Unified Liberals and Fragmented Conservatives
One of the marvels of the modern world resides in the coalition that comprises the American left. It is strange but true that American liberals, crusaders for feminism and homosexuality that they are, have invited Muslims, who treat women horribly and advocate execution of homosexuals, into their tent. This is one really big tent.
By way of contrast, on the American right we find the Tea Party, which is not a party per se but various Tea Party type organizations not united by an umbrella organization. So while liberals have constructed this huge tent that houses those with widely divergent perspectives, the conservative camp consists of a whole bunch of little tents that may or may not cooperate with one another. And I have not even mentioned the internecine warfare between the establishment Republicans and the Tea Party.
In addition to this colony of tiny Tea Party tents, the conservative compound is also comprised of almost countless organizations of various types each claiming some specific component of the cause, be it electing conservative senators or checking on the media or suggesting strategy or you name it. If nothing else, conservatives have developed an expertise in fragmentation.
This fragmentation and the contrasting liberal unity not only manifest themselves organizationally but also in how they do battle. When a liberal gets in trouble, the left circles the wagons no matter how egregious the offense. But let a conservative politician merely utter an unfortunate syllable and his colleagues can’t find a microphone fast enough in order to distance themselves from this sinful wretch lest they be stained by his guilt. Case in point—Todd Akin’s comment during his run for the Senate in Missouri regarding something to the effect that rape tends not to result in pregnancy. He was not only abandoned by most Republicans (Mike Huckabee being a notable exception) but castigated by many. The result—a very liberal Claire McCaskill won the election.
Consequently, we are divided while the liberals conquer.
We find the same splintering among conservative Christians. Not only do we have denominational divisions, but most churches within denominations function primarily on their own. And perhaps contemporary evangelicals are trending even more so with the sprouting of megachurches, many of which seem to maintain loose attachment to a denomination or none at all.
One reason for splintering is commendable as far as it goes. Conservatives care about truth while the only liberal consideration is power. Liberals realize that by uniting they can acquire power so they unite. To the contrary, conservatives, each committed to their own truth, would rather die than compromise any of their principles. For example, one ecclesiastical cause of division is found in the number of petals a church calculates to comprise the Calvinistic tulip.
It has been speculated that millions of conservative voters, including conservative Christians, stayed home during the previous presidential election because Mitt Romney was not sufficiently conservative, resulting in four more years of Barack Obama. But by gum they stuck to their principles. That was smart. As Jesus noted, “The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.”
A Strategy of Unity
I am not suggesting that we trade in truth for unity. It would be nice if we could achieve both, if leaders from various evangelical factions could lock themselves in a room for however long it would take to agree on what constitutes biblical truth on these issues. This process could be hurried along if they were only fed tofu hamburgers until agreement was reached.
Fearing that this process would only result in starved but resolute clerics, let me suggest another approach. A number of years ago it dawned on me that the extent of agreed-upon truth determines the extent of the relationship that could be supported, i.e. the more people agreed on, the more comprehensive the relationship they could maintain. Maintaining a good marriage requires a greater degree of agreement on truth than being a good neighbor.
Because the relationship between an individual and his church is quite profound, there must be agreement on a wide spectrum of truth. However, I can join a Bible study in which shared truth among members is not nearly so extensive. Even less theologically demanding would be a coalition advancing Christian political causes. Consequently, though sadly churches cannot agree theologically, they can still join together for societal and political purposes.
Motive for Unity
What might motivate doing so? Above we mentioned that liberals unite to gain power. Christians should do the same, only not for self-serving purposes but to advance God’s agenda.
We have discussed the prevalence of the persecution of Christians around the world. God calls us to do what we can for them, and we could help them most effectively through unity. Likewise, unborn babies slated to be murdered should bring us together to fight this American Holocaust. Love for our children should unite and mobilize us to deal with cultural/societal/political developments that will curtail their religious and political freedoms and otherwise reduce their quality of life.
Liberals are delighted by our fragmentation, which enables them to advance their agenda unimpeded while defeating ours.
Imagine the Possibilities
We could reverse that trend if we united. In a previous post I suggested a strategy that could stop legal abortion in a very short time. The major impediment to implementing this plan is the lack of evangelical unity. Likewise, if evangelicals would join hands, they would be empowered to function effectively as salt and light in the political arena, enabling us to halt the various initiatives designed force us to abandon our values.
But imagine even more expansive objectives that could be achieved through a united church planning and executing biblical goals such as educational institutions at all levels that would give fair place and presentation of Christian history, ideas, and values. Or imagine mainline news media that would tell the truth and entertainment media that would promote morality rather than evil. Imagine an American culture that would again encourage marital fidelity and family stability.
Jerry Falwell through the Moral Majority sought to provide evangelicals with a political presence, and was largely responsible for the election of Ronald Reagan, giving us a sample of the power we might possess if unified. However, we cannot even come close to the potential of our influence unless it is the church, and not a parachurch effort, that leads the charge. Evangelical initiatives have achieved a reduction in the abortion rate in our nation, and we commend the efforts producing this development. However, more could have been done much more quickly if a unified movement of the church had been behind this initiative.
All of the objectives proposed and more would be within our reach if the evangelical church would present a united front committed to aggressively functioning as salt and light. It is highly frustrating to realize that America is deteriorating, a shell of its previous greatness in every respect, merely because the church is failing to unite to meet its responsibility as salt and light. At the same time it is highly encouraging to realize that even now these objectives are within our reach if the church in America will work together to that end. Imagine what could happen if the church in America united to fundamentally transform America.