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10/7/2005 - A Matter of Faith (The Birmingham News)

A Matter of Faith (A Virtuous Man)

 

The Birmingham News

Friday, October 07, 2005

DAVID WHITE

News staff writer

MONTGOMERY Alabama Chief Justice Drayton Nabers Jr., the man picked by Gov. Bob Riley to replace Roy Moore, says he felt a strong passion to finish a book he's written on character as viewed from a Christian perspective.

Nabers says his book, "The Case for Character: Looking at Character from a Biblical Perspective," is not political, even though he plans to release it by Oct. 20, near the start of his campaign to win a full six-year term as chief justice in next year's elections.

Profits from the sale of the $22.95 book will be donated to charity, he said.

Nabers announced his candidacy Sept. 22. It will be his first run for public office.

In his book, Nabers takes on many hot-button issues. He calls abortion a travesty, endorses school vouchers and says "the breakdown of the traditional family" is a primary cause of this nation's diminishing reserve of moral capital.

Nabers also writes that "accounting scandals, tax fraud, gambling, pornography, abortions, unwed mothering, teenage pregnancies and the like" are other signs that "we have a character problem in this country."

Nabers, 64, was chairman of Protective Life Corp. from May 1994 until January 2003, when Riley appointed him state finance director. Nabers left that job in June 2004 when Riley chose him to be chief justice. He filled a vacancy created in November 2003 when Moore was removed from office for defying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

Nabers says his book is not political, even though he said he knows it will be viewed that way during the campaign.

"I wrote the book because I truly think that the ideas in the book are worth stating. And I think that, as the book expresses, character is critically important to any individual life, any family, any organization and the nation," Nabers said. "What I wanted to point out is, we all have the challenge of growing in grace to stronger character," Nabers said.

Outgrowth of course:

He said ideas for the book developed in a course he taught at Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in the fall of 2002. Beeson Divinity School Dean Timothy George said Nabers was asked to teach a course on Christian character in the marketplace because he had a lot of "life experience" and was ``very committed to the Christian faith and his church."

Fisher Humphreys, a professor at Beeson, in a book endorsement said Nabers "has poured into his lovely book both his authoritative moral and legal knowledge and his deeply felt trust in and commitment to his Lord Jesus Christ. ..."

Asked why he didn't delay publishing his book until after next year's elections to lessen possible political entanglements, Nabers smiled and said, "If you ever write a book, you're going to want it published when you finish it."

"There was a strong passion somewhere inside of me to get this book done," he said. Nabers added that a "by-product" of the book could be that people will get to know him better by reading it.

The book at times is personal. Nabers talks about his prayer partner, his decision at age 37 to accept Jesus Christ as his savior, and his workaholic tendencies.

Throughout the book, Nabers quotes the Bible. He writes that when he accepted Christ as his savior, he decided "as a matter of faith to believe the Bible as it is written."

Nabers writes that the major theme of his book is that people, with the power of God's grace, have a responsibility to develop godly character by putting the words of Scripture into practice. He talks at length in his book about humility, faith, hope, wisdom, courage, self-control, justice and love, and says those eight virtues are essential for godly character.

Eight virtues:

But Nabers also urges people to practice the eight virtues to strengthen them, just as athletes work out to strengthen muscles, so they can better glorify God. Nabers said he knows many people who aren't Christian who have strong virtue. But in an interview, he said he didn't know any way to write about developing strong character outside of the Christian viewpoint.

"It's the only thing I know. Any other book would end at page 18," Nabers said. Much of his book focuses on how a person can strengthen his or her character. But the book also links individual character to America's future. He writes that the biggest negative facing American society is "the breakdown of the family the failure of children to honor their father and their mother and the failure of fathers and mothers to live sacrificial lives on behalf of their children, showing God's love to them."

Later on, he writes that courage is the most critical virtue needed to create and defend personal and national freedom. "Without courage, the forces of the world and the devil will enslave us," Nabers writes. "Drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuous sex, elevated school dropout rates and other such human pathologies all derive essentially from the failure of persevering and moral courage, resulting in one kind of bondage or another."

Nabers reserves some of his strongest language when he writes about "the travesty of abortion." He quotes Mother Teresa as saying, "The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?" Asked if he agreed with her, Nabers replied, "I am a great admirer of Mother Teresa, and I use this for an illustration of godly wisdom."

'Blatant' injustices:

Nabers said in an interview that he thinks Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 ruling that prohibited states from banning abortion, "was totally wrong and without any justification in the United States Constitution." In his book, Nabers wrote that Roe v. Wade was a "blatant injustice," and ranked with the Court's Dred Scott decision of 1857, which said blacks were not U.S citizens, as "the worst a court can do."

Nabers noted that Associate Justice John McLean, dissenting in the Dred Scott decision, wrote, "A slave is not a mere chattel. He bears the impress of his Maker, and is amenable to the laws of God and man; and he is destined to an endless existence." Nabers then wrote, "This is straight biblical morality, and it applies with equal rigor to every unborn child. They bear the impress of their Maker and they deserve justice."

"The Dred Scott decision, in God's time, was abolished, and so will be Roe v. Wade," Nabers wrote. Asked if he, as Alabama's chief justice, could speak strongly on issues such as abortion and rule objectively on cases involving them, Nabers replied, "When I get cases involving those issues, if I do, and I feel that I cannot be objective or I feel the appearance of objectivity would not be there, then I would need to step aside."

After describing America's "character problem" and asking "how America's Judeo-Christian ideals can be preserved against the secular onslaught," Nabers gives some answers. He writes that Christians worried about America's future should pray for a revival, similar to The Great Awakening of the mid-1700s.

"Without a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the religious core of this land will atrophy as it has throughout much of Europe," Nabers wrote.

E-mail: dwhite@bhamnews.com


2005 The Birmingham News

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