Theological Presuppositions and Political Liberalism
Posted on March 13, 2015
Here is an excerpt from the talk “Theological Presuppositions of Political Liberalism” that I’ll be delivering Wednesday, April 1 at the Oklahoma City PAC.
Worldview and politics
. . . [W]hen we consider politics, we are considering much more than politics. We’re considering a life system, a worldview, as we say. Our political views are shaped by our view of the world, not simply the urgencies of the moment. If you almost always vote Republican, this isn’t just because you’re committed to the Republican Party. You’re committed to a particular view of the world that’s more in harmony with the Republican Party’s views that it is with the Democratic Party’s. We vote our worldview.
But then we might immediately ask: “Where do worldviews themselves come from?” There’s no doubt they’re shaped by our personal history, our parents and friends, our culture, our life experiences; but we interpret even these basic factors in terms of some overarching grid. That grid, I suggest, is religion.
Humanity was created in God’s image. We were made to love and glorify and obey our Creator. But Adam and Eve sinned, and they plunged our world into sin. Each of us is born a sinner. This sin pollutes not just our actions, but also our thinking. It warps our worldview from the youngest age. This is why the first and primary sin is idolatry, and this is also why the first commandment of Jehovah to Israel is: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” This is mankind’s greatest temptation: to turn away from the true God and worship false gods. We are made as religious beings, that is to say, worshiping beings. When we refuse to worship God, we don’t cease to worship. We worship other gods. We worship some aspect of the created order, some other person or some other thing. This idolatry is apostasy from the true God. This apostasy begins in our heart, the very center of our being, and it moves out from there. Therefore, it affects every aspect of our thinking and our lives. That also includes our politics.
Worldview, politics, and religion
Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “Politics and religion don’t mix,” but that is just precisely wrong. It’s correct to say that church and state shouldn’t mix (properly understood), but religion and politics must mix because religion mixes with everything in life. Since we were created in God’s image, every thought and action, right or wrong, is a religious act. This is why all politics is religious, and this is true of every person, wherever he is situated on the political spectrum.
Political liberalism as religious apostasy
I’m making what some would consider a bold proposition: political liberalism is a form of apostasy from the true God. (Conservatives can become apostates too, but that’s not the topic today.) Apostates often rationalize their apostasy: they create plausible reasons for it. To both themselves and others, they must make their apostasy appear sensible and reasonable. This is exactly what liberals do and have done. These are beliefs that justify and support their apostasy, and these beliefs are foundationally religious, even theological.
Worse than conspiracies
President Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid don’t get up in the morning intending to undermine and destroy the United States of America. I know some conservatives who embrace conspiracy theories. They suggest that liberals secretly conspire to destroy the U.S. This is mistaken. The reason that liberals are so dangerous is not because they’re trying to destroy our nation, but because they’re trying to help. If they were consciously attempting to destroy us, they might be restrained by their God-given conscience. They’re so harmful because they’re not consciously attempting to harm United States. They believe they’re doing good. It’s their doing good that’s killing us.
 Herman Dooyeweerd, In the Twilight of Western Thought (Grand Rapids: Paideia Press, 2012), 23–27.