Acton Institute Powerblog

Liberal Goals, Conservative Means

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In a profile of Mike Gerson, an evangelical Christian and chief speechwriter for President Bush, Karl Rove summarized Gerson’s contributions thusly: “You can count on Mike to ask how a given policy will affect the least among us,” Rove said in an interview. “The shorthand, political way to say it is that Mike is the one always wondering how we can achieve liberal goals with conservative means.”

Of course this the “political way” to get at it, but Rove’s expression points to how an authentically Christian view of politics must transcend partisan agendas and political ideology.

This excellently written profile goes on to describe the backgrounds of Gerson’s life, including an interest in Catholic Social Thought:

“Catholics have long believed that the state has a role to play in alleviating poverty, but that this is not necessarily a role it plays directly,” says Catholic scholar Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “What has happened in the U.S. is that Protestants have embraced this — first with school vouchers, and later with prison outreach, poverty, and other issues. It’s a growing alliance between Protestants and Catholics to help the less fortunate, and Mike Gerson is at the intersection of these two traditions coming together.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • The BIGGEST improvement in the lives of poor people will come when “aid givers” realize what the poor need the most to reduce their poverty.

    A job.

    Every aid giver should be explicitly oriented at helping poor people get jobs; including micro-loans to start their own businesses, and bigger loans to expand a business already there.

    Jobs building housing would prolly be a good focus — too bad Habitat for Humanity can’t quite generate enough revenue to hugely explode production.

    I hope the 5 talents org can.

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