The EFM Feature
Loser, from Flickr user jugbo, used under a Creative Commons license

That’s the word from Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, anyway.

As you’ve likely heard, Pastor Jeffress introduced Gov. Perry yesterday at the Values Voters Summit in Washington and then talked to the media about Gov. Romney.  The comments of his that have gotten the most attention revolved around calling Mormonism a cult.  I want to focus on two others that, in my judgement, are actually much more important.

First, in his introduction of Gov. Perry, Pastor Jeffress alluded to one or more opponents of Gov. Perry’s (read: Gov. Romney) being “conservative out of convenience.”  Then, when Gov. Perry took the stage, he said Pastor Jeffress “knocked it out of the park” in his introduction.  This is a great example of turning a fact into foolishness.

It’s an obvious fact that the Mitt Romney who’s running for president today is more socially conservative, from a political perspective–as opposed to a “how I live my life privately” perspective–than the Mitt Romney who ran against Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994.  (In fact, I would bet many family men of Gov. Romney’s generation who’ve watched our culture over the last two decades have changed in a similar way.)  But to say that change has occurred out of convenience is to make a foolish statement.  It was anything but convenient for Gov. Romney to lead the fight against same-sex marriage or to respond truthfully to the evidence pro-life stalwart Mary Ann Glendon and others showed him on embryonic stem cell research in the completely left-wing state he governed.  In Texas politics, these positions are commonsensical.  In the Bay State, they earned him incredible vituperation.  That’s why Maggie Gallagher, head of the National Organization for Marriage, and many others have praised his courage and leadership on the very issues that drive many “values voters.”

But let’s be honest.  While important, that last one is an old debate, and Pastor Jeffress wasn’t really breaking any new ground.  Which brings me to my second point.  According to POLITICO, Pastor Jeffress also said the following–after introducing Gov. Perry, if I understand it correctly:  “Every true, born again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian.”  Placed in the context of his previous comments, he was saying this:  Every true, born again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian like Gov. Perry over a non-Christian like Gov. Romney.  Or, to boil it down:  Charles Mitchell is a loser of a Christian for backing Mitt Romney over a fellow evangelical.

Don’t get me wrong; this is not a new argument.  But I’m used to hearing it from enraged e-mailers, not prominent pastors.  It’s especially disappointing to see a man with a bunch of seminary degrees voice as truth something that seems to meet the textbook definition of legalism–a man adding a command that simply isn’t there in Scripture.  The Bible I read makes quite clear that God uses all kinds of leaders to bring glory to himself, and the common sense I use leads me to believe that theology matters in different ways when you’re picking a president as opposed to a pastor.

What makes Pastor Jeffress’ comment even more disappointing is that he doesn’t even seem to believe it fully himself.  During (near as I can tell) they very same Q&A session with reporters, he said the following:

I believe a non-Christian who embraces Christian principles is more palatable than a Christian, and I’m accepting that Barack Obama is a Christian by his own statements, I would rather have a non-Christian who embraces Christian principles than a professing Christian who governs by un-Biblical principles.

So…we should only vote for candidates with the right theology, unless they are Democrats?

If disagreeing with that mix of maxims makes me a loser of a Christian, so be it.  Our view at EFM is consistent, whether you’re talking about the Republican primary or the general election.  It’s not legalistic.  It doesn’t assume we can judge a man’s heart based on televised debates.  It takes into account the way God has worked across history.  And it’s the best way to build and nurture a cross-faith coalition that will advance the values Pastor Jeffress holds dear in a hostile culture not just in 2012, but in the years to come.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Comments and Discussion

Evangelicals for Mitt provides comments as a way to engage in a public and respectiful discussion about articles and issues. Any comment may be removed by the editors for violating common decency or tempting flames.

8 Responses to I’m a Loser of a Christian

  1. Barbara J says:

    Mormons certainly are christians and practice what they preach unlike evangelicals. It will be Perry who drags his faith into the White House, not Romney who knows how to separate church from state.

    • Mike says:

      Barbara,
      As a Mormon myself, I know many Mormons who don’t practice what they preach and many evangelicals who truly live by their religious precepts; the founders of this blog being among them. We need to realize that there are good and bad representatives in all faiths. Unfortunately, Pastor Jeffers is not a good representative of his faith and fails to realize that such comments only serve to marginalize him in the long run.

  2. Scott Stenson says:

    I remind folks that the name of the so called Mormon Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The name was given to the Church in 1838. We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that he plays the central role in the plan of salvation. Judge for yourselves whether or not that makes us Christians.

    The Church of Jesus Christ appears to be misunderstood by many, which actually baffles me considering our diligent missionary efforts since at least 1830. As I understand it, the Church is in over 160 countries and is among the fasting growing in America and the world. Membership is well over 14 million. Its fruits are increasingly visible.

    I would be very willing to work with those of other faiths and of other persuasions to promote freedom and family values. People of faith need to work together and seek to better understand each other. Although much light still remains in the people of the earth, the nations are fast becoming drunken with iniquity.

  3. Terry Tippets says:

    All this talk of who’s really a Christian and who isn’t is a moot point as far as who would be the better man or woman as president of the United States. In my opinion, what should be the top consideration is whose moral beliefs most closely match what we want to see in the next president. Personally, whether someone is a “born again Christian” or not, doesn’t influence me in the least when I’m considering who to vote for. Case in point: all other things being fairly equal (track record, experience, etc.), if an atheist and a born again Christian were running for a certain political office, and I thought the atheist’s moral views came closest to what I would like to see in the person governing in that office, I’d probably vote for the atheist.

  4. Tsvetelina says:

    I typed “Christian” into the search at dictionary.com and found the following definition:

    Chris·tian   [kris-chuhn] adjective
    1. of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.
    2. of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ: Spain is a Christian country.
    3. of or pertaining to Christians: many Christian deaths in the Crusades.
    4. exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike: She displayed true Christian charity.
    5. decent; respectable: They gave him a good Christian burial.
    6. human; not brutal; humane: Such behavior isn’t Christian.

    noun
    7. a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.
    8. a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ: He died like a true Christian.
    9. a member of any of certain Protestant churches, as the Disciples of Christ and the Plymouth Brethren.
    10. the hero of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
    11. a male given name.

    Now, watch this and tell me that Mormons aren’t Christian.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coef8G5ax6E

  5. Andrew Williams says:

    Not much longer and Mitt Romney will be president. And after a couple of years into his presidency, many social conservatives (including many evangelicals that are wary of the Mormon faith) will come to see that although the Mormon theology DOES differ in significant ways from evangelical beliefs, there is NO difference in regards to the willingness of each faith to fight to the bitter end, in order to protect Christian / family values in our nation. it won’t be much longer before Mormons and Evangelicals realize what powerful allies they have in each other!

    • ccr says:

      @Andrew………… I appreciate your thoughts : “….there is NO difference in regards to the willingness of each faith to fight to the bitter end, in order to protect Christian / family values in our nation. it won’t be much longer before Mormons and Evangelicals realize what powerful allies they have in each other!”

      I also appreciate Charles, David and Nancy’s perspective and expressions of common sense and rational thought.

      It was evangelicalsformitt.org that got me, a member of Mitt’s faith, on board with him!

      Thanks for the GOOD that ALL GOOD people can do! America NEEDS good and HONEST people to UNITE (not divide) to protect our liberties and freedoms. Let not “Christianity” be a DIVIDING force in our country but a UNITING force.

      Oh, how we NEED God to Bless America!

  6. Hubb says:

    When making a decision to support someone running for public office I support those who live the values and practice principles that align with what I expect from their leadership. I have found it most important to go by how people live rather that what they say or claim to believe. As far as religiously defining a Christian my standard is do they live what Jesus taught? Love their neighbors; donate their time and resources to helping others etc. Every religion has different doctrines but one thing is for sure you can depend on to know their character is seeing how they live. “Pure a religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, “To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27 Ask their Wife is he a good husband and their children do they observe their father as a really good man “by their fruits ye shall know them” As for politics I would say it is interesting how so many people are concerned with a presidential candidates religion when for example you have Mitt Romney and Harry Reid who follow the same religion yet couldn’t be farther apart on political ideology so in their case you certainly would not use religion to decide who you would support in and election but rather you would look at who has the skills and values that I am looking for as a leader to best serve in the office they are running for.

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