The “Christian Right” or “Religious Right” began in the 70s with well-known conservative evangelical leaders urging their religious constituents to be more politically proactive in an attempt to arrest the decline in the morality of the nation. It has developed over the decades into a conglomeration of conservative Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons and others and includes political action committees, lobbying organizations, para-church organizations and legal organizations. Similarly to Christ’s Church, it is an aggregation of many individuals and local groups: some well organized and some more ubiquitous.
Here’s the thing. It is a grassroots political movement. For those familiar with the Scriptures and their historical context, the most direct comparison is the grassroots social-political movement of Jesus’ day known as “the set apart” ones (the moral ones). This is transliterated in our English Bibles as “Pharisees.”
The precepts of the religious right are rooted in traditional western Judeo-Christian mores, but it is not the same as the church.
It is a grassroots political-social movement based on a general religious and moral belief system. This does not make it wrong to agree with its tenets insofar as they actually do fall in step with and submission to the truth of God revealed in Christ and His Word. But more often than not it seems that we as Evangelical Christians — perhaps even unconsciously — hold the ideology of the religious right on par with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To this, I believe, Jesus would say, “Beware!”
Jesus once told His disciples to beware the teaching of those leading the grassroots movement of the people to promote proper piety and encourage lifestyles in line with the law of God (Matthew 16:5-12). He warned them not because godly behavior is undesirable in a people or a nation, but because their message attempted to accomplish the recreative miracle of the gospel — a changed heart and mind — without the cross of Christ.
Beware the gospel of the religious right. It is not your church. It’s voice is not the voice of God. It's blog posts, Facebook statuses, memes and Tweets are not God's holy, authoritative and redemptive Scriptures. They should not inspire you as the Holy Spirit and God’s Word inspires you. They should not be spread abroad as the gospel message.
The gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to humility, meekness, mercifulness and grace.
His commands to His disciples to be salt and light in this world are not ensconced in His “Political Proclamations on the Hill,” but the “Sermon on the Mount.” They are not intertwined with instruction on the principles of the kingdoms of men, but the principles of the kingdom of God. Principles clearly communicated in the beatitudes and eloquently elaborated in examples from the law of Moses and practical piety (Matthew 5-6). The commands of Christ to be salt and light in this world are pure and holy commands for His disciples, and not to be confused with or co-opted by political principles for democratic societies.
If in holding, teaching and practicing the gospel of the cross of Christ, we find ourselves in agreement with secondary systems or philosophies of men, then we are blessed. But the evangel of Christ must be primary and singular. Sola Scriptura. Sola Christus.
So beware when the religious right uses a purportedly common morality to convince you of their gospel. God did not humble Himself to the low estate of humanity and further humble Himself as a servant among men and still further humble Himself to the status of a crucified criminal, so that He could make men moral. That is not the goal of the gospel! He died for His enemies so that the righteousness of God would be revealed at the cross. The very act of His humble, self-sacrificing, substitutionary death is the revelation of God's righteousness; that the only righteous man would die as a sinner so that the sinner could be declared righteous.
This is the morality of Christ, the morality of the cross: That we are declared righteous by God in Christ, not because we earned or deserved it, but specifically because we could not earn or deserve it. The morality of God is the cross.
This is the morality we should be inspired to share with others, both believers and non believers. The cross of Christ is the good news that redeems and transforms; that builds a body, a congregation, an ekklesia of people who live out this morality of the cross.
When our morality is that of the cross of Christ, our hearts and minds are renewed by the resurrection and empowered by the Spirit of the living God.
This results in the light of Christ shining through us so that people see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven. The reality of our renewed hearts and minds are worked out in front of others. If we attempt to display a morality different or separated from this redeeming and transforming power of the cross, we become actors; those whom Jesus described in Greek as "hypocrites."
To support a plan to "save our nation" by converting its citizens to a political platform — even a moral platform — neglects the actual morality of the cross of Christ. It ignores the need for the soul's conversion by the power and grace and righteousness of the cross. To fill Facebook with graceless comments, memes, reposts and links in order to shame others or push a cross-neglecting morality upon them is to become a proclaimer of a false gospel, a gospel that skips past the cross and calls people to become actors only, and not actually transformed and renewed people.
May we be messengers of the true gospel of Christ: humble, self-sacrificial love and mercy for sinners. May we cease striving to be either religious or right and strive to let the light of Christ's righteousness demonstrated on the cross be seen in and through our words and deeds. May we encourage those we shepherd to do the same.