'Most influential Christian conservative thinker' Robert P. George joins News board

Published: Sunday, Sept. 12 2010 12:58 a.m. MDT

Though there are important doctrinal differences between them, George emphasizes the similarities, and of course, the ever-present truths.

Some conservatives wonder if George embraces other religions and seekers of truth too warmly, questioning his ready willingness to participate in any discussion, whether through the Wall Street Journal or the Glenn Beck show. He has done both.

To him, it all comes back to the reasonable people of good will on either side. No matter their location on that side, he can still use the discussion as a chance to seek truth.

"Moral questions, whether personal or political morality, are difficult sometimes," he said. "But it doesn't mean there's no truth. It's necessary to think very carefully and self-critically in order to get at the truth."

That carefulness is what sets him apart from other conservative voices on the scene today, friends say.

"It is true that many people on the conservative Christian side, in their activism follow the motto of 'ready, fire, aim.' And Robby is the antithesis of that," said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where George is on the board of directors. "He is concerned about academic integrity and intellectual honesty and he won't go shooting from the hip without having prepared."

In fact, George's intellect is "nothing short of dazzling," said Matthew Holland, president of Utah Valley University, former Princeton visiting fellow and also a member of the Deseret News Editorial Advisory Board.

"(George's) capacity to remember historical fact, empirical data and philosophical, logical argument is absolutely extraordinary," Holland said. "Often folks who have such intellectual capacity lack the discipline to turn it into first-rate scholarship. Such is not the case with Robert George. For years he has been publishing regularly in the world's best academic outlets."

George's degrees from Oxford and Harvard's Law and Divinity Schools add credibility to his conservatism and depth to his debates.

"He's a brilliant human being and he's comfortable with ideas," said Bradford Wilson, who works with George as executive director of the James Madison Program at Princeton, which George founded and directs.

Whether or not George's opponents are so comfortable with his ideas is another story.

Regardless, he continues forward, boldly arguing and defending today's "foundational" causes that still revolve around life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As one of the drafters of the November 2009 "Manhattan Declaration," George and other Christian leaders called on Christians everywhere to stand up for the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty.

From the document comes their resonating promise: "We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty."

e-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com

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