perfection, the perfect ultimately becomes the enemy of the good. Christians who find themselves drawn towards this worldview must remember that the utopia they seek will ultimately only be found in the culmination of Christ’s Kingdom, not in our present reality. By confusing the perfection of Heaven with the depravity of earth, they strive for a world that will not exist under present circumstances.
Conservatives pose a completely different set of pros and cons. If Liberalism leans towards how things should be, Conservatives are firmly grounded in the way things are. Often criticized for being too utilitarian, Conservatives have a good grasp of how the free market works, how human nature works, and how a government should balance those two realities. The benefit of this worldview is that it is realistic. By not dreaming of a utopia, they are able to make the current system work for the overall good of society. The pitfalls of this are equally obvious. By accepting our current reality, they can become complacent towards bettering society. Also, by focusing on what works, they can neglect those for whom the system doesn’t work. While the current structure obviously creates wealth (despite periodic downturns), it can also be unjust. Christians who inherently align themselves with Conservatism must remember that just because something is the way it is, doesn’t mean it should be. God’s economy is not man’s, and while being practical is, well, practical, it can lead to a blind acceptance of the inherent injustice that God despises.
In short, it could be argued that Liberalism tends to be utopian, which leads to it being unrealistic, while Conservatism can be utilitarian, which can lead to it being unjust. Neither one offers the Believer with a complete understanding of our situation or responsibilities. Clearly this is not an exhaustive list of the strengths or weakness of our nation’s two main political philosophies, but it is a starting point. From here it is up to us to ask God to show us the places in which our default worldview keeps us from seeing the whole of biblical truth. In so doing we will not only better love our neighbor, but we will better serve our Creator as well.