Mitt Romney’s Statement About God

18 Oct

In Tuesday night’s debate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave the following answer to the question “What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate?” —

“Thank you, and that’s an opportunity for me, and I
appreciate it.

In the nature of a campaign, it seems that some campaigns are
focused on attacking a person rather than prescribing their own future and the things they’d like to do. In the course of that, I think the president’s campaign has tried to characterize me as – as someone who’s very different than who I am.

I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100
percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future. I care about our kids. I understand what it takes to make a bright and prosperous future for America again. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I’m a guy who wants to help with the experience I have, the American people.

My – my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in
God. And I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we
have a responsibility to care for one another. I – I served as a
missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.

I went to the Olympics when they were in trouble to try and get
them on track. And as governor of my state, I was able to get 100
percent of my people insured, all my kids, about 98 percent of the
adults. I was able also to get our schools ranked number one in the
nation, so 100 percent of our kids would have a bright opportunity for a future.

I understand that I can get this country on track again.
We don’t have to settle for what we’re going through. We don’t have
to settle for gasoline at four bucks. We don’t have to settle for
unemployment at a chronically high level. We don’t have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don’t have to settle for 50
percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don’t
have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.

If I become president, I’ll get America working again. I will get us on track to a balanced budget. The president hasn’t. I will. I’ll make sure we can reform Medicare and Social Security to preserve
them for coming – coming generations. The president said he would. He didn’t.”

Now the phrase I have highlighted and underlined will be troubling to some Christians. The Bible is clear that while all people are created by God not all are His children. We become children of God by being united to God through faith in Jesus Christ (see John 1:12; Romans 9:8; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:1). So Romney’s statement is wrong according to this biblical definition of the phrase “children of God.” Further troubling is his use of the word “same.” It is indeed true that we are all created by the same God, for there is only one God. But to say that we are all children of the same God serves to flatten out and render as unimportant our religious distinctives, as if the same God is being worship by Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Mormons. This is demonstrably false because if this were the case God would be presenting Himself in deeply contradictory ways to different peoples of the world. There is no unifying center to world religions that points to one God behind them all. Further, in the view of most major religions, eternal issues are at stake in the key distinctives between them.

Does this mean Christians should never align themselves with those of other faiths to find practical solutions to societal problems? No, certainly I think there is a place for strategic alignment, but where this becomes problematic is when my cooperation with others forces me to devalue, diminish, or deny my own faith distinctives. I would have preferred Romney to draw the straight line our Founders drew when they spoke of being endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. If he had something like, “My passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And because I believe God made us, I believe human life has great value and that we should do all we can to help people, from the youngest to the oldest, 100 percent of our people.”  This kind of a statement affirms belief in God without flattening that belief so that faith distinctives are made to seem unimportant.

There is a kind of general appeal that can be made to God’s existence which can motivate the actions of people from a variety of faiths but it is not found in the idea that humans are all one big family but that humans are all created by God. It’s is God’s authority rather than our common humanity that is the decisive factor. This points to the difference between God-given self-evident rights and self-created rights that come by the consent of society. If we are to speak of God in general terms at all, it is better in my judgment to speak in this way rather than in ways that serve to water down religious distinctives that many people hold dear and which in fact are eternally significant.

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