The Israelites had experienced firsthand the institutional effects of a social order governed by a law-order different from the Bible’s. They had been enslaved. The God who had released them from bondage announced at Sinai His standards of righteousness – not just private righteousness but social and institutional righteousness. Thus, the God of liberation is simultaneously the law-giver. The close association of Biblical law and human freedom is grounded in the very character of God.
Political conservatives tend to trace their ideological history back to people like the Englishman Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who pointed out in his era, the dangers of the French Revolution. There is nothing wrong with that, but they could go a whole lot further. They could include Oliver Cromwell (who successfully defeated Charles I of England), Stephen Langton (who wrote the Magna Carta, in opposition to King John), and many others.
But the real basis of political conservatism should legitimately be traced to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt. Why? Because it is here that we gain the proper understanding of the need to conserve and protect individuals and legitimate social institutions (such as the family and the Church) against the ravages of a tyrannical, humanistic state.
And it is here that the true political conservative gets his authority. The history of government has always been about the struggle between liberty and bondage, and the Bible has commonly been at the forefront of this debate. This explains why the tyrants of history have tended to be haters of the God of the Bible
People cannot truly know themselves or each other without the Bible, neither can they correctly understand anything of the human condition without the Bible. It wasn’t written by us, (though God inspired a number of human writers to put pen to paper). It was written by our Creator, Who describes us as reprobate sinners, needing a Saviour, His Son. When we come to the knowledge of this fact, we begin to understand our utter incapacity to deal with ourselves and society, outside of the God of the Bible.
When political conservatives ignore the God of the Bible and the Exodus, they lose all capacity to speak authoritatively to society. They are just another politician. This is the tragedy of the modern era; few political leaders willing to accept the Bible as their text-book for liberty, and apply it to society. The Church hasn’t consistently applied it; why should we expect politicians to?
But this can and must change. How? By the impetus and pressure from faithful Christians within the Church, who understand the claims of Christ on every society, and that every society that ignores Christ’s commands only prepares itself for His judgment.
This means the education and instruction of Christians in the scriptures must move to a whole new level. We must consider a lot more the implications of applying the whole of scripture to the era we live in. To education, to health, to welfare, to law, to defence and foreign affairs, and economics. The Bible speaks clearly to these matters. That means we have got to get busy to find out what it means to obey Jesus Christ in realms we haven’t considered much in the past.
This is all part of us preparing to give a good account to God. It’s all part of serving the generation we are a part of, and providing the leaven of the kingdom of God.
I’m a political conservative, but I believe Christians must be much more than that, just reacting to the grim excesses of the politics of the Left. What the world really needs is an articulation of the political and social implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He can bring liberty to every individual and nation of the world, but always and only on His terms.
Who was it Who brought about the Exodus? When He called Moses, He said
I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their suffering (Ex.3:7).
The Bible makes it clear that every person, always, is a slave of someone. Whose slave are you? Nations are the same. Like people, those nations that run from God run invariably into bondage. That’s what communism led to after 70 years, but the West today really isn’t too far behind; it’s just taken us a lot longer to dig ourselves into a similarly deep hole.
But let’s not dwell in this hole of our own making, a moment longer than we have to. Let’s get back into the light of God through Biblical obedience. That’s what He’s always wanted us to do.
I will walk at liberty, for I seek your precepts. I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed (Ps.119:45-46).