Hillary’s Religion

An interesting discussion of Hillary Clinton’s religious influences is occurring on the web and in the newspapers.

Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President Bush, says Hillary’s well-articulated and genuine faith would serve her well among religious voters turned off by Rudy Guiliani’s pro-choice history. By Gerson’s reckoning, the preponderance of Hillary’s values, based on United Methodism’s blending of scriptural and social holiness, would be an asset in a head-to-head race with Guiliani whose religious values are not as well articulated.

Gerson says Hillary may be the “most religious politician since Jimmy Carter.”

What’s most interesting to me, however, is the recognition by Gerson that Hillary’s faith tradition is based on solid theology, scriptural interpretation and social action. This tradition has taken a beating the past several years as ideologues on the right sought to discredit and brand it as insufficient if not unfaithful. The most recent was Chuck Colson’s op-ed in which he says mainline Christians don’t follow biblical teachings faithfully.

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, identified four foundation stones his followers should rest upon–scripture, tradition, experience and reason. Scripture was always primary, but Wesley stayed away from fixed doctrines even as he asserted his strong interpretations about many elements of faith to his followers. Yet, his method was rather flexible and his followers are a diverse lot.

Hillary’s religious values are rooted in this diverse and flexible theology, and that theology is well-suited for life in the 21st. century.

For a more complete discussion of Wesley’s theological method see Dr. Albert Outler’s narrative at the Wesley Center for Applied Theology.

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