True Colours

I don’t know how many people heard about this (even this video only has a few thousand views on Youtube), but nonetheless…

There’s something about the fact that he waited until he was out of office to say this. There’s something about the fact that one has to wait until one is out of office to say it.

This reminds me of something that I think is endemic to evangelical Christianity: the willingness to put doctrines before all else. It does not matter what one actually thinks. It does not matter what one actually does. What matters most is what one espouses. Accept the right doctrines and evangelicals will love you.

My apologies; I should qualify that: doctrines sometimes involve more than verbal assent. To hold to the doctrine of “no premarital sex,” for instance, you have to actually follow it. But the point is that correct beliefs are valued so highly that evangelicals will overlook almost everything about you, if you only espouse proper doctrine. Piles of American evangelicals voted for president Bush simply because they believed he believed the right things. I know this because I know that piles of American evangelicals did not vote for Obama because they believed he did not believe the right things (and I know that because some of them simply told me so).

The evangelical mind, en masse, is a simple thing to manipulate. You just have to say the right things (and to a lesser extent, do the right things). And the right things are easy to learn. Nobody will notice your shoddy Biblical Literacy or question your fringe beliefs, because there’s so much fringe belief and poor Biblical Literacy that they’d never be able to screen anyone out like that.

As soon as this interview was over, Bush received a phone call informing him that he’s “just alienated his evangelical base.” But the problem, guys, is that he always thought that. It’s too late to be alienated, evangelicals. He thought those things when you voted for him. Gotcha. How many votes would this interview have cost him? Should it cost him any votes?

I’d like to issue a reminder that I am not left-wing and I’m not anti-Bush (though there may be good reasons to be both those things; I just haven’t gotten around to subscribing). I’m glad he wasn’t a creationist, of course. But this isn’t about politics, but about the way that we apply discernment.

Another example: someone I know has told me that she wouldn’t marry a person who doesn’t have a Christian commitment, because that is the only way she could trust him. It’s the only security. I understand her, because I always felt the same way. The problem is that:

A) It’s questionable whether that’s really what makes the difference, according to the stats

B) Even if you assume that it does make all the difference, this won’t do you any good if you suck at understanding people. How do you know he has that supreme, unshakable Christian commitment? How do you know it’s impregnable? Being unable to discern that is the same as being unable to discern the fate of a chance that you take on someone else, whom you’ve judged based on all the normal qualities.

It doesn’t matter what people espouse. It matters what they really are like. Which mean it matters that you pay attention to what people really are like.


4 Responses to “True Colours”

  1. I once tried to articulate (B) to you in an email conversation we had. You did a better job than me here, as usual, but I’m glad we’re on the same page 🙂

  2. Forgot to subscribe.

  3. (Forgot to subscribe?)

    I do still think it can make a difference, but yeah.

  4. I just forgot to check the “Notify me” box at the bottom.

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