More on James Dobson's Comments on "Who is a Real Christian?"

John ArmstrongAmerican Evangelicalism

A few weeks ago I commented on this blog about the quotation that James Dobson made to U. S. News & World Report senior editor, Dan Gilgoff, which in effect questioned whether or not former-senator Fred Thompson is a Christian. Several reminded me that there is always context to such interviews. And there is also much the newspaper will often leave out. I know this to be true and have been burned before because I did not pay careful enough attention to this very point.

Well, in today’s issue (May 21) of the national newspaper, USA Today, there is a follow-up on this story, also written by Dan Gilgoff. I have written a much longer piece, to be published as an ACT 3 Weekly in a few weeks, on the question: "Who is a real Christian and how do we know?" Because of this I will forgo saying many things I will include in that article.

What struck me as more than relevant was the report issued to the media, after this original flap, by Focus on the Family. This was not a careless off-the-cuff comment but a thoughtful public response. I had not followed this carefully until I read today’s column by Gilgoff. What Focus said, in their response a few weeks ago, was this: "We were  . . .  pleased to learn from his spokesman that Sen. Thompson professes to be a believer" (italics mine).

I believe Gilgoff is correct when he concludes that this is "not exactly a clear-throated affirmation of Thompson’s Christianity." He suggests, and I have to agree with him, that this comment actually "cast doubt" on Thompson’s confession that he is a Christian.

The point this raises, and a point I will pursue in the longer article, is what makes evangelicals so confident about who is and is not a real Christian? Something is terribly wrong with this approach and I think it we should have a serious discussion about what that is. I am interested in your thoughts. You can read mine in a few weeks. For now I am open to many suggestions.