are many different kinds of Christian. Christians are not only protestant or catholic,
orthodox or restorationist, esoteric or messianic. Christians also vary
along the political
spectrum from left to right. Personally, I'm left of centre, although
many "lefties" might call me "centrist". Conservatives would call me a
Perhaps the main foundations that all Christians have in common is the Gospels. These ancient
books are our main historical record of what Jesus said and did.
They were transcribed from oral tradition
several decades after
his death. Christians believe they contain the word of god, which the
disciples received not only from Jesus but also directly: two months
after the crucifixion, the holy spirit descended upon the
This blog is addressed to politically conservative Christians -- those
who align themselves with the political right wing. Welcome and thank
you for reading this far.
Let me first explain what I want to do. I
want to talk about some important aspects of Christian morality that I
believe have been neglected by conservative Christians. I'm sure you
will agree that is an important topic.
Allow me first to present what I consider to be the most important
aspects of Christian teachings, along with their modern political
Love and charity (agápē)
Christians agree that the bible's main message is about love. God is
love, and the most important Christian value is love. Paul famously said
it like this:
now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these
is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it
is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not
is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does
delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always
always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
The word "love" in these passages is comparable with the ancient Greek agápē (ēἀγάπη), which also means "charity".
This is not the "love" of modern English, a word that conjures up
the deep feelings that we have when we love our partner, children, or
parents. Agápē is more altruistic (inspired by god) and less paternal, filial, romantic, or erotic. Of course romantic and
erotic feelings are relevant and important, but we should not forget
that romantic love is to some extent a modern invention, souped up by
Hollywood and a certain consumerist attitude toward the sexual partner
Agápē is not only more altruistic than a modern western concept of love, it is also more active and universal -- directed,
in theory, toward every human being on the planet, or at least every
human with whom we have some kind of contact. That includes, but goes well beyond,
"lovers" and next of kin. Moreover, agápē is about actually doing something for other people and not merely having good feelings toward them. The
world would be a better place if people thought a bit more about this
topic! And incidentally
-- if you know of any politician who does any of the bad things listed
in Corinthians (envy, boasting, pride, dishonoring others etc.), please don't
vote for her or him. (People reading this
passage in the year 2017 will know whom I am referring to.)
Whom should we love? Here's what the bible says, again implying agápē:
your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than this
your enemies; do good to them (Luke 6:35).
you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me
message is clear: Love applies to all people everywhere. In fact, it applies to all of god's creation.
But it is not enough merely to talk about love. We have to act!
us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John
a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you
says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does
nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16)
Conservativism and discrimination
far as Christian love/charity is concerned, conservatives
unfortunately do not have a good reputation. There are exceptions, of
course, but the average conservative is more likely than a liberal
to discriminate against women, blacks, foreigners, muslims, gays,
atheists, and so
The only thing these diverse groups have in common is difference. They
are different from the standard white Christian straight male, in
different ways. The tendency to discriminate against people
because they are different may be part of human nature, which according
to Christian teaching was created by god, but it also runs contrary to
central teachings of
Christianity. A true Christian opens her or his heart to everyone.
There is no scientific evidence that any of these groups is inherently
superior or inferior to white Christian men in any way, although
countless scientists and others have searched for such evidence. Take
homosexuality for example. Until a few decades ago homosexuality was
still being treated by the medical and psychological professions as
some kind of disease of disorder. It is only comparatively recently
that the mainstream realised that homosexuality is (and has always
been) a normal phenomenon -- and not only among humans. While it is
true that heterosexuality versus homosexuality is partly a matter
of personal choice, it also has a strong biological foundation (more), which from a Christian perspective means that it belongs to god's creation.
So those who believe for whatever reason that homosexuals should not
have the same rights as the rest of us can no longer claim that there
is something wrong with them. Whether homosexuals are more promiscuous
than heterosexuals is open to debate (more),
and if they are, that is not necessarily morally bad. In any case such
arbitrary value judgments should not affect the rights of individual
couples. One gay person is not responsible for the actions of other gay
people, just as one straight person is not responsible for the actions
of other straight people. Contrary to what many have claimed, neither
the gospels nor the bible generally contains clear or consistent
statements that either support or oppose homosexuality (more), and on the question of gay priests, Pope Francis famously replied "Who am I to judge?" (more).
Poverty and generosity
Sad but true: Many conservatives also have a reputation for greed and
selfishness -- at least according to the liberals. Either that or they
encourage or condone these dubious personal qualities in others. That
is something that no
true Christian can tolerate! On this point, the message of Jesus could
not have been
Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack
one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you
will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Mark 10:21).
when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your
right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your
Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:3-4).
thousand years later, we still have not managed to eliminate poverty.
That is surprising, given how many people in the west experienced
Christian teachings -- almost everyone, for two millennia! On top of
that, global free enterprise and capitalism have brought enormous
riches to many people. There is more than enough wealth to go
around. So why is it not going around? The answer is clear -- the
selfish are holding onto it! And many of them claim to be Christians!
This is a shameful state of affairs, and god is surely not proud of us.
But there is an easy solution: we can work here and now towards
elimination of poverty, inspired by the corresponding bible
passages, of which there are many. That is a central task for today's
conservative Christians, insofar as they are genuine about their
Christianity and insofar as conservatives have more money than
Jesus's brother James hit the nail on the head when he wrote the following warning to the rich:
now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.
Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and
silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you
and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the
last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields,
which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries
of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have
lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened
your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the
righteous person. He does not resist you. (James 5:1-6)
does this mean today? The wealth
gap is steadily rising, undermining democracy and causing widespread suffering. Global warming will seriously affect everyone,
but we are still burning fossil fuels at a staggering rate. Technologies that replace human labor are improving, causing
permanent unemployment. Courageous individuals who dare to oppose such
developments, defending the human rights of the many, risk persecution.
Meanwhile we, the rich and mega-rich, are continuing to pursue
extravagant lifestyles as if we were unaware of the consequences, like French aristocracy before the revolution.
James warns the rich to start caring and being generous before it is too late. Today's conservative Christiansshould
be talking about solutions rather than blocking them. Possible modern
solutions include globally harmonized environment, transaction, and
wealth taxes to finance government programs such as international aid,
education, social welfare, and the promotion of sustainable energy.
The natural environment
Another area where some conservatives have a bad
reputation is care for the natural environment. In the biblical creation
story, god created the natural environment and gave humans
responsibility for looking after it:
blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in
number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and
the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the
ground” (Genesis 1:28).
conservative leaders in government and business today tend to do the opposite of what god intended,
exploiting and destroying his beautiful creation for personal benefit.
Astonishingly, their political opponents -- those who sincerely want to protect god's creation -- are often
atheist liberals. How could the world be so topsy-turvy?
In 2015, Pope Francis examined this question in great detail in Laudatio
Si'. This encyclical letter is essential reading for all genuine modern Christians and it is also easy
to get a hold of. Every bookshop and library has it and you can easily
read it in the internet.
Christian conservatives may also find themselves being accused of hypocrisy. According to Wikipedia, "Hypocrisy is the
practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one
criticizes another. In moral psychology, it is the failure to follow
one's own expressed moral rules and principles."
For example, it is hypocritical to discriminate against women or
homosexuals (as the Catholic church unfortunately still does), while at
the same time promoting universal equality of opportunity and opposing
all forms of discrimination -- as Christ himself did so impressively.
If Christ were here today, he would presumably criticize the modern
church on this and other points.
complained about hypocrisy in great detail. We should be careful to
understand not only what he said but also the intentions behind his
woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the
kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither
suffer ye them that are entering to go in (Matthew 23:13).
what Jesus is saying here is that hypocrisy is a lose-lose phenomenon.
Nobody gains from it. That is still true today, regardless of whether
you believe in heaven, karma, or some other comparable principle.
Please read the
remainder of Matthew 23 and the parallel passages in the other
gospel books, and consider their possible modern implications.
Please also check out some of the leading interpretations of these
by bible scholars.
Christ's stance on hypocrisy reminds us that we should always be open
to criticism. As an author, reviewer, and editor of articles published
in leading international research journals, I know how important that
is. Anyone who is trying
to find out the truth (as far as we can know it) and tell it to large numbers of people needs to
be open to criticism. That is equally true in religion, politics, and
research. It also applies to this text, so if you believe
that any of my statements are misleading or hypocritical, please
your constructive suggestions and I will do my best to solve the
The bible shows in detail how to identify
hypocrisy, and then to solve the problem. The solution involves familiar concepts such as virtue, sin, humility, judgment,
repentance, and forgiveness. Let's look at each of these in turn.
Virtue, sin, and humility
In Christian morality, a virtue is an action, attitude or habit that god deems to be good,
whereas sin is deemed to be bad. Virtues include prudence, justice,
temperance, courage, faith, hope, and charity. Everyone should aspire
all of these, regardless of their background. So if you notice any
politicians whose behavior consistently contradicts any of these
points, please don't vote for them.
Faith, incidentally, does not necessarily mean faith in god. In everyday English, it also
means believing in basic moral principles and sticking to them even
when the going gets tough.
The idea of sin has fallen out of fashion, because for many centuries
representatives of Christian churches
accused others of sin and threatened divine
punishment. They used the concept of sin to their personal advantage
or to consolidate their power. Those people evidently misunderstood the original
concept and fell into the trap of hypocrisy.
To understand virtue and sin, we must first admit that we are mortals,
which limits our ability to know things. Because the bible like any text is often
ambiguous and open to interpretation, often we can only find out
whether something is
fundamentally good or bad by openly and sincerely looking into our
hearts. We have to make ourselves emotionally vulnerable and wait for
our conscience to give us the answer. Wisdom arises from prayer and meditation.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us (1 John 5:14).
this way, we can find out what is morally right or wrong -- but only
for ourselves, and usually not in an absolute sense. What is
right or wrong for someone else is another matter. Strictly speaking,
we can never know that for sure. Only god can know, and we can
never know for sure what god is thinking.
Since we cannot make general statements about virtue and sin, we have to be humble. Jesus made a point of it:
greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will
be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:11-12)
Because the concept of sin has so often been abused, political liberals tend to reject it. But surely sin is exactly what
liberals are constantly complaining about? If for example the
irresponsible decisions of political or business leaders cause
human suffering, whether directly or indirectly, and those leaders had a good
idea in advance what would happen, but did it all the same, surely that
is a classic case of sin?
of us is perfect. We have all "sinned" merely by doing things that we
know to be wrong -- not because someone told us they were wrong, but
because we looked inside our hearts and our conscience told us they
were wrong. From this perspective, sin is
a kind of dishonesty.
From a Christian perspective, which is barely different from what a
philosopher might call "universal morality", one of our
main tasks in life is to identify our sins, then ask for forgiveness
(perhaps merely forgiving ourselves),
and finally change our approach to ensure that our sins are not
repeated. In modern terms, we must be accountable for our actions.
we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living
in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and
just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (1
Judgment, confession, and forgiveness
Christians believe that their words and actions will be judged by god on the day of judgement:
the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to
what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death
and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each
one of them, according to what they had done (Revelation 20:14).
For this reason, we
Christians tend to confess our sins and repent sooner rather than
later. First, that gives us
more time in life to do good things for other people. Second, that is what Jesus did, so if we are
taking him as our role model, we should do it too. The
good things that Jesus did were done on earth and not in
heaven! Third, Christians believe that god will forgive us we confess your sins and repent during your lifetime. Once the day of judgment comes along, it will be too late.
If the arguments I have presented are correct, conservative
Christians may have sinned more than most. But the good news is that if
you are a conservative Christian and Jesus is your role model, you have
the chance to confess your sins. Whether you have sinned with regard to
love and charity, poverty and generosity, protection of the
natural environment, or in any other area, it will be better for
everyone including yourself if you confess soon. As they say in
advertising: do it today.
Another piece of good Christian news is that if you genuinely and
sincerely confess your sins and change your ways (or repent), and you do it during your lifetime, you will be forgiven.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy (Proverbs 28:13).
the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and
let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to
our god, for he will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7).
Before doing any repenting, there is a practical question to answer. Whom should we believe? Should
you believe what I am writing in this text? Or is it better to believe
an charismatic evangelical preacher with millions of ecstatic
Again, the bible has the answer. The world is full of false prophets. It always has been, and it always will be.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15).
According to Christian teaching, false prophets are here to test us. The trick is to identify and avoid them.The bible teaches that we are all capable of of doing that. To
separate the sheep from the wolves, all we have to do is pray! We just
have to open our hearts, look deep inside, wait patiently,
trust ourselves, and our
conscience will let us know what the answer is.
anyone's will is to do god's will, he will know whether the teaching is
from god or whether I am speaking on my own authority (John 7:17)
I have presented many bible quotes and interpretations, and
seem to converge on the same conclusion. Whether we like it or not, we
all need to repent -- every one of us. We need to stand
back, look at what we have done in our lives, identify the mistakes
that we have made, regret them, and
resolve not to repeat them. Everyone, everywhere is capable of this
kind of personal evaluation and personal change.
No-one can force anyone to repent, and I expect that most
conservative Christians reading this will just laugh it off. In
Christian teachings, god
wants you to realise the importance of repentance all by yourself.
Like everyone else, you have free will. God may be knocking on your
you don't have to open it:
I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the
door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).
this: Even if you have been going to church and studying the bible all
your life, god may still be disappointed. He may be waiting patiently
you to open your heart
in prayer to his universal love and the diversity of his
creation. Opening your heart to god means opening your heart to all the
humans that god ever created on
planet -- the evil and the good, the beautiful and the ugly, the strong
and the weak, the wise and the stupid. Those that are similar to you,
and those that are different.
If you still believe that certain kinds of
discrimination are ok, for example against women, blacks, Muslims, or
gays, and perhaps you can even point to passages in the bible that seem
to support that, or if you
are opposed to affirmative action or "political correctness" to prevent
that kind of discrimination, there may be a simple reason. You have not
yet opened your heart! God wants you to do that right now, and then to
take another step: to turn his message of universal love
He wants you to work for a world in which the rights of all people are
respected and the natural environment is protected for future
generations -- because that is what universal Christian love is all
But please don't believe me about this. Regardless of what you read in
this text, you will find the real truth about these issues in your own
heart, in prayer. I have prayed, in my own way, and this is what I
found out for myself: If we open our hearts, we realise what has to be
done. We should listen to the wisdom of our conscience, apologize
genuinely for the times that we did not, and resolve to listen more
attentively in future. Expressed in Christian terms:
time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of god is at hand; repent and
believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15)
therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19)
you have had enough bible quotes for today, for which I apologize,
there is also a great song about repentance. The lyrics include this: "...Earth shall be fair and all her people
one. Not till that hour shall god's whole will be done." Not a bad
goal, if you ask me.
Today's Christian message
The bible's message of universal love
and repentance was never more important than it is today. If you agree with me about that,
time to act.
thousand years ago,
Jesus demanded repentance from the Pharisees. If he were alive today,
he would demand repentance from hypocritical conservative Christians.
He would repeat this message in today's language so that everyone would
understand. He would talk
about what it means to develop a loving attitude toward everyone, everywhere. He would identify those people today need
help the most -- the
sick, the poor, the needy, the hungry, the desperate, the downtrodden. He would
promote political changes that improve equality and justice, and protect god's
I do not
believe in the supernatural aspects of Christianity. Please forgive me
for that -- I'm a scientist. That's my job. But even for an atheist,
the message of
Jesus was a critically important one -- alongside the similar messages
of comparable historical figures. The
Christian version of universal morality has the advantage that its
well known. Like the moral scriptures of other major religions, they
have also stood the test of time.
amazing thing about the
2000-year-old teachings of the Gospels is that in spite of the enormous
have happened during twenty centuries, and apart from the supernatural aspects
that have been superseded by modern science, the "good news" of Jesus is
still basically correct. If people took his message seriously today, today's biggest
problems -- global poverty, climate change, violence of all kinds --
would disappear. We could live in peace, for the first
time. The peace of Christmas would be everyday reality.
The bottom line
do not normally write in this way. I am doing so now in an attempt to
communicate with you as a Christian conservative reader, in your own
This is a matter of respect:
I know this is the language you prefer.
Let me finally get to the point. Jesus was a classic leftie liberal.
lefties and liberals since time immemorial, he stood up for the underdog. It follows that to be a Christian
today you have to be a leftie, too. If Jesus really is your role
you have to defend the rights of the poor, hungry and downtrodden, like
he did. That's essentially what lefties do. We promote appropriate
forms of social welfare,
universal health insurance, subsidized kindergartens, schools, and
universities, fair-trade relationships with developing countries
without exploitation, appropriate international aid
programs, and so on.
These things are none other than Christianity in its modern
manifestation. True Christians have little choice but to support such
endeavors. They must also oppose all forms of
discrimination. It doesn't matter whether the discrimination is based
on sex/gender, so-called race, disability, age,
or sexual orientation -- the Christian ideal of universal
love can only be approached in practice if we oppose all forms of
discrimination. We must
also be concerned to prevent all
forms of war and physical aggression and instead spread a message of
peace, as Jesus did.
If I don't do these things, and I still claim to be a Christian, I am a
hypocrite in the original Christian sense. If Jesus were on earth
would tell me that in no uncertain terms, just as he did to the
It follows that the
expression "politically conservative Christian" is a contradiction and
a lie. For truly I say unto you: there is no such thing as a
politically conservative Christian.
But I am writing as a philosopher, not as a politician. My claims and
arguments are not intended as threats. Don't worry about burning in
hell -- there is no such place. Whether you are created by god or not, you are free to decide
your political orientation. If there is a god, she will not punish you
for your political choices. You only have your conscience to guide you
-- your innate sense of decency and dignity. Don't listen to me --
listen to your inner voice.
The main reason I am writing this text is to defend the basic rights
of billions (!) of people who are suffering right now, mainly
in developing countries, as an indirect consequence of
pseudo-Christian conservative politics of the US Republican Party and the centre-right parties of other Western countries. The suffering people really exist, they really are suffering, and Christian hypocrisy
really does belong to the main causes of the problem.
The richer, more influential Christians of the world could
have eliminated poverty globally by now. Instead, we are promoting
poverty by maintaining a fundamentally unfair global economic system.
We could also have stopped dangerous human products such as global
warming and nuclear weapons, which will likely cause enormous
suffering in the future. We could have stopped the international arms
trade, without which the negative consequences of war would be much
We cannot change the past, but we can change the future. In
this text, I have tried to show that the world's biggest problems can
be solved by taking a new look at the foundations of Christian
morality. Another form of
Christian politics is possible, and it can bring together liberals and
conservatives in a new spirit of respectful cooperation (more).
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