An analysis of Bill Clinton’s acceptance speech
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turns it wherever he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1).
Watching the Democratic convention last month, I was surprised to find myself impressed by the quality of the speeches of Clinton, Gore, Tsongas and many others who spoke commendably about important moral issues that face our nation. With only a few dissenting liberal tones from those such as Mario Cuomo and Ted Kennedy, the Party had taken a shift toward the median. Suddenly, the Democratic party seemed to have “found itself” in a more moderate vein nostalgic of Jack Kennedy’s era.
I listened carefully to Clinton’s speech. His poise at the podium reminded me of the anointing of a Christian evangelist. Quoting scripture, he spoke of the need for a “New Covenant” and having a vision for greatness. I began to worry. Could this be the same man who said that he would appoint pro-choice judges to the Supreme Court, who went to a San Francisco fund raiser held by homosexuals and bought into their morals-neutral agenda?
Of course, I understood that Clinton was hopelessly misapplying and mutilating scripture; I didn’t buy it for a minute. Unlike Clinton, President Bush stands up for righteousness, rather than treating homosexuality and abortion as a “lifestyle choice.” But Clinton had something within in his speech; there was a certain ring of truth to his words. I found it much too simple to pass off his words with disdain as so many other people have done. Then I remembered that God often uses leaders, especially the American President, to prophesy. We can discern a prophetic voice in speeches of Presidents such as Reagan, Kennedy, Roosevelt and Lincoln.
The use of a nation’s leader as a prophetic instrument, even if he not converted, has biblical precedence. Caiaphas, the high priest during Jesus’ time, presided over the Sanhedrin: a political-ecclesiastical system which Jesus called a “den of thieves.” Yet Caiaphas, the same person who delivered Jesus over to Pontius Pilate, prophesied that it would be “expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:14). Other political leaders who were called “servants” of God and prophesied – although evil men – include Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and Cyrus.
So we should not be surprised if God uses our leaders to prophesy today. It seems strange; but perhaps the reason for this arrangement is so that God can reach a whole nation of people using a voice of established authority. And we need to remember that God is the Supreme Ruler who raises up all earthly rulers. We need to train our ears to hear, to discern God’s voice even when it comes through an imperfect vessel.
The Democratic Party is mirroring the spiritual state of the American Church and is reflecting the sins of our nation. Like the moderate Democrats, we are pro-life by conviction; yet pro-choice by default. Like the Democratic nominee, many of our most well-known leaders have been adulterers; but refuse to confess their sin because “it’s flat none of your business.” And like the Democrats, we manipulate God and His Word to fit our own agenda.
These three idolatries are what God is most angry about today: abortion, sexual immorality, and manipulation of God’s eternal law to fit what is right in our own eyes. These sins are true of the Church and of our nation as a whole. We need to repent in accordance with 2 Chronicles 7:14 and ask God to forgive the sins of the church and our nation. This revelation was coupled with my fear that many undiscerning Christians, especially those from the South, may buy the snake-oil the Democratic Party is selling on November 10.
Clinton’s appeal is reminiscent of that of Jimmy Carter, a Southern Baptist who taught Sunday school while President, and won the hearts of many evangelical Christians on his road to the White House. Although many of his accomplishments were commendable, Carter promoted abortion rights and pro-homosexual legislation. Once in office, Carter applied the same anti-Christian agenda that the Democrats are touting today.
Disenchanted evangelical voters withdrew their support from Carter in 1980, throwing their full support behind President Reagan and what has been termed the “Religious Right.” Although many of the leaders of the “New Right” did not openly profess Christianity, the political agenda of these men and women lined up more closely with scriptural mandates. During the 1980s, great progress was made toward pro-life legislation and conservative born-again Christians became one of the most significant voting blocs in modern times.
My initial fear was that the Clinton/Gore association with the Southern Baptists could win the White House for the Democrats at a crucial time in America’s history. This concern has subsided – I am of the opinion that we will see a dramatic shift in the polls back toward Bush/Quayle after the Republican convention. This will continue to swell as the issues that each side stands for are laid out before the public eye.
Without a spiritual awakening, there can be no lasting political solution to America’s problems. While God’s laws should be the basis for our civil government, we cannot expect legislation to change the heart of America. Above all we must learn to pray consistently for our leaders – no matter who is in power. Bill Clinton spoke prophetically – we need a “New Covenant” between God and our nation, not really new; but the same covenant that was secured 2000 years ago when Jesus died in our place to take the punishment for our sin. Today we need a fresh application of the blood of Jesus to forgive the sins of the church and our nation.