(Note: I mention the phrase “world view” multiple times in this post. By this I mean the belief of a person about what this world is made up of in both the seen and unseen realms. For example, a true Christian world view would include one all powerful, loving God who is active in the world; the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible as His revealed Word to man; the reality of sin in man and man’s need of a Savior which is found only in Christ and His death; the fact that to follow Christ is to allow Him to live in you; and the inherent reality of Satan who runs rampant over this world driving the evil in it. A secular world view, on the other hand, might hold some beliefs like there isn’t a God, or if there is He is inactive in the world; that man is inherently good and capable of getting better and better; etc.)
I read the other day of the debate around some candidate for political office in the U.S. being called to defend a paper he wrote 20 years ago that expressed some strong religious views that affected his views on some social issues. I remember the last presidential election where debate raged about the legitimacy and "correctness" of exploring a candidate’s faith views. I have some thoughts about it all . . .
While, in America, we are a free country and I believe that people of different religious (or even non-religious) views should be allowed to run for office, I believe that it is naive to try and separate them from their world view. It is one thing to say that there shouldn’t be a religious test for office (I agree), and it is another thing to say that a person’s religion shouldn’t affect their decisions in office (I disagree, and think that it is impossible).
I do not believe that it is legitimately possible to separate a true believer in something from that belief—nor do I think that we should. The world view of a candidate (if it is truly held and not just declared or claimed for political expediency) will define their life and their role in that office in a dramatic way. Think about the office of President, for example:
A President’s world view will affect their attitude on good and evil, and the inherent nature and tendency of man. This will dramatically affect their dealing with other nations, their expectancy from other people, their trust, how they see and deal with terrorism and nations that support terrorism, etc.
A President’s world view will define how they see and understand the situation in the Middle East, as well as their stand on Israel. A President’s world view will dramatically affect where they seek their wisdom from. A President’s world view will define their own moral code—affecting how they operate—and it will affect their stand on social issues. A President’s world view will define their expectancy and outlook on the future. A President's world view will define their priorities. A President's world view will define if they see a spiritual component to situations. (And, I believe, because of my world view, that a true Christian President will give our nation a spiritual cover at the highest level whereas a non-Christian, or only professing Christian, President won't.)
It is one thing to disagree with a candidate’s world view and not vote for them (that is a precious right in our country), but it is simplistic and, I believe, ignorant (not meant derogatorily) to think that a person can sincerely hold a world view and not have it affect who they will be in office (hence, knowing their world view becomes important). How can, for example, someone who truly holds a Christian world view that includes at its highest place an almighty Creator who in love died for them set aside that Creator’s heart (regardless of the opinions of man) and support something that is reprehensible to that Creator? Likewise, how can someone who holds a world view that there is no Creator (or only an inactive one) come up with a true moral, absolute standard that is steadfast if they don’t recognize that there is an absolute in the world? How, in fact, do they come up with any litmus test for testing what is truly right or wrong and not just someone's opinion at the time?
Ultimately, someone with a true Christian world view holds that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong and that it derives from God—and someone who rejects God comes up, somehow, with their own standard of right and wrong which is, logically, no more valid than someone else who has an entirely different standard of right and wrong (because, by their very own belief, there is no higher standard or place to use as a base or foundation or yard stick). Moral relativism is basically a “what is right for you is right for you, and what is right for me is right for me attitude” and it’s logical extremes are so dangerous and deadly that a philosophy professor at West Point once told me that he would do all he could to get me kicked out of the academy if he truly thought I was the moral relativist I thought I was. The ultimate end of that philosophy is chaos and the reality that there is no "right" or "fair" way to say someone is wrong who says that for them some things we would call horrible and unthinkable are right!
So, I believe that a candidate’s world view is absolutely critical to know, and I don't think I would vote for a candidate whose world view I didn’t know or agree with. Candidates, during an election, can give their opinions on every issue on the table at the time, but it is only in their world view that we will be able to predict how they will decide on issues that come up later. If they are true to their world view it will define them. If they are not true to their world view, I don’t know that I can trust or believe or have confidence in them, or that I want them in office or leading my country.
None of this is to say that a candidate should, when in office, try and force others to follow his/her religion (in fact he should protect their freedom), but when deciding on issues and policies, and in dealing with other people and nations, he or she must, by necessity, have a world view that they draw on to understand situations, make their decisions, and define their values. Knowing their world view as a candidate should help us predict how they will be in office when a decision has to be made and they have to make it. Then, knowing that, we can decide who will best represent us, and what we believe and stand for, and we can vote for them.