Roebuck on conservative evangelism

Alan Roebuck has published an essay, “Conservative Evangelism Part One,” at Intellectual Conservative. The article shows how insights from the Christian life can be applied to conservative evangelism, that is, to the propagation of conservatism.

Here are some excerpts:

Liberals don’t just hold false beliefs. They’re also lost souls, participants in a false and destructive way of life. They need to hear the good news that liberalism is false and there’s a better way for them and for America.

The most important point first. Conservatives have only one weapon: articulating truth. Winning by force is impossible now: the enemy currently has all the formal power. And even to use force, we must first use persuasion to assemble the army that will exert the force. At the most basic level there can be only one plan: persuasion.

By analogy with the Christian variety, conservative evangelism means propagating conservatism. Also by analogy with Christianity, conservative evangelism identifies the bad news of liberalism and then the good news of conservatism that nullifies the bad news, or at least provides the only sure basis of optimism. And evangelism of any sort also includes apologetics, the art of clarifying claims and arguing for them persuasively.

Although there is a time for arguing against specific liberal policies, the most important message for conservatives to deliver concerns the foundational beliefs of liberalism…. The two most basic liberal beliefs to be opposed are that God is unknowable (and therefore at least de facto nonexistent), and that Thou Shalt Not Discriminate. The liberal needs to hear that the God of the Bible exists, and that proper discrimination (i.e., treating unlikes as unlike) is necessary. Only when these truths are established in his mind can the repenting liberal have a chance of beginning to reject the many specific beliefs of liberalism …

This raises an obvious question. Is it necessary to believe in the God of the Bible in order to be a conservative? …

… the religious requirements to be a fully conservative American are only an admiration for Christianity, a general belief in a God who creates and presides over the world, and a general assent to God’s rules of morality and the proper ordering of the family and society. Even an atheist can be an American conservative if he regards his atheism as a private conviction and if he publicly admires Christianity and supports America’s Christian-based order.

In contrast [to the bad news of liberalism], the good news of the conservative gospel is that liberalism is false: Human life does make sense because authoritative answers to our deepest questions do exist. It is possible to have a good life of virtue and participation in truth, goodness and beauty. And society can be properly ordered again if we have the willpower to fight for it. But none of this is possible unless the individual repents of his liberalism and begins have faith in conservatism.

Just as repenting of sin does not mean instantaneously stopping all sin, repenting of liberalism does not mean instantaneously rejecting all one’s liberal beliefs. The New Testament Greek word that is usually translated “repent” basically means “to turn one’s mind.” It means to turn one’s mind so that it no longer aims toward sin, but aims toward God. Similarly, to repent of liberalism means to turn one’s inner orientation away from the empty vanity of liberalism and toward the rich conservative truths that correct liberalism.

Only in this way can the individual liberal begin the process of ridding himself of liberalism’s evil grip, a process that will take time and effort. But the absolutely essential first step is to repent: The individual must admit that liberalism is wrong, that he will no longer look on it as good, and that he no longer desires to participate in it. Only in this way will he begin the long process of “detoxification” or “sanctification,” or however you wish to characterize the process of rejecting liberalism and embracing truth.

It’s not enough to invite people to enjoy our fellowship, to become conservative do-gooders who participate in fixing society, or to admire and follow a more impressive set of thinkers and leaders. When people are facing persecution for their conservatism, when they are facing the temptation to receive temporary illicit rewards if they follow the liberal way, or when they are in despair because of their own and society’s misfortunes, they need a more solid faith. They need the confident assurance that by sticking to conservatism they are participating in a more noble way, that this way must eventually form the basis of a renewed society in the future, and that all who follow the way of liberalism are following the way of doom for themselves and their society.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 16, 2010 06:03 PM | Send

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