I have written on this before, but I think it is helpful to write about this again at this present moment. The response of many of my conservative friends, and they are good and decent advocates for the good on many issues, to the release of Julian Assange, highlights one of the key differences between where I sit, and where conservatives generally sit. Many of them are offended that there is a large segment of the right side of politics celebrating the release of Julian Assange. They cannot understand why this man, who they see as basically an anarchist, could garner so much support from some on the right (as well as the left). I can’t speak for others on the right, but I can speak for myself.

Fight shadow bans & SHARE!

I am not a political conservative. I actually find the conservative worldview quite abhorrent in many ways, and lacking in many others for facing the moment in which we are. I do associate in what are generally conservative circles, and I agree with political conservatives on many individual issues, and yet I disagree with them also on many others. Perhaps my political persuasion comes close to the paleo-conservative position.

I believe Tucker Carlson is a paleo-conservative, and there is not much in what he said in his recent speech in Canberra that I could not say amen to. Paleo-conservatives are generally protectionist, against wars of aggression (that is, non-interventionist), and generally believers in smaller government. They do tend to advocate for free speech (of which I am no longer an advocate), but in general I find a lot more to like in their position than the neo-conservative position which dominates much of the conservative, centre right today. Neo-conservatism is a cancer in the West today: a terrible ideology. It is my affinity with many paleo-conservative positions that causes many people to confuse me for a conservative.

But I am not.

I am not trying to be clever here, either. I would simply describe myself as a Christian nationalist; that is, someone who believes that we should do all that we can to advocate for obedience to the gospel in our nation. Something akin to what the Apostle Paul was looking towards:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, Who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His Name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

 – Romans 1:1-6

Paul preached a message that called for all to come to an obedience of Jesus Christ, as he says here, “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

The fact that he clearly distinguished between “all the nations” and “you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” shows that Paul believed that Christianity would and should have a massive impact on changing nations – that is peoples – not just Christians and churches. He was thinking bigger than just the international Church here; he was thinking about nations being brought more and more in line with Christian teaching. This Christian influence would spread and change the nations. The beauty of this verse is that we have seen it fulfilled in many ways throughout history where the gospel actually did transform nations, led to changes in laws, and created a very different world to the one in which Rome was originally founded.

Now, I know some conservatives will be reading this, and saying, “Amen, brother, we are on the same page here.” I know that, because I have spoken with some of them personally on this issue. But there is still a big key difference. The conservative looks at our nation and says, “See these institutions: they are good, were set up for good reasons, and therefore we have to preserve them.”

Whereas I look at them and say, “Some were relatively good, and were sometimes set up for good reasons, but they have failed to preserve the nation, they have failed to preserve the faith of the nation, and they may have even contributed to this decline. Therefore, maybe it is time for new wineskins, because the old ones have failed.”

This is inherently a transformationist position, rather than a conservative position. You could argue that it is a progressive position, but that term has become loaded with too many associations with social justice, leftist anarchy and degeneracy. I want to see society transformed by the message of the gospel of salvation, and if institutions stand in the way of this, then our loyalty should be to the call of the message of the gospel and its implications for society, not structures.

The Unlucky Country - Zimmermann & Moens

Our structures are not eternal; they were placed there by people who believed the previous structures had served their purpose. In many societies we see this renewal and regeneration of the institutions that run the society. One of the things you learn from reading the history of the Roman empire is that every few generations a new emperor would come along and change the structure of the society, even revise the laws (like Justinian for instance), to help the empire function better. This prevented the fall of Rome several times in the post-Antonine period, and strengthened Roman society.

Constantine’s removal of the centre of the Empire to Byzantium from the city of Rome itself, is just one example. Sometimes they restructured the army and the provinces, sometimes they restructured the role of the nobility. Either way their desire was to preserve the society and serve the people of Rome better and protect it from internal decay and threats, and it did serve this purpose. The problem with long established structures is that it can lead to an entrenched elite that become self-serving and self-perpetuating, and this can stifle the whole society. These emperors knew this, and so worked hard to counterbalance this.

Progressives actually understand that this is necessary to help work towards the kind of society they envision. Conservatives simply react ineffectually against this.

Think about it: what have conservatives managed to preserve? At this point, not much. We should think in terms of transformation, not conservation. This begins with the work of the preaching of the gospel which changes hearts and it should flow on to a people who are willing to evaluate all the structures of our society and ask, “Are they serving the people, or can another structure serve them better?” This is the difference between the transformationist perspective and the conservative one.

I will use an illustration of the rusted car to show why my position is so different to conservatism.

Metaphorically, a conservative looks at a rusted car, and sees that it generally still holds shape, and so they are ok with giving it a new lick of paint, some new tires, and a change of the spark plugs. Never mind the fact that rust has set in and this rust is a cancer that will kill this car. As long as they can conserve what we now have, they have achieved the limits of their goals.

A transformationist, who wants to see our nation revitalised as a nation unto Christ, looks at this rusted car, and realises it needs a complete rebuild. It needs to be stripped down to the bare chassis, lifted on a hoist and sand blasted and then rebuilt from the ground up with all new parts, long before you even paint it.

But more than that they realise that this car needs to be given a solid front axel and front diff’, because the roads are rougher than they used to be and it needs 4WD, and it needs bigger tyres for the same reason. The engine needs to not just be rebuilt but bored out to give it a larger capacity and more power, and then it needs to be fitted with a better quality exhaust, Brembo brakes for stopping power to handle the extra power, and more. The car does not just need to be rebuilt, it needs to be modified because the world in which it exists now has changed heaps from the one in which it was originally built, and we have learnt that though those who built it may have done so with good intentions, their design fell far short of achieving its purpose.

God’s own constitution for His own people needed renewing and transforming; how much more do human systems and structures?

Conservatism is holding onto a rusted-out wreck. Progressivism is replacing that wreck with a strange hover craft boat thing that cannot really work. What we need is a new and improved vehicle.

As Christians we should be looking at the past and learning, looking at the present and observing and looking towards the future and evaluating how we can transform society so that our children do not face the same problems we do today.

That’s why I am not a conservative.

Assange, whose personal character may fall far short of being a good man – I am not an expert on him, is notable because he revealed that the political edifice is far more rusted internally than we once realised. The elites have punished him severely for that, because they prosper in this rusted system. You can’t conserve that, the rust has set in, it is in decay.

We need to think differently about how we can renew our society with better institutions. Societal collapse may come in our generation, certainly imperial decline is here. So moving forward, we should be willing to think differently than we have in the past.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Add your comments below...

You can enjoy more Good Sauce articles and shows by subscribing to the Good Sauce podcast on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon and more. Please take a minute to help us reach more people by giving us a 5 star rating and review in Apple Podcasts.

Fight shadow bans & SHARE!

Register for the next Church And State conference in a city near you!

Matthew Littlefield writes to think through some of the current issues facing society, the Church and whatever else comes to mind that might be interesting to process. Matt's focus is usually historical or scriptural, though he will address current issues from time to time as well. He is a co-author of The Ezekiel Declaration and the book, Defending Conscience, How Baptists reminded the Church to defy tyranny. He blogs most days at YoungGospelMinister.blogspot.com.

Honest political commentary & analysis

Here is where you'll find quality videos, podcasts & articles from some of the best independent voices in Australian politics and culture. Subscribe to get FREE weekly updates, uncensored, direct to your inbox today.

Success! Please check your inbox in a minute to finalise your subscription.