There is a tendency to take Gospel values and try to lump them into a particular modern political category. It is something I am often guilty of myself. Not too long ago, I was a very politically sectarian individual, and if you did not agree with my specific political ideology, then you must be personally for oppression and/or sin. Lately, I have been reconsidering this stance heavily. I see the Spirit of God telling me that in Christ there is no longer progressive or conservative, left or right.
In Christ, we have a common King and a common Kingdom, and we must unite together behind the Gospel. One can be a loving, Christ-like conservative, and one can be a hateful, unchristian progressive, and vice versa. The Kingdom of God transcends man-made boundaries, as the Apostle Paul said:
For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body—though many—are one body, so too is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. For in fact the body is not a single member, but many (1 Cor. 12:12-14).
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28).
Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11).
Peace and justice are often considered “progressive” values in the United States. I see it quite a bit in the many peace organizations that I have connected with over the last several years. However, we should be careful. We cannot forget about “conservative” viewpoints that embrace peace, and we should not forget about “progressive” viewpoints that embrace violence or authoritarianism. If we are completely honest with ourselves, we know that both of these things exist despite what the world of partisan politics tells us. This is why I wanted to share a little bit about my background. I think my story is a testimony of how peace and justice are Gospel values rather than politically partisan values.
A number of my conservative family members have connections to the Charismatic movement. My great-grandmother was a very conservative, charismatic, and evangelical woman. She had a passion for Jesus and revival. She was the leading matriarch of our family for several decades. Her daughter (my grandmother) later became a deacon in the Presbyterian church and worked in televangelism. Her grand-daughter (my aunt) also worked in televangelism, and she was active in both Charismatic and Pentecostal churches. Both my aunt and grandmother worked for Cornerstone Television under Pastor Russ Bixler. (Our family portrait was even taken in Cornerstone’s studio.) He happened to have been an Anabaptist-Charismatic of sorts; he was a pastor in the Church of the Brethren in addition to founding Cornerstone.
It was from these members of my family that my brother came to Christ, and it was through my brother that I also came to Christ several years later.
My grandmother, aunt, and brother would all identify as politically conservative. My brother in particular is a registered member of the Republican Party and identifies as a “libertarian-conservative”. According to the narrative that I have been given by those on the other side of the political aisle, my brother should be my enemy. But he isn’t.
My brother is not only my brother because we have the same parents. He is also my brother because we have the same Lord. My brother is five years older than me, and he always helped care for me when I was a child. My brother has a personality of meekness and humility that I have rarely found matched by anyone else. I don’t think that my brother even has the ability to entertain the concept of hate.
My view of the Gospel is one of peace. I believe that Jesus calls all Christians to embrace peace in all things. The actions that we take should be peaceful, and those actions should be made with the intention of pursuing peace. Much of this view comes from my brother’s influence.
Not only that, but I am sure that if these family members had not been in my life, I would not have ever come to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. My parents are not religious at all, and I had been very ignorant of all religious concepts. It was these “conservative” family members who introduced me to the Bible and the Gospel. It was Christmas of 2006 that I received a Bible from my aunt — my first Bible, in fact.
Even more recently, I have found myself continuing to learn valuable lessons from Christians who disagree with me on political matters. My old boss happened to be a black Pentecostal pastor. He is a conservative on many issues while I am not. I am LGBT-affirming while he said that any form of homosexuality was wickedness. However, this is a man who is truly and genuinely compassionate. He works as a director at a food pantry in addition to his church. He has done many great things to care for those in need. He has helped immigrants, the homeless, prisoners, drug addicts, and myself. When I was ill over the course of late 2016 into early 2017, he prayed with me and counselled me. He is a true embodiment of Christian ministry, even if I vote differently than he does.
God’s love applies to everyone. The Gospel applies to everyone. It was through these more “conservative” voices that I found wonderful expressions of Christian peace and justice. It matters not which political ideology or party we claim to identify with. What matters is that we come together in love above all else, as members of the same Body and Kingdom. What matters is that we embrace and live out the teachings of Jesus, the only true King for Christians.
Kevin Daugherty is a Christ-follower, pastor, and mission developer from Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please join our Facebook forum, and sign up for our newsletter!
6 thoughts on “Learning About Peace and Justice from Christian Conservatives”
Agreed – a lot of people that have discipled and mentored me were conservative Evangelicals. I am thankful that the Spirit was poured out on all flesh and used these people to love me. But conservative theology tends to side with empire, and that is downright not Christian. The gospel is inherently anti-imperialist. This is abhorrent heresy, and maybe we should not consider these folks a part of the Church, or at least consider them not fit for fellowship/life in Christ’s church. Sin is not a personal problem, but a systemic one. It is corporate. If we are not seeking to change the other of things to lift up the oppressed, if those crushed by societal sins are not our first priority, if our theology and practice are disconnected from empathy, we are deceived and we are not Christians.
Whoops, meant not JUST a personal problem, but a systemic one too*
order of things* sorry, my brain is exhausted 😛
I would modify it to say that we are seriously flawed Christians. It’s true that most of us are blind to systemic, corporate, and social sin and how it continuously oppresses people, whom we then tend to blame for their own oppressed state.
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I too have close relatives that are, died in the wool conservatives, but it seems that I must make most of the effort to maintain peace and civility in our family. The least little compromise seems to them a major character flaw, conversations cannot stay lowkey and cool enough to get into any real thinking about the deeper issues so we are forced into keeping conversations to boring banter!
I’m a progressively-leaning Christian who is intellectually-bent, artistic, African-American, female, and now elderly–FIVE reasons not to like the Trump Administration! Oh, I also live in New York City. Starting with the GWB Administration, or maybe even the Reagan Administration, I’ve become increasingly angry at what Republicans can do to people like me when they’re in power. These days, I can barely hear Donald Trump talk on television without dropping the F bomb, followed by, “Sorry, Lord.”
I know that I’m supposed to love my enemy and pray for those who persecute me. I know that I’m supposed to “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and “let it begin with me”, and to look at and look into the “Man in the Mirror”. I know I’m supposed to build bridges instead of walls. I know that those things, with an attitude of peace and love and justice, are more important than ever as Trump and his minions arouse the angry and “ignorant” to attack the despised and vulnerable.
I know, but it sure is blippin’ hard! And I wonder, how the what-the-what did we put this guy in office, and who put him there?
Therefore, I am grateful that you have published this article that show that people who think politically different from me can still have kind hearts and loving acts. I have to remember that there are genuine human beings–or I should say real human beings–on the other side of that wall, on the opposite side of the bridge, and even under those MAGA hats. Many of them love Jesus, or their perception of him, just as much as I love Jesus, or my perception of him. No human being on earth is going to get it 100% right. I am hoping that God is much more merciful than I can even imagine him to be. I am hoping that we end up caring more about each other than we care about who is right.