The gospel is neither conservative nor liberal; and at the same time the gospel is both liberal and conservative. This causes a lot of confusion to folks both inside and outside of the Church.
On the one hand, the gospel is conservative because it declares that there is such a thing as right and wrong, and that there are benefits from choosing right and consequences that accompany wrong. Each person is responsible for his or her own actions and attitudes. These are very conservative principles.
On the other hand, the gospel is the free gift that is given to those who have not earned it and cannot afford it. In fact, we are told the gospel is the riches of Christ redistributed to those who admit their spiritual poverty. Isaiah says it is like being invited to a party, but the only ones who can come are those who cannot pay, or who are humble enough to admit whatever riches they think they might have are not valid currency. (Isaiah 55.1-2) These seem to be very liberal ideas and images.
Both are true. Equally true. Both are essential. Leave out one side or the other and you create a “different gospel” – which, as Paul says, is really no gospel at all. In fact, Paul tells us that anyone trying to pass a counterfeit gospel should be ( and will be) anathema – repeatedly destroyed over and over for all eternity. (Galatians 1.6-9)
I would suggest, even insist, that both Conservatism and Liberalism are false worldviews and offer counterfeit gospels. The gospel is not a compromise of liberalism and conservatism, nor is it merely a middle way. The gospel is the expression of God’s very nature and plan. It is therefore, THE Truth, because God himself – and God alone – is Truth. And it is eternal Truth because God, who is Truth, is eternally God.
What both Conservatives and Liberals have done, at least those who operate as if these philosophies are the supreme ideologies, is to carve off portions of the Truth that meet their personal preferences at the expense of the valid point of the other. Both begin with as a reduction of the gospel Each then proceeds to build their respective worldview upon these faulty foundations of a corrupted gospel.
We begin to escape the confusion when we recognize our own propensity toward either Conservatism or Liberalism, at the expense of the other. We begin to overcome our limitations when we recognize the whole gospel alone is the Truth, and then commit to a lifelong pursuit of excavating the depths and complexities of the gospel, while at the same time venturing to live out all the implications of the gospel in every aspect of our lives.
Whether theologically or politically, conservatism and liberalism are impotent to effect real, enduring, or godly change. But the gospel, undiluted and undistorted, is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1.20-25)