Skip to comments.The Christian Testimony of Condoleezza Rice
Posted on 11/08/2002 1:13:57 PM PST by B-Chan
THE CHRISTIAN TESTIMONY OF CONDOLEEZZA RICE
"I started to think of myself as that elder son who had never doubted the existence of the Heavenly Father but wasn't really walking in faith in an active way any more."
Miss Condoleezza Rice (47) is the American National Security Advisor. She has reached the highest political office for an African-American woman to have attained. Her father was a Presbyterian minister and she was trained as a girl to be a concert pianist and a competitive ice skater. During an August 4 Sunday school class at the National Presbyterian Church, Washington, she explained something of her own faith in God. Here are some excerpts:
I was a preacher's kid, so Sundays were church, no doubt about that. The church was the center of our lives. In segregated black Birmingham of the late l950s and early 1960s, the church was not just a place of worship. It was the place where families gathered; it was the social center of the community, too.The Layman, October 2002
Although I never doubted the existence of God, I think like all people I've had some ups and downs in my faith. When I first moved to California in 1981 to join the faculty at Stanford, there were a lot of years when I was not attending church regularly. I was traveling a lot. I was a specialist in international politics, so I was always traveling abroad. I was always in another time zone.
One Sunday I was in the Lucky's Supermarket not very far from my house I will never forget - among the spices an African-American man walked up to me and said he was buying some things for his church picnic.
And he said, "Do you play the piano by any chance?"
I said, "Yes." They said they were looking for someone to play the piano at church. It was a little African-American church right in the center of Palo Alto. A Baptist church. So I started playing for that church. That got me regularly back into churchgoing. I don't play gospel very well - I play Brahms - and you know how black ministers will start a song and the musicians will pick it up? I had no idea what I was doing and so I called my mother, who had played for Baptist churches.
"Mother," I said, "they just start. How am I supposed to do this?" She said, "Honey, play in C and they'll come back to you." And that's true. If you play in C, people will come back. I tell that story because I thought to myself "My goodness, God has a long reach." I mean, in the Lucky's Supermarket on a Sunday morning.
I played for about six months for them and then I decided to go and find the Presbyterian Church again. I'm a devoted Presbyterian. I really like the governance structure of the church. I care about the Presbyterian Church. On a Sunday morning, I went to Menlo Park Presbyterian Church [in Palo Alto]. The minister that Sunday morning gave a sermon I will never quite forget. It was about the Prodigal Son from the point of view of the elder son.
It set the elder son up not as somebody who had done all the right things but as somebody who had become so self-satisfied'; a parable about self-satisfaction, and contentment and complacency in faith, [and] that people who didn't somehow expect themselves to need to be born again can be so complacent.
I started to think of myself as that elder son who had never doubted the existence of the Heavenly Father but wasn't really walking in faith in an active way any more.
I started to become more active with the church to go to Bible study and to have a more active prayer life. It was a very important turning point in my life.
My father was an enormous influence in my spiritual life. He was a theologian, a doctor of divinity. He was someone who let you argue about things. He didn't say, "Just accept it." And when I had questions, which we all do, he encouraged that.
He went to great lengths to explain about the man we've come to know as Doubting Thomas; he thought that was an incident in the life of Christ about the fact it was OK to question. And that Christ knew that Thomas needed to feel his wounds; feel the wounds in His side and feel the wounds in His hands. That it was what Thomas needed - he needed that physical contact. And then, of course, Christ said when you can accept this on faith, it will be even better.
I [liked] the fact that my father didn't brush aside my questions about faith. He allowed me as someone who lives in my mind to also live in my faith.
In this job, when we faced a horrible crisis like September 11, you go back in your mind and think, "Is there anything I could have done? Might I have seen this coming? Was there some way?"
When you go through something like that, you have to turn to faith because you can rationalize it, you can make an intellectual answer about it but you can't fully accept it until you can feel it here (taps chest). That time wasn't a failure, but it was a period of crisis when faith was really important for me.
I try always not to think that I am Elijah, that I have somehow been particularly called like a prophet. That's a dangerous thing. In a sense, we've all been called to whatever it is we are doing. But if you try to wear the imprimatur of God - I've seen that happen to leaders who begin too much to believe in that - then there are a couple of very good antidotes to that. I try to say when I pray, "Help me to walk in Your way, not my own." To try to walk in a way that is actually fulfilling a plan, and recognize you are a cog in a larger universe.
I think people who believe in the Creator can never take themselves too seriously. I feel that faith allows me to have a kind of optimism about the future. You look around you and you see an awful lot of pain, suffering and things that are going wrong. It could be oppressive. But when I look at my own story or many others that I have seen, I think, "How could it possibly be that it has turned out this way?" Then my only answer is it's God's plan. And that makes me very optimistic that this is all working out in a proper way. So we must all stay close to God and pray and follow in His footsteps.
I really do believe that God will never let his children fall too far. There is an old gospel hymn, "He knows how much you can bear." I really do believe that. I greatly appreciate, and so does the president, the prayers of the American people. You feel them. You know that they are there. If you just keep praying for us, it is so important to all of us.
In many ways, it's a wonderful White House to be in because there are a lot of people who are of faith, starting with the president. When you are in a community of the faithful, it makes a very big difference not only in how people treat each other but in how they treat the task at hand.
Among American leadership, there are an awful lot of people who travel in faith. It's a remarkable thing and I think it probably sets us apart from most developed countries where it is not something that is appreciated quite as much in most of the world.
I've watched over the last year and a half how people want to have human dignity worldwide. You hear of Asian values or Middle Eastern values and how that means people can't really take to democracy or they'll never have democracy because they have no history of it, and so forth. We forget that when people are given a choice between freedom and tyranny, they will choose freedom. I remember all the stories before the liberation of Afghanistan that that nation wouldn't "get it," that they were all warlords and it would just be chaos. Then we got pictures of people dancing on the streets of Kabul just because they now could listen to music or send their girls to school.
LOL! Not a bad sense of humor for a Calvinist! (For those who don't get it, the key of C is the easiest key to "fake it" in on the piano -- it has no sharps or flats!)
More and more I begin to like this Condoleezza Rice!
I'm not jumping to any conclusions; just pointing out my own puzzlement. I hope and pray her faith is in the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ on her behalf, and not in simply believing in the mere existence of a "Creator" and His Son. (Even the devil himself knows they exist.)
Rectitudine Sto. Sauropod
I think it is perhaps appropriate, given the recent election, to take a moment and contrast the difference between the Republican and Democrat parties and their recognition and elevation of blacks in government. Compare Condoleezza Rice to Dr. Joycelyn Elders. Both make a representative statement about black Americans. I don't mean this comparison to belittle Dr. Joycelyn Elders and her efforts, but I do believe that there is a world of difference between the two women.
Moreover, I don't believe that race and gender have anything to do with Condoleezza Rice's position in the Bush administration, but much to do with Dr. Joycelyn Elders' position in the Clinton administration.
It seems to me that the party of Lincoln has done a much better job of living Dr. King's vision of recognition of ability and charater above color (and gender) than the party of "America's first black president". G.W. Bush doesn't seem to see color, but he sure can spot, promote and surround himself with ability.
No, it IS yours to judge, rebuke, reprove, discern, take heed lest you be deceived, etc.
Oh, I guess the phrase "Well, she is a mainstream Protestant, after all" kind of sounded like you meant all mainstream Protestants.
most Baptists do not consider their denomination to be Protestant
Never heard that before. Do you consider Baptists to be mainstream Protestants?
No. I meant that Dr. Rice's beliefs are typical of mainstream Protestants, which they are. I apologize for my imprecision.
..."Most Baptists do not consider their denomination to be Protestant." Never heard that before. Do you consider Baptists to be mainstream Protestants?
This is a great line. It is the essence of the difference between Clintonistas and Bush.
As someone raised Baptist and now belonging to the Disciples of Christ denomination, I'm curious to know where you picked up that little tidbit. Respectfully, I think you are wrong. The Southern Baptist Convention (I believe the largest single grouping of that denomination) is most definitely Protestant in outlook and practice. And some of them even like to dance.
As far as Ms. Rice's views on abortion are concerned, I believe she struggles with the issue as many people do. It may take her a lot of time and much prayer, but I for one am not going to condemn her for this.
As a Roman Catholic you may have a different view since, correct me if I'm wrong, your task is to submit to church teaching and just push all doubts aside. For us it is much more a personal struggle and journey, and I would vote for Condoleeza Rice for any office she might choose to run for in a second.
I very well might be. Most non-Baptist sources (including the Catholic Encyclopedia) class the Baptists as a Protestant movement, but of the Baptist sources I've read almost none of them claims kinship with or descent from the Protestant movement started by Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. Here's just a small sampling of Baptist denials of Protestantism I've found on the Web:
Flamingtorch.org: "The Christian Flag is a Protestant flag, not a Baptist flag!"Are Baptists Protestants? I don't think so; like the mainstream Protestants, they are reformed in theology and congregational in structure, but they do not claim descent from the "reformers" of the 16th Century. In fact, most of the Baptist sources I've read claim that "Jesus was a Baptist" as well as all of the Apostles and saints of the early Church!
Pastor Martin Lamb of the Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, Bedford, Indiana: "Baptists are not Protestants and never have been."
Pastor Steve Sparks, Victory Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, Loganville, Ga.:"Baptists are not Protestants! The name Protestant was given to those churches which came out of Roman Catholicism during the Reformation which began in the 1500's. It originally applied through the 1700's to Lutherans, and Anglicans. Later Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodist were added to the lists of Protestants denominations. Though many people including Webster's Dictionary refers Baptists as being Protestants, it is not correct to refer to them as such or to lump all non-Catholic denominations in one group and label them Protestant. Historically, Baptists were never a part of the Roman Catholic Church or the Protestant Reformation and therefore can not be correctly called "protestors" or Protestants... Baptists, basing their beliefs solely on the Bible, have never held to these teachings and see them as heresy. Thus, history and the doctrines of Protestantism clearly show that Baptists are not Protestants. "
I only hope they don't realize that Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine. Then we're all in trouble.