Having recently pondered the mystery of how our president can consider that he is doing God’s will by going to war with Iraq, I was pleased to get some insights into Bush’s evangelical mind by reading four mini-essays on Bill Long’s website. Bill is an adjunct professor of law at Willamette University and a friend who participates in a monthly “Salon” discussion group here in Salem that Laurel organized many moons ago.
On his home page Bill, well, bills himself as an author, attorney, historian, and biblical scholar in addition to his current professorial persona. In his current events section you’ll find links to four essays that address the question, “What is an evangelical?”
In essay II Bill says that he was an evangelical for more than 20 years, and in essay IV notes that “I spent seven years memorizing the Bible and mastering it to such an extent that I got the highest score ever on the Bible Content Exam for prospective Presbyterian ministers when I took that test in 1977.” So Bill knows whereof he speaks.
And what he speaks of is fascinating, fresh ideas for me. I had never thought much about the stress that evangelicals often feel, believing as they do that God is communicating directly to them and personally guiding their lives, but not being able to clearly hear the messages that supposedly should be clear as a bell. After reading Bill’s essays I better understood why evangelicals such as Bush usually have such a rigid, unyielding mindset, and why Bush was unable to come up with a single mistake he has made when asked about this at his recent press conference.
If you believe that God is guiding your thoughts and actions, then if you doubt anything you’ve thought or done, you’re doubting God. Allow one crack in the evangelical belief system and the whole edifice can come tumbling down, which it does for many people—such as Bill (thank heavens). Anyway, I’ve just skimmed the surface of the insights I got from Bill’s essays. Read them yourself if you want to know more about what goes on in the evangelical mind.