Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fred Thompson, presidential candidate, and the church of Christ

Recently, the Christian Chronicle highlighted Fred Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee and actor on Law and Order, who is running for president.

A Thompson spokesman was quoted as saying that Thompson was "baptized into the Church of Christ." Of course, this is a rather denominational view of the church, as if we were baptized into a denomination rather than into Christ and are added by God to the church. But one can hardly fault a campaign spokesman for not quite understanding theological fine points.

Thompson does not attend church, apparently, except for when he visits with his parents and a few others. Of course, most Americans probably do not realize that President Reagan rarely attended church either.

James Dobson had been quoted as saying that Thompson wasn't a Christian. He has since said that this was taken out of context. I do not know if Thompson has renounced his faith, or simply does not attend. Dobson, however, is still very much opposed to Thompson. Note the following private email from Dobson that was obtained from the AP:

"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson wrote.

Of course, all of us have to be at least a little bit interested in someone from our fellowship who is in this national spotlight. And since he was baptized into Christ, Thompson would appear to be a Christian, though a lapsed one at least in terms of worship attendance. However, I place little hope in transforming the world through the government. In fact, there is a great danger whenever the church becomes allied with the state. The temptation is too great to promote Christian belief by force--which is antithetical to the way of Christ--or to compromise and bow to the State.

What I find interesting about Dobson's quote is that he places a constitutional ban on gay marraiage and endorsement of McCain-Feingold in the same category. McCain-Feingold is a campaign finance bill that limits contributions to political campaigns. Now what in the world does this have to do with issues such as abortion? Here is a classic case of confusion of worldly values and kingdom ethics. Somehow we have gotten the idea that being a follower of Christ means not only opposition of abortion (a practice which I am definitely opposed to), but also a supporter of democracy, capitalism, and the American way. This conflation of values is a reminder of the dangers inherent to becoming too closely entangled with the State.

What do you think of Dobson's comments?