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If you are not familiar with Pastor Chuck Baldwin, you should be. Especially if you are a Christian and you consider yourself a conservative. Baldwin pastors the Crossroads Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, and writes a twice-weekly column examining political issues from a truly biblical and conservative viewpoint.
Baldwin is not your typical go-along-to-get-along commentator. Rather than accept President Bush’s (GWB) rhetoric and professions of Christian faith at face value, he does what Scripture calls him to do. He dispassionately examines the fruit on the tree. He finds it most unpalatable. He routinely takes the religious establishment to task for so unquestioningly following GWB.
In his column of January 31, 2004, he writes the following:
“When I confronted the foibles and fallacies of President Bill Clinton, Christian conservatives hailed me a hero. I was deluged with congratulatory emails and letters. Their appreciation for my work could not be expressed loudly or often enough.
“However, when I confront the foibles and fallacies of President George W. Bush, those same Christian conservatives call me every dirty name in the book. I am suddenly their enemy. Their songs of praise for my work have turned into a cacophony of hate. But amazingly, I am saying the same things now that I said then. So, what has changed?
“I submit that what has changed are the attitudes and principles of vast numbers of Christian conservatives. Where once they stood for truth, they now stand for political parties."
I passed this column along to numerous friends, fellow patriots and a few pastors. The responses were interesting. Someone I like and respect sent me a response that is worthy of some comment. While I will not repeat it in full, I want to examine some key points.
To begin with, my friend urges me to see the “big picture” when evaluating GWB. I have said a lot of nasty things about GWB on my web page over the last four years, and I stand by every one of them. Numerous people have told me that GWB represents the “lesser of two evils” and that my criticisms “nitpick” at his “imperfections”.
The big picture of GWB has consisted of bigger government than ever, a frontal assault on our constitutionally guaranteed liberties and a culture of ever increasing hostility toward Christians and Christian values. (We are not at the persecution stage yet.)
When Bill Clinton expanded government and took away liberties, Christian conservatives rebuked him harshly. Moreover, responsibility for the growing cultural and political hostility toward Christians was laid squarely at the feet of the whoremonger at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
However, when GWB intensifies the Clinton legacy, Christian conservatives tell us to look the other way. During the 1990s, moralists in the press and the pulpits constantly held up Bill and Hillary as practitioners of “situational ethics”. What could be a better example of situational ethics than justifying and rationalizing a certain behavior when your party practices it, while condemning the same behavior when the other party practices it?
My friend says that GWB has an “ethical and moral basis” for his actions where Clinton did not. What is this “ethical and moral basis” and from whence is it derived?
I do not like to quote myself, but I will, in this case, indulge in such egomania. Recently, I wrote a piece in response to a pundit’s assertion that “God wants Bush re-elected.” I discussed the grossly unbiblical nature of our current form of government, which did not change when GWB took office. Putting a Christian in charge of our current form of government no more makes it pleasing to God than putting a Christian in charge of the local strip joint would make it pleasing to God. Applying Christian principles to either would radically alter both entities. The strip joint would close down overnight, while Washington, DC, would almost close down overnight.
My friend says that GWB “gently ‘lifts the bar’ of how we as Americans should behave, but not so dramatically as to alienate the populous but to entreat them to raise their own expectations.”
Oh sure, GWB got off Olde Demon Rum years ago and probably has not looked at a woman other than Laura in years. However, a president – any president – is powerless to set the moral tone for the nation. GWB’s own daughters have been busted for underage drinking. His niece has been caught possessing crack cocaine. His biggest supporter in the media is an admitted drug addict. The War on Drugs has been a positively monumental failure. We abort a million babies a year. Divorces are at an all-time high, even among Christians. Television, music and movies get filthier and filthier. Ozzy Osbourne is a guest at the Bush White House. Janet Jackson flashes her mammary on the most viewed television program on the planet. Christians are subject to more and more ridicule and harassment all the time. But don’t worry: our Great Leader is setting an irreproachable moral tone.
My friend concludes by saying that he supports GWB “fully, not because he's perfect, but because the LARGER picture he enables is closer to the America I want to live in...”
Just what kind of America do GWB supporters want to live in? A socialist police state that has eradicated God from the public square and surrendered its sovereignty in the name of some new world order? This is exactly where GWB and company are taking us. It does not matter how much lofty rhetoric surrounds it. It does not matter how many times GWB invokes Jesus’ name. This is the big picture. GWB is a wolf in sheep’s clothing if there ever was one.
Recently, the Barna Research Group published a study claiming that fewer than ten percent of Christians have a true Christian worldview. Christian adoration of GWB is proof positive of this. There is nothing at all Christian about granting such sweeping power to one person and overlooking his myriad un-Christian acts just because he says he is a Christian.
Rush Limbaugh often reminds us that conservatives think while liberals feel. Much of what Pastor Baldwin and other Christian commentators who have gone off the Bush Plantation say will be lost on most Christians. They would rather feel good about their President than subject his actions to any sort of biblical or constitutional scrutiny.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament warn against this.
Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house. (Ezekiel 12:2 KJV)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (II Timothy 4:3-4 KJV)
My friend states that, "Pastor Baldwin's stances are too extreme for a popular election, at the presidential level, for someone hold forth and win." While he agrees with Pastor Baldwin’s objectives, he does “not think we in America are, as a population, willing en masse to elect a President who would fill Pastor Baldwin's expectations. We've simply become too large, too diverse and in many cases, too ungodly to do so.”
Does this mean Christians should compromise our principles, yoke ourselves with ungodly people and put our blessing on evil if it means political victory? This sounds very Clintonistic to me.
It is not our call as Christians merely to swim with the current. A fish that always swims with the current is a dead fish. Jesus tells us to be light in a world of darkness and salt in a world of decay. (Matthew 5:13-16) When the world around us is falling apart, and when everyone around us is worshipping false gods – yes, the omnipotent state is a false god -- we are not to go along with the world in order to win temporal victories.
We get our high school diplomas when we are 17 or 18. But too many of us never graduate from high school emotionally. We never stop trying to be hip, cool and popular. We always want to fit in regardless of the consequences of doing so. Ministers rightfully warn teenagers of the dangers of succumbing to peer pressure when it comes to things like sex and drugs. America needs more ministers who, like Pastor Baldwin, relentlessly warn adults of the dangers of succumbing to peer pressure when it comes to politics.
Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman