A Southern Baptist scholar says Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani signals a larger “Giulianiazation” of evangelical Christianity that he views as dangerous.
Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on Monday’s “Albert Mohler Radio Program” that while he believes some have overestimated Robertson’s influence in today’s evangelical movement, the Virginia broadcaster and former presidential candidate isn’t the only religious leader considering voting for Giuliani.
Some, Moore said, are calling it a “maturing” of the evangelical political movement recognizing there are “more important issues than abortion.” Rather than supporting an anti-abortion Republican likely to lose to Hillary Clinton in a general election, some evangelicals are warming to Giuliani as an “80 percent” ally who agrees with them on defense and appointment of judges but is pro-choice on abortion.
“I think that this kind of thinking represents an evangelical Christianity that long ago abandoned a core that is theological in favor of trying to gain influence with those that are in power,” countered Moore, who is also the executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. “What you see in some sectors of evangelical Christianity is exactly what the Scripture warns us not to do, which is to put our trust in princes.”
Moore acknowledged that many younger evangelicals are interested in moving beyond “single issue” politics opposing abortion to include larger “social justice” issues like Darfur and global warming.
While many would say that’s a good thing, Moore said, “I think that surrendering on the abortion issue means that we have no credibility to speak to any other issue.”
“Would you vote for a candidate that you agreed with on everything else except that he is a white supremacist?” Moore asked one caller.
Moore said for a candidate to say “I deny the personhood of an entire class of human beings” says something “terrifying” about that candidate’s character.
As bad as it is to have one political party that is pro-abortion-rights, Moore asked, what happens when there are two and both recognize they don’t need pro-life voters to win? “To me that’s a scary thought,” he said. “I really think that supporting a pro-abortion-rights candidate simply because he can win is a dangerous, dangerous thing to do.”
Moore said what he found most amazing about Robertson’s endorsement was his statement that the No. 1 issue facing America is “bloodlust of Islamic jihadists.”
“That’s important,” Moore said, “but our population includes unborn babies, includes those that the rest of society says don’t have a right to live.”
Moore said he votes “all the time” for candidates with whom he disagrees on issues like economics and trade, “but they maintain justice.”
“I think that this is the key and critical issue,” he said. “This is what God has said in Romans Chapter 13. What he gives the state to do is to wield the sword against evil-doers. If you can’t trust the state to wield the sword against evil-doers and not against the innocent, then what’s the point? Who cares if you have an influence in the public square, if you have a public square that is now pharaoh-like in its use of the sword, because of your vote?”
Moore said he doesn’t think Robertson really represents evangelical Christianity any more, because he has been “doing some idiosyncratic things” for several years. He said having Robertson and Giuliani together rather “is kind of an outgrowth of some bad elements of evangelical political engagement.”
“I remember in the 1990s seeing some of these Christian voter guides that would be present in churches that would have issues listed–abortion and a balanced budget amendment and a line-item veto and term limits for members of Congress–with the Christian position and the non-Christian position,” he said.
“Now, do we have a Christian position on abortion?” Moore asked. “Yeah, Scripture reveals one. Do we have a Christian on human slavery? Yes, Scripture reveals one.”
“But do we have a Christian position on a line-item veto?” he continued. “On term limits for members of Congress? On a balanced-budget amendment? On a minimum wage? No, these are things we ought to be able to disagree on and be able to deal with at the level of prudence, but when we raise them to a level of revelatory importance, what we do is trivialize those issues of first-order social justice.”
“Having a candidate who denies the personhood of unborn babies, or African-Americans or any other group of people created in the image of God, is a candidate who is striking at the very heart and core of what it means to be human,” Moore said. “If we flex on that, if we give that up, what exactly are we giving up?”
“You can have in the short term a candidate that will be better than another candidate, but what are you giving up in the process?” he asked. “And the real question is why are you doing that? Just to have influence? Just to be able to get a hearing with the president of the United States?”
“Presidents of the United States come and go,” he said, “but the kingdom of Christ endures.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.