Crisis of Confidence, Can Conservatism Survive?

Why the Conservative Crisis?

The Right Rev. Rowland

Why the Conservative Crisis? To me, Conservatism is mostly the child of Wisdom and Common Sense. But what do we do when common sense is no longer common and wisdom is no longer held in esteem?

That is the current state of Conservatism in America. Slandered and slapped, belittled and maligned. Many conservative Americans are shifting nervously in their seats, unsure of what they were once sure of. The power of a constant drone of the media, academia, and even popular culture can make even the most headstrong believers hesitate.

When the perception is built that almost nobody believes as you do, you have a decision to make. Will you give in to the perceptions of popular culture, or will you embrace what you instinctively know to be the truth?

Political conservatives are experiencing what theological conservatives have experienced for centuries. The incessant attacks on long-established doctrines of truth and tenets of the faith. In the Christian church and seminary, there has been a war raging since Christ ascended on the mount and sent His disciples out with the Great Commission.

The subtle question of ‘what if?’ is the weapon most utilized by the enemy. What if that’s not what the Scripture really means? What if my core beliefs are wrong? What if I’m being too narrow? What if the heathens are really right? It is the same question that was used at the beginning, when the serpent beguiled Eve.

“Hath God said…?” What if you really misunderstood what God meant? What if you’re doing it wrong? What if you are missing out on something FANTASTIC because you’re too narrow in your thinking? And Eve bit the apple. In short order, so did Adam, and we’ve all been paying for it ever since.

Churches and leaders have compromised over and over with the world system out of the fear of ‘what if?’ What if the Da Vinci Code is right? What if Jesus was married and had kids? What if Creation is an abstract concept and the Darwinists are right? What if I can’t raise my kids to stay pure, off drugs, and out of jail?

We water down our convictions to lower expectations when that nagging doubt of ‘what if’ torments us. We waffle and waiver in the most important areas of our lives and relationships when ‘what if’ blinds our sight. So what do we do with “what if’?

‘What if’ is not a cause for panic or dismay, it is an opportunity to genuinely sort through our belief system. When faced with doubts, the best decision is to go back to the basics. Why do I believe what I believe? What is the evidence? Who are the opponents of this view? What is there evidence? In the absence of evidence, are there certain positions I can stand on in faith?

These challenges to our understanding of the world we live in ought to strengthen our fundamental beliefs. A serious, honest inventory of our thoughts and understanding should solidify in our minds what is worth believing and what is worth fighting for.  

So for our politically conservative brethren, a question: Why do you believe what you believe? If what you believe in is true, then how can that belief be shaken? Is what you believe worth fighting for?

Many people refuse to do the work of owning their own beliefs, and make themselves the targets of the ‘what ifs’. Many conservatives long for a Ronald Reagan to happen on the scene and once again articulate the conservative position and fight for recognition of the power of these truths. And many conservatives were heartbroken when no Reagan appeared for the Presidential Primaries.

Even those ‘conservative’ candidates running were poor evangelists of the Conservative Cause.  Fred Thompson assumed too many people already knew what conservatism was and would support him because he was for it. Mitt Romney too late began to articulate with clarity the conservative position. Mike Huckabee was too ‘compassionate’ a conservative to take a glaringly strong stand. Rudy Gulianni was only half conservative, and left the back door open for moderation.

So we defaulted to a moderate to liberal McCain, who was pushed over the top in large part to the evangelicals mobbing Huckabee and cutting Romney and Thompson out, and the independents and Democrats who voted in the early primaries.

So now they tell me there is a ‘conservative crisis’ that we are depressed and aimless, demoralized and marginalized. The crisis is only one of belief. Many conservatives do not own their own beliefs, they let others define it for them. They let others fight for it and think it through. So, how do I own my own beliefs? Glad ya asked!

Have your thoughts on the subject matter fully sorted. It is a horrible thing to wait until you are asked the question to search for the answers. We should be asking ourselves the questions constantly. What do I believe about this subject? What is the conservative position? What principles apply? Don’t let others bully your thinking, be prepared ahead of time.

Read widely. Know what the positions on these topics are. It requires a bit of effort, but the rewards are worth it. Knowing what you believe and what is worth fighting for can save you a lot of angst and worry. It can help bring peace to your life.

Articulate what you believe. Until you have had to write sensibly or say out loud what you really believe, you really don’t have it sorted. Just letting it tumble around in your head for a while does not mean you can whip out a rousing defense of conservatism. Ronald Reagan was constantly writing, on notepads, in margins of books, on napkins, he was tireless in his articulation of what he believed. So when his moment in history came, he was prepped and ready not just to further his political ambitions, but to lead a movement.

That movement is in crisis today, because we don’t understand clearly what we believe, hold to what we believe, or fight effectively for what we believe. If conservatism is to rise to her greatness, this is exactly what we must do. No compromises, but victories. Not tired slogans, but moving arguments to convince those who oppose our point of view that we have the right principles and beliefs.

There is no Reagan on the horizon to ride in and save us, that we can point to and say, “Yeah! What he said!” That mantle falls to us. Get equipped, get prepared, and step into the battle. Lead your own movement, and stand up for what you believe. The nation needs you to, and the world needs you to.

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Filed under Culture War, Politics

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