One of my favorite columnists, though I don't always agree with him, is Charley Reese. To my mind, he is a true independent thinker, totally honest, and refreshingly courageous. I try to read everything he writes.
Back in August, Charley wrote a column in which he took televangelist Pat Robertson to task. Robertson, host of The 700 Club, had publicly called upon President Bush to send an assassination team to "take out" Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez. (Robertson later said he was misinterpreted.) When Charley heard this, he was incensed! Subsequently, he wrote in his column, "Pat Robertson is not a Christian. No man who publicly advocates cold- blooded murder for political reasons can claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ."
I certainly understand Charley's frustration. How professing Christians, especially Christian leaders, can do and say some of the things they do and say, is both perplexing and discouraging, to say the least.
For example, I have not really gotten over my chagrin at Jerry Falwell for apologizing for his remarks saying (after the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01) that God was judging America for its many national sins, including legalizing abortion. Since when do Christian leaders need to apologize for telling the truth? But because the White House was upset with Jerry's remarks, he quickly retracted them. In my opinion, this is not the proper conduct of a Christian leader.
Beyond that, with few exceptions (Franklin Graham being one), neither do I appreciate the way in which most conservative Christian leaders fawn and yawn over George W. Bush. They fawn over him like he is a king and yawn over every foible and fallacious policy he makes, no matter how egregious it may be. I am extremely disappointed in the way most pastors and Christian leaders seem to have lost all sense of objectivity, discernment, and courage. Or is it that they are willing to look the other way for reasons of personal aggrandizement? Either way, as far as I am concerned, such behavior does not befit Christian leaders.
However, to say that Pat Robertson, or anyone else, is not a Christian because of his or her political commentary certainly takes us into realms where we are not permitted to travel. If someone renounces the holy scriptures, or the deity of Jesus Christ and His blood atonement, or his or her personal faith in Christ, then obviously we can conclude that such a one is not a Christian. However, when it comes to politics, one will find Christians (and non-Christians) just about everywhere.
It is certainly appropriate for us to personally question the faith of certain people based upon their words and works. After all, Christ instructed us to be fruit inspectors. However, while it is true that you and I know people by their fruit, only God sees the heart, and, therefore, only God "knows them that are His."
Herein lies both a great mystery and a great trap. Many Christians make their political evaluations upon the presumption of spirituality. Because George Bush is presumed to be a spiritual man, harmful policies are routinely ignored, or worse yet, endorsed. Of course, if the person in office were considered unspiritual, Christians would aggressively hold the person accountable for these policies. Such a double standard is extremely dangerous, as it sacrifices constitutional governance-not to mention liberty and justice-upon the altar of rhetoric.
Another problem is that too many Christians have a double standard as to what constitutes immorality. They quickly condemn Bill Clinton for his propensity to unzip his pants but seemingly see nothing wrong with President Bush running roughshod over the Bill of Rights. It's as if, as long as a man doesn't sleep around, he can violate his oath to uphold the Constitution with impunity. Yet, one is as bad as the other; no, the latter is actually worse! (That is not to say that Clinton didn't also attempt to run roughshod over the Constitution. He did.)
The truth is, Christians are just as capable of political error as are non-Christians! And both should be held equally accountable!
Therefore, while Charley Reese has every right to personally question or doubt someone's Christianity (as fruit inspectors, all of us share this right), only God can judge the heart! When it comes to politics, however, our main focus should be, not upon rhetoric or presumed spirituality, but upon fidelity to America's founding principles. In that regard, Charley certainly has a valid point. I don't find assassination listed anywhere in Article II of the Constitution.
© Chuck Baldwin
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