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2008 Presidential Race, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney's religion speech

>Romney’s Religious Speech, Part 2: Pandering Pluralism

>When I wrote the first part of my response to Mitt Romney’s religious speech, I wondered if maybe I really was out on the kook fringe as Romney’s defenders attempted to portray anyone who wasn’t as impressed with his speech as they were. Perhaps I am “jaded, iconoclastic or biased” but at least I have a little bit of company. There are a few others out there who aren’t quite ready to classify Romney’s speech as one of the all-time greats.

Before I proceed with part two, I want to repeat that my critiques of the speech do not imply that I think only Christians should be President. I do not believe that. I do not think that America is a Christian nation in covenant with God akin to God’s covenant relationship with Israel and therefore Christians are obligated to only vote for Christian leaders. I agree with Romney when he says that people should not vote for or against him solely based on his Mormonism. But he did give this speech. He did say some things that I think are theologically and historically incorrect. He did say some things that are troublesome to me as an evangelical. The speech did not hit a “homerun” with me and I explain why.

Courageous Speech

Conservative commetators are praising Romney for the courage he displayed in his speech. Michael Medved writes, “This is, frankly, precisely the sort of clarity and courage Americans expect of a presidential candidate. Romney would have already locked up the GOP nomination had he applied the same consistency and precision in facing other issues.” Pat Buchanan adds, “The address was courageous in a way John F. Kennedy’s speech to the Baptist ministers was not.” Is it really courageous to give a speech on religious liberty today when so many candidates are openly touting their faith precisely because it is currently popular to do so? Romney said, “I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs.” Romney’s speech was certainly not about his “Mormon faith” and his beliefs. Perhaps it would have approached something like courage if he had actually addressed what it means to live by the Mormon faith, for example. No one is saying that he had to address Mormon theology in the speech but perhaps superlatives such as “courageous” would have been more appropriate if he had. Giving a speech in affirmation of America’s tradition of religious liberty doesn’t quite seem to take courage at this time.

Hero or Martyr?

Hugh Hewitt claims that Romney’s inner circle advised against the address. I can understand that there may be some who are advising Rommey to distance himself from his religion but is there really a call for him to “jettison his beliefs,” as he says? The fact that Romney repeatedly touched on this theme appears to be nothing more than a strawman created for the purpose of playing up this “courage” aspect of the speech. Who exactly is demanding that Romney jettison his beliefs? I haven’t followed the race as closely as I have in previous years so perhaps I have overlooked this…but I don’t think so. Medved praises the success with which Romney could “simultaneously argue that faith must be an important factor in politics, but that his faith should count for nothing in evaluating his candidacy.” Romney also seems to be attempting to use the Mormon issue to simultaneously appear to be a courageous hero and a martyr. People often accuse Hillary Clinton of exploiting events in order to gain pity and sympathy by playing the victim. Romney appears to be doing the same with the issue of his Mormonism.

Who are you to judge?

Speaking of Hillary, I wonder if she is going to be shown the same consideration that conservative commentators are giving to Romney. Kathleen Parker writes, “Who is to judge another’s faith? And by what standard has Romney’s religion failed in guiding what has clearly been an exemplary life?” We’ll see if Hillary is held to this same standard as she continues to court evangelical votes (As for me, I don’t play the who-are-you-to-judge card so they’ll both continue to be fair game).

Is Parker serious when she asks, “who is to judge another’s faith”? Romney is one to judge another’s faith, apparently. At the beginning of his speech, he states, “Radical violent Islam seeks to destroy us.” And later in the speech, “These radical Islamists do their preaching not be reason or example, but in the coercion of minds and the shedding of blood. We face no greater danger today theocratic tyranny, and the boundless suffering these states and groups could inflict if given the change.” Who is to judge another’s faith, indeed. Why didn’t Parker object when Romney passed judgment on the faith of the “radical Islamists”? Of course, we have every right to judge another’s faith but for some reason Romney’s faith is supposed to be off limits. (On a side note, is anyone else irritated by the continual lack of distinction between “faith” as a noun and “faith” as a verb?)

Romney’s Pluralism

And speaking of the use of the word “faith,” commentators have repeatedly referred to the inappropriate nature of theological discussions or matters of dogma in political campaigns. It is OK to discuss religion as Romney did in his speech but not theology. How one discusses religion without discussing theology is a mystery to me. Judging by the way these terms are used in Romney’s speech and the columns in response to it, “religion” refers only to that which is common to the major world religions and “theology” and “dogma” refer to that which is specific to a particular religion. There is no basis for these distinctions but that seems to be how these terms are being used.

One more thing on the use of religious terms in Romney’s speech. Romney repeatedly conflated “religion” with “denomination.” At one point he said, “The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square.” Shortly thereafter, “They [previously mentioned American values] are not unique to any one denomination…They are the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united.” What the founders proscribed was the establishment of any one particular Christian denomination as the official religion of the country. They refused to make Anglicanism over Congregationalism, for instance, be the state religion. Romney spoke of American values as not belonging “to any one denomination” but then in the same paragraph he speaks of these values as “the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths” stand.

Well, he’s not a theologian. What do you expect? Fair enough. But this is an example of the pluralism Romney expressed throughout the speech. Does Romney view different faiths/religions merely as different denominations? Apparently he does. This is how he consistently speaks of different religions. As I commented on in my previous post, Romney “believes that every faith [he has] encountered draws its adherents closer to God.” If this is true, and Romney believes that it is, then all religions ultimately worship the same God. If all religions follow the same God then the different religions are merely different denominations. Maybe Romney would not express it in quite the same manner but these clearly are the implications of what he has expressed in his speech. (Some have mentioned Romney’s wish list where he praised the Catholic mass, etc. as an example of his pluralism but I see it more as pandering than proof of pluralism).

So what? Romney criticizes those who act “as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism.” I think he is right for using language such as “the religion of secularism” but Romney apparently wants to establish the religion of pluralism in America. He criticizes the secularists when he said, “Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life” and I agree with his assessment. But should I be happy with Romney’s alternative? Is religious pluralism better than secularism?

To be continued

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Discussion

26 thoughts on “>Romney’s Religious Speech, Part 2: Pandering Pluralism

  1. >I didn’t mean to equate considering Romney’s faith with violating Romans 13. The violation comes when we place any criteria above holding to the Constitution.Thus why I attempted to demonstrate that his lack of critical analysis when it comes to his faith would, at the very least, open up the possibility of a similar lack of critical analysis in upholding the Constitution. Perhaps a better example would be a surgeon that beleives in evolution – they can still be qualified to cut me, even more than one who is a creationist.I’m not sure that one holds much water either. The theory of evolution, even though there are significant unexplained gaps in the theory, stands up to scrutiny far better than do many of the teachings of Mormonism.

    Posted by Dwight | December 13, 2007, 7:02 pm
  2. >Newsweek apparently doesn’t like Romney. It has an article that contrasts and compares Mormonism with Christianity, http://www.newsweek.com/id/74475 Hmmm?! Limbaugh thinks they are promoting him. If they are watch out.Obviously, the left can exploit the untruthfulness of Romney’s statements.The religious issue really is secondary, though I surely would consider his stability on that count alone. But, the fact that he lied, will haunt his campaign. If it is not his undoing in the primary, it will defeat him in the general. Watch!

    Posted by Strong Tower | December 13, 2007, 6:54 pm
  3. >”I agree with you on both of these points. I just don’t see where my considering Romney’s past choices, including his faith, is in violation of Romans 13. “I didn’t mean to equate considering Romney’s faith with violating Romans 13. The violation comes when we place any criteria above holding to the Constitution.”when one espouses a religion as dubious as Mormonism, I have to question that individual’s judgment. Does it necessarily disqualify him from being President? I personally don’t think so, but that is for each voter to decide. I’m only contending with your assertion that Romney’s religion of choice is completely irrelevant to the issue.”I don’t have a problem with people not voting for Romney because he holds to a screwy belief system. I admit that Kucinich’s beliefs in UFO’s make me think he’s unqualified. But I don’t think being Mormon is on the same order of magnitude of relevance as policy & values.”And I have to ask? Would you really go to a surgeon who is a flat-earther, or is that just rhetorical hyperbole?”The “flat-earther” part isn’t the best example for today. Perhaps a better example would be a surgeon that beleives in evolution – they can still be qualified to cut me, even more than one who is a creationist.

    Posted by Jacob | December 13, 2007, 6:44 pm
  4. >”I agree with you on both of these points. I just don’t see where my considering Romney’s past choices, including his faith, is in violation of Romans 13. “I didn’t mean to equate considering Romney’s faith with violating Romans 13. The violation comes when we place any criteria above holding to the Constitution.”when one espouses a religion as dubious as Mormonism, I have to question that individual’s judgment. Does it necessarily disqualify him from being President? I personally don’t think so, but that is for each voter to decide. I’m only contending with your assertion that Romney’s religion of choice is completely irrelevant to the issue.”I don’t have a problem with people not voting for Romney because he holds to a screwy belief system. I admit that Kucinich’s beliefs in UFO’s make me think he’s unqualified. But I don’t think being Mormon is on the same order of magnitude of relevance as policy & values.”And I have to ask? Would you really go to a surgeon who is a flat-earther, or is that just rhetorical hyperbole?”The “flat-earther” part isn’t the best example for today. Perhaps a better example would be a surgeon that beleives in evolution – they can still be qualified to cut me, even more than one who is a creationist.

    Posted by Jacob | December 13, 2007, 6:44 pm
  5. >Our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people”, which places a burden on the believer to participate by voting. It is also a Constitutional Republic, which means that all political acts which subvert the Constitution are in violation of the Romans 13 principle. I agree with you on both of these points. I just don’t see where my considering Romney’s past choices, including his faith, is in violation of Romans 13. a person can be a fool in one area of life and wise as a serpent in another area. Is a person’s judgement about faith the primary criteria for choosing a surgeon? a financial advisor? the supplier of goods? the police chief? etc? I think a person could be a flat earther & still be the best surgeon available.And you missed my point. As I stated earlier, I don’t think that any one criteria, including one’s faith, can be the sole means by which we judge that person’s qualification. However, when one espouses a religion as dubious as Mormonism, I have to question that individual’s judgment. Does it necessarily disqualify him from being President? I personally don’t think so, but that is for each voter to decide. I’m only contending with your assertion that Romney’s religion of choice is completely irrelevant to the issue. And I have to ask? Would you really go to a surgeon who is a flat-earther, or is that just rhetorical hyperbole?

    Posted by Dwight | December 13, 2007, 6:12 pm
  6. >”Do all religions draw its adherents closer to God? Why not? Romney said, “Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God.” Can political freedom open the windows to the soul and enable on to commune with God? Do we believe this? Will man discover his most profound beliefs merely by being freed from political and governmental restraints? Can political freedom awaken the soul in a way the enables on to being to commune with God? Is there anything wrong with this statements? Would it be very troubling if evangelicals agreed with these two statements from Romney’s speech? I think so. I had problems with his speech and commented on them. Whether one should or should not vote for him is another discussion.”I pretty much agree with you on this. Romney is professing a faith that is the most politically expedient (what is more expedient than the PC Americanism he espoused?). He’s shrewd. My problem is that I think he’s just saying these things to get elected, so he’s just another political whore in my book.

    Posted by Jacob | December 13, 2007, 2:26 pm
  7. >”Are you suggesting that my conscience is not formed by Scripture, and that my contemplation regarding who to vote for is thus in violation of Romans 13?”I’m stating that the clearest passage which should form our “political conscience” is Romans 13. And that most Christians ignore this when voting.”That may be because voting, as such, didn’t exist in the world in which Scripture was written. By your strict reading of Romans 13, we shouldn’t vote at all, but should simply make ourselves subject to whoever is placed in authority over us, either by hereditary monarchy or the votes of others. I’m sure you don’t advocate this position, but it is the slippery slope onto which you stepped.”You missed my point. Romans 13 doesn’t define the type of government, just that we are to be subject to it. Our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people”, which places a burden on the believer to participate by voting. It is also a Constitutional Republic, which means that all political acts which subvert the Constitution are in violation of the Romans 13 principle. The only slippery slope is the one entertianed by Christains who by “voting their conscience” empower the Government to violate the Constitution.”If, then, one has a choice in who governs, would it not be most wise to choose a man who demonstrates good judgment, and would it not be most wise to avoid a candidate who demonstrates poor judgment?” No, because a person can be a fool in one area of life and wise as a serpent in another area. Is a person’s judgement about faith the primary criteria for choosing a surgeon? a financial advisor? the supplier of goods? the police chief? etc? I think a person could be a flat earther & still be the best surgeon available.

    Posted by Jacob | December 13, 2007, 2:22 pm
  8. >”Where does Mormonism promote distinct values from Evangelical Christianity? Are any of these significant for the President?”As far as Mormon values versus Evangelical ones, Romney didn’t go there and I’m not either. The speech was touted as a speech about Romney’s religion. Instead it turned out to be a religious speech that avoided Mormonism other than to say that Romney is one and will continue to be one. In part 3 Robert posted a link to James K.A. Smith’s take on the speech. He says that Romney did talk about his religion and his religion isn’t Mormonism but Americanism. I think his religion is both rather than one or the other but Smith makes a good point. Romney’s speech was about the religion of Americanism. (David Gelertner has a book about Americanism as the 4th great world religion. I should check that out). Evangelicals should be ready to refute Americanism in the areas where it is false, where it contradicts the truth revealed to us in Scripture.This is what I think from an evangelical perspective. I am more concerned with our ability to discern truth from error than I am with whether one should or should vote for Romney based on this speech. I do not believe that we must only vote for other evangelical Christians. We are to choose people of high character for one thing and Romney seems to be a person of decent character (what flip flopping on issues reveals about character can be for another discuss. Sometimes people just change their minds, sometimes its political expediency). Now, Romney is the one who chose to present this religious speech and the other candidates did not. So the only religious speech I have to evaluate thus far is Romney’s. If the other candidates gave one I’m sure I’d have problems with it too. My main concern is not that Romney disqualified himself from evangelical consideration with the speech (I don’t think he did) but that evangelicals be able to discern truth from error in his speech. Do all religions draw its adherents closer to God? Why not? Romney said, “Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God.” Can political freedom open the windows to the soul and enable on to commune with God? Do we believe this? Will man discover his most profound beliefs merely by being freed from political and governmental restraints? Can political freedom awaken the soul in a way the enables on to being to commune with God? Is there anything wrong with this statements? Would it be very troubling if evangelicals agreed with these two statements from Romney’s speech? I think so. I had problems with his speech and commented on them. Whether one should or should not vote for him is another discussion.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 13, 2007, 12:52 pm
  9. >What violates the conscience of the Christian in American politics is that we vote in violation of Roman 13. We vote to promote our interests and our values, trumping the Constitution which codifies the government toward which scripture commands that we submit. I don’t care about your conscience apart from it being formed by scripture. Are you suggesting that my conscience is not formed by Scripture, and that my contemplation regarding who to vote for is thus in violation of Romans 13? There is no scripture that binds the Christian to vote for anyone who agrees with him, theologicially, or morally. The only command is that we be subject.That may be because voting, as such, didn’t exist in the world in which Scripture was written. By your strict reading of Romans 13, we shouldn’t vote at all, but should simply make ourselves subject to whoever is placed in authority over us, either by hereditary monarchy or the votes of others. I’m sure you don’t advocate this position, but it is the slippery slope onto which you stepped. Right now Ron Paul is the only one who champions that Christian calling. To single out Romney’s faith as an issue totally misses the point for why he is not qualified.All candidates who reject the full authority of the Constitution deserve only our contempt. Romney is as guilty as most – his faith is irrelevant.Using your own argument above, I will try to demonstrate that Romney’s faith of choice is, in fact, quite relevant. Best I can tell, you are basically arguing that the primary characteristic of a good President is the ability to discern and apply the law as codified in the Constitution (and if you are thus arguing, I agree that it is). If, then, one has a choice in who governs, would it not be most wise to choose a man who demonstrates good judgment, and would it not be most wise to avoid a candidate who demonstrates poor judgment? I believe Romney has demonstrated poor judgment, or a total lack of it, in his embracing of Mormonism. My concern is not for his theology or values and how they square or differ with mine. My concern is that I cannot conceive of entrusting the upholding of the Constitution to a man who embraces a religion that cannot stand up to even a mild amount of scrutiny. Since I don’t believe him to be a deceiver, my only conclusion must be that he has accepted his faith uncritically. If he made a decision as important as his faith so uncritically, how can I expect him to have the judgment required to apply the Constitution as President?

    Posted by Dwight | December 13, 2007, 5:08 am
  10. >Dwight, I could appreciate a lot of what you posted… but… “Since Romney embraces a religion that is based largely upon blatant falsehoods, from my perspective, would it not be a violation of my own conscience to ignore that and go ahead and vote for him because we share some similar values or because I want to be a good little pluralist?”What violates the conscience of the Christian in American politics is that we vote in violation of Roman 13. We vote to promote our interests and our values, trumping the Constitution which codifies the government toward which scripture commands that we submit. I don’t care about your conscience apart from it being formed by scripture. There is no scripture that binds the Christian to vote for anyone who agrees with him, theologicially, or morally. The only command is that we be subject. Right now Ron Paul is the only one who champions that Christian calling. To single out Romney’s faith as an issue totally misses the point for why he is not qualified.All candidates who reject the full authority of the Constitution deserve only our contempt. Romney is as guilty as most – his faith is irrelevant.

    Posted by Jacob | December 13, 2007, 4:04 am
  11. >Where does Mormonism promote distinct values from Evangelical Christianity? Are any of these significant for the President?As I stated in my previous comment, my questions concerning Romney and his Mormonism are not regarding his values, but his judgment. Discernment and judgment are two qualities that I find very important for the President. If Tom Cruise ran for President, I’d question him for the same reason because of his commitment to Scientology. While Mormonism is not as outlandish as Scientology, it is closer to it in some of its claims than it is to historical Christianity. Since Romney embraces a religion that is based largely upon blatant falsehoods, from my perspective, would it not be a violation of my own conscience to ignore that and go ahead and vote for him because we share some similar values or because I want to be a good little pluralist?

    Posted by Dwight | December 12, 2007, 8:20 pm
  12. >When we start criticizing a person of faith because there are “inconsistencies” or because it’s “not historical” we better look in the mirror and recognize that these were the attacks of modernism on those who held to the scriptures.If overwhelming historical and archaeological data flatly contradicted the Bible, I would indeed have a problem wouldn’t I? The Mormons, meanwhile, do have a problem, because there is much within their system of belief that has been definitely proven to be false. For example, one of the major elements of their history is an ancient civilization of which it has been proven archaeologically that it could not have existed in the time and place claimed by the Book of Mormon. I understand your concern and warning, Jacob, but to compare the historicity and veracity of the Bible to that of the Book of Mormon is simply preposterous. I don’t really care about his religion – it’s his policy and values that matter.I’m not sure I can say that I don’t care about his religion, since his religion guides his policy and values. Even so, it’s not Romney’s values that I question. It’s his judgment, or lack thereof, that gives me pause. America IS pluralistic, and always has been. No one is questioning that it isn’t. I’ve seen no one suggest that Romney shouldn’t be free to practice Mormonism if that is what his conscience dictates. Because we do live in a pluralistic society, we as free people have a right and a responsibility to carefully consider all aspects of a candidate for high office, including his religious beliefs. That this candidate espouses a religion that is questionable, at best, is worthy of at least a small amount of consideration. Is one’s religion the only issue in determining who to vote for? Of course not! And I would not necessarily exclude Romney from my list of potential candidates based solely upon his faith and the questions that it raises to me. But his religion IS an issue in my determining if I believe he is the best candidate in the field. If that is uncharitable or un-American of me, then I beg grace from all.

    Posted by Dwight | December 12, 2007, 8:03 pm
  13. >”Romney refers to different religions as if they were simply different denominations who all have the one same God in common. He claims that the moral heritage of America is held in common by each of the major religions in this nation. Is this true?”I disagree about pointing to the same God – the God of Mormonism is fundamentally distinct from the God of the Bible. In terms of moral heriatage, if we limit it to Judeo-Christian based religions I’d be inclined to answer “yes”. Where does Mormonism promote distinct values from Evangelical Christianity? Are any of these significant for the President?

    Posted by Jacob | December 12, 2007, 2:47 pm
  14. >”America IS pluralistic, and always has been. Whilt the boundaries of that pluralism have morphed, this country was founded in 18th century pluralism. Their heritage was one of each state having a denominational affiliation! It was HUGE to consider a government without a denominational affiliation.”I can agree with this about our pluralistic tradition. We were pluralistic in that the federal government was not going to recognize any one Christian denomination as the official religion of America as some of the states had done. Romney refers to different religions as if they were simply different denominations who all have the one same God in common. He claims that the moral heritage of America is held in common by each of the major religions in this nation. Is this true?

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 12, 2007, 2:34 am
  15. >——————————————America IS pluralistic, and always has been.——————————————BINGO!!!!We Evangelicals have a bad habit of trying to make our government seem like it was once truly and purely Christian and has now gone by the wayside. This is very inaccurate. Certainly we have had Christians in all levels of government since the founding of the country but we have also had scores of Deists in the mix.It has always been pluralistic at least from the inception of our democratic government is concerned. I agree that the first settlers might not fit into that category, but by the time you get to the creation of our country and its formal government people are all over the map.

    Posted by me | December 12, 2007, 1:50 am
  16. >Nonetheless, fundamentally consistent thinking (i.e. thinking God’s thoughts after him) is not a requirement for wisdom in governing people. That sort of wisdom is a matter of common grace. It is a matter of the Lord restricting sin according to the human conscience.

    Posted by M. Jay Bennett | December 12, 2007, 12:50 am
  17. >I would say suppression of the truth yields fundamentally inconsistent thinking according to Romans 1:”they became futile in their thinking”Futile thinking is fundamentally inconsistent thinking. It is autonomous thinking.”Claiming to be wise [in themselves], they became fools.”

    Posted by M. Jay Bennett | December 12, 2007, 12:47 am
  18. >Jay-I do not think that that captures the reality of Romans 1. It says: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” They don’t just view inconsistence as consistence. The know the truth and suppress it. There is no inconsistency to be had. They reject truth. But this brings up that spiritual issue. Romney is not ignorant, as the majority of Mormons are. And, he is not isane, as one who cannot not recognize inconsistencies of the truth claims.Romney does not just argue from a position of ignorance, but claims wisdom for himself. And, even though it is spiritual blindness that takes a miracle of God to rectify, there is no excuse. So, my propositions stand. Mormonism is guilty of exactly what these verses say. Man makes man a god. Romney knows this of his own faith, having been a Missionary and having gone through the Temple Cermonies, he knows of Celestial Marriage. He knows, that he cannot be saved according to Mormon Theology unless he has multiple wives, he knows that it is not Christian, he knows that each is a consistent theology within it own domain and that they are incompatible with one another, not just inconsistent with one another and that he is able to some how view them consistent…as a Mormon Missionary, he knows. We can never begin to excuse the Council of Twelve as just inconsistent, nor any who have been thoroughly trained in their doctrine as Romney has. Mormonism has claimed, counter to the claim of Christianity, not just some compatability with inconsistencies, but to be the only truth.He has claimed the first, (of my propositions), and has been found a liar. And if he now begins to claim the second, he cannot claim it without making himself a liar, because has claimed the first. Even if he makes no further definitive statement about his faith, we do not want someone in the White House who is ignorant of factual information so pertinent, as he has claimed, to his own life, do we? We might excuse him if he had never heard and never claimed that he had. We can excuse Bush for his ignorance of Evangelicalism. We can excuse each other and ourselves for ours because of our failures to hear. But, Romney’s is a different story. He has been questioned about his knowledge. He responded that it is in his repetoire, but he did not tell alll the truth. Now, we can assign to him ignorance, except that he has claimed lucidity. So, this is the trap that he has set for hisself. If he would have claimed ignorance, we could excuse it as a matter of just not availing hisself of the data, especially if he made even a feigned promise to look into it. But, when a man claims true knowledge, and knows that what he is saying is not true, we have these problems confronting us. How is it he says he knows, but does not tell the truth? Or, how is it that he does not know, and claims he does? Either way, as someone put it, he has signed his own autopsy, at least among informed evangelicals. And, if it is the issues that matter, and he is an unreliable witness, do we want that kind of person answering the challenge of the issues? We must begin to question whether he even has a clue to what the issues are. That is the point. If he is a liar, and it is clear that he is, then we cannot trust him to support the issues that are dear to us.

    Posted by Strong Tower | December 11, 2007, 5:08 pm
  19. >When we start criticizing a person of faith because there are “inconsistencies” or because it’s “not historical” we better look in the mirror and recognize that these were the attacks of modernism on those who held to the scriptures.I don’t really care about his religion – it’s his policy and values that matter. America IS pluralistic, and always has been. Whilt the boundaries of that pluralism have morphed, this country was founded in 18th century pluralism. Their heritage was one of each state having a denominational affiliation! It was HUGE to consider a government without a denominational affiliation. Romney just said that it’s the values that matter, not the denomiantion or sect. I think he hit the issue right where it needed to be driven — on values.

    Posted by Jacob | December 11, 2007, 4:12 pm
  20. >I don’t think I can say that another man is dumb because he doesn’t recognize the inconsistencies of his false religion. I think I would rather say he is actively suppressing the truth, which makes him able to acknowlege inconsistency as consistency. I don’t think it’s a matter of laying out the arguments. There is a spiritual blindness involved that can only be overcome by a miracle of God.

    Posted by M. Jay Bennett | December 11, 2007, 3:49 pm
  21. >This was a point that I made on Grudem’s blog a while back. We have to worry about a man who is so gullible. There are things that we must question:1. If he knows the truth of Mormonism, then he is deceiving us.2. If he doesn’t he is either:a. uninformedb. deceivedHis fronting the Mormon Jesus as the same Jesus of Scripture must be aligned with the above. He either lied, is deceived or is ignorant. These are not qualities we want in a president, are they?He may wish to fly under the radar screen, but Evangelicals, if they have the guts, should take him to task. It could be a win win. If he admits that it is not the same Jesus, he and the whole of the Nation would benefit from the clarification. And, we would then have reason to trust his integrity. This is actually a good opportunity for Evangelicals to defend the Bibilical view of Christ over against the LDS view publically and would also be a valuable witness to Christ. Is there a sound Evangelical voice that can gain the ear of the media? That’s the sounds of silence…..

    Posted by Strong Tower | December 11, 2007, 3:10 am
  22. >I just have to ask myself, how easily is this guy persuaded? Man, I would have loved to have sold that guy a car! If he can buy that he would take the full package of anything I put in front of him.This greatly sums up my attitude towards Romney. If accepts Mormonism at true, with all of its glaring inconsistencies and historical impossibilities, how is he going to see through the smoke and mirrors of every other politician in Washington and around the world?

    Posted by Dwight | December 10, 2007, 9:30 pm
  23. >—————————————–I have a lot of differences with him.—————————————–I agree here my brother!!! While I think Romney is a good politician (whatever that’s worth) and a good business man, I just have to laugh when I think of the whole story behind Mormonism. The whole thing with the gold tablets, the big sunglasses and all, WOW! I have to say, even when I was not a Christian I thought that was a bag of goods! Don’t get me wrong, I know the whole thing about God coming to Earth in the form of a man and dying on a cross for my sins is difficult enough to understand. But at least I have 2000 years of history of those who have recorded and preserved the gospel story, fought over the purity of its content, and a somewhat intact history of what the church has believed through the centuries. To go along with the story of some guy who in the nineteenth century claims to have received revelation that supersedes the New Testament writings and then writes “another” testament that looks and sounds strangely like the King James Version of the Bible (about 50% of it) is a bit too much. I just have to ask myself, how easily is this guy persuaded? Man, I would have loved to have sold that guy a car! If he can buy that he would take the full package of anything I put in front of him.

    Posted by me | December 10, 2007, 3:25 pm
  24. >”Is this something Romney “wants” to do, or is this something that already exists?…To take the stance that Romney either wants to establish or will establish a religious of pluralism is a bit extreme.”Good question. In the sentence prior to the one you quoted I said, “Romney criticizes those who act ‘as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism.'” I was trying to match Romney’s rhetoric in the sentence you quoted. I think both comments are strong. Most conservative evangelicals would probably agree with Romney’s without batting an eye. If he’s right about people establishing the religion of secularism then perhaps the same charge could be leveled at him with his religion of pluralism. Does this already exist? Well, are we talking about in practice or officially? This is another problem with using terms any which way as he did in his speech. When I hear “establishment” in a this context, I think of when England established Anglicanism. I assume he means the official recognition of the religion of secularism of the state religion of America. No religion is established in America. Pluralism may be practiced in our governmental affairs but it is not established. Perhaps Romney wants to take some sort of official action in this area in order to ward off secularism. I don’t know. Its a fair question, I think. This is not unique to him, you’re right. The role of Christianity in the founding of the country, the founding documents, the lives of the founders, etc. and what it means for us today will continue to be debated. Some Christians go to the extreme of making it sound like all founders and the majority of the nation at that time were evangelical Christians. But others exaggerate the pluralism or secularism of our nation’s history too. There is a difference between government being hands off in recognizing one religion over another and government saying that all regligions are essentially the same and worship the same god. This is false. Romney didn’t need to go there but he did. I don’t know if the speech was designed to impress or reassure evangelicals but it mostly reminded me that I have a lot of differences with him.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 10, 2007, 1:02 pm
  25. >————————————— “but Romney apparently wants to establish the religion of pluralism in America.” —————————————Is this something Romney “wants” to do, or is this something that already exists? It seems to me that Romney’s religious language is no different than most American’s who claim some brand of religious affiliation or even Christianity. To take the stance that Romney either wants to establish or will establish a religious of pluralism is a bit extreme. The American religious landscape is as pluralistic as it could possibly be. Romney is more of a symptom of what already exists rather than an agent of cause.

    Posted by me | December 10, 2007, 9:27 am

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