On Faith: America's most Christian ruler
I want to tell you the story of perhaps the most devout Christian ruler this country has ever known. This man was a faithful husband for 57 years.
Such a practice would have been unheard of in his day when rulers frequently had multiple mistresses. He rarely missed Sunday church services. As explained in a Christianity Today article by Tyler Streckert, he was known to have devotional time of both prayer and Bible study nearly every day, both morning and night. He was a dedicated father in seeing his highest calling to be raising his children in the faith. He exhibited the highest degree of patience even as his children would frequently disappoint him.
This ruler believed the most important part of his office was rejecting the profane and modeling character. He was the rare leader to speak of the need to honestly and openly admit his faults before his constituents.
Possessing a devout faith was well-known to be the way to gain favor with this ruler. He possessed a tolerance for his day toward minority religious groups.
This ruler was not without opponents. Constituents would get mad at him for showing understanding toward "merciless Indian savages" within the Midwest in what would come to be known as the Declaration of Independence.
America's most Christian ruler is arguably King George III of Great Britain.
In fact, George's most outspoken opponents included men like Thomas Jefferson, who rewrote his version of the Bible, taking out all parts that he found offensive. If the American Revolution was a contest over commitment to the scriptures between King George III and many of the Deist founding fathers, few could argue against the superior faith of King George III.
As I reflect on the Life of King George III, perhaps this teaches us something about the intersection of faith and politics. How the best Christians don't always make the best political leaders.
During the life of Martin Luther, his native Germany lived in fear of attack of the Ottoman Empire after previously successful sieges upon Hungary and Austria. Luther had a very interesting opinion regarding a potential attack by a Muslim nation.
Luther believed that any battles should be fought for the defense of the neighbor, rather than seeking to advance any unique "holy" cause. Luther is in fact often attributed with declaring that "I would rather be ruled by a wise Turk than by a foolish Christian."
While Luther probably didn't say these exact words, this doesn't mean that such words don't contain a degree of wisdom.
I get nervous when I hear politicians cite the scriptures as a defense of their positions. While I do not doubt that the politicians or fellow Christians believe they are faithful, such practice can very easily promote human instinct to make God in our own image.
I'll hear scripture cited across the political aisle far outside the author's original context. There is truth in the saying that the scriptures can be used to justify about anything if you don't take them seriously.
My point is not that Christians should not get involved with politics. Christians play a role by their citizenry. John Locke who was a tremendous influence on the founding fathers of this nation described the Christian role in politics being sorted out in worldly terms through the use of common reason.
Working through complex and nuanced issues isn't always natural for us to do in a social media-obsessed world. Citing Bible verses as an attempt to end legitimate debate in all likelihood will not lead to the best public policy.
I place tremendous value on the role of the Christian scriptures. I would like to see them used for their greatest purpose as a source of hope and comfort centered on Jesus Christ in the confusing, turbulent world in which we continually live.
If I need a role model to do this, I can always look to King George III.
Pastor Stew Carlson serves at Sychar Lutheran in Silver Bay.