APOLOGETICS: Evolutionists to the Barricades: Is the Theory in Trouble? (040130)


Panic is setting in among the Darwinists. Even as diverse forms of Darwinist theory have become the enforced orthodoxy of naturalistic science, the fragile house of evolution is in big trouble—and the Darwinists know it.


Evidence of the Darwinists’ panic is seen in an editorial published in the November-December 2003 edition of The American Biology Teacher. In this editorial, scientist Marshall Berman goes after proponents of “Intelligent Design” [ID] who have been poking giant holes in evolutionary theory over the last several years.


Berman is apoplectic. His article reveals not only the febrile anxieties of materialistic science, but also the fact that the secular worldview goes far beyond matters of science—and evolutionary theory is the foundation of an understanding of everything from the origin of the universe to matters of morality and politics.


As Berman warns, “consciously or unconsciously, they [proponents of Intelligent Design] are jeopardizing the nature of science itself, our education system, and even our form of government.” Scared yet?


Berman’s article needs to be read with a soundtrack of militant music in the background, announcing the onslaught of the cultural crusade. He warns that those who reject evolution and argue that the universe shows unmistakable signs of having been designed by intelligence, “do not understand that the cause many of them promote would, if successful terminate many of the freedoms that they and we currently enjoy.” Terminate many of the freedoms that we currently enjoy? What in the world is Berman ranting about?


Over the last several years, proponents of Intelligent Design have achieved considerable success in embarrassing the proponents of evolutionary theory, demonstrating the failures of evolutionary “science,” and persuading school boards to present evidence for Intelligent Design along with purported evidence for the theory of evolution.


The edifice of Darwinism has been cracking for decades. In reality, the classical theory promoted by Charles Darwin—especially dealing with the mechanics of evolution and natural selection—has been discarded long ago. Contemporary evolutionary theorists are really “neo-Darwinists” whose various versions of Darwinian thought seek to move beyond Darwin’s own proposal in order to deal with shifts in the scientific worldview. Evolutionary theorists have no common idea of how evolution works, or even how much time has been involved in evolutionary progress on earth. They argue among themselves over the fundamental principles of the evolutionary process, and their only shared conviction is absolute opposition to anything that threatens the hegemony of evolution in the academy. Berman’s article is the latest evidence of the intellectual insecurity and Stalinist oppression that marks today’s evolutionary science. Nevertheless, Berman’s nightmarish warnings are so out of line with reality that one can only characterize his editorial as evidence of an irrational anxiety attack.


Consider this sentence: “It is time for those who cherish our republic and our freedom to take a strong stand against those who would prefer a theocracy, not in Iran or Afghanistan, but in the United States.” The opponents of evolutionary theory are theocrats? What lies behind Berman’s claim that proponents of Intelligent Design want to create a theocracy?


In documenting his charge, Berman points to the website of the Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. According to the Institute, “the theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” Does that sound like a manifesto for theocracy?


Berman goes on to explain that advocates of intelligent design “claim that scientists have a naturalistic bias in that ID is scientific and not religious, despite the fact that it does not provide any description of the designer, nor any mechanistic model by which the design was effectuated.”


Where does Berman stand on the most basic question of the origin of the universe? He clearly rejects any validity of the biblical account of creation. According to Berman, “evidence conclusively demonstrates that the Genesis account is not a scientifically valid theory for cosmology, geology, physics, or biology.” All intelligent persons are convinced of that fact, Berman would have us think. Keep in mind that Berman’s editorial was directed toward high school biology teachers.


Of course, Berman’s larger fear is that the theory of Intelligent Design will continue to grow, gain adherents, and influence public policy.


He strikes at the very core of Intelligent Design theory: “They do not accept the essence of science, the foundation that has made it so successful as a special way of learning about the world: science as the search for natural causes for natural phenomena.”


Intentionally or unintentionally, Berman has pointed to the most basic issue that divides naturalistic science from the rest of us. For over a hundred years, the dominant scientific establishment has been moving toward an enforced orthodoxy of naturalism, materialism, and secularism. According to this worldview, the universe is a closed box that can be understood only on its own terms—with everything inside the box explained only by other matter and processes within the same box. The box itself is explained as a cosmic accident, and naturalistic science allows no place for a designer or a design in the entire cosmos.


Of course, the evolutionists remain frustrated that the vast majority of Americans simply will not buy this theory. Even though they are not credentialed scientists, most Americans have a fairly good grasp of reality. As they observe the world, they are unable to accept an explanatory theory that says that everything—from human beings to the starry heavens above—just “happened” and came to exist without any design whatsoever.


Berman and his evolutionary colleagues have the temerity to accuse proponents of intelligent design—and the vast mainstream of Americans—to be ignoring the “evidence.” What they mean, of course, is that we will not accept their spotty and unsubstantiated trail of fossils and missing links.


In another editorial published in 1998, Berman claimed that “there are currently no viable scientific alternatives to evolution.” Berman and his fellow evolutionists make this claim by asserting a circular argument. When a scientific alternative to evolution is presented, they deny that the theory can be scientific simply because it rejects evolution. Evolutionary theory is now at the core of their definition of science itself.


In their panicked response to the cracks appearing in the evolutionary edifice, Berman and similar advocates of evolutionary theory turn to hyperbole and name calling. Take this sentence for example: “Creationists’ ‘evidence’ against evolution is no better than so-called evidence that the earth is flat, demons cause disease, or the stork brings babies.”


That sentence is a classic demonstration of their intellectual insecurity and their habitual recourse to circular logic. It also shows the condescension evolutionary proponents habitually throw towards those who have the temerity to challenge their precious theory. As Berman’s statement reveals, scientific advocates of evolution are now so philosophically committed to their theory, that they will accept no contradictory evidence whatsoever. All critics of evolution are simply “flat-earthers” who believe that the stork brings babies.


This much is clear—the whole structure of evolutionary thought is standing on shifting ground, and the evolutionists know they are in big trouble. Given time, more and more intelligent Americans will see the failures of evolutionary theory and the nihilism that stands at its intellectual base.


Nevertheless, Berman’s editorial shows that the problem is far deeper than anything addressed by science. This is a spiritual battle and the arguments over evolution have as much to do with morality and politics as with fossils and natural phenomena.


Evolutionary theory stands at the base of moral relativism and the rejection of traditional morality. If human beings are not made in the image of God, and if the entire cosmos is nothing more than a freakish accident, morality is nothing but a mirage and human beings—cosmic accidents that we are—are free to negotiate whatever moral arrangement seems best to us at any given time. Human life has no inherent dignity, morality has no objective basis, and we are alone in the universe to eat drink and be merry before our bones join the fossil record and we pass from existence.


Marshall Berman and company see the growing influence of Intelligent Design and the crumbling of evolutionary orthodoxy as a threat to everything they know and cherish. Writing to high school biology teachers, Berman makes his point clear. “Recognizing the threat is only the first step. All scientists, as well as teachers, parents, and citizens need to get involved in local and state efforts to develop strong, unequivocal science standards, to insure high-quality textbooks, to improve science education at all levels, and to engage in politics as the need arises.”


Berman is calling Darwinists to the barricades, but the more they write and talk, the more ground they lose. As an intellectual argument, evolutionary theory is in big trouble.




ETHICS: Recovering a Worldview of Moral Clarity (040301)


The modern world is in a headlong rush to bury the remnants of the Christian conscience. The post-Christian character of contemporary western culture is most clearly evident in the rejection of biblical ethics in favor of moral relativism. Most persons believe that morality is simply up for grabs.


We must honestly face the fact that this post-Christian morality is deeply rooted in a subtle form of atheism. Though most Americans habitually claim a belief in God, and even some form of Christian identity, Americans order their lives as if God does not exist. Otherwise, we would be required to care what God thinks, obey what God commands, and submit to His authority—or fear and face the consequences. It seems that millions of Americans claim to believe in a god they do not fear.


There is precious little fear of God evident in modern life. Biblical morality is dismissed as antiquarian, repressive, and intolerant. Of course, the only way to be understood as contemporary, progressive, and tolerant in this culture is to forfeit any claim to know what is right or wrong.


Simon Blackburn, professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, celebrates the death of God as the source of human liberation. The disappearance of God, he says, is by no means a threat to ethics. “It is a necessary clearing of the ground, on the way to revealing ethics for what it really is.” What it really is, according to Blackburn, is a negotiated morality and a human search for meaning. What ethics is not, he would explain, is a studied consideration of what the Creator expects of His creatures.


Without God, Blackburn instructs, we must make our own laws. This argument is the central thesis of the modern moral revolt. With Friedrich Nietzsche, modern philosophy declared that God is dead. Since God does not exist, morality is nothing more than a human construction. Since morality is our own construction, we can deconstruct and reconstruct a morality more to our liking. We are our own judges, our own umpires, and our own gods.


This explains the deep roots of today’s moral rebellion. There is very little moral consensus on the most important ethical issues of the day. Americans are divided over issues as basic as the sanctity of human life, the basic structure of sexual morality, and the integrity of the family. Issues of fierce political debate range from abortion to homosexuality, euthanasia, embryo research, genetic therapies, and a host of new moral quandaries. Confusion is the order of the day.


Nothing can be taken for granted. The moral revolutionaries have made great gains in the political sphere, in the schools, and in the courts. The media elite is largely committed to their cause, and the selfish individualism of our culture makes the nation a fertile ground for moral revolution.


As the late Christopher Lasch noted, “The contemporary climate is therapeutic, not religious. People today hunger not for personal salvation . . . but for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal well-being, health, and psychic security.” That is, people want a feel-good morality that affirms them as basically good, excuses their immoral acts as “indiscretions,” and confirms their basic assumption that right and wrong are mere matters of opinion.


This basic shift in the moral foundation of the society explains why a moral recovery will not be easily or quickly accomplished. The moral revolution has been underway for decades now, and most living Americans have been drinking deeply from the poisoned wells of secular moral reasoning. No God, no fear, no judgment—no problem.


In the midst of this moral confusion, our Christian task is to recover a biblical moral grounding, to live like redeemed people, and to help a fragmenting society pick up the pieces.


The first task is biblical recovery. Too many Christians live out of the world’s moral wisdom, rather that the wisdom of God as revealed in the Scriptures. The Bible presents us with a moral framework embedded in the Gospel, and directs our lives to an obedience that glorifies God and leads to true human happiness.


Second, we must live before the watching world like redeemed people, demonstrating the joyful and liberating freedom of living under God’s rule by grace. Our churches must be seen as communities of believers growing in grace—living out the moral authenticity of the Christian life.


Third, we must help a fragmenting and hurting society to pick up the pieces. Love of neighbor compels us to seek the good of others, even when they will not seek it for themselves. Christians are sinners saved by grace. By grace, we can help others to find moral sanity on the other side of confusion and rebellion.


The same-sex marriage issue presents the Church with a challenge of monumental significance. We must rebuild and sustain a moral context and an entire worldview in which a defense of marriage makes sense—a world in which same-sex marriage would be literally unthinkable.


Our task is the Scriptural recovery of ethical courage and moral clarity. This is no small task in a world that doesn’t even know the difference between good and evil. Then again, we don’t get to choose our own battles.




THEOLOGY: A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity (040520)


In every generation, the church is commanded to “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” That is no easy task, and it is complicated by the multiple attacks upon Christian truth that mark our contemporary age. Assaults upon the Christian faith are no longer directed only at isolated doctrines. The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack by those who would subvert Christianity’s theological integrity.


Today’s Christian faces the daunting task of strategizing which Christian doctrines and theological issues are to be given highest priority in terms of our contemporary context. This applies both to the public defense of Christianity in face of the secular challenge and the internal responsibility of dealing with doctrinal disagreements. Neither is an easy task, but theological seriousness and maturity demand that we consider doctrinal issues in terms of their relative importance. God’s truth is to be defended at every point and in every detail, but responsible Christians must determine which issues deserve first-rank attention in a time of theological crisis.


A trip to the local hospital Emergency Room some years ago alerted me to an intellectual tool that is most helpful in fulfilling our theological responsibility. In recent years, emergency medical personnel have practiced a discipline known as triage—a process that allows trained personnel to make a quick evaluation of relative medical urgency. Given the chaos of an Emergency Room reception area, someone must be armed with the medical expertise to make an immediate determination of medical priority. Which patients should be rushed into surgery? Which patients can wait for a less urgent examination? Medical personnel cannot flinch from asking these questions, and from taking responsibility to give the patients with the most critical needs top priority in terms of treatment.


The word triage comes from the French word trier, which means “to sort.” Thus, the triage officer in the medical context is the front-line agent for deciding which patients need the most urgent treatment. Without such a process, the scraped knee would receive the same urgency of consideration as a gunshot wound to the chest. The same discipline that brings order to the hectic arena of the Emergency Room can also offer great assistance to Christians defending truth in the present age.


A discipline of theological triage would require Christians to determine a scale of theological urgency that would correspond to the medical world’s framework for medical priority. With this in mind, I would suggest three different levels of theological urgency, each corresponding to a set of issues and theological priorities found in current doctrinal debates.


First-level theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith. Included among these most crucial doctrines would be doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture.


In the earliest centuries of the Christian movement, heretics directed their most dangerous attacks upon the church’s understanding of who Jesus is, and in what sense He is the very Son of God. Other crucial debates concerned the question of how the Son is related to the Father and the Holy Spirit. The earliest creeds and councils of the church were, in essence, emergency measures taken to protect the central core of Christian doctrine. At historic turning-points such as the councils at Nicaea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon, orthodoxy was vindicated and heresy was condemned—and these councils dealt with doctrines of unquestionable first-order importance. Christianity stands or falls on the affirmation that Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God.


The church quickly moved to affirm that the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ are absolutely necessary to the Christian faith. Any denial of what has become known as Nicaean-Chalcedonian Christology is, by definition, condemned as a heresy. The essential truths of the incarnation include the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who deny these revealed truths are, by definition, not Christians.


The same is true with the doctrine of the Trinity. The early church clarified and codified its understanding of the one true and living God by affirming the full deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—while insisting that the Bible reveals one God in three persons.


In addition to the Christological and Trinitarian doctrines, the doctrine of justification by faith must also be included among these first-order truths. Without this doctrine, we are left with a denial of the Gospel itself, and salvation is transformed into some structure of human righteousness. The truthfulness and authority of the Holy Scriptures must also rank as a first-order doctrine, for without an affirmation of the Bible as the very Word of God, we are left without any adequate authority for distinguishing truth from error.


These first-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith, and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself.


The set of second-order doctrines is distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers. When Christians organize themselves into congregations and denominational forms, these boundaries become evident.


Second-order issues would include the meaning and mode of baptism. Baptists and Presbyterians, for example, fervently disagree over the most basic understanding of Christian baptism. The practice of infant baptism is inconceivable to the Baptist mind, while Presbyterians trace infant baptism to their most basic understanding of the covenant. Standing together on the first-order doctrines, Baptists and Presbyterians eagerly recognize each other as believing Christians, but recognize that disagreement on issues of this importance will prevent fellowship within the same congregation or denomination.


Christians across a vast denominational range can stand together on the first-order doctrines and recognize each other as authentic Christians, while understanding that the existence of second-order disagreements prevents the closeness of fellowship we would otherwise enjoy. A church either will recognize infant baptism, or it will not. That choice immediately creates a second-order conflict with those who take the other position by conviction.


In recent years, the issue of women serving as pastors has emerged as another second-order issue. Again, a church or denomination either will ordain women to the pastorate, or it will not. Second-order issues resist easy settlement by those who would prefer an either/or approach. Many of the most heated disagreements among serious believers take place at the second-order level, for these issues frame our understanding of the church and its ordering by the Word of God.


Third-order issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations. I would put most of the debates over eschatology, for example, in this category. Christians who affirm the bodily, historical, and victorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ may differ over timetable and sequence without rupturing the fellowship of the church. Christians may find themselves in disagreement over any number of issues related to the interpretation of difficult texts or the understanding of matters of common disagreement. Nevertheless, standing together on issues of more urgent importance, believers are able to accept one another without compromise when third-order issues are in question.


A structure of theological triage does not imply that Christians may take any biblical truth with less than full seriousness. We are charged to embrace and to teach the comprehensive truthfulness of the Christian faith as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. There are no insignificant doctrines revealed in the Bible, but there is an essential foundation of truth that undergirds the entire system of biblical truth.


This structure of theological triage may also help to explain how confusion can often occur in the midst of doctrinal debate. If the relative urgency of these truths is not taken into account, the debate can quickly become unhelpful. The error of theological liberalism is evident in a basic disrespect for biblical authority and the church’s treasury of truth. The mark of true liberalism is the refusal to admit that first-order theological issues even exist. Liberals treat first-order doctrines as if they were merely third-order in importance, and doctrinal ambiguity is the inevitable result.


Fundamentalism, on the other hand, tends toward the opposite error. The misjudgment of true fundamentalism is the belief that all disagreements concern first-order doctrines. Thus, third-order issues are raised to a first-order importance, and Christians are wrongly and harmfully divided.


Living in an age of widespread doctrinal denial and intense theological confusion, thinking Christians must rise to the challenge of Christian maturity, even in the midst of a theological emergency. We must sort the issues with a trained mind and a humble heart, in order to protect what the Apostle Paul called the “treasure” that has been entrusted to us. Given the urgency of this challenge, a lesson from the Emergency Room just might help.




CHRISTIAN LIVING: Leadership Lessons from President Ronald W. Reagan (040611)


Today’s state funeral for President Ronald W. Reagan offers an historic moment of reflection for the American people. Central to that should be a renewed appreciation for the founders’ vision of the presidency as a uniting force for leadership in the nation.


Reflecting on this, several vital leadership lessons emerge from the legacy of Ronald W. Reagan. Even as historians and scholars attempt to measure the Reagan legacy and its contribution to the nation, these lessons serve to remind us of Reagan’s greatness, and of how he restored confidence and luster to the highest office of the land.


1. The Power of Ideas. As has often been acknowledged, some individuals seek elected office in order to be something; others seek the office in order to do something. Ronald Reagan was a doer, and he was driven by a clear set of ideas that animated his life, shaped his decisions, and fueled his passion.


Critics continually attempted to convince the American public that Ronald Reagan was something of an “amiable dunce,” simply parroting the lines given him by his handlers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ronald Reagan developed the core ideas of his political philosophy as he made his transition from a Roosevelt Democrat to the great leader of the Republican Party. His ideas were established in an assumption that the American people should solve their own problems, that government is more often the problem than the solution, that subsidizing unproductive behavior would lead to unproductive results, and that America should steadfastly defend its interests in the world for the cause of freedom.


The publication of two volumes presenting Reagan’s letters and radio messages, most written in his own hand, indicates the fertility of Ronald Reagan’s mind and the firm and energetic power of his ideas. This reality stands at the core of Ronald Reagan’s leadership in America and on the world scene—he was driven by ideas passionately held and boldly defended.


2. The Grounding of Conviction. Ronald Reagan’s ideas were translated into deep conviction. This was a man who knew himself, was comfortable in his own skin, and was driven by a deep convictional commitment to the ideas he held and taught to the nation. This was not a man who had to scramble to determine how he would answer a reporter’s question or address a new challenge. Ronald Reagan operated out of a deep reservoir of conviction that served both as a steadying ballast and a source of energy for his leadership.


In essence, this meant that Reagan’s commitment to his political philosophy and worldview were not only matters of the head, but of the heart. This quality of conviction separates mediocre leaders from great ones, for greatness is impossible apart from conviction.


3. The Imperative of Communication. By any measure, Ronald Reagan deserved his reputation as the “Great Communicator.” His gift for the use of language and voice, combined with a compelling presentation in an animated style, led Reagan to success in Hollywood and later on the global scale of international affairs. Leadership finds its essence in influence, and influence requires communication. In the end, leadership can only take place when ideas and convictions are transferred from one mind to another.


Reagan was a master at communication, both in person and on the television screen. His background as an actor was, no doubt, a great asset in this respect. Nevertheless, it was Reagan’s ability that explained his success as an actor—not the other way around.


Leaders must learn that communication is an irreducible part of the leadership challenge. An individual of bold ideas and deep conviction who is unable to communicate those realities to others is no leader, no matter how brilliant. Reagan dominated the communications media of his day, offering a model to other leaders of what can happen when a convictional leader rises to the communication challenge. Ronald Reagan came alive in front of a camera, a microphone, or a crowd. He communicated confidence, even before he communicated his powerful ideas.


4. The Urgency of Energy. From the beginning, Ronald Reagan was a man in motion. As President, Reagan communicated this energy by his own physicality, by his confident stride and his obvious health and vigor. All this was even more remarkable, given the fact that Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency at age 69, when many men have already entered a period of retirement.


Reagan’s personal energy was also demonstrated time and time again as he took reporters to his ranch outside Santa Barbara and showed them how to split rails, chop wood, and handle horses. Many of these observers were themselves a generation or two younger than the President, but Ronald Reagan wore them out with his seemingly boundless energy.


More importantly, Reagan transferred that energy into his political leadership and statesmanship. He brought serious ideas to the table and presented them with energy, forcing Congress to pass his legislation and disciplining an out-of-control bureaucracy. As biographer Edmond Morris commented, Ronald Reagan was a “force of nature.”


5. The Charisma of Confidence. In one of the great moments of American political theater, Archie Bunker of television’s “All in the Family” debated his liberal sister-in-law, Maude, about the presidential leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Archie had just zinged Roosevelt as a big-spending liberal when Maude responded, “That man had charisma!” Archie quickly responded, “I don’t care if the man was sick.”


Well, charisma is no sickness, nor is it an inexplicable gift. Whatever charisma is, Ronald Reagan had it, and had it big. But in Reagan’s case, that charisma was deeply rooted in his personal confidence.


Ronald Reagan’s unique charisma explains how he could convey his ideas and passions so freely to other people. Some persons influenced by the “Reagan touch” later reflected that they were not sure why they agreed with the President, they just knew that they did. The President’s confidence was contagious, and it conveyed to the nation a sense of optimism and purpose in the world.


6. The Role of Symbolism. When Ronald Reagan entered the Oval Office for the first time, he set a style and standard that endured throughout the eight years of his administration. President Reagan never entered that historic room without wearing a coat and tie. He was usually seen in tailored suits, cut to a traditional pattern and reflecting the gravity of his office. His crisp white shirts, his French cuffs and links, and his graceful body language reasserted a symbolic seriousness to the presidency.


That style was extended to everything from the way a platform was arranged when the President spoke, to photographs showing the President surrounded by the symbolism of flags, American eagles, and other patriotic symbols. Ronald Reagan set out to show the nation once again how a President should look and should present his stature and office to the world. This was a key secret to Ronald Reagan’s leadership, statesmanship, and impact on the nation and the world.


7. The Gathering of a Team. From his earliest years as governor of California, Ronald Reagan pulled together a constellation of outstanding men and women who would serve with him throughout the remainder of their lives. His administration in California included officials like Casper Weinberger and Edwin Meese, both of whom would later serve as Cabinet officers within the Reagan administration. Beyond this, Reagan continually pulled in some of the nation’s most gifted and capable leaders, making them key members of his personal team and blending a unique assortment of gifts, abilities, and interests into an administration that changed history.


Great leaders inspire confidence and have a knack for hiring and attracting the right individuals to fill out a leadership team. Few have understood this so clearly as did Ronald Reagan, and to such lasting effect. Today’s funeral and related events will be a reunion of sorts for those who are the veterans of Team Reagan. If they had the opportunity, we can be certain they would do it all over again.


8. The Importance of Allies. Ronald Reagan understood that, as President, he occupied the most powerful office in the world. At the same time, he knew that both he and his nation would require critical allies on the world stage. Nothing symbolizes Reagan’s ability to cement relations with allies more than his relationship with Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s “Iron Lady” and Reagan’s great friend. As Thatcher was later to reflect, “As soon as I met Governor Reagan, I knew that we were of like mind, and manifestly so did he. We shared a rather unusual philosophy and we shared something else rather unusual as well: we were in politics because we wanted to put our philosophy into practice.” Their first meeting took place when Margaret Thatcher was the leader of Britain’s opposition party and Ronald Reagan was governor of California. Later, when Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s Prime Minister and Ronald Reagan was America’s Chief Executive, they represented a “dynamic duo” on the world scene that was instrumental in winning the Cold War. Great leaders develop great alliances and forge personal friendships with great allies.


9. The Horizon of Vision. Ronald Reagan was not only the Great Communicator, he was a leader of vision—and that vision had content. He was able to paint pictures with words, and to construct a vision for America and the world that was gloriously compelling. When he spoke of America’s greatness and the nation’s role in the world, he inspired Americans to be their best, do their best, and believe the very best about their nation. He pointed to a bold future and gave the nation confidence that this vision could be achieved.


10. The Credibility of Character. In the end, character matters more than anything else. As Peggy Noonan, President Reagan’s speechwriter, was later to comment: “In a president, character is everything. A president doesn’t have to be brilliant; Harry Truman wasn’t brilliant and he helped save Western Europe from Stalin. He doesn’t have to be clever; you can hire clever. White Houses are always full of quick-witted people with ready advice on how to flip a senator or implement a strategy. You can hire pragmatic, and you can buy and bring in policy wonks, but you can’t buy courage and decency, you can’t rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him.” President Reagan did bring those things with him, and they stayed with him. Even when his opponents criticized his decisions, they could never convince the American people that Ronald Reagan was committed to anything less than total integrity, sacrificial leadership, and clarity of purpose.


All of these attributes, but especially Reagan’s moral character, explain why millions upon millions of Americans are joined together this day in a spirit of mourning, mixed with thankfulness. Even in his death, Ronald Reagan teaches the nation the true meaning of leadership.