I’ve seen a number of outlets assume that evangelical dissatisfaction with Bush and the GOP must be dissatisfaction from the Left. While younger evangelicals may indeed have a newfound concern for issues like global warming and AIDS, this doesn’t mean they’re becoming liberal per se. And, as the threats of Dobson, et al. to bolt to a third party indicate, much of the dissatisfaction is from the Right.
David Sessions, the author of the Slate article, makes the interesting suggestion that the growing popularity of Reformed theology in conservative evangelical circles may account for the newfound focus on broader social issues. Neo-Calvinists like Abraham Kuyper were very big on Christ as the Lord of all and that his reign should encompass the entire social sphere. This is in sharp contrast to a kind of Left Behind theology that emphasizes snatching souls out of a society firmly ensconsed in a hell-bound handbasket. In this respect neo-Calvinism has a lot in common with Catholic social thought.
Lutherans, meanwhile, have historically been more skittish about this kind of thing. Obviously God is sovereign over all, but God relates to us in two ways. The two kingdoms doesn’t refer to distinct spheres of church and state, but to these two ways in which God relates to creation: redemption and conservation. The kingdom of the right, God’s “proper work,” is calling people to faith and repentance through the preaching of the Gospel. The kingdom of the left, meanwhile, refers to the way in which God upholds and conserves the structures of creation and society to provide for and promote human well-being in this life. Politics, for Lutherans, is not redemptive, but pertains to penultimate matters, to serving the neighbor in her concrete needs in this age. To Lutheran ears, the talk of “building God’s kingdom” that you sometimes get from both the evangelical Right and Left smacks of Calvinist-inspired Puritanism.