Editor's Note: This piece is a response to "Is the President America's Pastor in Chief?"
In America, we like our presidents a certain way: tall, telegenic, and quick-witted. They should be adept at shaking hands; smart, but not too smart; wealthy, but not too wealthy. He probably is "too smart," but Paul Ryan, the latest figure to enter the maelstrom, fits the criteria.
Our expectations for said President are similarly straightforward: we want them to be good at everything and to appeal to everyone. They should unite the country, balance the budget, and generally do what's needed to save the free world.
Many Americans would add another job requirement, a more spiritual one in nature. The President, many voters believe, should be a pastor to the people, a pan-Protestant minister-at-large to the church of America. He gives succinct but powerful eulogies that offer hope while steering clear of doctrinal niceties. He speaks words of vaguely spiritual character in economically uncertain times. He ties the American future to a nondescript trajectory of moral ascent. Still, the President is not exactly a pastor. He might come close, but political-spiritual leadership is a game of inches.
So, let's amend our idea of President, citing Abraham Lincoln as we do so: If America is, in the eyes of many, an "almost chosen" land, the President is an "almost pastor."
Some would undoubtedly scoff at the idea of President as "almost pastor." Perhaps, though, it carries some merit. I prefer to locate the pastorate in the local church per 1 Timothy 3:5: There, Paul directs Timothy to raise up elders or overseers or bishops that lead their families well, for if they don't ...1