Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Christian Litmus Test

James Dobson doesn't like Senator Fred Thompson for President because "he's not a Christian." He was baptized into the Church of Christ some time back, but that doesn't cut it. My brother sent my an article about this, boiling. This is why he hates the Republicans.

You know, this simple-Simon approach can get a person into lots o' trouble. An acquaintance just had a "Christian man" botch a breast reduction surgery. Breast reductions weren't his specialty and his Christianity didn't kick in to mention that salient fact. His actions don't indicate a strong Christian, do they? Or they indicate a Christian with a greed problem, or whatever. Christian or not, his fruits demonstrated weakness, but he sold himself as a "Christian surgeon." For me, it's between God and the surgeon if he worships Albert Einstein and nematodes. Is he a good surgeon?

Maybe it's my midwestern upbringing, where religion wasn't openly talked about like it is down here in Texas, but I have a reflexive distaste for anyone who talks about their Christianity. A guy I know has a bumper sticker that says, "I love my wife" and is a too-much-talkish Christian. A couple years ago, we saw the guy with two other women at two other times (weird coincidence) in the same week. They were more than friendly, if you know what I mean. Back at church, he was teaching a women's bible study. Well, he certainly did like women. But please, spare me the Jesus talk.

My opinion is that unless I know a person is purposefully trying to worship the Devil, the merit-based system is best. Interestingly, Jesus taught the same thing. "You shall know them by their fruits." Someone who talks the talk and leaves destruction in their wake should raise warning flags. Someone whose actions have lead to good results should receive respect whether they are a Christian or not. So en lieu of the Christianity litmus test, here's my tests for candidates:

  • What kind of policies does the person have--are they all messed up? One could argue that Giuliani's pro-abortion stance is "messed up", especially if one is a Christian. I would agree, but that would have to be balanced with his ability to do anything about it. And Presidents don't have much to do about this issue. Nevertheless, policies must be looked at--war, economy, diplomacy, and even abortion.
  • What kind of actions does the person take when stressed? Some people stink under pressure and the Presidency is one big pressure-filled position. I really don't know how the leaders handle it. Society has changed so much. Everything comes so fast that a leader must be guided by over-riding principles and be able to make a good decision on the fly. Giulliani demonstrated his ability to handle this pressure after 9/11. McCain obviously handled pressure as a Prisoner of War. Sometimes, though, McCain slides too close to the edge of crazy and his policies cause distrust. Barack Obama seems like a smooth customer but he's untested--so how would I know? I don't like unkowns. Hillary Clinton seems to need to have every detail controlled in order to succeed. She's very disciplined, there's no question about that, but can she handle the surprising, shocking and unexpected? I'm not so sure. And on through the list of candidates.
So how Christian is Christian enough? How can anyone know the heart of another person? All that can be done is to look at a person's actions. What have they said? What do they believe about America and the economy and our place in the world? But most importantly, how do they act? And does their actions line up with their words and beliefs?

Claiming Christianity means nothing if the actions are empty. Clay Ginn says this:
This brings us back around to Fred Thompson. He may or may not be a Christian. I'm willing to overlook that in an election. We aren't voting for Senior Pastor here, we are voting for President of the United States. Fred Thompson has a good background as a lawyer and Senator. He's a strong conservative on most all issues, and is an extremely good speaker. We need a statesman right now. Someone who can make the American people feel comfortable with the Presidency. He's connected to Hollywood through Law and Order. And since he was the head of air traffic control when John McClane killed all those terrorists...oh wait. That wasn't real was it? Never mind. (But, if it was real, we could call in John McClane to be the real-life Jack Bauer.)

I think he's a good, viable candidate and would be happy to vote for him, Christian or not. Dr. Dobson needs to realize that he's not the conscience of the entire Christian community. We can make our own choices for president.

H/T Instapundit


Anonymous said...

Hillary Clinton seems to need to have every detail controlled in order to succeed.

In other words, the Control Freak type of Boss.

She's very disciplined, there's no question about that, but can she handle the surprising, shocking and unexpected?

Control Freaks usually handle that by Displacement Behavior -- completely ignore the "surprising, shocking, and unexpected" emergency that's out of your Complete Control, tunnel-vision obsess onto something that IS under your Complete Control (no matter how trivial), and micromanage that obsession 24/7/365.

carol said...

This was all the common wisdome when I was growing up. Trouble is, it morphed over time into some a priori assumption that All Christians are Hypocrites. So if you know some true church-going Christians, you assumed they were shallow bourgeios fakers. The pendulum had to go back in the other direction but I don't think we're well served by Dobson's comments.

And yeah, the recommndation "he's a good Christian ____" is a little grating.

Anonymous said...

And yeah, the recommndation "he's a good Christian ____" is a little grating.

Especially if he's into the "Christ as Party Line" theology. Reducing the Gospel to nothing more than "The Party Line" makes "Good Christians" into "Good Little Party Members". The results are visible in Volume 12 of Left Behind and its Volume 13 sequel.