Is Bush a Christian President?

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In his usual way, JCecil3 raises some interesting questions about the Bush presidency. I boil his central thesis down to the question in the title--Is Bush a Christian President?

My answer to this is simple. That is between Mr. Bush and God. It is presumptuous of me to do any other. I may take Mr. Bush at his word and assume that he is a good, Church-going believer.

Does his time in office make this a substantive reality in the world today? That is, if one had to go on evidence rather than assertion, would there be enough evidence to convict Bush on a trial for his Christianity? Not that I've seen. Everything in Washington is Politics as usual. There's a bit more of the relgious window-dressing and talking than there had been for a few words. Is it meaningful? Has it changed society for the better?

Honestly, not that I've seen. I don't see any surge forward in people loving one another as Christ commanded. I don't see the dawning age of new solidarity. I don't even see increased Church attendance as a result of the president's seeming endorsement of religion.

If Bush is a Christian President, it is a private matter that finds very little room for substantive expression in action. Yes, there may be prayer meetings in the White House and a nearly constant invocation of the name of God and the battle of Good and Evil. But the harsh reality is, the president is the president. He does as all have done before him if with a good deal less aplomb and a great deal more alienation. (Like any choice at the present time would have been better?)

Bush no more stands for Christianity than does Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, or the President of the Phillippines. Nor is he meant to--and those who would like to see him so do a grave injustice both to the office of president and to the Christian faith. There is a very, very good reason for "separation of Church and State" in the sense of not campaigning on your Chrisitianity--you besmirch the faith and often, assuming you live it, you will end up alienating everyone any way--nothing will get done.

I do not think religion should ever stay out of the public square--the issues it raises and the causes that it supports need to be constantly brought before the eyes of the world. But I do think it poor policy to make faith an issue or mainstay of your reign or rule. Inevitably either the reign will be short and poorly received, or Christianity itself will get another black eye. (Think of His Most Christian Majesty Vlad Tepes--as one among many sterling examples.) The proper role of Christianity is always contra mundum, we are in the world, but not of it. If Christianity loses its power to confront and provoke by being subsumed in the mainstream battle of political discourse, it will have lost much of its meaning. Christianity is a sign of contradiction and a constant call to improve, not a seal of approval or an endorsement.

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It would seem to me that you have answered your own question. If Christians are in the world, but not of the world, and if politicians are necessarily of the world, if they are to be effective, then one cannot simultaneously be a Christian and a sucessful politician. As President of the United States, George W. Bush is clearly a successful politician.

Dear Rob,

That's about the size of it. Politic +Christianity = either completely altered politics or compromised
Christianity. Viewing the state of the world today, I'd side with the latter.

But then, how does that put the politician in any different boat than the rest of us. He is a comprosmised Christian, a sinner and a serial recidivist. Now it sounds as though I'm looking the mirror.



"...I'd side with the latter."

Is it your understanding, then, that Jesus Christ was a promoter of pragmatic, comprise positions? Was He, in other words, a moral relativist?
When He said "Whoever is not for me is against me", was that just a hyperbolic statement, uttered for effect? Can the raison d'etre of Christians be to "win" on an "of the world" basis, regardless of the moral/spiritual cost?

I'm sorry for having dropped the "n" on your name above. It was only a typo, empty of any significance.

Dear Rob,

No, I think you misunderstand my statement above. When I said, I'd side with those who say the latter, I meant, in my judgment it is almost always true the politics disrupts/corrupts the face of faith. In other words, for a change, I think we are in essential agreement. I still hold by my Church's teaching that it is our responsibility to participate in the political system that we are given; however, as I said last election, part of that participation is the choice not to cast a ballot--not out of laziness, but from very closely considered observations and conclusions.

It is not the way things SHOULD BE, it is the way things are. Jesus was not a relativist and as I said, the proper role of Christianity is contra mundum which cannot be from within the comfortable, assured position of politcal power. When Christianity is joined to political power it is nearly always to the detriment of the Christian message.



" is nearly always to the detriment of the Christian message."

Yes, I certainly agree with that. Based on these sentences, "Politic +Christianity = either completely altered politics or compromised
Christianity. Viewing the state of the world today, I'd side with the latter." I thought that you were saying that, siding with the latter, you'd choose "compromised Christianity."
Now, that made no sense to me, knowing you to the extent that I do, but that's how I initially understood it. Obviously your choice was between politics and Christianity, and your choice the latter of those two. My bad. Sorry.

Dear Rob,

Not at all, it was my poor choice of phrasing. My intention was to say that the result would be one of these two positions and from what I'd seen, I'd have to say that it was nearly always compromised Christianity. Thank you for asking the questions that gave me the opportunity to clarify.



My pleasure. It's nice to visit with you over here again. It's been awhile.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 23, 2005 9:46 AM.

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