I grew up in a Christian home, in best sense of the term, with parents who were believers and took me to our fundamentalist Baptist church two or three times per week. The church, and our family, were Bible believing, fundamentalist in terms of doctrine, meaning belief in the inerrancy of Scripture, a literal Bible, and salvation through Christ alone. Thankfully, they were not the “militant” or angry kind of “Fundamentalists” I met later.
I have enjoyed the enormous blessing of growing up in that Christian home, of attending if not being taken to church whether or not I wanted to go, of experiencing a Christian higher education, and of a career working largely within and around Christian nonprofit organizations. All were formative.
In college, I began to think of myself as “Evangelical,” maintaining fundamentalist doctrine but more “culture-engaging,” which fit well with my interests in the social sciences and later Ph.D. in political science. I’ve always encouraged Christians to get involved in social and political matters.
In college, too, I began to develop my political thought, reading Christian philosophers like Francis A. Schaeffer, and considered myself conservative, but even then, I was not quite comfortable with that label, much less a Republican label, though I voted Republican.
Later, I refined this, considering myself conservative in political thought but not “Capital C” Conservative. I affirmed conservative political and social beliefs but did not subscribe to an “Ism,” as in Conservatism. From time to time, I supported moderate political issues.
Fast forward to the 1980s and “Fundamentalist” started to mean, via Big Media, Ayatollah Khomeini and the like. This certainly was not me, for sure, nor was I comfortable with all that the Religious Right and the Moral Majority presented in those years, led by Fundamentalist pastor Jerry Falwell, Sr. Then in the 1990s and on into the early 2000s, George W Bush’s campaigns and presidency, “Evangelical” was more or less coopted by Big Media and portrayed as “Values voters” or “Family values” or just Republican. There were nuances here, of course, but all this made me uncomfortable because these new meanings and applications were not necessarily what I meant when I used the term.
During my Cornerstone University President days, 1991-2008, I gradually set aside both these labels, especially when I started writing more, e.g. for my long-term radio program “Making a Difference.” I wanted to write not as a Conservative, or much less a Republican, but as a person with a Christian worldview, simply trying to apply my Christian thinking to everyday life, including ideology and partisanship.
Fast forward again to 2015-16 and the Donald J. Trump campaign, then into his presidency, when “Evangelical” came to mean, in shorthand for some Big Media journalists, Trump supporters.
For my tastes, things got so bad that by January 2016, I declared on Facebook that I was no longer going to use the terms Republican or Evangelical to describe myself. I’d be an Independent and a Christian, conservative in both regards.
In my view, though I am still on the conservative side of the political spectrum, about as many Conservative and/or Republican leaders periodically act poorly, immorally, selfishly, etc. as do Liberal and/or Democrat leaders. While I was never comfortable with ideological or partisan labels, I am even more so now, so I’ve stuck with the Independent and Christian self-designations.
I believe in “unalienable” rights, those natural, universal human rights given to us by God, which no government either grants or ever can or should take away, as gloriously described in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I support religious liberty for all, and I embrace and am grateful for the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
I believe in free, pluralistic, democratic republican government, limited government, and government of, by, and for the people, rule of law and justice, private property, and free enterprise. I’m glad for the United States of America’s history as a “Great Experiment” in democratic government, the “First New Nation.”
I am prolife from conception to death, or anti abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy, and including so-called "born-alive" babies who survive abortions.
I consider myself pro-immigrant and want a reformed legal process by which “illegals” or “aliens” or “undocumenteds” can become citizens, especially DACA kids. I’m glad for the United States of America’s history as “a nation of immigrants.”
I am patriotic, of course about my home country, but more than this, about its ideals regarding human freedom and government as codified in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments.
I do not confuse my Christian faith with nationalism. I do not think the USA is perfect, or better always than other countries, just admirable in its ideals if not always our history or our actions. Like all else in our lives, our country and our patriotism must be critiqued by our Christian worldview.
So, I am more interested in being a good Christian citizen than being a Conservative or Republican or Independent or any other similar designation.
I am more interested in being a good Christian than being a good Evangelical or similar designation.
I’ve not covered the waterfront here. Not possible, and perhaps I’ve forgotten something, but these are some basics.
I am most interested in “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15).
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020
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