For the Bible tells me so
Speaker Johnson points to the Bible and the left freaks out
So, what about the new speaker of the House? Is he a kind and gracious man or “a right-wing fever dream come to life,” as one columnist declared? Actually, he is a rather typical, if highly placed, American evangelical. To be more specific, Speaker Mike Johnson is a Southern Baptist, and it shows. Evidently, that also means that to the cultured elites he is a strange creature from the swamp who suddenly sits in the speaker’s chair. Who let this happen?
The elevation of Mike Johnson to the speakership came as a shock to the political class, and it probably shocked the new speaker as well. He was known as a man of convictions but also as a man with few enemies. His unanimous election by House Republicans came after the toppling of the previous speaker and acrimonious rounds of failed nominees to replace him. Then, as if a gift from heaven, came Mike Johnson. His eager election, followed by public celebration among previously fractious Republicans came, in language evangelicals would understand, as a balm in Gilead.
Almost as suddenly, the commentary in the media changed from “Republicans finally elect a speaker,” to “this guy is really, really, scary.” It turns out that Mike Johnson’s beliefs don’t come close to squaring with the demands of the commentariat. He believes that God created the heavens and the earth. He believes that God designed marriage as the union of a man and a woman. He believes that unborn life is to be protected. And, brace yourselves, he believes in the Bible.
This was more than Jen Psaki could take. The former Biden press secretary turned MSNBC host played her viewers a clip of Speaker Johnson saying: “I am a Bible-believing Christian.” Acknowledging the fact that some in the media had no idea what he was saying, Johnson told of being asked to explain. “What does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?” he asked. “Well go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my worldview.” Psaki showed the clip to her audience, presumably to warn them of the apocalypse that must follow the election of such a dangerous theocrat. “You heard that right,” she insisted, “The Bible doesn’t just inform his worldview. It is his worldview.”
Well, Johnson’s fellow evangelical Christians knew exactly what he meant. He is a seriously minded and deeply convictional believer. He believes that his Christian faith is central to his entire identity and he understands the Bible to be nothing less than the Word of God. Like millions of his fellow Christians, Johnson seeks to obey Christ by following both the dictates and the principles found in the Bible. That is exactly what Psaki fears. She said that his “views on policy are essentially what you would expect from a religious fundamentalist.” As icing on her cake, she added: “They’re more divisive than they are divine.”
There was a time when conservative Christians might have been worried about such opposition. Was it something we said? By now, most sober-minded believers are pretty much aware of our predicament. If you show up as an evangelical Christian, flanked by a wife and family, and you point to the Bible as the foundation and summary of your worldview, you are marked as an extremist, a religious fundamentalist, or a right-wing fever dream.
But to Mike Johnson’s fellow Southern Baptists, he looks like an honorable husband and a caring father. He looks like a seriously committed Christian man. He looks like a lawyer who has defended religious liberty in the public square. He looks like an activist for conservative values and moral convictions. He looks like a paragon of virtue working against the forces of disorder and worse. He looks like a man whose devotion to his wife, family, church, and nation are exemplary. He looks happy about it and has that quite genuine smile and gracious spirit. He looks like one of us.
Now, the attention has turned even to his wife, Kelly, because … wait for it … she agrees with him. I might as well let you in on the secret that conservative Christian women are often even more stalwart defenders of truth, righteousness, and the American way than are their husbands. Just go to a local school board meeting in the South or to the lines of pro-life activists and you will know that I am right. There isn’t a Southern Baptist alive who does not know exactly what I mean.
To the credit of The New York Times, reporter Annie Karni was trying to be fair when she wrote about Mrs. Johnson and her convictions: “Her views are not far outside the mainstream for evangelical Christians, even if they are out of step with public opinion.” True enough, but it really matters where you are measuring public opinion. In the evangelical world, those views are public opinion.
Southern Baptist preschoolers learn to sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” When Mike Johnson pointed to the Bible he was not saying that the Holy Scriptures specify marginal tax rates. But he did mean the Bible is the foundation and authority for everything he believes. Some hear that and recoil with horror. I will simply say that for millions of kind but convictional Christian believers in this nation, we simply respond with this: We are praying for you and for our nation, brother Mike.
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