Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Quiet Tribulations of a Christian Candidate for President

I am far from choosing a favorite candidate for president. Yet I could not help but be struck by the series of videos shown below, which I never would have seen had my source for Presidential campaign news been the usual (mainstream) media.

Please do not mistake my purpose in showing these videos. I am not pushing a particular candidate (yet) for President. What I would like you to learn from these videos is exactly how encouraging and refreshing a Christian worldview can be in the very midst of secular politics. It is a view that never flinches from telling the unvarnished truth -- whether about oneself, or about others who are getting all the attention.

With those caveats firmly in mind, you should now watch this perfectly articulated response to the entire "Occupy ____ " movement (fill in the blank with a location near you):

And having delivered that resonant message, the candidate next allowed himself some Christian candor, as you will experience about three to four minutes into following video:

The candidate was also asked why the current secular media so attacks and persecutes any public figure who dares to confess his religious faith as a part of a campaign for office. In response, he unassumingly instructed his questioner by drawing on his time spent in the classroom, as a professor of history:

Now, before all the partisans pile on with their comments, I would like to be permitted this one observation. Newt Gingrich is decidedly a sinner, no better and no worse (a sinner, that is!) than most of us. His track record still makes a lot of people very angry. To the extent, however, that anger about Gingrich's past doings spills over into one's judgment about the current crop of presidential candidates, I would urge a good deal of careful, and measured, response to those inclinations. "Judge not, lest ye be judged"; or perhaps, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

I see very few in the race who are as willing as Newt Gingrich now is to speak to an election-year audience the plain, Christian truth about any topic. Rather than admit their faith-based perspective, most candidates dance around their religion, or shy away from any probing inquiry, because of legitimate fears for how any honest response will be treated in the secular media. But those candidates, I suggest, are the ones who are truly uncomfortable with their faith, who are in need of assistance to be able to integrate their religion with their public life, and who therefore, in my view, are not yet ready for high public office.

I would rather have, any day, an avowed and repentant Christian for a political leader than I would someone who still thinks they can do it all on their own -- with (of course) what they estimate will be sufficient (but even so, only secular and human) help.

As I say, the race is still young, and doubtless there are many surprises ahead. At this stage, I am simply expressing a word of appreciation for a candidate who can sincerely articulate, unabashedly and in public, his faith and the confidence it gives him, while knowing that there are many who have yet to forgive him his past transgressions. The proper response in that situation is a sincere Christian humility, and I think Newt Gingrich in his latest appearances is exhibiting such a response. And for that, I can be thankful -- no fellow Christian should wish for anything less.


  1. I'm not really enamored of any of the people running. That said I do like Newt's confession. It had a note of sincerity I don't often sense with politicians. And to be frank some of his personal background was (and is) troubling to me. While this did not erase those concerns, it did help ease them somewhat.

  2. I've been reading your blog for a few months now (lurking), but on this political issue I'm going to disagree with you. I agree that we should look at Newt (or any candidate) as another sinner, and not judge them too harshly. However, I'm not looking to Newt to be a brother in Christ - I'm looking for a leader for this nation. The standards are raised - higher even than I hold myself, because the office is higher than the one I hold. Can we expect this man to lead the country successfully when he can't lead his marriage(s) successfully?

    I would hope that we would exercise the same judgment when picking leaders in the church - in fact, the Bible lays out standards for leadership in those offices. I'm confused why you seem to be willing to give Newt a pass on these issues, just because his office is political instead of religious. Surely being "a husband of one wife" should be a minimum standard for any sort of leadership position.

    Find the candidate that has been married for 50 years, that is where you will find the honest politician. There is only one of them that I know of.

  3. Thank you for that comment, RMBIV. As I tried to make very clear in my post, I am not yet endorsing any candidate for the office of president -- we are still twelve months away from the election, and to expect to discern all the relevant factors at this stage would be to have a very exaggerated opinion of one's abilities.

    The point of the post was to illustrate how a simple Christian humility, born of painful knowledge of what others think of you because of what you have done, can at least strike a genuine note in politics -- one that is too rare these days. Newt may or may not be the genuine article; it's too early yet to tell for sure. But he's learning from his mistakes.

  4. I confess to being enamored of Speaker Gingrich's ability to speak in full sentences.

  5. There is one and only one genuine man of integrity and Christian running for president.

    I suspect that the ordinary conservatives already know who he is, and don't like him and that I don't even have to write his name.

    It's not Newt.

  6. This man's statements are truly extraordinary, not so much as in the content, which one may hear every day
    in church settings, but that he has
    unabashedly introduced the doctrines
    of repentance and salvation into a
    political discussion.

  7. I do admire Newt's honesty and humility in these discussions, and am not certain he is a typical career politician. That having been said, I am convinced in listening to his policy prescriptions and considering his past ability to promise what was not delivered (thinking here of the "Contract with America"), whether through surrender or lack of votes, that I can not support him. My principal source of reticence is the fact that I am still convinced that he does not understand what must be done if this nation is to avoid experiencing either a Weimar Republic experience or a Second Great Depression, perhaps both.

    There is one candidate who actually does understand that all of those proposals put forth by the totality of his opponents are inadequate to the challenge. He alone, has proposed a paring of the Federal government which I believe is the sine qua non of an economic recovery with my remaining life expectancy (I have already turned 66). His first step, probably not sufficient buy an admirably daring start, is to simply disestablish five Cabinet departments. His plan parallels a part of what I would disestablish, and I strongly suspect that his five is not the full listing of the Cabinet departments which need to be eliminated, but I doubt that the economy could stand the shock of that many newly unemployed former Federal employees in one batch.

    The advantages of implementing his plan go beyond the deficit issue to reforming the Federal establishment to be closer to what is authorized by the Constitution. If he is not elected, I believe that the only thing that will forestall a lengthy depression, or worse, will be direct divine intervention.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  8. Let's listen to Newt make a public apology and repentance to his former wife to whom he gave a divorce on her bed in a hospital.
    then I will believe in anything he says
    He's sure a smart cookie, but not a moral paragon.

    Jim of olym
    PS: Not a moral paragon myself by any means but not as much in the public eye as the Newt fellow.

  9. Dear RMBIV:
    GWB is also the husband of one wife, and look what he got us into, along with his dad, who is also the HOOF. and former president clinton who is also the HOOF.

    I think we gotta look at another paradigm here.

  10. Auriel Ragmon, that old canard about Newt asking his wife for a divorce when she was in the hospital for cancer is completely untrue -- in every respect. Read his daughter's debunking of that myth, and please don't spread it any more.

  11. Dear Auriel,
    I agree, that the ability to maintain a marriage should not be the "only" standard - but I put it forth as a "minimum" standard. Another example would be the pro-life / pro-choice debate. I will not vote for a pro-choice president.

    What that does for me is create boundaries. I will not vote for a divorcee for president, nor will I vote for a pro-choice president.

    A third example would be a warmonger president. I wouldn't vote for GWB on those grounds (though I confess and repent that I did support him in my youth).

    I fully expect my standards to narrow the field of candidates I could support to a very small number - potentially 0. If that happens, I will happily stay at home on voting day and lament whatever president you chain around my neck. I will not vote a compromise against my conscience, or engage in a false-dichotomy for the sake of "participation in the process".