The Nature of the Person

June 12, 2017

Former F.B.I. Director James Comey testified Thursday before a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing. While there's plenty of political intrigue to consider from his testimony, one phrase Comey twice used stood out as theologically important.


The nature of the person.

Early in the hearing, Democratic Senator Mark Warner asked Comey why he had started writing memos as F.B.I. Director following conversations with Donald Trump. Comey offered a couple of reasons before adding, "And then the nature of the person: I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document." Later in the hearing, Comey returned to this when answering a question from Republican Senator Susan Collins.

The nature of the person.

Comey, a skilled investigator trained to read people, correctly read Trump before even meeting him. With that, Comey showed himself better at reading signs than the 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted for Trump. Character matters. White evangelicals used to preach that. Comey believes it. Perhaps it comes from Comey's appreciation for the work of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. 

We shouldn't be surprised by Trump's behavior in office. We shouldn't be surprised by his constant lies as president. We should have seen this coming from his character he publicly displayed - and even bragged about - before we elected him. (To be fair, some of us did predict Trump would be a moral disaster.) Like Comey, we should've seen this coming for at least one reason.

The nature of the person.

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