Gingrich, Romney, and Evangelicals Follow-Up

A post of mine from yesterday–Better to be an adulterer than a Mormon?: Evangelicals, Gingrich, and Romney–garnered the most hits in the history of this blog. In response to this entry, my dear friend Michael Bauman writes in the combox:

All other things being equal, it’s better to be a forgiven Catholic — Gingrich, than a forgiven Mormon — Romney, especially when the Catholic is better informed, more experienced, more articulate, and has a better record of legislative achievement (not to mention that Catholicism is truer than Mormonism and therefore yields more benefits and advantages of many sorts.)

God forgives and God regenerates repentant sinners. Unless we are prepared to say, and to substantiate, either that conversion is not real or that Gingrich is not converted, then I will continue to assert the authenticity of his change. I’ve seen nothing that makes me think it is not true. If anyone else has seen such contrary evidence, I’d be quite willing to listen and possibly to change my assessment. Gingrich seems to me a new and different man morally and spiritually from what he was. Given the truth of Christianity and the power of God in the gospel, it’s exactly what I’d expect. He has confessed, repented, and been absolved. I, therefore, will not continue to throw his errors in his face. He has acknowledged them repeatedly and publicly. Those allegations that are false he has denied.

Good on him, and God bless him.

I do not disagree with Mike that Newt Gingrich has undergone a true conversion. That was not the issue I was addressing in my entry. What I was addressing was the wisdom and political judgment of those Evangelical leaders who seemed to have not even considered Mitt Romney, even though Romney’s life story does not suggest a person whose character  lacks the fortitude to withstand the sorts of temptations that seem to have bedeviled Gingrich throughout his career. Adultery, of course, is one temptation. And I highly doubt that Gingrich would succumb to that temptation ever again. But the cluster of character traits that gave rise to these infidelities is a different story all together. As I said in a December 3, 2011 Catholic Thing essay on Gingrich:

In 2009, Gingrich was received into the Catholic Church, the faith of his third wife, Callista Bisek. Because Catholic conversion requires the sacrament of confession, Gingrich has been absolved of his sins. This, of course, suggests to many, including me, that one cannot evaluate Gingrich’s candidacy and character without taking his conversion seriously. It is a mistake for Christians to emulate the world and treat a man’s conversion as if it were the metaphysical equivalent of a change in hobby.

On the other hand, Rod Dreher raises an important point in suggesting that Christian conservatives take care in their choice of standard-bearer. Relying on insights by New York Times writer Ross Douthat, Dreher argues that Christian conservatives, in the toxic atmosphere of the culture wars, cannot afford to have as a public face a figure who for most of his adult life has shunned the virtues and ways of life that Christian conservatives want to advance in the public square.

This is not to diminish or call into question Gingrich’s conversion. Quite the opposite. For, as the Catholic Catechism teaches, absolution of sins does not eradicate all the effects and consequences of those sins on the shaping of one’s character. This requires ongoing conversion, including detaching oneself from those things that may provide an occasion for sin.

It seems to me that a man whose sins arose as a consequence of the pursuit of political power and the unwise use of it after he became Speaker of the House should not be seeking the most powerful office in the world.

Newt Gingrich, to be sure, changed my life, and I am grateful for that. But it is far more important that Gingrich’s new life change his soul, and for this reason, I will not support him in the Republican primary.

Does anyone seriously believe–given his reckless comments about Romney and Bain Capital–that Gingrich has truly detached himself from those things that may provide an occasion for sin?  As conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin puts it: “The `King of Bain’ ad is a microcosm of Newt Gingrich. The ad embodies the same contempt for truth and the same political maliciousness that has characterized much of Gingrich’s career and now consumes him.” And what about his grandiose sense of his own historical importance? What follows is a document released this morning by the Romney Campaign. Am I the only one who does not find this bombastic narcissism terribly unsettling? (Notice that the post- and pre-conversion comments are nearly indistinguishable)

“I THINK GRANDIOSE THOUGHTS”

Mitt Romney Press | January 19, 2012

Location

Boston, MA 

United States

A Selection Of Speaker Gingrich’s Thoughts Over The Years

Gingrich on Gingrich:

  • “I Think I Am A Transformational Figure.” (PBS.org, 12/2/11)
  • “I Am Essentially A Revolutionary.” (Adam Clymer, “House Revolutionary,” The New York Times, 8/23/92)
  • “Philosophically, I Am Very Different From Normal Politicians … We Have Big Ideas.” (Andrew Ferguson, “What Does Newt Gingrich Know?” The New York Times, 6/29/11)
  • “I Have An Enormous Personal Ambition. I Want To Shift The Entire Planet. And I’m Doing It. … I Represent Real Power.” (Lois Romano, “Newt Gingrich, Maverick On The Hill,” The Washington Post, 1/3/85)
  • “I First Talked About [Saving Civilization] In August Of 1958.” (Robert Draper, “He’s Baaack!” GQ, 8/05)
  • “Over My Years In Public Life, I Have Become Known As An ‘Ideas Man.’” (Andrew Ferguson, “What Does Newt Gingrich Know?” The New York Times, 6/29/11)
  • “I Am The Longest Serving Teacher In The Senior Military, 23 Years Teaching One And Two-Star Generals And Admirals The Art Of War.” (GOP Presidential Candidates Debate, 12/15/11)

Speaker Gingrich Has Compared Himself to a Litany of Historical Leaders:

Ronald Reagan And Margaret Thatcher: “Gingrich said he learned a lot about himself in the political wilderness. … In the same breath, he compares himself to two conservative giants. With Gingrich, humility has its limits. ‘Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.’” (Jim Acosta, “Newt Gingrich Back From The Brink,” CNN.com, 11/16/11)

Abraham Lincoln: “Gingrich began his speech with remarks in which he predicted an economic recovery ‘literally’ the night Republicans would send Barack Obama home, and then announced, ‘I begin as Lincoln did.’ He argued that, like Lincoln, all his ideas came out of the Declaration of Independence.” (Jason Horowitz, “Newt Gingrich Draws Contrast With Romney,” The Washington Post, 12/1/11)

Woodrow Wilson: “He earned a PhD in history and taught college before winning a seat in Congress. He has often spoken of himself as a historian. In 1995, he told CNN’s Bob Franken: ‘I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.’” (John Pitney, “Five Myths About Newt Gingrich,” The Washington Post, 11/22/11)

Henry Clay: “Putting his tumultuous four years in the speaker’s chair into historical perspective, the former history professor compared himself to 19th century statesman Henry Clay, ‘the great compromiser’ who lost three bids for the presidency and served as speaker and secretary of State. Gingrich said that like Clay, he did more than just preside over the House. ‘I was not a presider, I was the leader,’ Gingrich said in the interview. ‘I think Henry Clay’s probably the only other speaker to have been a national leader and a speaker of the House simultaneously.’” (William Welch, “Gingrich: I’ll Go Down As Leader, Clinton As Tragedy,” USA Today, 8/30/99)

Charles De Gaulle: “‘At one point, I asked Gingrich, now a healthful-looking 65, about his sudden exit from Congress in 1998. ‘First of all, in the Toynbeean sense, I believe in departure and return,’ he told me. ‘In the what sense?’ I asked. ‘Arnold Toynbee,’ he replied matter-of-factly, referring to the English writer Arnold J. Toynbee, who wrote ‘A Study of History.’ ‘I believe in the sense that, you know, De Gaulle had to go to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises for 11 years.’ ‘I’m sorry?’ ‘Departure and return. And someone once said to me, if you don’t leave, you can’t come back, because you’ve never left.’” (Matt Bai, “Newt. Again.” New York Times Magazine, 2/25/09)

William Wallace: “‘If you go out and see what’s happening in the Tea Party, the last thing you want is a passionless election,’ Gingrich says, then refers to the epic movie about the battle for Scottish independence in the 13th century. ‘Remember Braveheart? These people want somebody who plants a flag in the ground, gives a speech and yells “Charge!” That is, someone like him.” (Susan Page, “Rising From The Pack, Gingrich Invites Scrutiny,” USA Today, 11/21/11)

Pericles: “In a long interview on May 4, 1992, devoted almost exclusively to the topic of Gingrich, [former White House aide Richard] Darman concluded that Gingrich was ‘an unstable personality’ who talks about four or five great people in history, including Pericles and himself.” (Bob Woodward, “In His Debut In Washington’s Power Struggles, Gingrich Threw A Bomb,” The Washington Post, 12/24/11)

The Duke Of Wellington: “Obsessed recently with Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, [Gingrich] likened the appropriations triumph to the way the British expeditionary force maneuvered against the French during the Peninsular War, a campaign in Portugal and Spain in the early 1800s that eventually led to Wellington’s ascendance and Napoleon’s abdication.” (Michael Weisskopf and David Maraniss, “In A Moment Of Crisis, The Speaker Persuades,” The Washington Post, 8/13/95)

A Viking: “With his machine-gun staccato delivery, [Gingrich] is the center of attention. He terms himself a ‘Viking.’” (“Gingrich Delivers For GOP Faithful,” South Bend Tribune, 7/28/95)

Thomas Edison: “Once he took over GOPAC in 1986, the organization became what he called the creative thinking and research group of the Republican Party. ‘We are on the way to becoming the Bell Labs of politics,’ Mr. Gingrich proclaimed. ‘That’s the closest model you can find to what we do, and nobody else is in that business. The first thing you need at Bell Labs is a Thomas Edison, and the second thing you need is a real understanding of how you go from scientific theory to a marketable product.’” (Katharine Q. Seelye, “Birth Of A Vision,” The New York Times, 12/3/95)

Vince Lombardi: “By four in the morning, [Gingrich] had moved on to football metaphors. What the Republicans had accomplished, Gingrich said, was like the old Green Bay Packers sweep during the days of Coach Vince Lombardi: The opposition knows you are going to run at them, but they cannot stop you. Lombardi, Gingrich said, believed that the team that doesn’t break in the fourth quarter wins.” (Michael Weisskopf and David Maraniss, “In A Moment Of Crisis, The Speaker Persuades,” The Washington Post, 8/13/95)

The Wright Brothers: “At that dinner, held in a convention center in Johnston, Gingrich sought to add more emotional lift into his stump speech. ‘I am asking you to embark with me on a voyage of invention and discovery,’ he said, ‘to be as bold and as brave as the Wright brothers.’” (Jason Horowitz, “Newt Gingrich Draws Contrast With Romney,” The Washington Post, 12/1/11)

Moses: “On this night, Gingrich congratulated his troops on standing united and inspired them with stories about Charles de Gaulle’s heroism and George Washington at Valley Forge … At one point, he likened himself, lightheartedly, to Moses. He’d help them cross the Red Sea once again, Gingrich vowed, but only if they promised, this time, to stay on the other side.” (Matt Bai, “Newt. Again.” New York Times Magazine, 2/25/09)

 

 

 

  • Pingback: Better to be an adulterer than a Mormon?: Evangelicals, Gingrich, and Romney « Return to Rome()

  • Carknedge

    “All other things being equal, it’s better to be a forgiven Catholic — Gingrich, than a forgiven Mormon — Romney, . . . (not to mention that Catholicism is truer than Mormonism and therefore yields more benefits and advantages of many sorts.)”

    This statement is typical of Catholics and the other apostate sects.

    Gingrich may have been forgiven for his sins by God (not for me to say), but he is a disgusting person whom general election voters, especially women voters, would never elect to the Presidency. President Obama, for all his political faults, appears to be a decent man in his personal life, and the election would be no contest.

    So Gingrich converted to Catholicism as his third religion for his third wife? Catholics, you are welcome to him. Yuck.

    Let me ask you a question. If Gingrich had undergone the whole sincere repentance and conversion thing but, instead of becoming a Catholic, had joined one or another of the myriad Protestant apostate sects, would you still be so forgiving and accepting? I do not think so.

    So both Gingrich and Romney are “forgiven”? We are all sinners and so we are all equal? Do you realize just how bad Gingrich is? He is guilty of not simply adultery but great cruelty to each of his wives. He divorced his first wife as she was dying from cancer and his second wife just after she had been diagnosed with MS and she and Gingrich were told that she must avoid stress. Would you still favor Gingrich over the Mormon if Gingrich were a rapist? What if he were an abortionist? What if he were a murderer? What if he were a war criminal who ordered genocide?

    And what sacrifice has Gingrich’s “repentance” involved? He kept his mistress. He kept making millions. He kept his vanity. Now, he is keeping a bid for President. If his “repentance” is sincere, should he not exhibit some sign of humility? How about a little penance? Maybe at least give up the mistress.

    Let’s also look at the statement “not to mention that Catholicism is truer than Mormonism and therefore yields more benefits and advantages of many sorts.” I will skip “truer” and focus on “benefits and advantages.” Such as what? Anything relevant to the election or to the Presidency? I can’t see how. Being Catholic won’t end the recession, balance the budget or deal with a nuclear Iran.

    In the long run, none of this matters. In the long run:

    1. Like everyone, you will die.
    2. Your church will disappear.
    3. Your religion will be forgotten.
    4. Your descendents will go to the temples to perform baptisms for the dead for you.

    • Jacob

      Carknedge:
      I sincerely hope that you’re not Mormon and are just being facetious in those comments, because it hurts me to think anyone who claims to be a member of Christ’s church would be so callous. Not to mention ignorant. To Catholics or Evangelicals or Mormons forget about Judaism? To expand on what Justin pointed out, the Jews have been through a lot more than Christians have. They’re still here. Even Brother Brigham said other religions wouldn’t disappear.

    • Thomas R

      I think it’s a bit provocative, or just rude, to go to a Catholic blog and essentially close with “History is on Mormonism’s side and we will bury you.” I mean I see how some comments here are disparaging to your faith, but still this strikes me as out of proportion. Also “ruder” than any Mormon I’ve seen in life or online.

      For the record I don’t think Mormonism is going to disappear, be forgotten, or that your descendants will pray for your soul in Purgatory. I mean maybe some of them will, but I don’t think all necessarily will. Although I suppose if “in the long run” means “several millennium” than I’d have less objections. If you think 5,000+ years from now Catholicism will die out I guess that makes sense for one who isn’t Catholic. And as I’m not Mormon I could see Mormonism being forgotten in 5,000+ years although I don’t know that I’d say being forgotten that fast is inevitable. Samaritans are still around and we know of ancient Egyptian religion.

      • http://krandle.com/kstreetjournal k

        I am LDS and I stand by your reply. I have no idea who wrote the comment, but I am offended by it. I can understand being offended by the assertion that Catholicism is “truer,” – but then, I can understand being offended by our feeling that “Mormonism” is “truer.” I didn’t like the tone in the comment, or the conclusion of it. Please accept my apology for the person who wrote that, obviously in a reactive state of pissiness.

        I think we are all lucky our God made that promise attached to the rainbow, frankly.

        • Thomas R

          Don’t worry. I haven’t met many Mormons in life, but the one or two I knew were perfectly nice. Online I’ve never encountered a Mormon who acted like that. My Mom knew a Mormon who told her “someday us and the Catholics will take over” but going by what she told me of her that woman was possibly being humorous and was not all that good at being Mormon anyway. (As in she basically had two husbands, or men anyway, living with her and probably had other “issues.”)

    • Jonny Gray

      Wow, Carknedge, you may be one of the most abrasive and poorly expressed Mormons I have ever come across (unfortunately not the most, but one of). It takes all sorts to make this society of earth, but I hope your aggressive insensitivity will not give others a poor view of what our Faith is truly about. Our Father in Heaven loves all of His children equally and, because of that love, gives us the ability to choose for ourselves in this life.
      From a doctrinal standpoint of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
      – ALL churches will disappear (including our own) when the Messiah returns to this earth to rule and reign in perfect righteousness.
      – ALL people who have lived righteous lives and worked to be kind & loving to others, and live their imperfect lives to emulate the life and attributes of the Savior as closely as we can, will have time to live in peace and happiness together on the earth.

      It doesn’t matter what anyone says (sticks & stones, etc), Mormons ARE Christians, and if we truly believe and accept the gospel of the Savior, we will gain a peace in this life which comes from an understanding of the true nature of God and the purpose of our mortal existence.
      We should share the understanding we have, so that others can share in that peace.
      We should NOT belittle others for their beliefs and/or react with anger and insensitivity when questioned (or even attacked) by those who may not fully understand the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • Tex

    Perhaps Gingrich is sincere in his repentance. I hope for his sake and that of his family that he is and if so, great and isn’t repentance wonderful?

    However. It’s also one of the main reasons I will not vote for him. I have an addiction to refined sugar. If it is in my house, I’ll eat it. Period. Once I recognized my problem I realized the only solution was to abstain from it. I can’t do that if it’s here, staring me in the face. Gingrich’s real addiction is power. Everything else, including his affairs, are a result of that addiction. If the man has truly sought repentance and desires to be a new creature in Christ, then the worst thing any of us can do is send him back to politics. It’s like giving a person addicted to porn an all-access internet connection and a dark room and saying, “Don’t go to pornographic websites.”

    In Gingrich’s case it would be like putting the recovering alcoholic in charge of a winery. If anyone who is religious cares about the man they won’t vote for him. It would only be setting him up to indulge in the sins of his yesteryear.

    Let us not forget that the Gingrich of Congress was a man leading the charge to crucify Clinton for his philandering ways while at the same time he was having an affair of his own. There’s a very real disconnect between the principled Gingrich and the profligate Gingrich, which should be of great concern to the American people. Let’s not lead him into temptation, shall we?

    • Lizard

      Amen, Tex. You’ve hit the nail on the head.
      I keep looking for the signs of a repentant soul: the penitent, humbler, more Christlike Gingrich to materialize, but I haven’t seen it. On the contrary; I’ve seen a patronizing, arrogant, dishonest, vindictive politician telling the far-right electrate what they want to hear. I’m scratching my head on how the responder could compare that Gingrich to the humbled woman taken in adultery. And so I’m left feeling skeptical about his professed repentance. And while it’s not my job to judge whether Gingrich is right before God, it IS my job to judge BY HIS WORDS AND ACTIONS TODAY whether or not he’s honest enough to hold the highest office in the land. Indeed, it would be irresponsible of me to do otherwise.
      And from one abstaining sugar addict to another, I wish you luck and God Speed!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/returntorome/2012/01/gingrich-romney-and-evangelicals-follow-up/ AliveinTO

    I think one thing being overlooked here is that despite repentance there is still a price to pay for sin. Gingrich has a terrible reputation – womanizer, uncaring, power hungry. Even if he has repented of those things, and likely others, that doesn’t take away the fact that he has a terrible reputation. What kind of person do we want in the White House representing America? A person who is apparently without a moral compass? Whose past transgressions make America look bad?
    If a person commits adultery and a baby is born from it, they can repent of their sin but not return the baby. If a person steals, they can repent but not get a job in a position requiring trustworthiness. If a person lies and repents, it will still be a long time before anyone trusts them. Face it, Gingrich is not in a position to hold himself up as the leader of the free world, he is not worth, repentant or not. America needs to hold her head up, not shake it or bow it in shame at the (former) antics of the President. Yea for Gingrich’s repentance, but let it be full repentance and recognize the damage he has done and that he does not have a role as the President of the United States.

  • Pingback: Can a Standing O Shake a Worldview? UPDATED « The Anchoress()

  • http://MotherKaren'sHealthyFamily Karen Bentley

    I have read many of the articles discussing religion and issues related to choosing a presidential candidate. I am very much in agreement with the previous commentator. Each of the candidates have problematic issues. I have always wondered about the “Catch 22″ of why anyone would choose to run for presidential office. I’m still wondering. However, it is our responsibility as citizens to make the choice we feel is the BEST choice for the country. It is not President Obama. This conversation is about Gingrich and Romney. My main comment is that I think if you are going to run for president of the greatest country in the world you should first check your personal closet for dirty laundry, because it is going to come up. Are the American values so changed that moral issues no longer matter? What is the current definition of “Family Values,” the foundation upon which the future depends? In my opinion, you must be either extremely egotistical, or extremely idealistic to take on the job. Ask yourself which candidate you feel will represent this country to the world in such a way that the United States of America can regain and maintain respect as a nation. I’m asking myself that question right now. I feel I am getting close to an answer. I hope you consider that as you support the candidate of your choice as well.

    • http://krandle.com/kstreetjournal k

      Just wanted to say I loved this comment. In my own opinion, the desire to run for this office should be considered a disqualifying element. I think the people need to go enlist someone they find themselves, looking at the way he has run his life and his business – and make him serve, especially if he doesn’t want to. This entire process is self-sabotoguing (wait – how do you spell that?).

  • Gerry

    You have got to be kidding. Wasn’t there some dude who spent who his whole life persecuting Christians until [I hope you know the rest of the story] ?

    • Michael

      Except Saul (later Paul) seemed to truly believe he was doing the right thing right up until his conversion. And, according to his faith in Judaism, he was doing the right thing. He was following the law to the letter. It was only because he was not aware that Christ really was the annointed one that he did the things he did. Gingrich, on the other hand, has no such excuse. His womanizing, callousness and hunger for power at any cost were not an “innocent mistake.” He didn’t think he was doing the right thing until a miraculous conversion. He was knowingly and purposefully doing these things all along. I hope his conversion is true and I wish him the best, but I agree with the article that his past behavior gives me strong reason for concern.

      • Thomas R

        St. Augustine would be a better analogy. His mother was Catholic, but he still had his wild period. Not that Gingrich is remotely in Augustine’s league understand.

  • Dustin

    Carknedge,

    If Christianity hasn’t disappeared after 2000 years, 150 years of the presence of Mormonism won’t do the trick. Golden plates and special glasses aren’t enough to undermine Christ and His Church.

  • Deacon Jim Stagg

    Thanks, Dustin, for bringing realities to the fore.

    Methinks beside the example of Saul/Paul noted above (Bravo!), there should be some consideration of legislative experience and accomplishment thrown into the choice of someone to run for president. In that respect, Newt obviously is the choice, no matter how many wonderful things he can say about himself that one may dredge up (For crying out loud, have you EVER heard a political candidate build up his opponent[s]?).

    From a moderate, conservative, independent point of view, I want someone in there who is competent and can make changes to what has become a farce of office……and knows how to deal with the mazes of gummint. That’d be Newt.
    That he is Catholic or not remains outside the tests for that office.

  • Thomas R

    “Am I the only one who does not find this bombastic narcissism terribly unsettling?”

    This is an issue that I do consider and consider more relevant than whether someone is a Mormon or bad at marriage. Possibly Gingrich’s “confidence” could make him great, but also quite plausible to me is his “grandiosity” would lead to recklessness and scandal. That does concern me.

    In a pragmatic sense Romney is less of a risk. I don’t know that I think he’d be a horrible President where I could see an argument that Gingrich would be a horrible President. Usually I prefer “less risk” and was a fairly strong Dole supporter. (Even though I knew Dole would lose to Clinton and won a bet to that affect) Still Romney is, to me at least, no Dole. He’s not as experienced, his experience is not particularly impressive to me, his sense of humor is so-so, and so forth.

    • http://krandle.com/kstreetjournal k

      I am forced to wonder: did Wilson or Thatcher or Moses often refer to themselves as like – whoever was great before them? Or did they just do the job at hand?

      • Michael

        I agree with your assessment of Newt, Thomas, though I have to say I don’t understand where you’re coming from with Romney. While I am no fan of his sudden shift on social issues, I have to respect his managerial expertise. He turned the Olympics around, handled the budget crisis in Ma. pretty well and has solid experience in the private sector. In addition, he has shown an ability to work with both parties of the legislature to get things done. Given the Republicans refusal to work with Obama, I would guess that the next Republican president will have quite a challenge getting the Democrat’s approval. I’d trust his experience over Gingrich’s any day.

        • Thomas R

          But much of this could describe any number of governors, including governors who served longer or in larger states. Maybe even Perry. Although thinking on it being a Governor of Massachusetts might mean he has a greater ability to work with genuine liberals or progressives. A Southern or Midwestern Governor may not as much.

  • Fatty McFat

    Dustin,

    What do you know about Christianity? Have you even looked at the scriptures? Ever even bothered to look at your dumbed down new homeboy translation for nincompoops? Good luck with your bogus baptism performed by pastor bill with the certificate in priestcraft from university of Phoenix, I’m sure that gives him the authority to perform ordinances.

  • http://boldcolor.blogspot.com Paula Bolyard

    In addition to Newt’s apparent delusions of grandeur, his erratic shifts of policy positions in recent years (sometimes in the same week) should give voters pause about whether or not he is trustworthy. He’s flip-flopped on stem cell research and when life begins and on climate change, and he shows a troubling propensity for tailoring his message (and even his positions) to his audience. When confronted about changes of position, his rhetorical device of choice is to take cover behind “all the experts at that time” or, his favorite, Reagan. And let’s be honest. Does anyone really believe that Freddie Mac was paying him millions to be a “historian”? All of these things smack of political expediency rather than conviction.

    These are indications that Newt perhaps has not, as Dr. Beckwith noted, “truly detached himself from those things that may provide an occasion for sin”.

    • Michael

      I agree with that a hundred percent, Paula. I’m troubled sometimes that the consensus among voters currently seems to be, “No one is that great, but at least Gingrich isn’t Mormon.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/returntorome/2012/01/gingrich-romney-and-evangelicals-follow-up/ Caligirl in texas

    to each their own. However i have read many things and i have seen Newt and he says many things that make you think he is a great and wonderful person for this position. However, he needs to get a clue as my teenager says, he has no many skeletons to worry about getting out, I am a person who is looking for a president that has family values, that honors and cherishes his family because he will do the same for our country.. but in the long run the biggest lier and the biggest head will be the one in office.. Newt forgets that leaving to persue someone or something as “important” as he has been in the past, his flaws are still in front of him, he is still a two time homewrecker of his own home, he is a goof( to keep it clean), How is this man to run the Greatest and most powerful country in the world if he cannot even keep his life and family safe. Leaving his first wife because she had cancer, leaving his second wife because “she was not pretty enough to be a first lady” and has MS. What will he do to dishonor our country anymore than what he has already done… i will not be voting for him, his values are not what i would like in office, his morals are that of an alley cat, and his knowledge is that of history books. Great he did some good in the years of the Reagan Office, ok i was in High School then, this is now, remember where you are now from then…
    His religous reform of repentence makes me wonder if he is sincere about it, however that is between him and god!!! But just because one confesses his sins to one church doesnt mean that it is all ok, it means to make the repentance proper is to never do it again… CAN NEWT KEEP HIS HANDS AND MIND FREE OF NEVER DOING IT AGAIN AND KEEPING THIS WIFE FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE?

  • http://www.reformedandconservative.com Michael Bauman

    Frank, with regard to putting the label “adulterer” on Gingrich, I’ll say here what I said elsewhere:

    If a man has been forgiven; if he has been made a new creature by God Himself; if his sins have been separated from him as far as the East is from the West; if God says that He remembers that man’s sins no more; if over the intervening years that man has demonstrated obvious and public signs of change; do you still call him an adulterer?

    I recall the moment when Augustine returned home after his conversion in Milan. His former girlfriend (I think) called to him: “Augustine, Augustine, it is I!” He turned to her and said: “Yes, but it is not I.”

    Christian doctrine and the redeeming and renewing grace of God in real human history are always relevant, even (or perhaps especially) in contemporary politics. In other words, I don’t think the man has the same character, or is the same character, he once was.

    Nor, for example, do I think his comments about Bain were reckless. Objecting to certain business practices within venture capitalism (which he did) is not the same as attacking either venture capitalism or capitalism itself (which he did not). I agree with what Gingrich said about Bain and what he said a few days later: The distinctions he was drawing, simple though they were, were too subtle for most folks, and easily distorted, especially by those of ill will. Advocating a free market is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can dissent from some of the things some capitalists sometimes do and still be a loyal and committed capitalist, and an ardent defender of economic liberty.

    • John Hughes

      I agree with everything Michael Bauman said, in the above post.

      We love to never truly forgive, as God forgives. How God is capable of forgiving and transforming and individual, then, using that individual for his greater good, we are incapable of.

      I am a revert to Roman Catholicism and will be voting for Newt Gingrich. Not, because he is a Catholic, not, because he is the lessor of evils, but, because he has admitted his shortcomings, and I see nothing in his actions to doubt that his conversion and repentance is real! I would much rather deal with an individual whose sins I know, than the individual whose sins are yet to be known!

      Examples of Augustine, King David, Paul the Apostle, I guess, are examples of a grandiose God, or, a God suffering from severe grandiosity!

    • Michael

      Well I respectfully disagree. If a man has molested children, for instance, I don’t care what forgiveness he has received from God; I completely support Megan’s Law and believe that man ought to be prevented from finding himself in those situations that could stir him to sin again. If a man is an alcoholic, whether or not he’s received forgiveness from God, he ought to be kept from alcohol. I won’t judge the man poorly in either case, but practicality is only to be expected. Given the importance of the position as President of the United States, Gingrich’s past missteps – repented for or not – are to be carefully examined.

      As for Romney, well I don’t care much for his sudden fervor for social conservatism, but I do think Gingrich was irresponsible in some of his comments. The ad they aired against him had quotes taken completely out of context, with the very people in them later complaining that they were misrepresented! Democrats and Republicans in the industry have all said that despite three or four failures at Bain during Romney’s time there, it was overall one of the most morally upstanding firms in the industry. By far, most of the firms they invested in grew and added jobs. If you take a look at the facts, Gingrich’s comments don’t stand up at all.

  • Dustin

    Fatty,

    There is only one baptizer: Jesus. All baptisms done in the Trinitarian formula and for entrance into the Church of the true God (i.e. not tritheism, nor polytheism, nor henotheism, nor any movement gathered around a theological/Christological heresy) are valid even if the one performing the baptism has no faith at all. Donatism is not Christian.

    • Brother Michael

      The trinity is a creation of men, not found in the scriptures. I, having been raised catholic, am often amazed at the lack of understanding of the history of christendom, and where many christian doctrines came from. The concept of trinity originated from the Council of Nice. This council was convened by a Roman emperor because he felt his power faltering in the face of an increasing number of “christian” factions growing larger in strength and numbers. Better to “join” them and lead them than risk them becoming more powerful than him and losing his power/throne. As was stated by a previous poster, he then proceeded to literally “kill off” all those that did not agree with the council (sponsored and directed by himself). Many of the early “Popes” were actually warlords, following in Constantine’s footsteps, one of the most ruthless being only 12 years old! The scriptural basis for the trinity usually used, where Jesus tells his apostles to be one with each other just as He and the Father are one, also using the same language as the scriptures describe that a man shall take a woman to be is wife and the two shall be as one, refers to one in purpose, clearly not one in being, for how could the apostles become one in being, or a man and woman as spouses become one in being? Also, as has also been mentioned in previous posts, what purpose would it serve for Christ, if being the same personage as God, the Father, to pray to himself, several times throughout the scriptures?

      • Thomas R

        Theophilius of Antioch, Tertullian, Hippolytus of Rome, Origen, Novatian, Pope Dionysius, and Gregory Thaumaturgus all explicitly refer to the Trinity before the Council of Nicaea. Granted Origen, Novatian, Tertullian, and possibly Hippolytus became schismatic or heretical. Still here’s a link to Gregory Thaumaturgus referring to the Trinity.

        http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf06.iii.iii.i.i.html

  • Fr. Frank

    Has anybody here heard of Rick Santorum? Why is he dismissed at every turn by our own as unelectable? Why must we follow the media-driven meme, and choose between “the robber baron” and “the serial adulterer/narcissist”? Why do we have to prove the cynics correct (and we will) that “Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line”?

    I truly hope someone will answer these questions. Dr. Beckwith, as always, thank you for such a fine article.

    • Thomas R

      Because Santorum lost in his own state and he is hated by socially-liberal people of any party. Socially-liberal/Social-progressive people have far more media power and generally have more money. I’m not saying a social conservative can’t win, obviously that’s not true, but someone portrayed as “extreme” or “intolerant” in their social-conservatism does almost inevitably lose. Many of the wealthiest Republicans are not particularly socially conservative, but will tolerate social conservatism. I think they’d likely not tolerate Santorum so well.

      • Fr. Frank

        I agree with your assessment of socially moderate to liberal Republicans. However, one would think our last two moderates — Dole and McCain — would cause the party to seriously question a Romney candidacy. After all, they say that insanity is doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different result. Thanks for your response to my questions!

  • T.J.

    I do question his repentance. Because he “converted” to one of the few churches that will allow him to claim absolution while continuing to commit what Jesus defined as adultery in Matthew 5. It’s like a thief who robs a bank and then says, “Oh, I was wrong to do that; I’m sorry” but then keeps all the money.

    • John Hughes

      I believe Jesus said ” Your sins are forgiven you, go and sin no more”!

      • Michael

        He did indeed. I believe that restitution is a valid part of full repentance, though. If you stole something, return it. If you horribly hurt your WIFE, don’t dismiss her and call her a liar afterwards. You know, common decency and all.

  • Mike Roberts

    I support Newt and Callista Gingrich, and I think their adultery and then marriage are a POSITIVE. Their adultery shows ambition and strength.

    Newt isn’t ashamed of Callista; he is proud of her, as he should be. He traded UP. She is blonde, slender, and young. We expect leaders to be highly sexed. Newt Gingrich is, and Callista is his proof, his badge of verility. This is all American competition and ambition at work. Newt and Callista are winners. They strive, they have ambition, and they don’t settle. Obama is still married to his first wife; Obama lacks drive. By contrast, if Newt Gingrich wants something for himself, he takes it. If America needs Mexican oil, or Canadian oil, or an air base in Pakistan, or rare earth metals from some country, Mr. Gingrich will not worry about negotiation, or price, or international law.. He won’t ask the UN. He will take what America needs. The strong take and the weak submit.

    This election is about strength. Newt Gingrich has it. Rule-keepers like Obama do not. The Bible understands this. King David was a great king. God understands that men of bold leadership have strong appetites and cannot control them. Callista Gingrich is proof that Gingrich has the strength to be our president. And the fact that Obama is loyal to his first wife shows that he lacks character. http://www.thirdwives4newt.blogspot.com

    Come join the team of realists who endorse Newt, Callista, and adultery: http://www.thirdwives4newt.blogspot.com

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/returntorome/2012/01/gingrich-romney-and-evangelicals-follow-up/ AliveinTO

      I can only assume this is tongue in cheek humor. Otherwise it is just disgusting.

  • manof4

    This is a great article, and the follow-up article is equally good. As a member of the LDS Church, I found it refreshing to see what I considered an sincere, objective and thought-provoking perspective. I don’t know who this “carknedge” person is, but I suspect that it is simply a detractor, someone who is merely posing as a Mormon in order to cast the Church and its members in a bad light. Their comments and contempt betray their genuine lack of understanding regarding the doctrines and nuances of our religion, and they certainly do not represent the views of the majority of adherents to the LDS faith. All of the genuine Mormons I know who have read this article, had nothing but positive responses.

  • Jess

    If all other things were truly equal, i.e. experience, skills, level of sin, etc., I would have no problem with any person choosing one candidate over the other based purely on religious preference (because it would be the only difference to go off). Obviously all things are not equal, so I have a few issues with the comment originally responded to:

    First, I am mormon, but would rather have a president who was not mormon (even atheist) but is honet and faithful to his wife and family than a mormon who was unfaithful to his wife many times, has been involved in some shady politics in the past and has since come into the church and by the way still seems to be pretty liberal on his definition of facts and truth.

    Second, what does legislative achievement really mean to the President, the head of the Executive branch of the government? I know that it may help, but wouldn’t other executive achievements (i.e. a governor) be more useful to a president? Also it is an unfair claim, given that Gingrich was in congress where legislation occurs, and Romney wasn’t.

    Third, If he has truly repented and become a changed man, can his previous experience really count for him? What if his previous success was achieved through unethical behavior that does not behoove a christian? Can he achieve similar success while keeping the commandments, or will he even try? If not, what will he do?

  • Pingback: Gingrich, Romney, and Evangelicals Follow-Up « Return to Rome | IFTTT Drafts()

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/pgepps pgepps

    Dr. Beckwith, I concurred strongly with your Catholic Thing post; from a perspective which respects Gingrich’s abilities and takes his conversion seriously, it is still unwise to set him up for the fall he seems so likely to make. His past is gone, morally and spiritually, yet the grace which has converted him needs to be manifested so that we can be sure he has been brought beyond those weaknesses.

    I dislike the rhetorical trap that you’re setting on Romney’s behalf, though. That Gingrich should not be chosen does not imply that Romney should be considered, however right you may be about the flawed inferences many will make from a group of evangelical leaders’ passing him over.

    If (as we agree) it would be wrong to choose Gingrich, from a pastoral perspective of concern for him, it would still be possible to discuss Gingrich’s conversion if–as one might well at least try–one were looking for visible evidence of God’s grace at work among political leaders.

    It would be impossible, however, for Christians operating under the conciliar definitions to take Romney’s religion as evidence of grace–quite the opposite. The LDS community is dogmatically defined over against the dogmatic definition of Christian faith, whether Catholic or American evangelical Protestant (e.g., http://lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/93.3-5 * http://lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/93.8-14 * http://lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/3.21-28 * http://lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/4.1-2 * http://lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/132.40-47 * lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/130.22 ).

    Though we may find theistic faith of any sort (and, for that matter, religious exercise of any sort) in some manner preparatory to the grace revealed in Christ Jesus, we certainly must not misidentify these different types of faith, nor fail to notice the difference between preparation for the Gospel and rejection of its crucial elements.
    (see http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html at 21, 7, 8, and 16-17)

    Concern for inconsistencies and double standards is fine; but it is not trivial that Romney’s religion is as repugnant to the faith as Gingrich’s past was to the morals propounded in the Christian tradition; seeking to make charity prevail should, I think, mean prayerfully expecting conversion for both before backing either on grounds of their personal faith and practice.

    I’m sure many of us agree that the pragmatic considerations of practical politics may require us to do the best we can on other grounds, and even that considerations of faith and morals may move us to make the best choice even in a bad situation. I think we also agree that a group of evangelical leaders may have had various reasons for their selections, too.

    In your corner: this reference ( http://volokh.com/2012/01/20/marriage-for-me-but-not-for-thee/ ) to this take ( http://igfculturewatch.com/2012/01/20/the-repentant-gingrich/ ) on Gingrich’s personal practices and his professed convictions may help to suggest the need for getting this critique refined before the conversation gets any murkier.

  • Pingback: An Uncomfortable and Awkward Question for Conservative Christian Gingrich Supporters « Return to Rome()


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X