Suppose a measure is before your state legislature to build a bridge over a river in your town. There are ardent Christians in your town who think this is a good idea, and ardent Christians who want to leave well enough alone. Surrounding these pro and con Christians are the unbelievers who also, not surprisingly, divide up into for and against camps.
Some of the “in favor” secularists want to build the bridge because they want to make money, money, money, while the hipster antis do not want to disturb the river god any further than we already have. The Christians who are for and against divide up into another two groups (we have now cut that pie into four quarters). Some of the pro Christians fall into the money, money, money school of thought, and some of the anti Christians wish that Jesus were a little more green friendly, like the river god is.
But there are other Christians, both for and against the project, who came to their conclusions in a conscientious biblical manner. They are not contaminated by other people around them doing it wrong. To do anything right in this world is to run the risk of being misidentified with people who are doing the same thing for the wrong reasons.
Now, forget the bridge, and we can check back into our national political scene. I want to argue that any conservative Christian who wants to avoid a legitimate charge of a syncretistic approach with secular conservatism needs to confess openly that Jesus is Lord over all things in Heaven and on earth, and that His revealed will must provide the foundation of any righteous civil order. If anyone opposes the re-formation of Christendom, on these principles, then the charge of syncretism, in some measure, sticks — at least to the extent of being a plausible charge.
Unless we acknowledge the lordship of Christ over all these debates, we have no way to resolve them. We don’t want to find ourselves accusing the other camp of syncretistic compromise as we lob grenades from behind the barriers of our own piled-up syncretisms. We don’t want to say that they ought not to be reading Charles Krauthammer, for example, while it is perfectly okay for “us’ns over here” to be reading Naomi Wolf and Noam Chomsky. It is their syncretisms that are bad! Ain’t it the way?
So keep it simple. Those who acknowledge that secularism is a failed project (e.g. Hunter Baker’s The End of Secularism) are really on to something. In the meantime, it is possible for us to be cobelligerents in limited common cause with those conservatives who don’t acknowledge the Lord. But without a principled (and to them very offensive) commitment to the public lordship of Jesus Christ, we have no real way to prevent ourselves from going native.
There is much more to say on this subject, particularly on the difficulties (approaching impossibilities) that committed Christians would have in trying to apply this approach on the Left. We can leave that for another day. In the meantime, the principles remains constant. Jesus is Lord, and His demands call us to radical discipleship — and this is not an anemic choice between CNN and Fox News, the anti-bridge network and the pro-bridge network, with Bible verses conveniently attached after the fact.