A NEW YEAR – NEW CHALLENGES
A NEW YEAR – NEW CHALLENGES – NEW
OPPORTUNITIES – AND BY YEAR’S END
A NEW PRESIDENT WILL BE ELECTED
Regular readers of this newsletter are aware of our
pledge to stay out of poll-reading speculation about
the 2008 presidential election which has occupied
so many people’s time for the past year. We agreed
to wait until we were actually in the election year
before we made any comments about that election.
OK – now we are actually in the year 2008, and are
free to comment from an Evangelical viewpoint on
the race which has attracted so many entrants from
both major parties, plus the usual assortment of a
few ideologues representing fringe political parties.
We are actually on the eve of the first official action
by any of the nation’s voters – the Iowa Caucuses on
January 3. The number of announced and qualified
candidates is 16, divided equally between both major
parties, 8 Republicans and 8 Democrats.
On the Democrat side, the race has already come
to the point where there are three viable candidates,
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.
The remaining candidates have ranked in the 1% to
5% range of support, and cannot be considered as
part of the current race. It is reasonable to expect
some drop-outs following the early primary votes.
On the Republican side, the list of the viable
candidates is a bit longer, where apparently five have
double digit support: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee,
John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson,
with the remaining 3 as potential early drop-outs.
The privilege of voting for our national and local
leaders is one of the most important and valuable
rights of our form of government. And at the same
time it is the right that we so much take for granted
that too often we do not take the time to choose wisely
for whom we should vote, and do not even take
advantage of this important aspect of American life.
One of our nation’s Founding Fathers, Samuel Adams,
known as the "Father of the American Revolution,"
wrote, "Let each citizen remember at the moment he
is offering his vote that he is not making a present or
a compliment to please an individual – or at least
that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing
one of the most solemn trusts in human society for
which he is accountable to God and to his country."
"Accountable to God and to his country." There
can be no more solemn assessment of our responsibility
at the time of each election. As Christians we cannot
find a verse of Scripture which specifically states that
we should vote in each election. Paul, however, in
Romans 13: 1-7 makes our civic responsibility very
clear as he states, "Let every soul be subject unto the
higher powers ... rulers are not a terror unto good
works ... he is the minister of God to thee for good
... for this cause pay ye tribute (taxes) also, for they
are God’s ministers ..."
Thus there is a moral imperative for us as Evangelical
Christians, American citizens, to exercise our right to
participate in government by voting. It is for us not
only a civic responsibility but also a spiritual obligation.
So much for generalities. What about the specifics
with respect to this year’s election? Here is what we
promise our readers: (1) No relying on polls to make
decisions on whom to support. We will rely on facts.
(2) No speculation; no guessing. (3) A "straight from
the shoulder" approach, speaking directly, honestly,
candidly and forthrightly. (4) An interpretation of the
facts from an Evangelical perspective.
Using those standards as the rule, we will address the
question: "For whom should I vote?" and will make
this our basic response: "Vote for the candidate who
holds firmly to the moral values of the Christian faith."
Here are two basic truths which must be grasped:
(1) George W. Bush is not running for president. His
administration is almost finished. Bashing him is not
going to accomplish anything except provide some
perverted satisfaction for embittered, petulant political
partisans. (2) For the first time in American history the
potential candidates for election to the nation’s highest
office include a Mormon, a Black and a Female. If you
do not support them you may be accused of bigotry,
racism and chauvinism. But that does not mean that
you actually are a bigot, a racist or a chauvinist – it
means that those are the charges those candidates
may use in support of their cause.
So now we wait for the Iowa caucuses and the first
facts to utilize in our consideration of this election.
Afterthoughts . . .
And speaking of Iowa, a state with a population of
about 3 million: right now the presidential campaign
advertising expenditures are running at $1 million
per day, and up to this past weekend, a total of $83
million had been spent for presidential advertising.
A word of advice for presidential candidates who
are being criticized by their opponents, from the late
American philosopher Elbert Hubbard: "Never explain
– your friends do not need it, and your enemies will
not believe you anyway."
Last week we mentioned year end lists; here
are two more which have just come along. One is the
Gallup poll listing the most admired men and women
in 2007. In order, the top 5 men were: George W.
Bush, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barack Obama and Billy
Graham. Among the women, Hillary Clinton was No. 1,
followed in order by Oprah Winfrey, Condoleeza Rice,
Angelina Jolie and Laura Bush. The other list is the
Judicial Watch’s "Most wanted Corrupt Washington
Politicians." The list included Nancy Pelosi and Harry
Reid, and among the 10 were four of the candidates
for president: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mike
Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani. There is probably a
note of warning in there somewhere.
More about those big spenders in Washington.
It seems like every day we read about the millions or
even billions of dollars in "earmarks" that Senators
and House members tack on bills they send to the
President. And apparently we as American citizens
cannot do anything about it. Except, of course, elect
a new Congress and get rid of the corrupt politicians
referred to above. But now there has come to our
attention another wasteful spending practice by US
House members – not billions, but $20.3 million of
our tax dollars that they spent in postage free
communications to their constituents last year –
mailings that are often the government equivalent of
"junk mail," often just plain bragging. 116 million
pieces of mail in all, and according to an Associated
Press review, many contained photos and lists of the
roads and bridges their Representative had brought
home to their district. Small wonder that this present
Congress has the lowest approval rating in the history
of this nation. Something to think about when voting.
A long established principle, in a quote attributed
to French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville in the early
years of the 19th century: "America is great because she
is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America
will cease to be great."
The advice offered early in this issue will probably be
repeated in each of the 43 issues prior to the November
election: "Vote for the candidate who holds firmly to
the moral values of the Christian faith."
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A NEW YEARS RESOLUTION IDEA
WHERE WE AS EVANGELICALS ARE AS WE
APPROACH THE END OF THE YEAR 2007,
AND A NEW YEARS RESOLUTION IDEA
Here we are on the day after Christmas, less than
one week before the first day of the new year, at the end
of Volume 9 of this weekly newsletter, and with the
presidential election less than 10 months away – and
the first thought that probably occurs to us is: "This
year 2007 went by so quickly! It seems like the shortest
year we have ever known."
That may very possibly be a valid opinion, and as we
look around, and as we think back, we have to admit that
there were a lot of major happenings, all over the world,
during the year 2007. As a result we are being presented
with all kinds of lists of the "10 Top Stories of 2007."
There are several "10 Top News Stories" lists, with the
top choices featuring, for example, the Virginia Tech
Killings, the Mortgage Crisis and the Iraq War, while
another was headed by the Transition in Pakistan, the
Mortgage Crisis and the Final Harry Potter Book.
And there were lists of the "10 Top Religion Stories,"
which featured, for example, the Taliban Kidnapping
and Killing Korean Missionaries, Books on Atheism
Making the Best Seller Charts, and Faith Issues Entering
the Presidential Races. Another such list was headed by
Mother Teresa’s Revelations, Religion in the Various
Presidential Campaigns, and the Death of Jerry Falwell,
James Kennedy and Ruth Graham.
And there was even a list of the "Top Christian Bashing
Stories" of 2007, which featured the Colorado Church
Murders, the Federal Hate Crimes Bill, and the Atheist
Attacks on Jerry Falwell Immediately after his Death.
And perhaps the strangest, but most interesting list
appeared in the British Medical Journal and set forth
"7 Great Medical Myths." Featured in the expose were
the Need for Drinking 8 Glasses of Water Daily, that
Reading in Dim Light Ruins your Eyesight, and that
Eating Turkey Makes you Drowsy. (That one comes
at an appropriate time after the Christmas dinner!)
So in the events which shaped our world in the fast
moving year 2007, there was something of interest –
and concern – for just about everyone, and surely for
us who are Conservative Evangelical Christians.
And here is the view of the Liberal left at this
time in history from a major Liberal spokesperson,
Bill Press, in his nationally syndicated column on
December 23. Read this excerpt carefully. It is
the Liberals’ declaration of victory over us: "The
religious right is dead. It will never again exercise
the political clout it once had ...For Americans
generally, the demise of the religious right is good
news. It means that tolerance is back. It means that
we don’t have to worry so much abut trying to turn
the United States into a Christian nation....In short,
the dying influence of Christian conservatives means
that people of all faiths, or no faith at all, will feel
comfortable participating in the political process –
and not just those who subscribe to the narrow-minded,
intolerant, mean-spirited brand of religion espoused by
Dobson and Robertson. And for that we collectively
pray: Thank you, Jesus."
And that is the view of the Liberals– that we Christians
are narrow-minded, intolerant and mean-spirited. We
do not take offense at his words, because we recall the
words of Jesus in Matthew 5: "Blessed are ye when all
men shall revile you ... and say all manner of evil
against you falsely ... rejoice and be exceedingly glad
for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted
they the prophets which were before you ... ye are the
salt of the earth ... ye are the light of the world."
When we make our annual "New Year’s Resolutions,"
let us remember some other words of Jesus where He
directed us to go into all the world and preach the gospel
to everyone. That Great Commission certainly includes
the United States . . . and as part of our Resolutions,
let’s prove Bill Press to be wrong. The faith of Christian
conservatives is not dead.
And as for his fear of turning America into a Christian
nation, he has evidently forgotten or ignored these words
in a speech by one of our nation’s Founding Fathers,
Patrick Henry: "It cannot be emphasized too clearly
and too often that this nation was founded not by
religionists but by Christians, not on religion, but on
the gospel of Jesus Christ." It is clearly not a matter of
"turning" America into a Christian nation, but rather
a matter of "returning" America to the nation it was
founded to be.
Afterthoughts . . .
TIME Magazine’s "Man of the Year" for 2007
was Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia and soon
to preserve his influence on the country by becoming
the Prime Minister, when his chosen successor becomes
President. TIME’s managing editor, Richard Stengel,
said of Putin, "He’s the new czar of Russia and he’s
dangerous in the sense that he doesn’t care about civil
liberties; he doesn’t care about free speech." In addition
to whatever else Mr. Putin may be, Stanislav Belkowski
claims he is also "Europe’s richest man," having acquired
$40 billion during his eight years in power, through his
control of much of the nation’s energy assets. Putin may
not be the worst choice – the runners-up were Al Gore
for his controversial Global Warming theory, and J.K.
Rawling, author of the Harry Potter books. Seems a bit
pitiful that out of the whole world, those were the best
from whom TIME had to choose.
Roman Catholics have overtaken Anglicans as
the United Kingdom’s dominant religious group. The
London Telegraph revealed figures which show that
the number of people attending Sunday Mass in England
averaged 861,000 compared to 852,000 Anglicans in
Sunday worship services. These facts are seen to be a
warning that the Church of England may soon become
a minority faith after four centuries of unquestioned
influence following the Reformation. Attendance at
Anglican Sunday services has dropped by more than
20% since 2000. Adding to the significance of this
disclosure was the very public announcement of the
conversion of former Prime Minister Tony Blair to the
Catholic faith last week. The rise of Catholicism has
been assisted by an influx of immigrants from Eastern
Europe and Africa. One of the complex aspects of the
situation is that the Queen is Supreme Governor of
the Church of England.
And speaking of the Church of England, the head
of the denomination, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
last week described the familiar stories and hymns of
the Nativity as being nothing but a "legend." He argued
that there were not three kings, but that they were wise
men from somewhere outside the Roman Empire . . .
he said there is no evidence of farm animals near the
birthplace of Jesus . . . the idea of a special star is a
myth and there is no evidence that the Nativity took
place in December, but the idea fitted well with the
time of the winter festival. And some people wonder
why the Anglican/Episcopal churches have problems.
An interesting bit of good news, and a setback
for Michael Newdow, the atheist who is trying to get
the word "God" taken out of our Pledge of Allegiance
and our national motto, "In God We Trust," taken off
of our currency. Congress has passed a bill introduced
by Senator Brownback (R, Kan) to move the motto
from the edge of the new $1 presidential coins to the
front of the coins. It awaits only to be signed into law
by President Bush.
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ANALYSES OF SOME OF TODAY’S ISSUES
AS WE DID A FEW WEEKS AGO, AGAIN TODAY
WE OMIT A MAIN ESSAY SO AS TO PRESENT
ANALYSES OF SOME OF TODAY’S ISSUES
This is the season when we send and receive Christmas
cards – perhaps somewhat less than in the past due to the
41 cent postage rate. Some of us can remember the purple
Abraham Lincoln 3 cent stamp for first class mail, a down
to earth illustration of inflation. But here is a free
Christmas greeting from the U.S. Congress, the House of
Representatives. Last week the House passed a bill
(H.Res. 847) by a vote of 372-9. Among other things it
resolved that the House "recognizes the Christian faith
as one of the great religions of the world"..."acknowledges
the international religious and historical importance of
Christmas and the Christian faith" ... "expresses its
deepest respect to American Christians and Christians
throughout the world." Nine members voted against it
(all Democrats). But it passed by a strong margin, and
that is good news now or at any season of the year.
Too often we tend to ignore reactions that are
taking place in churches about homosexuality. Many
denominations are ignoring clear Bible teaching and
are ordaining homosexual clergy. In the American
Episcopal church the ordination of a homosexual
bishop is threatening to split the church. Many local
churches have left the denomination to come under
conservative orthodox Anglican leadership in other
parts of the world. Now for the first time an entire
diocese – San Joaquin in California – has voted to
secede from the denomination. Action of this sort
requires courage and faith by clergy and members.
This isn’t exactly a religious issue, but it does
have serious moral implications. Much talked about in
all the media has been former Senator George Mitchell’s
report on the use of performance enhancing drugs by
professional baseball players. If those obscenely high
paid stars – 88 of them from all 30 major league teams –
want to damage their minds and bodies through drug
abuse, that could be considered their problem – not ours.
But this is our national sport, and these greatly admired
athletes have become role models for millions of American
young people. This drug use is a moral stain on sports and
athleticism. It has already made an international impact
on the Olympics. Now it becomes a serious domestic issue
with our own national sport. It should not be passed over
and ignored. Moral depravity has become all too common
in too many areas of American life.
The 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade will occur on
Jan. 22 – the outrageous Supreme Court decision which
legalized abortion, and which has already resulted in the
killing of more than 45 million preborn babies. But how
much do the American people really know about that
ruling? At what stage of her pregnancy can a woman have
an abortion? Does Roe permit-late term abortions? What
percentage are for rape or inquest? Believing that many
Americans do not understand the details of the ruling,
four family organizations, Focus on the Family, Alliance
Defense Fund, Concerned Women for America and Family
Research Council have developed an on-line test of Roe
IQ . . . the results will be available before the upcoming
anniversary. Contact any of those organizations on line
to take the test yourself. The results will be important.
Al Gore’s "Global Warming" campaign this past
week made its appearance under the aegis of the UN at
their big global climate conference in Bali. As might be
expected, all is not on the up-and-up at this UN affair,
and for the second time in a week the International
Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) was kicked off the
schedule. The ICSC is a group of recognized international
scientists who hold that sound science does not support
the outrageous claims and weird regulations being
proposed in Bali. It appears to be part of the censorship
by the UN of any dissenting voices from their prearranged
agenda and conclusions. All this could adversely affect us.
We need to keep informed as to what is going on.
An appropriate comment: we are sticking by our
promise to stay off the presidential campaign until 2008,
which is the election year. But this comment applies not
to any one candidate, but rather to the increasing theme
of religion in all the campaigns. It is from Ann Coulter,
whom we often quote: "Liberals claim to be terrified that
the Religious Right is going to take over the culture in a
country where more than a million babies are being
exterminated every year, kindergarteners can be expelled
from school for mentioning God, and Islamic fascists are
welcomed on college campuses while speakers opposed to
Islamic fascism are met with angry protests." It sounds
like the Religious Right should be taking over!
Afterthoughts . . .
If it happens in Britain, it can happen here: give
some thought to these effects of immigration running
wild – the London Telegraph reported this week that
English is a minority language in 1,338 elementary
schools (one fifth of all schools in Britain). And in 112 of
the 3,343 secondary schools, children without English
as their first language make up 51 - 70 percent of all
students. That is Great Britain, the birthplace of the
English language, not a "melting pot" like America.
Two views of Christmas greetings. First there is
Barbara Walters, on the ABC-TV program "The View"
which used to feature Rosie O’Donnell and her strange
views on just about everything. Ms. Walters showed
off her Christmas card from the Bushes in the White
House, and expressed her dismay over the fact that it
contained a verse of Scripture. She said she couldn’t
remember ever getting a religious Christmas card. But
on the other side of public opinion, a recent Rasmussen
Reports poll showed that 67% of the respondents
preferred the greeting "Merry Christmas" with 26%
preferring "Happy Holidays." Apparently Ms. Walters
is in the minority . . . way in the minority.
Immigrants, where they come from. In the year
2005, according to the Department of Homeland
Security, the majority of immigrants came from only
10 countries – none of which had sent any immigrants
during America’s first 200 years. They are, in order:
Mexico, India, China, Philippines, Cuba, Viet Nam,
Dominican Republic, Korea, Colombia and Ukraine.
And the face of America is changing. In 1960 whites
represented 90% of this country. The Census Bureau
estimates that now whites represent less than 2/3 of
the population, and will be a minority by the year 2050.
Present immigration laws, whether or not enforced, in
effect are committing a form of genocide on whites in
America by reducing their percentage of the population.
Top issues of concern for Evangelicals, according
to a recent survey by the National Association of
Evangelicals (NAE). Culture concerns, headed by the
need for reducing the rate of abortions, and preserving
traditional families, rated highest. Next was helping the
hurting, including HIV/AIDS, poverty and reform of
immigration. The third highest response was evangelism.
Fourth in the list of concerns was restoring the definition
and value of the term "Evangelical." And rounding off
the top five concerns was a controversial one, "creation
care" or environmental stewardship. Good question:
now that we know what the concerns are, what are we
going to do about them?
A Founding Father’s quotation: "If there is a form
of government, then, whose principle and foundation is
virtue, will not every sober man acknowledge it better
calculated to promote the general happiness than any
other form?" – John Adams, 1776
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HOW COULD THEY DO IT?
MOST OF THE COMMENTS WERE IN THE FORM
OF QUESTIONS: "HOW COULD THEY DO IT?"
or "WHY DID THEY DO IT?"
The action being questioned is the signing of the letter
prepared at the Yale Divinity School Center for Faith
and Culture, "Loving God and Neighbor Together." It
was prepared as a response to a letter circulated last
September from a group of 138 Muslim scholars of the
Islam religion, and addressed to Pope Gregory XVI, to
the Archbishop of Canterbury, and generally to many
prominent Christians throughout the West.
The Yale letter was published as a full page ad in the
New York Times, with some 300 signatures from all
types of Christians, including both nominal and true
believers. It is reported that there are a few hundred
additional signatures on file at Yale, and their website
offers a convenient way for others to sign. One writer
opined that the signatures represented a "who’s who"
of the theological left.
The Pope is said to have received the Islam letter
"warmly," although in response he proposed to the
Muslim writers a different approach, writing that the
path to true dialogue lies in "effective respect for the
dignity of every human person, on objective
knowledge of the religion of the other, on the sharing
of religious experience, and finally on common
commitment to promoting mutual respect and
acceptance among the younger generation."
One is not surprised that Liberal Christians (a term
which we consider to be an Oxymoron) rushed to
sign the Yale response. Since they do not treat the
Bible as the authoritative Word of God, the nice
sounding quotations from Mohammad in the Quran
sounded fine to them.
One is surprised, however, to note that several
individuals who are generally considered to be
Evangelical Christian believers also signed the
Yale response letter.
The Islam letter made repetitive references to Matt.
22:36-40 in which Jesus said that the two great
commandments are to love God and to love one’s
neighbor as oneself. When Mohammad wrote the
Quran in about the year 600 AD, the Christian faith
had already been in existence for 600 years, and he
had portions of the Old Testament and at least the
Gospel records from which to quote verses which
seemed to be in compliance with his religious
convictions. That quotation from Jesus seems to
have registered strongly with the Islamic scholars.
And by forgetting or ignoring the basic foundational
facts of Islam, these so-called Evangelical leaders
have rushed into the doctrinal trap set by the Muslims.
It is not possible in terms of time and space to deal
exhaustively here with these issues, but just a few
examples should suffice to demonstrate that there
is little or no common ground between the two
largest of the world’s several religions.
The Islamic claim that Allah and Jehovah are the
same God is false. As Emir Caner, Dean of The College
at Southwestern, summarizes it, "To say that ...
Christians and Muslims worship the same God is
beyond naive – it is blasphemous." Allah is clearly
defined as being alone, with no associate, in these
words from the Quran, "Allah is one. He begets not
nor is He begotten. And none is like Him." The
Christian doctrine of the Trinity, of God as Father, Son
and Holy Spirit, is foreign to Islam, as is the Sonship
and Deity of Jesus Christ – whom Mohammad refuses
to accept as having been slain for the sins of the
world – in fact the Quran clearly denies both the
Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, yet these
truths are the very heart of the Christian Gospel.
One other false claim of Islam might be mentioned –
the claim that Muslims and Christians share in the
Abrahamic covenant. Yet the facts are that God’s
covenant with Abraham and his heirs was made with
Abraham involving Isaac. the son to be born to Sarah,
and not involving Ishmael, the son born to Hagar.
Ishmael became the father of the Arab race, and it
was foretold that he would bring trouble to the
descendants of Abraham. So the Islamic claim of
common ground on the basis of the Abrahamic
covenant is also false.
So the questions do rightly arise: how could these men
who profess to be Evangelical Christian believers find
a basis for any hope of common ground between Islam --
which denies the Trinity, the Sonship of Jesus Christ,
the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection
– and Christianity, for which these are the foundational
truths? Perhaps publicity, or the popular acclaim of
being associated with prominent Christian leaders
in the West.
It is to be noted that Leith Anderson, NAE President,
explained his signature in these words, "I agreed to add my
name to the letter. While I am indicated as the President
of the National Association of Evangelicals, I added my
name as an individual and not as an institution." Other
NAE members may find some comfort in this admission.
We have not commented on the abject apology in the
letter for the attacks on Muslims during the Crusades –
although why Americans should apologize for those
Crusades which occurred some seven centuries before
America even existed is not immediately apparent.
Eric Barger, of Take a Stand! Ministries, wrote quite
persuasively on this subject and we offer his quote as
the final comment: "True to their lack of convictions,
this bunch of milk toast, self-proclaimed Christian
leaders espousing the Rodney King ‘why-can’t-we-all-
just-get-along?’ theology, have made the decision that
toiling over doctrine and truth is something less
important than public perception... Groveling at the
feet of Islam isn’t going to win Muslims over – even
if it really was the right thing to do. It is sickening
and each of the signers of the Yale letter – including
Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Leith Anderson and two
prominent Assemblies of God bible college presidents
[note: not mentioned here are the Presidents of
Wheaton College and Fuller Theological Seminary]
– should fall on their knees in shame and beg
Jehovah God for forgiveness."
As Leith Anderson said, in concluding his explanation:
"Will there be misunderstandings and criticisms? I
am sure there will be."
What then, as Christians, should our relationships
with Muslims, people of the Islamic religion, be? Surely
it should not be to join with them and surrender the
basic tenets of our Christian faith, but rather that we
should include them within the Great Commission of
Jesus Christ to whom the Gospel must be preached.
We should consider them as prospects for conversion,
we should witness to them in love concerning our faith,
and seek to have them experience the blessings of
salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We should pray for them individually and as a people
for whom Christ died.
Afterthoughts . . .
Hanukkah candles said to affect climate – in
one of the most ridiculous effects of Al Gore’s "Global
Warming" campaign, a group of environmentalists
launched a campaign to encourage Jews around the
world to light one less Menorah candle to reduce CO2
in the atmosphere. Lighting of the Menorah candles
is the most important Hanukkah tradition, and this idea
seems just a bit too much.
A warning from Russia, but not the usual. This one
has a real Christian application. The Russian Orthodox
Patriarch Alexy II has issued a plea to European people
to retain their Christian heritage or risk fading into
oblivion as nations. "Losing their Christian roots, the
people of Europe will sign their own death warrants.
Modern Europe will not create a new post-Christian
culture and civilization, but will simply vanish from
history." His warning is applicable also to America, as
we continue to depart from the faith of our founders.
A touch of humor . . . how current day newspapers
might headline Bible stories:
— On the Red Sea crossing
WETLANDS TRAMPLED IN LABOR STRIKE
Pursuing Environmentalists Killed
– On the Birth of Christ
HOTELS FULL; ANIMALS LEFT HOMELESS
Insensitive Couple Enrage Animal Rights Activists
– On Feeding the 5,000
PREACHER STEALS CHILD’S LUNCH
Disciples Mystified Over Behavior
– On Healing the 10 Lepers
LOCAL DOCTOR’S PRACTICE RUINED
"Faith Healer" Causes Bankruptcy
A note of concern from the Holy Land: Justus
Weiner at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA)
warns, "If Western governments do not address the
Muslim persecution and economic plight of Palestinian
Arab Christians, there won’t be many Christians left in
the Holy Land within 15 years." In Bethlehem, the
birthplace of Jesus, the exodus has been most acute. In
1990 60% of the population was Christian. Today that
figure is 20% or less. Weiner said that church leaders
who should be protecting their followers, are being
forced to abandon them to the forces of radical Islam.
Truly a matter for prayer by Christians in America.
A great quote for the Season: "Christianity won’t
rise or fall on whether WalMart employees can say
‘Merry Christmas.’ But its future does depend on how
God’s people advance God’s kingdom, as we help
establish His peaceful rule in the present historical
moment, until Christ reigns in all His glory." – Chuck
Colson and Anne Morse in Christianity Today, Dec. 6.
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FIRST SEASON OF THE CHURCH YEAR
ACCORDING TO THE TRADITIONAL CHURCH
CALENDAR WE HAVE JUST ENTERED THE
FIRST SEASON OF THE CHURCH YEAR
Here we are, in the month of December, less than four
weeks left in 2007, and on every hand we are hearing
this comment: "Where did it go? This year has gone by
so quickly!" Already we are getting calendars for 2008
to display in our homes and offices.
But those are just the annual calendars – the "secular"
calendars, if you will – which do just one thing: keep us
advised of today’s date: day, month, year. They make it
possible for us to observe and sometimes celebrate
events during the year. They begin on January 1 of each
year, and end on December 31.
The calendar we use is called a Gregorian calendar,
named after Pope Gregory XIII who instituted it in 1582
as a modification of the Julian Calendar adopted during
the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 BC. The calendars are
based on years of 365 days, plus a fraction of a day, thus
requiring a "leap day" every 4 years – a four year cycle
which we have termed "leap years."
But from beginnings in the 6th century, and further
developments during the Reformation period in the 16th
century, there came to be observed a Calendar of seasons
of the Christian Year, or today’s Church Calendar. In this
practice, the Christian Church has followed the historic
Jewish tradition of using the various seasons of the year
as opportunities to worship God as the Lord of life. The
Jewish seasons of worship centered upon the exodus from
Egypt, but the Christian faith observances center upon the
life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Thus the first season of the church year is the season of
Advent, which began this year on Sunday of this week,
December 2, and, including the four Sundays of Advent,
will end on December 24. The Advent season has as its
theme the coming of Jesus to the manger in Bethlehem
and in the clouds of glory when He returns.
During the church year we have opportunity to see Him in
his manger birth, observe His life and ministry, hear the
shouts of the crowd "Crucify him," stand at the foot of His
cross, and rejoice in His resurrection, even as we await
His promised and imminent return.
Sadly, in the Western world the period known as the Advent
season has become focused almost entirely on the Nativity
aspect and has become, particularly for retail businesses, a
commercial opportunity to make a profit out of Christmas.
And equally sadly, under the guise of "un-constitutionality"
enemies of the Christian faith – led by the ACLU, atheists
and Liberals – have tried to remove the word "Christmas"
from our daily life, changing the traditional greeting "Merry
Christmas" into "Happy Holidays."
The Christian Church needs to return to the primary
meaning of the Advent season, and demonstrate in life and
word their obedience to the instruction of Jesus Christ that
we are to be both light and salt in our world, and that we are
to preach the Gospel to every one everywhere in that world.
This may or may not be a politically correct greeting, but
to all of our readers: "A blessed Advent season to you
Afterthoughts . . .
As we look ahead in Advent season, so we can also
look back this week at December 7, 1941 – just 66 years
ago, when Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor.
With 2,300 American military deaths, and 1,100 wounded,
we declared war on Japan. Shortly after we also went to
war against Germany – who had not attacked us – and for
4 years we engaged in World War II. Our military deaths
were over 400,000. But this was a different nation. We were
united and very pro-America in attitude. We willingly made
civilian sacrifices to keep the war machine operating. And
we prevailed until our enemies were defeated, and America’s
respected position in world opinion respect was firmly
established. Today after a similar attack by al Qaeda leaving
2,300 dead and another 1,100 wounded on "9/11," we have
been at war for 4 years, and have lost 3,900 of our military
forces and the country is divided and some anti-Americans
are urging us to quit and let the forces of evil have their way
in the world. Let us on this 66t h anniversary of Pearl Harbor
look back to the America that was, and seek to retain our
nation’s reputation in the eyes of the world of nations.
A very appropriate quote in a presidential election
period; from Jonathan Falwell, Senior Pastor of Thomas
Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, the church
founded by his father, Jerry Falwell: "It’s a long road to
Election Day 2008, and a number of things could happen
between now and then in terms of who gets the party
nominations. As that date approaches, it behooves Christians
to begin examining the presidential candidates. We must
ascertain which one best characterizes the values and ideals
we have determined for our candidates since we discovered
Ronald Reagan. But there is more to the Christian life than
the dirty game of politics."
An "inconvenient" quote; Al Gore in defense of his
much debated theory of "global warming," "It is a mistake
to think of the Climate Crisis as one in a list of issues that
will define our future. It is the issue. Everything else must
be viewed through that lens." One wonders if Mr. Gore has
any idea how ridiculous that sounds?
A plethora of "world peace" conferences and letters
urging unity among the religions of the world. It all seems
to be part of the move toward a "one world" government,
and a "one world" religion. In November under the aegis
of the Global Christian Forum (GCF) some 250 delegates
from 72 countries met in a conference in Limura, Kenya
on the theme, "Our Journey with Jesus Christ the Reconciler."
Their final report stressed the intent to foster mutual respect
among a broad range of Christian communities so as to
"address common challenges together." Later in November,
in the "holy city" of Amritsar, India, leaders of major world
religions met to promote an inter-faith dialogue. The
participants included Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims,
Jews and Buddhists. Meantime, for a period of three years
a group of 138 Muslim leaders has been working on the
project "A Common Word between Us" and have finally
released their report seeking world-wide coordination,
"on the most solid theological ground possible: the
teachings of the Quran and the Prophet, and the
commandments described by Jesus Christ in the Bible.
Thus despite their differences, Islam and Christianity
not only share the same Divine Origin and the same
Abrahamic heritage, but also the same two greatest
commandments." Here in America on the web-site of the
Yale Center for Faith and Culture, a response titled
"Loving God and Neighbor Together" attracted some
300 signatures, including Liberal church leaders from
the World Council of Churches, United Churches of
Christ, Baptist World Alliance and from Britain, the
Archbishop of Canterbury. The letter appeared in a
full page advertisement in (where else?) The New York
Times. Most confusing was the fact that many professed
"Evangelicals" also signed the letter including Rick Warren
of Saddleback Church, Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral,
Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church and Leith
Anderson, President of the NAE. One is almost reminded
of Matthew 24:24, "There shall arise false Christs and
false prophets ... insomuch that if it were possible they
shall deceive the very elect."
And here’s an interesting thought: Writing in the
Financial Times of London, Michael Franc of the Heritage
Foundation, said "The demographic reality is that the
Democrat Party is the new ‘party of the rich.’" He noted
that Democrats represent the majority of the nation’s
wealthiest congressional districts, and that more than
half of the richest households are in the 18 states where
Democrats control both Senate seats. The facts
are often just the opposite of the media propaganda.
And for the lighter side: Don Imus is back on radio, and
to display his unbiased stance he said, "Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, and Hillary is still Satan."
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