“A ‘Practical’ Fellow” In Impractical Times
Vol: 54 Issue: 21 Tuesday, March 21, 2006
President Bush broke away from routine on Monday to take questions from the public in what became a lively and entertaining bit of political theater.
For the most part, the president’s one-liners revealed the man behind the office as a guy with a great sense of humor completely comfortable in his own skin, revealing some of the George Bush his pre-presidential handlers portrayed as ‘a guy you’d sit and have a beer with.’
(To be fair, however, it needs to be remembered that the choice was between Bush and Al Gore.)
It is usually fun to watch the president use humor to handle difficult questions. It was also interesting to watch George Bush the Texas yarn-spinner morph into President George Bush and back again, depending on the question.
It gave the distinct impression one was hearing two entirely different people.
One guy invited Bush to an ethnic social gathering in Cleveland in October, to which Bush deadpanned, “I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in October. Put me down as a definite maybe.”
When asked a question about Iran, Bush straightened noticeably. His face set, his easy Texas demeanor evaporated, and he became George Bush, the Warrior President.
But the unguarded, easy nature of the Q&A session revealed yet a third George Bush, in response to this question from an unidentified woman in the audience:
“My question is that author and former Nixon administration official Kevin Phillips, in his latest book, ‘American Theocracy,’ discusses what has been called radical Christianity and its growing involvement into government and politics. He makes the point that members of your administration have reached out to prophetic Christians who see the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism as signs of the apocalypse. Do you believe this, that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse? And if not, why not?””
Ever since George Bush took office, there have been rumors flying that Bush is an ardent student of Bible prophecy who takes those prophecies into consideration when formulating national policy.
The rumors began during Campaign 2000 by the Gore team in an effort to build some momentum on Bush’s campaign profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The effort back-fired, since Gore’s team underestimated the number of Christian voters that DO take Bible prophecy literally.
Gore’s effort to portray Bush as a Christian fundamentalist cost Gore more votes than it cost Bush.
Indeed, after Election 2000, the rumor that Bush was a student of Bible prophecy was picked up by the Christian right. Not as a pejorative, but as a hopeful sign that America was returning to its Christian roots.
Now, let’s return to the question about George Bush’s understanding of Bible prophecy.
“Here’s how I think of it. The first I’ve heard of that, by the way. I guess I’m more of a practical fellow. . . ” before morphing back into George Bush the Warrior President and launching a mini-speech about his duty to protect America from the terrorist threat.
“The first I’ve heard of . . ” the APOCALYPSE? THAT made me shake my head for a minute.
In the early years of the Bush administration, I got a lot of emails expressing disappointment in Bush’s policies, particularly those that seemed to display such a complete ignorance of Bible prophecy that some began to question whether or not Bush was even truly saved.
I argued then that Bush was a Methodist and that the Methodists adhere to ‘replacement theology’ which teaches that Israel forfeited its covenant relationship with God and it was passed on to the Church.
Under the doctrine of replacement theology, modern Israel is just a Western secular democracy with no special relationship in the Plan of God. All Bible prophecy was fulfilled with the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 at which time God’s covenant relationship with Israel was revoked.
In this view, all other Old Testament promises made to Israel, unless they were historically fulfilled before the first coming of Messiah, are now the property of the Christian Church.
(The Omega Letter Intelligence Digest – Vol: 24 Issue: 11 – Thursday, September 11, 2003)
So, while it is one thing for Bush to not subscribe theologically to Bible prophecy, it is entirely another for Bush to say he’d never heard of it.
On a purely secular level, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad believes in a coming apocalypse and also believes he has been called to start it, so one can only hope that Bush was referring to the first time he’d heard of the book, “American Theocracy.”
It is the second part of Bush’s reply that is the more revealing. “I guess I’m more of a practical fellow . . .”
As I argued in 2003, not believing in Bible prophecy is not the same thing as not being a Christian. One can be a Christian and be woefully ignorant of the Bible’s relevance to current events. (The churches are filled with them)
What gives me pause is Bush’s dismissal of Bible prophecy on the grounds that would be a hallmark characteristic of a ‘practical fellow’.
These are not practical times. The world is dividing up into three distinct spiritual camps manifesting themselves in the physical world as Jewish Israel, Christian America and the forces of the ‘Islamic world’.
The rest of the world hopes to sit this one out to the extent possible. This is precisely the scenario outlined by Bible prophecy.
One of the unique characteristics of Bible prophecy is that every major player on the world scene is represented in the last days, in precisely the form predicted by the prophets.
The Bible foresees four spheres of global power in the last days, the 200 million-strong Oriental army of the Kings of the East, the Islamic-African Kings of the South, the Russian-Iranian Gog Magog Alliance, and the revived Roman Empire under antichrist.
There is no mention of a fifth, more ‘practical’ western superpower resembling America.
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. . . Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” (1st Thessalonians 5:2-3,14)
A truly ‘practical fellow’ might want to take that into consideration.