Baptist Press' Assistant Editor Michael Foust's article on President Bush, "Land: Bush not 'theologian-in-chief," revealed, in my opinion, that Land wasn't right on target, as far as I'm concerned.
It isn't any surprise to me that President Bush didn't meet Land's "theologian litmus test," but I think at least one conclusion about Bush was a bit off the mark and, I should add, I don't think it is an American President's duty to become an evangelical Christian's "theologian-in-chief."
Land drew the conclusion that Bush believes there is more than one way to reach God, more than one path, more than one avenue, based on something the President said to Cynthia McFadden of NightLine in a December 8 interview. I'm a bit of a word parser and I think Land went a little too far in drawing that conclusion.
"I don't think God is a narrow concept. I think it's a broad concept. I just happen to believe the way to God is through Christ, and others have different avenues toward God, and I believe we pray to the same Almighty -- I do."
Clearly, Bush made the statement that he believes "the way to God is through Christ." He went on to say that other people follow different paths toward God, not stating that they actually get to God, but only that they are following different avenues toward God. I think there is a subtle difference and the difference is an oft used tactic of politicians.
Certainly, if word-parsed it can't truly be used against him by an evangelical who wants to claim, as Land did, that Bush was saying there are other paths to God, after all, Bush said he believes, "the way to God is through Christ," and others who might believe there are other avenues to God can't argue against him, or take offense because he gave a head nod their direction and did not make a firm statement saying they would never reach God by following a different avenue, simply that they have "different avenues toward God."
Politicians are practiced at giving just enough of an answer to satisfy an interviewer while being sufficiently vague to not offend those with whom, if pressed, they might disagree. Bush certainly hasn't been an over all good speaker but he can sometimes rise to the occasion of being a sufficient politician.