Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas declared Sen. Hillary Clinton “not a person who believes in the central tenets of Christianity” based on a recent article profiling the Democratic presidential candidate’s faith.
A July 6 New York Times article quoted the senator as responding to questions about her theological views by saying she believed in the resurrection of Jesus, but she “described herself as less sure of the doctrine that being a Christian is the only way to salvation.”
“This is a politician speaking, not a person who believes in the central tenets of Christianity,” Thomas wrote in a column posted online July 10. “The same book that tells of the Resurrection also quotes Jesus as saying ‘I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me’ (John 14:6).”
“One might ask, which the reporter did not, that if there are other ways to God than through Jesus, why did He bother to come to earth, allow Himself to be crucified and suffer rejection?” Thomas continued. “He might have stayed in Heaven and told people about a spiritual GPS system that would get them there another way.”
Thomas, a one-time aide to Jerry Falwell who in 1999 co-wrote a book titled Blinded By Might arguing the Religious Right had failed in its effort to save America, said the quality of a person’s relationship with God should be personal and beyond judgment of others, “unless one is running for president and chooses to talk about it as part of a campaign plan to win the election.”
“Democrats have been encouraged and coached by liberal evangelical Christian Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine to talk about their faith in an attempt to capture a small slice of the religious vote that has mostly gone to conservative Republicans in the last several election cycles,” Thomas explained.
“Liberal faith, which is to say a faith that discounts the authority of Scripture in favor of a constantly evolving, poll-tested relevancy to modern concerns–such as the environment, what kind of SUV Jesus would drive, larger government programs and other ‘do-good’ pursuits–ultimately morphs into societal and self-improvement efforts and jettisons the life-changing message of salvation, forgiveness of sins and a transformed life,” he continued.
“Sen. Clinton is entitled to whatever faith she wants to practice, but when she uses it as an election tactic, she should not be allowed to alter classic Christian theology,” Thomas concluded.
Bruce Prescott, president of the Oklahoma chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church & State, told EthicsDaily.com he isn’t a fan of Hillary Clinton or of politicians giving testimonies while on the campaign trial, but Thomas’ attack on her faith is “beyond the pale.”
“Thomas apparently equates his own brand of political conservativism with orthodox Christianity and derides those who disagree with him as proponents of ‘works salvation,'” Prescott said. “His attack is directed not only against her, but against Christians of every stripe who take the social teachings of Christ seriously.”
“It’s well past time for conservatives like Thomas, who make claims for the authority of Scripture, to stop shredding those pages that disagree with their personal political views,” said Prescott, who also is executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists.
In addition to the news article critiqued by Thomas, the Times published online a full transcript of the interview conducted in June.
Asked, “Theologically, do you believe that the resurrection of Jesus actually happened, that it actually historically did happen?” Clinton replied, “Yes, I do.”
On another “controversial” issue, the reporter asked Clinton if she thinks “belief in Christ is needed for going to heaven?”
“That one I’m a little more open to,” she said. “I think that it is, as we understand our relationship to God as Christians, it is how we see our way forward, and it is the way. But, ever since I was a little girl, I’ve asked every Sunday school teacher I’ve ever had, I asked every theologian I’ve ever talked with, whether that meant that there was no salvation, there was no heaven for people who did not accept Christ.”
“And, you’re well aware that there are a lot of answers to that,” she continued. “There are people who are totally rooted in the fact that, ‘no, that’s why there are missionaries, that’s why you have to try to convert.’ And, then there are a lot of other people who are deeply faithful and deeply Christ-centered who say, ‘that’s how we understand it, and who are we to read God’s mind about such a weighty decision as that?'”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.