email from Garlow | Rev Jim Garlow
Posted on Sun Dec 18 2011 17:23:09 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time) by DBCJR
The following is an email from Rev Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego (John Maxwell’s old church)to other pastors. This post complies with Rev Garlow’s prescription for quoting his letter:
Saturday, December 17, 2011
I have been asked repeatedly about my support for the candidacy of former Speaker Newt Gingrich and have decided to put my thoughts in writing. The length of this email is an attempt to respond to many questions that have come to me over many months.
A part of my motivation in writing stems from the fact that I have spent much time with him over the past two years. I am particularly concerned hearing people discuss some aspects regarding him about which they know very little.
Those who disagree with me have every right to do so. I have little compulsion to try to “persuade” anyone. I am, rather, attempting to give explanation to those who are asking for insight.
(Note: I request that if I am quoted, I am quoted accurately and in context. The length of the letter is, in part, so that my observations can be contextualized appropriately.)
SUMMARY OF THIS LETTER This letter is long. Too long, frankly. Given the gravity of this election, plus the relentless ad hominem attacks upon Mr. Gingrich, the letter is rather extended. Thus, for those of you who have only a minute, I summarize as follows:
I respect Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann enormously.
I have, however, endorsed Newt Gingrich, a position I arrived at in October of 2009, more than 18 months before he announced (although I didn’t know that he would run at the time). Watching him at close range for the past two years has affirmed the decision.
I fully acknowledge his marital failures and sins and do not defend them in any way.
I understand the steps of forgiveness and restoration and believe that Mr. Gingrich has walked, and continues to walk, in them. According to one of Mr. Gingrich’s closest associates, I have spent as much time with him about this issue as anyone, except possibly his Washington, DC pastor. For a shortened form of my views on this, see the December 14, 2011 CNN interview on the topic. Click here: http://vimeo.com/33731573.
I have endorsed him because of his: Superior intellect (needed due to the complexities we face today) Historical grasp (needed badly so as to avoid repeating errors) Knowledge of how Washington functions (thus, he is not intimidated by the process) Walk through the needed forgiveness and restoration steps needed to deal with past marital failures and sins. Articulation skills (needed in order to serve the presidency) Commitment to social, fiscal and constitutional conservatism Elder statesman demeanor in this campaign Churchillian perseverance (desperately needed, given the radical secularists) Grasp of the correct definition of American Exceptionalism (rights given “by their Creator” to “We The People” with power temporarily loaned to elected officials) based on the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution (something that I believe he articulates better than any elected or previously elected official) Understanding of the severity of the loss of religious liberty in present-day America (we are on the verge of losing this) Understanding of several other things stated below.
(Note: If you have only time to read a small portion of the letter that follows, see sections:
#9 – PERSONAL ISSUES #10 – TRANSPARENT, TENDER, TEACHABLE #21 – QUALITIES #22 – SERIOUSNESS OF THE SITUATION Secondly, this is one person’s opinion. You do not have to agree with me. Thank you for allowing me to share my views and insights.)
After some disclaimers, I will lay out my thoughts.
1. DISCLAIMER #1: A PRIVATE CITIZEN
As I respond to the issue of why I support Mr. Gingrich, I am writing as a private citizen. I am not writing representing any organization with which I am affiliated. No organizations are involved in the writing of this letter. These are my views and my personal views alone.
2. DISCLAIMER #2: INTIMIDATION OF PASTORS REGARDING “POLITICAL ISSUES”
The radical secularists have attempted to silence Bible-believing pastors for the past half century. Beginning with the “Johnson Amendment” (which was passed in the US Senate on July 2, 1954, by a voice vote and without discussion and which has never been tested in court for its potential violation of the First Amendment’s declaration of “freedom of speech” and “freedom of religion”), some have attempted to intimidate American pastors not to be “political.”
But what is “political” and what is “biblical?” Preaching about abortion is now declared “political.” Preaching about the practice of homosexuality is now considered “political.” Saying that marriage is defined as “one man-one woman” is now considered “political.”
A few years ago, all of these were clearly understood to be “biblical,” not “political.” And “biblical” they are. Thus, pastors should not be silent on these and a host of other issues (biblical foundation for taxation, issues of national debt, appropriate ways to respond to the needs of the poor, etc.)
If we are to give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s (Matthew 22:21), then what happens when Caesar begins demanding that which is God’s? The American pulpit should have no governmental intrusion – in any form. That is why the 2,000+ allied attorneys of the Alliance Defense Fund (now called Alliance Defending Freedom) have offered to provide pro bono defense for any pastor who will challenge the (presumably unconstitutional) Johnson Amendment, thus causing it to be tested in court. Although over 700 pastors have defied the (presumed unconstitutional) Johnson Amendment from the pulpit, recorded their sermons, and mailed them to the IRS, not one pastor has been charged. (For more information, click on http://speakupmovement.org/church/LearnMore/details/4702 )
My point is this: some (many?) will scoff at a pastor weighing in on perceived “political” matters. After all, isn’t there a separation of church and state, they ask?
Apparently many biblical figures and many from church history did not abide by this so called “separation.” Nor did the pastors in colonial America in their three hour long (I do not recommend that!) annual “Election Sermons.” Post-Constitution American pastors enjoyed true First Amendment protection for the first approximately 160 years of American history – until the Johnson Amendment.
Bible-based, Bible-centered pastors should be the moral compass for the nation. Speaking out on these issues should be normative for any man or woman of God. There is a new generation of pastors that is rising up. Much to the consternation of the radical secularists, these pastors understand their biblical authority and their Constitutional rights.
3. DISCLAIMER #3: SEPARATE FROM CAMPAIGN
This letter is being written without the knowledge of Mr. Gingrich. He does not know that I am writing it, nor has he seen its contents. No members of his campaign have seen it or have been aware that I am writing it.
4. DISCLAIMER #4: PERRY / SANTORUM / BACHMANN
A preliminary comment also needs to include my profound respect and admiration for Rick Perry (my second choice) and for Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann (who tie for my third choice).
I have been with Rick Perry and Rick Santorum privately on an occasion or two. I have been in public settings with Michele Bachmann, but she would not know me. I have heard Mitt Romney (twice) and Ron Paul (once) speak in person. I have never met or heard John Huntsman speak in person.
Before I state why I desire Newt Gingrich to be our next president (a position that I have held from October 2009, long before he announced in 2011), I add this about three of the candidates:
Rick Perry is a profoundly gifted leader. It is quite unfair that he has been so judged on not being a strong debater. I have seen him give profound and articulate speeches. At other times, he seems to falter in his public communication skills. Yet, that cannot take away from his unprecedented leadership in one of the largest and most influential states in the U.S. It is not by accident that Texas (where I lived for 13 years before moving to San Diego) has created more jobs than the other 49 states combined for the past five years. This is a remarkable accomplishment. Out of respect for Rick Perry, I flew to Austin, TX to attend his inauguration. Succinctly stated, he would make an excellent president, and a considerably better president than the current White House occupant. It is unfortunate that he has been so maligned by some debate and speech blunders. Furthermore, he and his wife Anita truly know Christ, and are quite spiritually mature. I have upmost respect for him.
Rick Santorum is remarkable in every way. He is one of the most consistent, devoted fathers and family men I know. He is a wonderful father to seven children, one of whom has special needs that require massive care. When I have called him to talk to him, and asked if I could pray for little Bella, he shared the phone with her so she could hear the prayer. More directly to the presidency, he is governmentally brilliant. He understands the issues and the leadership that is needed. He is passionate about all the things that really matter, including protection of the family.
Michele Bachmann is a remarkably gifted and bright leader. Running as a female, she has faced greater challenges than the males, even in present-day America. What she has endured from the secularists is virtually unbearable. They have tried to “Palinize” her, attacking and mocking her relentlessly, as they did so unfairly to Sarah Palin. Yet, Michele has stood with Margaret Thatcher-type strength. She is one strong and smart woman.
I am in hopes that all three of them will continue to have far reaching, national influence for many years to come. We need their voices.
5. THOUGHTS ON HUNTSMAN
John Huntsman should run as a Democrat.
6. THOUGHTS ON ROMNEY
Mitt Romney will have my hesitant support if he wins the nomination. My objection to him is not that he is a Mormon, as it is to some of my evangelical colleagues. My objection to him is that he appears untrustworthy on cardinal issues. His “epiphany” from pro-abortion to pro-life and some ongoing lingering questions regarding a potential metamorphosis from gay “marriage” to traditional, natural, biblical marriage appear timed in such a way to create unrest in the hearts of most of us.
I fully recognize that people do change – and hopefully for the better. I am always encouraged when people come to see biblical truth. However, Romney’s "change" makes many understandably suspicious of motives as he moved from running in liberal Massachusetts to running nationally, requiring more conservative positioning.
If Romney is the nominee, the evangelical voting response will likely drop from the 2010 level (approximately 28%) of the electorate to the 2008 level (approximately 23%) and Obama will be elected to a second term.
7. THOUGHTS ON PAUL
Ron Paul is a study in confliction. How could he be so smart and correct on some issues, and so incorrect on others? I cannot support such a politically bifurcated candidate. In my opinion, he suffers from “issue bipolarity.” His brash antinomianism (in theological terms) and libertarianism (in political terms) would have all illegal drugs becoming legal. His national defense, or I should say non-national defense, would spell the end of the nation. His abandonment of Israel is unacceptable and an act of betrayal. He is much like an unpredictable uncle who entertains the nephews and nieces around the Thanksgiving table with a tiny touch of common sense and a lot of unworkable ideas. He is likable. Even fun. But his thinking cannot be taken seriously.
8. CORE OF THIS LETTER: ENDORSING GINGRICH
Now that brings me to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and why I have wanted him for president since October of 2009.
9. PERSONAL ISSUES
At the mere mention of his name, some are quick to point out his “personal baggage” so let’s deal with that first.
A question about this issue is what sparked this letter. An out-of-state friend wrote me and said, “Can you help me defend Newt?” I knew – without it being said – that the primary reference was to Mr. Gingrich’s three marriages and his often discussed adultery.
Allow me to respond to that first.
First, Mr. Gingrich’s sins are indefensible. I know that. You know that. His critics know that. And Mr. Gingrich knows that. That is the nature of sin. It is indefensible. No one defends his past actions.
Without divulging the nature of the conversations, I will state that I have spent considerable time with Mr. Gingrich regarding his past marital failures – two divorces – and some related poor decisions that he made many years ago. As we all know, he has been asked about this many times. He openly discussed these issues with Dr. James Dobson on his nationally syndicated radio show, Focus on the Family.
I have been privately with Mr. Gingrich, asking very direct, highly personal questions. He looked me eye to eye as I probed about past indiscretions – all reported very widely by the media many years ago.
10. TRANSPARENT / TENDER / TEACHABLE
During my private conversations with Mr. Gingrich, I discovered three things:
I found him to be remarkably and unexpectedly transparent – fully and completely acknowledging his spiritual failures, responding to my very personal questions with unflinching honesty. There was no attempt to "whitewash" transgressions. He did not defend them. Nor do I defend them. As it relates to Mr. Gingrich’s past sins, I merely state that were there no sin, there would have been no cross. We all need the forgiveness the cross of Jesus brings. I was once asked a strongly worded question from a nationally known investigative reporter with one of the three major networks, while in their studio in Washington, DC. “Given Mr. Gingrich’s past, and the fact that you are a pastor, why do you associate with someone like him?” the reporter asked. My answer is that, as a pastor, I look for people like Mr. Gingrich. I am a pastor and I have the privilege of telling people who acknowledge their sin that the cross of Jesus provides healing and forgiveness.” In my meeting with Mr. Gingrich about this delicate issue, he made one particular statement that I asked to share with others, thus making it public. He agreed. Here it is: He stated, “On my bleakest days (referring to his indiscretions), I knew that my sin was sin.” Why is this significant? I spend much of my time trying to persuade people that “sin” still exists, and what they are doing is sin (a most unpopular word). Some pastors won’t even use the word today. God does. So I do as well. If a person knows that their “sinning is sin,” then they are halfway toward receiving correction and forgiveness. An additional insight I had was that, as I conversed with Mr. Gingrich, it appeared to me that he understood the difference between forgiveness (which occurs in an instant) and restoration (which involves an arduous process).
Furthermore, Mr. Gingrich was profoundly tender during our conversation. I realize the radical secularists, and Mr. Gingrich’s detractors in general, will attempt to poke fun at this statement, but discerning people will know that this fact is truly significant. Allow me to explain its importance. He placed no blame on any other person(s). Blame shifting is common in failed marriages. As one who has counseled many in the midst of divorces, I listen intently for language that would indicate a failure to take responsibility. He evidenced none of that. He placed no blame on his former wives or anyone else. He shouldered the blame. He spoke very honoring of the wife who bore him two daughters. And when he spoke of his daughters, he teared up. He enjoys a superb relationship with his two daughters and his grandchildren. I have talked to one of his daughters at length about this topic. This is not the same man who is now characterized by his critics as the “bull-in-the-China-shop” type Gingrich who led the House of Representatives in the 1990s. People change. And – if he was as forceful as some say he was – he has changed.
In addition, he was quite teachable. When I probed him on some aspects of bringing "spiritual closure," he responded with thoughtful and reflective questions, wanting to include the person who is serving as his spiritual advisor. Since I do not “want anything out of him” if he becomes our next president, I have no reason to pander. I have confronted him (privately) on some issues, and I have found him to be very teachable. He has never been defensive. Not once. Wise is the man who surrounds himself with many competent counselors. It appears to me that Mr. Gingrich has done and is doing that.
I cannot know the motives of all Mr. Gingrich’s critics, but it appears that one of the reasons some are fixating on his past marital indiscretions is because they do not want to attempt to deal with Mr. Gingrich’s solutions for America’s present day problems. The obsession with past deeds is to distract the discussion for present day crisis that America now faces.
Allow me to ratchet up a bit. I have spent more time with Mr. Gingrich on this issue than 99.9% of the people who will read this email. I have dealt with people with moral failures, sins and mistakes since 1969, when I accepted my first job as a (youth) pastor, 42 years ago. I am not a novice at dealing with people needing to walk from unrighteousness to uprightness. Out of respect for confidentiality, I will not reveal more about my conversations with Mr. Gingrich. But I need to make a summary statement on this: At the risk of being misunderstood, I would suggest that I am in a better (pastoral and otherwise) position to evaluate his present status than most. I have grown weary of “long distance” attackers who have not invested any time with him privately on these issues, yet who consider themselves to be self-appointed experts on his actual spiritual condition. They need to know “his heart,” and they badly need a fundamental course in hamartiology (the doctrine of sin) and soteriology (doctrine of salvation).
In my evaluating his present spiritual status, I made an unusual request of Mr. Gingrich. I asked him if I could worship with him – at his church, the Basilica, in Washington, DC. I am an avowed Protestant evangelical. Mr. Gingrich worships in a Catholic Church. Our worship preferences are substantially different. But we worship the same God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why did I want to worship with him – at his church? You can learn much about a person when you worship with them. You can, if you are spiritually attuned, sense much. I observed him in this tender environment.
Secularists will likely mock this idea, out of their own lack of understanding and discernment. But I was there. I worshipped with him. I saw a man who humbled himself before God. Those with spiritual dullness will not grasp the importance of this paragraph. The spiritually mature will, in contrast, “get it.”
I recognize that secularists in the media and political opposition will desperately search for “other women” from Mr. Gingrich’s distant past. There is a season of his life that he cannot and does not defend. He was the third most powerful man in the world, estranged from his wife for a span of several years, and not adequately grounded upon the truth of God’s Word. I suspect that he would never defend that season of his life. It is what it is. But that season was a long time ago, and it has been repeatedly hashed and rehashed, and it is – by biblical standards – forgiven. At some point, it is disingenuous for evangelicals and conservative Catholics – both of whom highly value the notion of forgiveness – to keep demanding he regurgitate his past.
12. FIT FOR THE PRESIDENCY
Some take the posture that he can be forgiven as a person, but he still cannot be allowed to be our president. I suspect that, truth be known, we have had far more infidelity in the White House than any of us would want to either know or admit.
This position is valid if the person in question is currently in the act of wrongdoing, an evidence of a “present tense” integrity issue. But if we have a functional understanding of forgiveness, healing, restoration and rehabilitation, then the long term past sins become – in the present tense – a moot point.
But based on what I know, he has walked through the biblical steps of forgiveness.
A pertinent question at this point is: How many times does a person have to ask forgiveness in order to be genuinely forgiven? The right answer is once.
Forgiveness is not the only construct that is needed. Restoration is needed as well. In that process, one often has to repeatedly explain and apologize for one’s unfaithfulness. Mr. Gingrich has done and continues to do that.
Another question: How long does a person need to discuss his past failures during the restoration process? As one who has been with him on a few occasions, I would think Mr. Gingrich is reaching his “quota.” Remember that no one – including Mr. Gingrich – defends his sins. He calls himself "damaged goods" when he speaks on this topic. It has been a decade or more.
Is there a "statute of limitations" for sin? If not repentant, I would say “no.” If repentant, I would say “yes.” For quite some time, I felt he should “say more, talking about this issue.” But after I saw him refer to it for multiple years, I am no longer persuaded that he has to continuously talk about it. At some point, a person needs to attempt to move on. And we should too.
Are two divorces worse that one divorce? The answer is that every divorce represents a violated covenant or vow. We elected a divorced Ronald Reagan, yet many look back longingly for “the days of Reagan.”
Mr. Gingrich’s situation involves two divorces, and they involve adultery. As bad as those are, they are not the unpardonable sin. My theology is so expansive that it allows forgiveness for King David who was an adulterer and murderer, for the Apostle Peter who denied Christ three times on the night of his crucifixion and for the Apostle Paul who also was a murderer. Mr. Gingrich’s sin is likewise forgivable, and I would contend, has been forgiven by God and, as such, should be by us.
I need God’s forgiveness. All of us do. According to the Scripture, if you or I are going to receive forgiveness, then we need to extend it (Matthew 6:14).
14. FINISHING STRONG
Some say, “Well, aren’t you concerned that since Mr. Gingrich has ‘blown it’ in the past, he will ‘blow it’ in the future.” Yes, of course I am. I have that concern for all candidates for whom I vote. I never know when one of them will violate his or her campaign vows. It happens often. I have frequently had the “what if he/she blows it and disappoints me question” on my mind.
In fact, I have that question about me. I have walked this life thus far with integrity, but we are all capable of shipwrecking our lives. I want to “finish strong.” I want others to finish strong as well.
Can we mess up? Yes! That is a healthy fear for us all to have. Am I concerned that Mr. Gingrich could self-destruct and bring us all harm? Of course. But, I share that same concern for every candidate and for myself as well.
Bottom line: I want to “finish strong,” living a life of integrity. I pray the same for Mr. Gingrich, and for every other candidate as well.
15. A STANDARD
This raises another question. I admit I expect people to hold themselves to high standards. However, due to the attack nature of contemporary media and to the current political climate, we have now raised the standard so high for public office that we are going to see many people not run for office because they have indiscretions in their past.
If we are not careful, we are in danger of raising the standard to a point where we are going to lose the leadership of many who have sins in their past. Due to the merciless way in which the media and the opposing party treat past indiscretions of potential candidates, many will simply not run out of concern for their spouses and children. I do not want to be misquoted or misrepresented on this issue, so let me clarify what I am saying.
If a person has had indiscretion and is unrepentant and unchanged, then that person should be held accountable for the past in the present tense.
But if a person has an indiscretion that is in the distant past and has demonstrated true repentance (which means making a 180 degree turn from their sins) and has humbly followed a course of correction, then that person needs to experience the joy of forgiveness. There is a difference between earthy remorse (that is, sorry they got caught) and godly sorrow (that is, an awareness that they have violated God’s ways). It is my opinion that Mr. Gingrich demonstrates godly sorrow.
16. CONVERSION TO CATHOLICISM
Some evangelicals are concerned by the fact that he converted to Catholicism.
Mr. Gingrich has been on a spiritual journey. He converted to Catholicism several years ago, partially through the influence of his wife Callista. (She is a profoundly gifted photographer, pianist, French horn player and vocalist, one of the singers in the elite chamber choir of The Basilica in Washington, DC.) Although I am an intentional evangelical Protestant and am one for very clear reasons, his religious change to Catholicism proved to be highly beneficial to his spiritual journey, resulting in a marked devotion to and passion for Jesus Christ.
Although Callista was a factor for his conversion, she was not the reason, in my opinion. There are other deeper factors that influenced him.
In my opinion, these are the factors that influenced him:
Mr. Gingrich has a profound grasp of and reverence for history. Simply stated, the Catholic Church offers that. (Many years ago, I met a man who told me he had converted from being a Pentecostal to a Methodist. I asked him “why?” He responded, “Because I wanted to belong to something that existed before 1900.” As one who has a Ph.D. in historical theology, I am well aware that the roots of Pentecostalism are traced to times prior to 1900, but I knew what he was saying.) Mr. Gingrich is similar, in that he has a passionate respect for grasping things historically, and he is able to embrace it personally.
I would add a second dimension, and this is merely my own opinion. Mr. Gingrich has never stated this to me in any form. I personally believe that the Catholic faith offered him greater spiritual “structure.” I would have wished he could have found that in his Protestant evangelical experience, but he did not. In that sense, his conversion has served him well. It is my opinion that this “structure” helped heighten his spiritual intuitions in very positive ways. If he were “undisciplined” as his critics like to (wrongfully in my opinion) say, then they should rejoice that he is within stronger “structure.”
But those reasons are not the most compelling reasons for his conversion, in my opinion. His conversion to the Catholic Church is based on his love of the “church militant,” to the fact that the church of the Middle Ages “got it.” They knew the enemies of the faith, and they went on the offensive. He sees – as did the church of the Middle Ages – that the enemies of the church, both then and now, was and is radical Islam. Islamicists threaten the entire globe. When he reads history, he sees a church that was willing to confront the most terrifying force of the time. That compels him, and well it should.
Mr. Gingrich is right when he sees the dual dangers of radical secularism and radical Islam. Few seem to grasp it. But he does. And so should the American church. The one church that seemed to “get it” (at least as it related to Islam) was the church of the Middle Ages.
He would never defend the excesses or sinful aspects of the Middle Age Church. Nor would I. For example, I would not defend the brutalities of the Crusades. Those are wrong.
Yet, I refuse to fall into the politically correct, historical revisionism that fails to see that Christians in the Middle Ages were forced to defend themselves against the onslaughts of Islam that came to kill in the name of Allah. And in that sense, there is a direct “connecting of the dots” that can be made between Christians fighting for their lives then, and those who do not want to succumb to radical Islamicists today.
Mr. Gingrich understands the gravity of this current situation. If there are other candidates who grasp this as strongly as he does, they are certainly not able to articulate it in the profound way he does.
I confess that this might be the least important section of this letter. There are a couple of widely circulated myths that I would like to address as well. They are, in the total scheme of things, relatively unimportant, but I hear them so often that I feel they need to be corrected.
It is said that he condemned former President Clinton for having an affair while at the same time having an affair. This is not quite accurate. Admittedly, Mr. Gingrich did condemn Clinton. However, I think the record will show that Mr. Gingrich was silent, for obvious reason, regarding Clinton’s affair. Instead he spoke about Mr. Clinton perjuring himself, something that Mr. Gingrich did not do. Admittedly the difference may appear small to some, merely a technicality. And I do not defend Mr. Gingrich’s affair. But in the interest of accuracy, I think the difference should be noted.
Secondly, he did not serve divorce papers on his first wife while she was in the hospital dying of cancer. For starters, she ask for the divorce. Not him. Secondly, she was not dying. She is, after all, very much alive, these decades later. Secondly, as his daughter has written, there were no divorce papers at that time. What did happen is that a verbal altercation did occur while she was in the hospital, with the then young Gingrich daughters present. It was most certainly an unfortunate event. However, it did not occur as has been widely and wrongly reported. Admittedly, these are not profoundly significant points, but, in the interest of fairness and accuracy, they need to be noted and refuted. One of Mr. Gingrich’s daughters has spoken out and corrected this widely circulated myth. (See http://www.creators.com/opinion/jackie-gingrich-cushman/setting-the-record-straight.html )
18. CRITICS: ALL IDEAS / NO EXECUTION
Once Mr. Gingrich’s critics saw that they could not derail him on old immorality issues that have been hashed over repeatedly, they begin to accuse him of being “all ideas, but no execution.”
My response is “thank God we finally have a leader with bona fide ideas.” I would rather have a leader who is giving us too many ideas, than the total lack of solutions that we have had from many leaders in both parties for several years.
Some say he cannot focus on one thing and carry it through. Do they not know that that is an accusation said against many strong leaders? That is why strong leaders surround themselves with strong counselors and strong “execution” people to carry out those ideas that can stand the tests of careful intellectual scrutiny.
Does Mr. Gingrich have too many ideas? Possibly. But he and his team will sort them out, and be able to focus energy on those that have “life” to them.
The thing that has most amazed me as I have listened to him speak over the years – both on television and in person – is his ability to grasp the core of the problem, and drill down on a solution that is actually doable. We need that – badly – right now.
His critics use harsh language, saying he is “erratic, undisciplined and grandiose,” the actual words that came in an article that was emailed to me while I was writing this letter. The author of that stinging article contends that Mr. Gingrich was that way, and has not changed.
I have followed Mr. Gingrich for decades. My wife and I once went to hear him many years ago when he was unknown. He was so unknown that there were only approximately ten people there to hear him, including us.
I am not in a position to say whether he was that way decades ago. But I would contend that I have observed him from a closer range than most people, including that writer.
His campaign has demonstrated profound discipline. He said he was going to wage his campaign on ideas, and he is. He has not demonstrated “erratic” behavior. The author’s example was Mr. Gingrich going on a vacation in the early months of the campaign. If being on a planned family vacation is erratic, may he be more so.
Is he “grandiose?” “Grandiose” means, in part, overrating one’s importance. He is, as every one knows, “the smartest person in the room.” He may have been arrogant in the past. But in the present, I find him to be (appropriately) confident of himself and his ideas. Frankly, I find that refreshing.
Another person said, “he is the smartest person in the room, and he knows it.” Well, if it is true that he is truly the smartest person in the room (which he is), then for him to believe it would not be wrong. What would be wrong for him to do is to be falsely modest and not use the keen intellect that is a gift from God.
Mr. Gingrich has been in public office since 1978, which is 33 long years, a third of a century. He has made 10,000 speeches and written approximately 24 books. He has done thousands of interviews. One cannot be in the spotlight that long without their flaws appearing “bigger than life.”
Does he have flaws? Of course. Do you? Yes. Do I? Yes. And if you and I had been under scrutiny for that long, in the national spotlight, our flaws might appear highly embellished as well.
19. PRO-LIFE / PRO-MARRIAGE
I have heard some say that he was not a friend of social conservatives and was focused on fiscal conservatism in the 1980s and 1990s. That may or may not be the case.
I do know that his pro-life voting record is sterling at 98.6%, 70 out of 71 votes, a true encouragement for anyone who cares about babies being protected in the womb. He has made it crystal clear the actions he will take as soon as be becomes president to reverse the murder that is taking place in the womb. He could not be clearer.
I also understand being a pragmatist vs. being a purist. (Note: this is not the same as saying “the ends justify the means” nor is it advocating the abandonment of principles.) Allow me to illustrate. If a group of pro-lifers are running who are also fiscal conservatives, and their constituency is more concerned about the economy than the life issue, I do not think it is wrong for the candidate to talk about the fiscal issues predominantly (while at the same time emphasizing his/her pro-life stance). Although the candidate did not emphasize the pro-life stance as strongly (due to the fact that the constituency did not want to talk about that issue), he/she can still impact the pro-life issue greatly after being elected.
Why have I stated this? Because Mr. Gingrich has been criticized for being “too pragmatic” on this issue. I find no fault with it. It is simply electoral reality. My goal is not primarily to see who can talk the most about saving babies in the womb, but to see who can actually save the babies from being destroyed in the womb.
Consequently, in this case, I tend to understand pragmatism over purism.
Mr. Gingrich is also unwaveringly committed to marriage being defined as “one man-one woman.” The challenge for him is obvious. He is not, based on his past, able to talk about it as he would if he had never divorced. However, he is unwavering on this issue. All who favor traditional, natural, biblical marriage should find great comfort in his candidacy.
He will not attack homosexuals, nor should we ask him to. He will be attacked by them, and that will not bother him at all, giving his tenacity. But he does not look for opportunities to “bash” homosexuals, nor should he. He simply stands for bona fide traditional marriage.
20. FISCAL ISSUES
As evangelicals, we are frequently viewed as being “dual issue people:” life and marriage. We are not.
We care equally about fiscal issues, as they are all related. I do not see a separation between “social issues” and “fiscal issues.” I see only “biblical imperatives.” As such, I care about many issues, as do most evangelicals. Along with the sanctity of life and the sacredness of marriage is the biblical command that “thou shalt not steal”…from future generations. Thus, our staggering national debt is not merely a “political” issue. It is a biblical and moral issue. And, as such, our national debt is obscene and immoral. The pulpits of America should thunder with that message.
Mr. Gingrich led the way for the Balanced Budged Amendment in the 1990s. I have not talked to him about the specifics of what is needed now, but allow me simply to state my own opinion. We need a balanced budget which states that:
Congress cannot spend more than it takes in It cannot raise taxes without a super majority vote It cannot spend more than 18% of gross domestic product
Mr. Gingrich deserves enormous credit for balancing the budget for four years as Speaker. He deserves the credit for totally changing welfare. By his past accomplishments, he understands these issues better than any other candidate.
Allow me to shift to the topic of the poor. I distinguish between those who are poor by (1) catastrophe or by (2) systemic issues, as opposed to those who (3) experience self-imposed poverty, due to slothfulness, etc. I am concerned for categories #1 and #2.
It is my opinion that the Democrats do the greatest job of talking about concern for the poor and disenfranchised, yet they have policies that cause the poor to remain a permanent underclass, as demonstrated by the massive failure of 50+ years of the “war on poverty.”
In contrast, Republicans have policies that help provide the most socio-economic “lift” to the poor, but are inarticulate when talking about the poor.
It appears to me that Mr. Gingrich is able to develop both policies and language that has the impact of lifting the poor. (I need to make a disclaimer: I believe ultimately the government cannot totally “lift” the disenfranchised. The church, by addressing the “heart issue,” can – and does. Time and space do not permit me to expand on this here.)
The next few paragraphs are the “core” of this letter. I support Newt Gingrich because we need one who can “dig us out” of our current crisis.
Intellectual depth and breadth. Even his critics stand in awe of the capabilities of his brain. The most common phrase people use is “he is the smartest man in the room.” And he is. I am ready to have a president who has intellectual depth. The mainstream media have tried to portray Barak Obama as an intellectual. I have serious doubts. (I would like to see his university records released.) With knowledge, we need wisdom. Knowledge is data. Wisdom is how to use the knowledge. Mr. Gingrich has that. Can’t we have an occasional president who is a scholar?
Historical understanding. “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” said one. “A knowledge of history makes one wise without the gray hair and wrinkles,” said another. His grasp of history gives him an enormous advantage in understanding the solutions to today’s problems. Once I was emceeing an event. I said, “Mr. Speaker, please give us the history of liberalism, beginning from 1932.” His response was, “Well, I prefer to begin with the Enlightenment.” When is the last time we had both a scholar and a pragmatist (normally mutually exclusive constructs) in the White House?
Inside knowledge of Washington, DC. Life inside the beltway is intimidating. I am becoming less convinced that electing an “outsider” is all that wise. I think I prefer an “insider” who truly understands how things work, and who is right on the issues. Mr. Gingrich is both of those. Mr. Gingrich will not allow the radical secularist to “out-parliamentarian” him. That is desperately needed. It is possible to have a solid, constitutional, pro-life, pro-marriage Christian president in the White House, but unable to move legislation. We need someone who cannot be “bullied” by the system.
Been vetted. Mr. Gingrich’s past is well known – both positively and negatively.
Achieved “elder statesman” status. He has earned this recently, by virtue of his conduct during the debates. He has steadfastly opposed attacking his fellow candidates, even when his polling was in the single digits. Our nation is so traumatized by the weak leadership of some Republicans and the horrific leadership of most Democrats, we need a sense of “father is here and all will be well.” Mr. Gingrich has a sense of “elder statesman” status.
Churchillian fortitude. When Gingrich’s campaign was faltering, in single digits, most would have quit. He did not. He persevered. We need a president who will not waver. We have had enough of the Neville Chamberlain complex in top leadership. We must have a Winston Churchill. We face such serious dual enemies: the radical left secularist and radical Islam, both with the capability of destroying historic America. The left has almost succeeded. And without strong leadership, both will. Jeffrey Lord wrote in the November 15, 2011 issue of American Spectator a thought provoking comparison of 1930s Britain with Churchill’s rise to contemporary America with the rise of Gingrich. (http://spectator.org/archives/2011/11/15/is-newt-gingrich-americas-chur/). Both are flawed, as are all people. But Churchill was needed by Britain, just as American now needs Gingrich’s leadership.
Articulation skills. It will be interesting to see if Barak Obama will accept Mr. Gingrich’s offer for seven, three hour, Lincoln-Douglass style debates. No other Republican could extend such an offer to the current President, and carry it out. To be blunt, no other candidate can perform at debates with the skill of Mr. Gingrich. But it is more than mere debating skill. It is the capacity to think through issues and articulate them, whether in normal discourse or in a debate. Does that count? It does to me.
A superb grasp of the correct definition of American Exceptionalism. In short, there are nearly 200 nations with constitutions. A few of them mention God in the preamble. Only one nation has sacred documents that specifically state that our rights are given “by their (that is, our) Creator” (Declaration of Independence) to “We The People” (opening large font in the US Constitution) with us as “the People” temporarily loaning the power to elected officials. That is, based on all the constitutions of the other nations of the world, an “exception,” thus the appropriate phrase “American Exceptionalism.” Mr. Gingrich is able to articulate this considerably better than any elected official I have ever heard.
An understanding of the moral differences. It is no longer a case of “right vs. left” as some might say, thus suggesting these two positions are moral equivalents. They are not. It is not “right vs. left,” but “right vs. wrong.” Tearing up a baby in the womb is not merely “left.” It is wrong. It is sin. Destroying the definition of marriage is not merely “left.” It is wrong. It is sin. Stealing funds from future generations and spending it so that they will be closer to slavery than freedom is not merely “left.” It is wrong. It is sin. Although Mr. Gingrich is not running for “Theologian-in-Chief” but “Commander-in-Chief,” he grasps these issues. He understands the moral component.
A grasp of the threat posed by loss of religious liberty. Religious liberty is a locomotive on a set of tracks, heading full steam against another locomotive called the “radical gay agenda.” Religious liberty and the radical gay agenda cannot exist in the same nation at the same time. Leaders of both movements know this. One will win. One will lose. Soon. Very soon. Mr. Gingrich understands this, and knows what must happen to preserve religious liberty. His “awakening,” of sorts, was stimulated by two well-known 9th Circuit Court actions: the June 2002 removal of “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance (reversed by the Supreme Court), and the June 2004 Mojave Desert Cross ruling. Those were his proverbial “enough-is-enough” moments. He has not been the same since. He has written a profound paper on what a President Gingrich would do in the appointment of a Presidential Commission on Religious Liberty. Every Christian and Jew should read this paper and – allow me to be blunt here – ponder the consequences of not having Mr. Gingrich’s brilliance in the White House to defend this rapidly disappearing freedom.
An understanding of war. Whether we like it or not, America is in a moral and economic war. In a few months, we will know whether basic moral values will be reestablished or lost forever. It will soon be apparent which concepts will survive. We will have either: A definition of family based on (bona fide, natural) marriage, along with birth and adoption, or the redefinition of “family” involving a mere collection of individuals. A historic and natural definition of marriage or a destructive and self-absorbed definition based on deviant behavior. Ongoing freedom or debt-induced slavery, or at least quasi-slavery. Religious liberty (allowing for – among all other faiths – the free public and private expression of historic, authentic, orthodox, biblical Christianity), or a politically-correct coerced conformity to an Orwellian-type, state-approved religion (which will exclude historic, biblical Christianity). Free enterprise (based on the fact that we were made in the image of God, with creativity that results in productivity which produces prosperity), or some form of socialistic economic theory imposed governmentally. Free expression of the will of the people, or ideas imposed on the nation from an elite (at least in their minds) oligarchy. We are in a war, a war that will determine whether America, as she was conceived, will survive. In war, one needs a strategically and logistically sophisticated warrior, one who understands the nature of fighting and winning. Mr. Gingrich is that warrior. He is a warrior made for this war. Failure to grasp this one key issue could cost us our future.
Allow me to summarize this extremely important section. As conservatives in general, and as Christians specifically, we tend to fight the “symptoms,” not the root. We tend to voice our frustration with the fact that some court just removed the nativity scene from the courthouse lawn. Not Mr. Gingrich. He lays out the constitutional and philosophic wrongness of the underpinnings of that removal, thus “cutting off the enemy at the knees.”
Allow me to give biblical examples of this strategy.
The Apostle Paul did not say to Philemon, “stop slavery.” Instead he said, “treat Onesimus as a brother.” In so doing, Paul “cut the legs off" of slavery.
Jesus did not say, “stop treating women as second class citizens.” Instead, he reserved the most important announcement of his earthly ministry (John 4:26) for a woman, and one that was of another and despised race. This would have been unthinkable for his contemporaries. In so doing, Jesus affirmed women as equally valued as men.
Matthew, Mark and John did not say, “start respecting women.” They simply used the testimony of Mary Magdalene as the first evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. It was unthinkable for a woman to testify in legal courts. The Gospel writers flew in the face of such sexism. In so doing, they undercut the second-class citizenship of the day, and women were as credentialed and as valued as men.
Mr. Gingrich frames his debates in a way that focuses on exposing the root presuppositions of the radical “left.” Most of us are far to symptomatic, ripping leaves off the tree. In contrast, Mr. Gingrich takes a verbal chain saw to the hallow trunks of the trees of radical secularism and the “left.”
Personally, I am ready for a solid constitutional, Christian conservative who not merely has the ability do this (rare enough), but who actually will do it.
22. SERIOUSNESS OF THE SITUATION
I cannot overstate the seriousness we face. To say our nation is in crisis is not hyperbole.
Allow me to illustrate this, on a deeply personal level. My wife is in a battle with aggressive and advanced stage 4 cancer. It has come back for the 6th time in 4 ½ years. (We just found this out a few days ago.) When her cancer had returned for the third time (I believe it was) in 2010, I received a phone call from Carol’s oncologist informing me of the recurrence. Carol was not home at the time, thus was not on the phone. I asked him the question no caregiver should ask. “Barring a miracle (which we fully expect) how long do we have?” The starkness of his estimate shook me. A few days later, I sensed that I “heard” (in my spirit, not audibly) the voice of the Spirit of God say, “You are fighting to save the life of your wife; but you are also fighting to save your nation. Barring a miracle, both have a short lifespan.”
Did I hear correctly from God? I will let others help me answer that in time. But I do believe that America has only months left, as we know her. If we do not see a spiritual renewal that is evidenced in both human hearts being drawn to God’s righteousness and is manifested in all areas of life, including in the voting booth, America is “over,” at least as we know her.
I am astounded that Barak Obama and his ideological colleagues have been able to inflict so much damage on this nation in a remarkably short time. Weak previous Republican and other Democrat leaders have not helped the nation either.
We are in a genuine emergency. This is not just another election. This is it. We will see America begin to turn now, or it is over.
Is that melodrama? Is that an overstatement? Is that just “Chicken Little” crying that the “sky is falling?” No, it is not. It is reality.
Newt Gingrich is the most competent candidate, in my opinion. Several others are very good and impressive candidates. But Mr. Gingrich is the one we need in this crisis.
For those of you who say he is not the “purist” that we want, or say, “Well, he is not truly one of us,” allow me to respond.
Follow an illustration with me that pertains to my wife’s cancer battle. If I had the choice between an incompetent Christian surgeon and a highly competent unbelieving surgeon – and it was my wife they were operating on – I would choose the one most competent.
Carol’s first surgeon – one of the finest in San Diego – was part of a non-Christian religion. I do not share his faith, at all. But his religion was not a factor in that moment. I needed profound competence for that 8 ½ hour surgery. He was successful (and he is a very good friend as well).
Allow me to make the application to our present election. If I have the choice between a wonderful Christian (who, cannot demonstrate the superior intellect and Churchillian-type leadership, and who [based on polls this day] is likely unelectable) and a somewhat "damaged, bruised" – yes even flawed – Christian (meaning a man like Mr. Gingrich who admits his sins and who has repented of those sins), yet who has massive knowledge in how to save America, and can actually do it, be assured, I will choose Mr. Gingrich.
I am not demanding anyone to agree with me, but that is my view as one who has been at close range with the former Speaker.
I recognize that this election cycle has been unprecedented. The rising and falling has been epic: Bachmann, then Perry, then Cain. Now Gingrich as risen. We have never seen anything quite like this.
I recognize that as I write this on Saturday, December 17, 2011, everything could change by tomorrow. But it is late in the game. Iowa’s caucus vote is only two-and-a-half weeks away. Considering that most Iowans might like to enjoy politics-free holidays between December 24 and January 2, it is down to a week-and-a-half of focused and intense electioneering. Barring a major slip-up by Mr. Gingrich, he is either the leading candidate, or at least one of the leading candidates.
In the larger scheme of things, you effectively have three choices: Barak Obama, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich. (Ron Paul will not have long-term staying power.) It is time to have a reality check. At this moment (based on all of today’s credible polling), those are our choices. No amount of wishing is going to change that.
I decided quite some time ago – for all the reasons stated above – that I would embrace Newt Gingrich as our next president. You may or may not agree. That is the beauty of America. You can state your thoughts as freely as I can.
Private Citizen, Husband of Carol for 40+ years, Father of four wonderful adopted children, Grandfather of five fabulous grandsons, Student of history, Pastor, Thankful for America, Saved by Jesus Christ, Lover of God, Guardedly confident about the future.