God's Politics

God's Politics

Chap Clark: Beyond Crafted Answers to Obvious Questions

As Jim Wallis announced last week, we’re pleased to be hosting a forum of the leading Democratic presidential candidates at our Pentecost 2007 conference (and hoping to do a Republican candidates forum later this year). We’ve invited several of our bloggers to discuss their questions for the candidates, but we’re also asking our readers to submit their questions, and will let YOU vote on the ones we should use!
+ Click here to submit your questions


Since in one way or another they all reference some level of spiritual interest, if not outright commitment, the obvious question would be, “In what ways does your faith influence your political opinions, agenda, and rhetoric?”

But since every candidate has an a priori answer carefully crafted for this exact question, which would certainly fall within the parameters of what each candidate’s staff deems an appropriately elusive and/or encompassing response, and since they all espouse a Christian faith, I would rather ask them:

  • How do you determine which imperatives and examples of both the Old and New Testaments will proactively shape your political and personal convictions? What are the criteria you use that gives some teaching, instruction, or narrative more clout than another?
  • Can an American politician publicly argue for the inherent worth of a fetus, referencing Psalm 139, and at the same time believe that women should be given the opportunity to terminate a pregnancy?
  • Assuming that no pacifist would, or even could, become president of the United States, when is there a right time to use force to stop violence, or injustice, or evil? Without turning the question into an indictment of how the current administration failed, what is your criteria for making the choice to use military force?
  • Under what conditions is the free enterprise system and basic market economics “fair?” And, at the same time, when does too much assistance promote a disempowering effect?
  • What is the best way to grant people a sense of worth and power?

Obviously, if we get the same shot at the Republicans, the questions would be slightly different!


Chap Clark is president of ParenTeen, a senior editor for Youthworker Journal, a professor of youth, family, and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Red Letter Christian.

Comments read comments(7)
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kevin s.

posted May 15, 2007 at 4:05 pm

These are great questions. I’d be interested to see the answers.

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posted May 15, 2007 at 6:52 pm

Yes, excellent questions!

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posted May 15, 2007 at 9:44 pm

For the most part, I like the questions, but I would quibble just a bit on your first one. PSALMS 139 states that God knew us in our mother’s womb. While this would lead one to assume that some abortions should be illegal (e.g., third trimester for sure and possibly second trimester), one can not make the theological jum that God knew us at conception. One could medically/theologically argue that our mental life (i.e., beginning of thought/reason/belief and dare I say soul) does not necessarily begin until formation of the brain stem and advent of brain activity (around 10-14 weeks). The theological question is does DNA == soul? When PSALM 139 speaks of God knowning us, I don’t believe it refers to our physical self, but our spiritual self. It is our spiritual self that is eternal. Our DNA can exist outside of ourselves or in other humans (e.g., organ transplant). Our spiritual self, our sense of self, per se, is uniquely ours. Just a thought.

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posted May 15, 2007 at 10:07 pm

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) This message thread has been visited by a God’s Politics Blog moderator for the purpose of removing inappropriate posts. Click here for a detailed explanation of the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct: which includes: Help us keep the conversation civil and respectful by reporting inappropriate posts to:

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posted May 15, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Great questions!! For both sides of the aisle!! These are the type of questions that require sincere answers; answers that should be addressed honestly, even if it means an admission that a religious worldview isn’t a priority for the candidates. He’s crazy, but at least Kucinich doesn’t pretend to have a southern accent everytime he enters an African-American church. And Gingrich is no different. Why do politicians pretend that a Christian worldview is important? Honesty is important.

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posted May 16, 2007 at 5:45 am

Great questions–I’m interested in hearing the answers, and I hope you are able to get the Republican candidate’s responses!

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posted May 16, 2007 at 4:50 pm

speaking of canned answers to obvious questions, i tuned into the repub debate last night. those were some base-pandering machines (by that i mean it was a chest thumping of who could say they were the most ‘conservative’ – whatever that term has come to mean), though i thought some really interesting comments & proposals came out of it, including: guliani showing guts (& great pragmatism) on how he feels about abortion, huckabee saying congress was spending $ ‘like john edwards in a beauty parlor’ (edwards is my pick right now & this one left me in stitches), ron paul’s call to a pre-bush conservatism (or even back to the transitional conservatism bush campaigned on) w/ limited government & non-interventionist / relational foreign policy. the exchange b/t him & guiliani was interesting b/c it placed the historical reasons bin laden attacked us (we were meddling militarily & politically in the middle east – read his manifesto) w/ the fairytale reason we continue to be sold (they attacked us because they hate freedom & we personify freedom), as well as the real result of the war on terror (paul – the jihadis love us being over there so they can take easy shots at us & more easily recruit & justify their actions) w/ the fairytale (our military actions are making us safer, islamic terrorism can & will be defeated militarily). i was glad to see paul get some time, i can relate to the libertarian & old guard conservative view of government even if i can’t completely join up with it.

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