Romney Dodges Doctrine
To be fair to Romney, he is hardly the first politician to invoke this America religion. Even after another round of Religious Right obituaries, it seems that religion matters more in this election than any other. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan remembers with fondness when voters didn't care about a candidate's beliefs. She fears all this theology talk encourages hypocrisy. So she's had enough. So has Jim Geraghty. This week alone in The Washington Post, two high-profile columnists lambasted Huckabee for campaigning as an outspoken Christian. From the Right, George Will accused Huckabee of attacking Romney's beliefs and raising a religious test for the presidency. From the Left, Richard Cohen attributed Huckabee's Iowa popularity to his "obdurate and narrow-minded religious beliefs."
"Religion does not belong in the political arena," Cohen concluded. "It does not lend itself to compromise. It is about belief, not reason, and is ordinarily immutable. Romney is a shifty fellow, but he will always be a Mormon, and it will never make a difference. Should he become President, he will still light the national Christmas tree and pardon the Thanksgiving turkey and host the Easter egg roll on the White House lawn."
You see, that's the trouble with politics and theology. Meaningful beliefs make a difference. They manifest themselves in more than cute ceremonies. This is especially true in a nation founded on the theological statement "all men are created equal."
From the moment National Geographic went public with supposed revelations from the Gospel of Judas, evangelical scholars responded with well-informed skepticism. Darrell Bock from Dallas Theological Seminary explained that this redacted document emerged from a peculiar group of Gnostics who flipped biblical stories upside down. As scholars such as Bock made immediately clear, this gospel proved nothing except the existence of early heretics.
In case you dropped the story at that point, you missed some interesting developments, detailed in The New York Times on December 1. Rice University biblical studies professor April D. DeConick took another look at the Coptic text and noticed some glaring mistakes in the original translation. As any first-year Greek student knows, daimon means demon, not spirit. In another instance, DeConick says the scholars deliberately dropped a negative, leaving the impression that Judas ascended to the "holy generation." Glaring, indeed. At least National Geographic has admitted this mistake.
"My word to you when you hear about scholars revealing new things about Jesus is simply to check it out," Bock writes in the December issue of Christianity Today. "Make sure you get the rest of the story when the 'new, industrial-strength' Jesus is presented."
- T.F. Torrance, renowned Reformed theologian, died December 2 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was 94. Torrance won the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1978 and earned wide acclaim for The Trinitarian Faith, in which he exposits the Nicene Creed. Princeton Theological Seminary professor George Hunsinger eulogized Torrance as "arguably the greatest Reformed theologian since Karl Barth, with whom he studied."