August 2005 – I’m frustrated when fellow Christians use the same false arguments of the secular left to criticize the conservative, Christian, pro-family movement and its leaders, including Don Wildmon, James Dobson, James Kennedy, Chuck Colson, Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, Richard Land, Jerry Falwell and others.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist. He also has his own show on the Fox News Channel each weekend. In a recent column he went after conservative Christians – again. I am not sure what Cal claims to be today, perhaps a moderate. I know he once worked for Dr. Falwell and the Moral Majority back in the early ’80s. But he talks about conservative Christians today as if he is not one, even though he often writes as if he is. In Blinded by Might, the book he co-wrote with Ed Dobson (no relation to James Dobson), he wrongly attributed ill motives to James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, saying that they were on ego trips and were trying to bring about spiritual and moral change in America through the force of government. He said they should instead focus on activities promoting the gospel. This is a frequent criticism used by liberals.
“You Christians need to clothe the poor and feed the hungry and quit trying to force your morals on everyone else with politics,” is the line often used against us. Why can’t Christians feed the poor and stand for public policies that reflect Biblical righteousness?
What was interesting about Thomas’ criticisms of Dobson and Falwell is that over the years these two gentlemen and their ministries have spent the vast majority of their resources helping families and spreading the Gospel. Relatively little time has been used to influence politics. And then it was only if a clear moral issue was at stake.
Now in his latest jab, Thomas is doing it again. In a recent column, he lauded the comments of former U.S. Sen. John Danforth who wrote critically of conservative Christians in the New York Times in a June 17 column titled “Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers.” Wrote Danforth: “Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God’s truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental actions.” Incidentally, in that same column Danforth writes that he is a Christian who is for human embryonic stem cell research and against a constitutional amendment to protect marriage because it would “humiliate homosexuals.” Don’t ask me how he can give readers his view on moral issues while using the column to go after conservatives for doing precisely the same thing. With some qualification, Thomas agreed with Danforth’s statement criticizing conservatives and then adding, “Christians are limited in what government can do for them and for an earthly agenda.”
Now, there is a revelation. Thomas writes this as if conservative Christian leaders (whom he pejoratively calls “self-appointed” – as the liberals do) just don’t understand it.
As a conservative Christian, I say yes to Danforth and Thomas. We can know for certain where God stands on issues of life, marriage, homosexuality, etc., and that we should stand up for Biblical righteousness when and where we can, especially when it comes to public policy and the law. Doing so does not mean we believe government can save us in any kind of spiritual way. How ridiculous! Yet Thomas beats this drum over and over as if it a serious misconception among conservative Christians. I have worked in this movement for nearly 20 years and have not met one conservative Christian leader who believes the government has the answers for problems of the soul.
Further, Thomas writes, “Wouldn’t these conservative Christians have greater moral power if they put their own houses in order before trying to cure the disorder in other houses? Isn’t that the principle behind Jesus’ story about noticing a speck in the other fellow’s eye, while ignoring the beam in one’s own eye?”
Well, no, it isn’t, Cal. This principle is meant to promote humility and the recognition of weakness in the believer while also engendering sympathy towards those who do stumble and sin. It doesn’t mean you are to wait until there is a sin-free church before the church has a right to speak out on moral issues. You see what Thomas does here? Just like liberals, he misapplies Scripture.
The irony is that Thomas lives in the Washington, D.C., area and makes his living writing a lot about politics and government and how it can work better and do more good.
Conservative Christians should keep standing for Biblical truth in our personal lives and in the culture. That we may sometimes fail does not negate the truth of God’s Word or make it any less vital that we proclaim its truth.