~ 9 July 2007 ~

Hillary Clinton: Church Lady

In case you missed the glowing New York Times profile of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s faith over the weekend, you missed intriguing tidbits like the fact that she carries a Bible along with her on the campaign trail. Also included in the piece was this very telling portrayal of her beliefs (emphasis mine):

In a brief quiz about her theological views, Mrs. Clinton said she believed in the resurrection of Jesus, though she described herself as less sure of the doctrine that being a Christian is the only way to salvation. As for how literally to interpret the Bible, she takes a characteristically centrist view.

“The whole Bible gives you a glimpse of God and God’s desire for a personal relationship, but we can’t possibly understand every way God is communicating with us,” she said. “I’ve always felt that people who try to shoehorn in their cultural and social understandings of the time into the Bible might be actually missing the larger point.”

That she rejects historic orthodox Christianity is clear — no major confession of faith through the ages has ever expressed belief that there is salvation outside Christ. What remains a little unclear is the statement that we can’t possibly understand God’s communication. If she means that she herself can’t understand it, that’s one thing. But, if she means that god communicates with us in ways that are unknowable, I would beg to differ.

The fact that God has communicated to us via the written word means that he is understandable, and that it he is knowable through his word. To say that “we can’t possibly understand every way God is communicating with us” is to say that we really have no basis for understanding any way. If this is so, we in effect become agnostics.

I don’t think Sen. Clinton is intentionally courting the votes of the “agnostic left,” but they may have just found their candidate…

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11 Comments:

  1. Jason » 10 July 2007:

    I’m afraid that Mrs. Clinton’s views line up quite closely with many of the mainline denominations.

  2. Ron » 12 July 2007:

    When I hear people weigh and analyze the religious beliefs of a candidate (and I hear a lot of that), I always want to know if they’d like to see the Constitution amended to allow or establish religious tests for public office. Would you?

  3. Jared Bridges » 12 July 2007:

    Ron: No, I would not like to see the Constitution amended to include or allow a religious test for office.

  4. Ron » 12 July 2007:

    Neither would I. In fact, that part of the Constitution coincides with my personal interest about the religion of a politician. All I want to know about a politician’s religion is that they aren’t going to favor one religion over another and that they aren’t going to favor believers over non-believers or vice versa. In other words, I want to know they respect the Constitutional separation of church and state. In other words, I personally apply no religious test for public office. Nor do I apply a gender test, a race test, or any other test not related to the candidates character or position on the issues.
    The NYT article is unimportant to me. Strike that. Actually I think it’s too bad it was printed. The subject is what is unimportant to me.

  5. Jason » 18 July 2007:

    Ron, let me make sure I understand you correctly: the source of a person’s worldview is not important to you when you consider whether to vote for that person?

  6. Ron » 29 July 2007:

    Hi Jason,
    I’ve heard Christianity referred to as a worldview and now maybe as a source of a worldview, but I’m not sure if I know what else would qualify (for you) as a source of a worldview.
    But anyway, I’m more interested in: What’s he done? What’s he say he’ll do? Has he kept promises? Etc. If I could interview a candidate for the purpose of deciding my vote, I would take me a long time to get to What is your religion?

  7. Sally » 5 August 2007:

    I found Hillary to have the same problem with her beliefs as she has with any other subject. She double-speaks. She believes in Jesus, but not in what he said or that of The Father. hummm.

    I think she believes she wants to be elected, and that is her only belief.

    As for voting based on religious tests, we all have our own tests/questions/issues we base our votes on. 1 person, 1 vote. No one can tell another what to place their vote one. It is a personal choice.

  8. Laura » 10 August 2007:

    I don’t know if I necessarily agree with your hermeneutic of Senator Clinton’s comments:) I’m not saying you shouldn’t analyze ALL political candidates’ statements about faith, given the fact that both sides really want the evangelical “values voters” in the upcoming election, but I don’t see how what she said about understanding “every” way that God speaks NECESSARILY means that according to her we can’t understand what Scripture says. All of us, as Christians, have probably had other ways that God has spoken to us, even right at Southern Seminary. Being publicly railed against for her faith isn’t likely to help her grow in her faith or move closer to conservative views or help her followers find a mature understanding of Christian beliefs. I’d praise her for her value for the Bible and then teach her how she can find more certainty in her understanding of God in a gentle way… and I’d also affirm that there are times when even in Scripture, we don’t understand God’s ways. Intellectually, we can understand that Herod slaughtered thousands of children. It’s there in Scripture. In some sense, God allowed that to happen and even worked that into the records of his son’s life. We can understand that it happened. That doesn’t mean we should fully understand why it happened. We ourselves should know after seminary that sometimes it takes digging and research to have a deeper understanding of passages and that there are different levels of maturity among believers. That should give us humility in our hermeneutics. Maybe Hillary was being just a little humble about her interpretation of “God’s ways” and not claiming to know everything:) Give her a break!! Maligning one candidate doesn’t lessen the strength of another candidate. It only makes Christians look bad. If you support Fred Thompson, then support him with the positive without talking junk about the other candidates. Romans 12:9-21. Maturity means that we can recognize the strengths of a person and still know they have weaknesses. However, it also means that we can recognize a weakness of a person without writing them off as totally bad, even if they won’t get our vote:) Are Christians in America mature enough to recognize that each candidate has strengths regardless of their political affiliation or have they sold themselves into political idolatry that allows know room to see God’s goodness in both parties and the need for repentance in both parties? That’s what I’d like to know.

  9. Jared Bridges » 13 August 2007:

    Laura, I’ll have to disagree with you on a couple of grounds. First, I didn’t “publicly rail against” Sen. Clinton for her faith. I simply analyzed some very public comments that she made about it. Neither did I “malign” her. I don’t think anyone would dispute that her relativistic views of salvation fall outside the bounds of historic Christian orthodoxy. Do you dispute that?

    Second, I fail to see how I’m being an “immature Christian” by criticizing someone. On the contrary, I find the inability to withstand scrutiny a mark of immaturity. Sen. Clinton is a big girl, and I don’t think it hurts her to hear that her views are heterodox. If it does, it the kind of hurt that she needs. Christ is often a stumbling block, isn’t he?

  10. Loren » 11 November 2007:

    Laura, I would have to say that Jared was spot on. There is a huge difference between publicly maligning a person’s character, and filtering a person’s worldview through the lens of Scripture. You make a great point that both parties have strengths and also that both parties need to seek repentance in some areas. I totally agree with that assessment, as well as you point that even Christians encounter hard passages which are not always clear, but that is not the issue here. We are not talking about two brothers in Christ who have differing views on modes of communion or in Eschatological issues, [when the mark of maturity is extending grace]. We are talking about someone who is claiming to be a believer to win the votes of the political right and Conservative evangelicals, but who supports abortion, homosexual unions, and says that she is not sure that Jesus is the only way of Salvation. Also to Jason, my friend, you say that “her views line quite closely with many of the mainline denominations”. I have to say that this statement is completely incorrect. While i make no assessment about your worldview or if you have had secondary theological training, the statement reveals either a lack her political and religious “View du Jour”, or a lack of understanding mainstream denominations. We are talking about her collective unbiblical views, and specifically the one in Jared’s blog, which is not even in the mainstream of Christiandom. Let’s take her view on homosexuality, abortion, [widely documented and verified around the world]and this relativistic unorthodox view that Jesus is not the only way to God, and lets use the denominations that I have personally been part of as an insider — Southern Baptist,(the largest in the US), no on all three counts, Evangelical Free Church of America – no to all three issues, Independent Baptist – no, Nazarene- no, Bible Methodist- no, Church of God Holiness- no,Church of Christ in Christian Union -no, PCA – no,(some Presbyterians support homosexual ity)Russian Evangelical Baptist -No, Polish Evangelical Christians- no, Nondenominational- no(may be some on the homosexual issue, but by far they would soundly deny all three positions). That covers Arminian, Calvinist, Covenant Theology and Dispensationist, and those in between. Perhaps you meant that people in mainstream churches are becoming more and more relativistic and don’t know the difference between tolerance and refuting false doctrine and the majority can’t name the ten commandments. A recent article I read documented that 60% of Americans polled could name the seven ingredients on a Big Mac, but could not name the ten commandments. This is a sad commentary that speaks about the apathy of Christians and their priorities,but not what mainstream denominations teach.

  11. Realist » 17 March 2008:

    Most of those who debate the Bible seem not to have read it or just read certain parts of it. I assume that Jared can tell us which version of Genesis is true and which list of commandments is the right one and explain all of the contradictions within the Bible so something written so clearly to communicate to us by God thru a variety of anonymous writers and amending scribes and selected by men (inspired in their selections no doubt) can be understood…even if it has been translated a variety of ways and thru a variety of languages…. Hmmmm

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