The sincerity of the new Missouri governor’s faith
January 14, 2005
I think the literary choices a person makes can provide some insight into that person. What rests on one’s bookshelf is one of the first things I look for when I enter someone’s office. Books can say so much about a person’s interests and deficiencies. So when I learned Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt was reading the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, it solidified in my mind that this 34-year-old graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy was not only a man of considerable intellect, but one concerned with “being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.”
This discovery did not surprise me because the governor, like President George Bush, has often spoken publicly of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But I also know that any believer, who is reading Lewis, is digging just a little bit deeper to further comprehend — what the Apostle Paul noted to the church at Ephesus — “the riches of Christ’s grace.” Blunt is not Missouri’s theologian-in-chief to be sure, but he is our executive-in-chief and Missouri Baptists should be thankful that God has placed him in such a seat of authority. I would encourage Missouri Baptists to express that thankfulness in verbal and written communication directly to him and most importantly – express it in prayer to the One who made it possible.
It was a pleasure to meet our new governor at the Jan. 5 prayer service for our state’s executive, legislative and judicial leaders sponsored by the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission, The Pathway and Concord Baptist Church. It was also a joy to be able to express our love and respect to our state’s leaders and encourage them to make righteous decisions that would glorify King Jesus.
I am convinced as Blunt begins his service, that he will indeed seek to do what is righteous. Why? Because he is clearly a man of deep conviction and of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” This should be of immense rejoicing for Missouri Southern Baptists at a time when our culture has, as Chuck Colson noted, “redefined tolerance to mean the suppression of all moral discourse and the acceptance of any private behavior without regard to its public consequences.” If a leader will, say, cheat on his wife, thus breaking a large vow to one, very important person, the same leader will find it easy to break relatively small vows to millions. When government leaders take their oaths of offices – as lawmakers did on Jan. 5 and Blunt did on Jan. 10 — they are making vows before God. I’ll not digress, but “The Preacher” had something important to say about vows in Ecclesiastes 7:4, “When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for He takes no delight in fools.”
All this brings me to my decision to run the photo of the governor that is featured on the front page of this issue. The staff and I spent a considerable amount of time going through the 170 photographs taken during the Jan. 5 prayer service. As we examined each one to determine which to share with Pathway readers in this issue (see pages 6 and 7), the photo on the front page stopped us dead in our tracks. Why? Because it further substantiates everything I have said in this column about the governor and his faith in our Lord Jesus.
I wanted to “shout to the Lord” when I read what Blunt told Jay Scribner, pastor, First Baptist Church, Branson, after Scribner delivered his powerful message to those attending the service. Blunt said he wanted the Bible for a keepsake for his new son who is going to be born in March. Considering the extraordinary historical and emotional circumstances of the moment for the new governor, I will just let you ponder on that.
Critics may suggest that we ran the photo totally for politically self-serving reasons. Others might crow that I was doing it to attract attention to myself. Such notions are nonsense. The real reason was the answer to this question: When was the last time Missouri Southern Baptists looked at a newspaper and saw a front-page picture of their governor worshipping in a Missouri Southern Baptist church and in obvious serious study of the inerrant and infallible Word of God?
Indeed Matt Blunt is the governor of all Missourians and Missouri Southern Baptists ought to be the most thankful of them all.