A True Christian American President
By Rick Marschall
Assist News Service
- One thing I have come to appreciate about Theodore Roosevelt is something that largely has been neglected by many history books. That is, the aspect of his fervent Christian faith. In some ways, he might be seen as the most Christian and the most religious of all presidents.
Such a list would be (admittedly) subjective, and a difficult one to compute and compile. TR’s name at the top might surprise some people, yet that surprise might itself bear witness to the nature of his faith: privately held, but permeating countless speeches, writings, and acts. His favorite verse was Micah 6:8 – “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
He was of the Dutch Reformed Church. He participated in missions work with his father, a noted philanthropist. He taught weekly Sunday School classes during his four years at Harvard. He wrote for Christian publications.
He called his bare-the-soul speech announcing his principles when running in 1912, “A Confession of Faith.” Later he closed perhaps the most important speech of his life, the clarion-call acceptance of the Progressive Party nomination that year, “We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord!” That convention featured evangelical hymns and closed with “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
He titled one his books Foes of Our Own Household (after Matthew 10:36) and another, Fear God and Take Your Own Part. He once wrote an article for The Ladies’ Home Journal, “Nine Reasons Why Men Should Go To Church.” After he left the White House, he was offered university presidencies and many other prominent jobs. He chose instead to become Contributing Editor of The Outlook, a small Christian weekly magazine – tantamount to an extremely popular ex-president today (if we had one) choosing to edit WORLD Magazine or ASSIST News Service instead of higher-profile positions.
He was invited to deliver the Earl Lectures at Pacific Theological Seminary in 1911, but declined due to a heavy schedule. Knowing he would be near Berkeley on a speaking tour, however, he offered to deliver the lectures if he might be permitted to speak extemporaneously, not having time to prepare written texts of the five lectures, as was the custom. It was agreed, and TR spoke for 90 minutes each evening – from the heart and without notes – on the Christian’s role in modern society.
TR was not perfect, but he knew the One who is. Fond of saying that he would “speak softly and carry a big stick,” it truly can be said, also, that Theodore Roosevelt hid the Word in his heart, and acted boldly. He was a great American because he was a thoroughgoing good man; and he was a good man because he was a humble believer.
Remember him on President’s Day. Remember him on his own birthday, October 27.
Remember him every day – we are not seeing his kind any more.
Order Rick's biography of Theodore Roosevelt, BULLY!
Rick Marschall is the author of more than 60 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture (Bostonia Magazine called him “perhaps America’s foremost authority on popular culture”) to history and criticism; country music, television history, biography and children’s books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. For 10 years he has been active in the Christian field, writing devotions; co-authoring The Secret Revealed with Dr. Jim Garlow; and writing a biography of Johann Sebastian Bach for the “Christian Encounters” series to be published by Thomas Nelson (2011). Rick produces a weekly e-mail devotion, “Monday Morning Music Ministry.” His e-mail address is: Rick@MondayMinistry.com.
© 2010. Assist News Service. Used with permission.
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