Last night I attended an event on campus sponsored by CACE, Wheaton’s Center for Applied Christian Ethics. Called “Christian Moral Engagement in Politics: a Bi-partisan Conversation,” it was a discussion with a former Republican senator and a former Democratic congressman, moderated by Michael Gerson, former Bush presidential speech writer and Wheaton alum. Here’s a paraphrase of some of the more interesting questions and responses:
Why did you enter politics?
R: I had no previous interest in politics. But I happened to attend a prayer breakfast where Charles Colson was the speaker, and when he spoke I sensed the calling of God. I knew without a doubt that God was calling me to enter politics.
D: I was inspired by my father, who was a public servant on local boards and councils all his life. I was also inspired by JFK, and I became involved in the Civil Rights movement.
What do you think are the current issues that will inspire young people to enter politics?
D: The problems today are global: globalization, poverty, AIDS, human rights, and especially global climate change. Global warming is a huge problem and some people are still in denial but they need to get over themselves. This problem could unite people around the world to work for change and a better future for our children.
R: The root issue of all problems (crime, etc.) are problems with the soul and spirit, which need to be addressed if you want to solve social problems. (I know this because I asked a pastor and he told me.) There are limits to what the state can provide, so civil institutions like churches need to pick up where the state leaves off. We should support and restore the role of mediating institutions.
What should Christians ask candidates when deciding who to vote for?
R: The candidate’s worldview is much more important than their positions on any issue. For example, how they view the dignity of human life.
D: The sincerity of their interest in serving, what motivated them to become public servants, their record of service and experience representing their constituency under stress.
Did you see anything wrong with the war in Iraq, especially with thought to Just War Theory?
Gerson: There was difficulty with the third clause of Just War Theory, the “possibility of a just and stable outcome”. There was always a significant problem with reconstruction after the war. War was a moral case.
D: More people should have been critical of the war at the time it was voted on, but it’s much easier to vote for a war than against it.
R: No Monday morning quarterbacking. …nucular weapons… …mass destruction…
I don’t know what R said at the end. I left when I heard “nucular”.