I owe a lot of my way of thinking on these matters to some friends of mine. These folk love the Lord passionately and serve Him faithfully and sacrificially. They are in every sense of the word good folk. Yet they are decidedly nonconformist in our conservative evangelical church. They voted for the wrong party, they are in favor of gun-control and national health care. I figure that in most elections if my two friends and my wife and I stayed home we wouldn't effect the outcome of the election. All four of us love our country too much to do that, so we dutifully go to the polls and cancel each other out.
I think my friends are wrong. They return the favor. But there is no way I can say my friends aren't good Christians because of their politics. I think they say the same about me--I hope so. In spite of my disagreements with them, I have to admit that their political conclusions are informed by well-thought out attempts to apply the Bible to personal and political life. In some cases we have arrived at different conclusions because we emphasize different truths from the Word. In other cases our variance comes from differing interpretations. They are more apt to see the Sermon on the Mount as national policy. I see it as intensely personal and non-political.
Back to Gerson:
But there is something essentially countercultural about Christianity that should make evangelicals restless in any political coalition. Christianity indicts oppressive government — but also the soul-destroying excesses that sometimes come in free markets and consumerism. It teaches enduring moral rules — and an emphasis on justice for the least and the lost. It is often hard where liberalism is soft, and soft where conservatism is hard.
If evangelical Christianity were identical to any political movement, something
would be badly wrong. It is supposed to look toward a kingdom not of this
world, one without borders, flags, or end. And by this standard, homelessness is a natural state
Today, I read an article by Colson that makes the same point (among others) http://www.informz.net/pfm/archives/archive_611082.html
Conservatism (Which should not be confused with
Christianity): [I don't know why this paragraph is indented.]
I'm not saying that political parties don't matter. They do. The dominant party will set the tone, appoint the judges and control the legislative flow. I am saying that we dare not sell our souls to any man-made system.
. . . conservatives understand that "we moderns" are unlikely "to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics or taste."
Revering what is true, as opposed to embracing utopian fads, is
what marks the conservative disposition. It is also at the heart of the Christian disposition—which relies on a Gospel revealed to the apostles and handed down over the centuries.
As the presidential campaign heats up, Christians need to see that most of the issues being debated arise from conflicting ideologies of the two Parties. But we should be taken in by any body's ideology. Because we look to the revealed, enduring moral order, we may advocate things the world calls "liberal"—like prison reform—because doing so promotes human dignity. And we may also reject those things that ideology labels "conservative" that fail to recognize or uphold the moral order.