In A President Blinded by Righteousness, Ron Fournier argues that Barack Obama’s basic flaw is that he has too much faith in human nature. He does not seem able to conceive that people will frequently choose what is wrong, what is against their interests, or what is destructive to society as a whole.
Ukraine is illustrative of a flaw in Obama’s worldview that consistently undermines his agenda, both foreign and domestic. He thinks being right is good enough. From fights with Congress over the federal budget and his nominations, to gun control, immigration reform, health care, and Syria, the president displays tunnel-vision conviction, an almost blinding righteousness. I’m right. They’re wrong. Why isn’t that enough?
The President’s policies and legislation always assume the best in human nature (unless he’s talking about rich Republicans who are just to the right of the Antichrist), that people are always reasonable, rational, and logical.
If given a choice between working or not working, people will surely work. If given the choice of a healthy lifestyle or a self-destructive lifestyle, they will surely choose the former. If given the choice between living in helpless poverty or taking the opportunity to better themselves, well, of course they’ll roll up their sleeves. And when it comes to nations, surely they will know what’s in their best interests and always pursue that. They will like us if we like them more. They’ll prefer talking to us to bombing us.
Calvinism produces more realism
The President could do with a good old-fashioned dose of old Calvinism to help him understand that we are so morally and spiritually depraved that we often have no idea what is in our interests, and even when we do we may still choose the wrong, the false, the destructive, and the insane.
But it’s not just Democrats who could do with more theology, so could the Republicans. True, they seem to apply total depravity to the poor – they assume the worst there. But they seem to think that the richer you get, the less depraved you become. Deregulation is the answer – the less laws that affect the wealthy, the more law-abiding they will become.
Both sets of politicians reveal an astonishing naïveté about human nature resulting in naïve policies and legislation.
Calvinism produces more prayer
But Calvinist theology would not only produce more realistic policies; it would also produce more prayerful politicians. They would have much less confidence in themselves and in the branches and bigness of government to effect personal, societal and national transformation. They would see their and our desperate need for the Holy Spirit to restrain evil, prompt civil good, increase common grace, and save souls; producing earnest prayer for God’s blessing.
Calvinism produces more bi-partisanship
One thing I’ve noticed about myself as Calvinism works its way deeper and wider into my soul is that I’m less dogmatic than I used to be. I’m not talking about being washy-washy when it comes to Christian doctrine or morals; I’m talking about areas of wisdom, decision-making, discernment, application of Scripture, and so on.
The more I come to see my own depravity and corruption, the less I trust myself and the more I want to consult with others and hear others’ ideas about the best way forward. We could do with so much more of that spirit in our politicians instead of this ex cathedra certainty about everything they propose and the instant denigration of everything from the other side of the aisle.
Calvinism produces more hope
While Calvinism puts less faith in faulty frail human nature, it puts much faith in the great grace of God. While the imagined goodness of human nature gives us no confidence whatsoever, the immeasurable goodness of God makes us incredibly hopeful. That’s a “hope and change” that’s based on real hope and can produce lasting change.