FOR WHATEVER IT MEANS TODAY,
THE TERM "EVANGELICAL" IS MUCH
IN THE NEWS ONCE AGAIN
For a starter, we are continuing our discussion of
the four basic points of emphasis for "Moral Majority,"
the program which brought so many Christians to the
point of making their influence -- and their vote --
count in the American political scene. We have dealt
with the first two -- pro-life and pro-family; this
week we take a look at the third, pro-defense. That
leaves the last one, pro-Israel, for next week.
Ronald Reagan was the first American president
who was elected on the basis of the voted expression
of the nation's Moral Majority. In developing the
program, America's Evangelical leader, Jerry Falwell,
believed that the majority of Americans really put
moral values first. That he was right was proved by
Ronald Reagan being elected by the largest public
vote and the largest electoral college vote in history.
"Speak softly and carry a big stick," is an old
West African proverb which became the statement
of president "Teddy" Roosevelt's ideas of America's
role in maintaining peace in our world. Years later,
president Ronald Reagan used the same ideological
viewpoint in his program to ensure a world at peace.
There were sharp contrasts in the "pro-defense"
policies of presidents Reagan and Clinton -- as the
Clinton administration presided over a severe down-
sizing of the US military, dangerously weakening the
armed forces, under-funding them and spreading
them thinner around the world than any president
had ever done before. Our intelligence services also
suffered under Clinton's presidency, and although
warned that without adequate funding the CIA could
not supply the White House with current, accurate
intelligence, Clinton disregarded the CIA's requests
for more funding.
Reagan did go beyond mere "speaking softly," and
used the military at least three times in combat -- in
Granada, Libya and Lebanon. -- the last of which
was recognized by the president as a mistake, and
as one of the worst decisions of his presidency.
Today, America is involved in the "big stick"
aspect of the Roosevelt philosophy, waging major
wars on two fronts. The next president of the United
States will be faced with reaching the conclusion of
these two wars, and with maintaining the "pro-defense"
policy advocated and demonstrated by presidents
Roosevelt and Reagan, restoring the "speak softly"
aspect, but not abandoning the "big stick" approach
where necessary. Our choice of the next president
should be based on which one has the knowledge
and experience to best handle this challenge.
And in the religious side of the news, the Anglican
Lambeth Conference continues, and among other
subjects, the Evangelical aspect has been included,
so-to-speak. A "token Evangelical," Brian McLaren,
was chosen to address the Lambeth Congress on the
subject of evangelism. McLaren was an interesting
choice. He is on the Board of the Sojourners
Movement, and a founding member of Red Letter
Christians, and is perhaps best known as pastor of
an "Emergent" church. "Emergent" is described as a
loosely knit group of people... disillusioned with the
institutional church of today ... creative, energetic,
youthful ... cynical, disorganized, immature...
emphasizing interfaith dialogue rather than verbal
evangelism. In his address to the Conference, he
urged the bishops to avoid being caught up in what
he called the church's "outward mission of forming
disciples among all people." That would seem to
be included in the "red letter" directives of Jesus.
Along this line, the American Episcopal church had
developed a "Messaging strategy" with talking points,
such as: "In Christ we seek justice, love, mercy,
heal creation and end poverty. And this is hard
work." So is gospel preaching -- world evangelism.
Running alongside all the internal tensions besetting
the Anglican Communion, is the continuing dialog
with the Pope and the steps toward closer affinity
with the Roman Catholic church. Cardinal Murphy-
O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and a key
Roman Catholic spokesman in Britain, said this
week, "Our church takes no pleasure at all to
see the present strains in your communion -- we
have committed ourselves to a journey towards
unity, so tensions only slow the process. Our
ecumenical journey has in the end to be a
journey towards full communion."
There is so much more of the same. The openly
homosexual bishop Robinson has rejected the call
for him to resign. With the Conference already some
$2 million or more in debt, the American church is
gaining more influential power daily, as the probable
source of funds to pay off the Lambeth indebtedness.
Two views of the Conference, (1) from the Rt.
Rev. Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, a senior
Church of England figure "All sorts of forces have
built up over the years ... misunderstandings
and people doing things differently ...It's been
like a slow-moving train wreck."
Wright said that the presence of American bishops,
who were involved in the consecration of homosexual
bishop Gene Robinson, was proving divisive. "A lot
of people here have a lot of questions about why
the Americans are here."
And (2) a high profile Vatican Official, Cardinal Ivan
Dias, told the Conference that the Anglican
Communion is suffering from "spiritual Alzheimer's."
We repeat our earlier prediction, that nothing very
substantive will come from this conference . . . but
there are still a few days till the close on August 3.
Who knows? Spiritual lightning might strike . . .
not particularly likely, but possible.
The definition of "Evangelical" seems to be
shifting just about every time it is used. It has most
certainly come a long way from Carl Henry's view
in his ground-breaking book, "The Uneasy
Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism." "The
evangelical task primarily is the preaching of the
Gospel in the interest of individual regeneration
by the supernatural grace of God in such a way
that divine redemption can be recognized as the
best solution of our problems, individual and
social." That is the way Christianity has always
differed from communism. Christianity changes the
man, who will in turn change society and environment.
Communism would change society and environment,
and expect a change in man to follow.
Both presidential candidates are seeking support
from the religious community. On August 16, Rick
Warren, co-founder of the Saddleback Church in
California, who was once heralded as the next leader
of America's Evangelicals -- will co-host a meeting
featuring both candidates McCain and Obama to
discuss what Warren describes as the "main areas
of focus," AIDS, poverty, human rights and the
environment. That is what the Left is trying to make
us believe, that this is the new Evangelical agenda,
while issues such as life, marriage and family, and
religious freedom have been set aside.
This is, of course, the opposite of what Carl Henry
foresaw as the Evangelical task.
A word of warning to think about: "A warning
should sound when it seems the Church ought to
have massive clout in our society, but sadly lacks
it when push comes to shove. With our millions of
professed believers we can't even outlaw the
killing of the unborn. Something is radically wrong."
-- Ray Comfort in "Revival's Golden Key":
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
The greatest speeches of the 20th and 21st
centuries were compiled by a team of reporters of
the London Telegraph . . . from the top 25, here
are choices 1-5, with a phrase from each to help
you remember the speech.
(1) Winston Churchill, Aug. 20, 1940: "Never in
the field of human conflict was so much owed by
so many to so few."
(2) John F. Kennedy, June 26, 1963: "Freedom
has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect.
But we have never had to put up a wall to keep
our people in."
(3) Ronald Reagan, June 12, 1987: "Mr. Gorbachev,
tear down this wall."
(4) Nelson Mandela, May 10, 1994: "Never again
shall this beautiful land again experience the
oppression of one by another."
(5) Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mar. 4, 1933: "The only
thing we have to fear is fear itself."
The "Global Warming" theory; it's still with us,
even if comments and reports about it are getting to
be more silly and bordering on the ridiculous. Al Gore
says we have ten years left -- whatever that means.
We're told that the present cooling is due to global
warming. We're told that more rain and flooding and
less rain and drought are both due to global warming.
Although global temperatures declined as much in the
first few months of 2008 as they increased in the
previous more than 100 years -- that is said to be
due to global warming.
By way of summary, and application to our time,
Paul Driessen, writing in Townhall.com said it well:
"Climate change is no longer science. It's politics.
Climate change is also about power. Power to
control. It's about who gets to decide how much
energy we will have, where that energy will come
from... So hold onto your wallets, and hope you
can hold onto your homes, cars and jobs. You're
about to be put on a wild political roller coaster."
Two interesting -- and significant -- polls: (1)
From New Zealand where the Bible Society found
that while 68% of New Zealanders own a Bible,
only 23% read it as often as once a month. One
reason: "Communication is getting short and
sharp... People would rather plug in their iPod in
their ears than open up a Bible." And (2) a global
survey conducted from Germany (21,000 persons
world-wide) found that 85% of teens are "religious,"
with 44% "deeply religious." But among non-European
protestants the "deeply religious" percentage was 80%,
whereas among European protestants that number
plummeted to 7%. And among industrialized nations,
the US presented an interesting result: 57% say they
You sometimes hear the strangest things: like
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nev) saying
in a Judiciary Committee hearing, "I am here to tell
you that polygamist communities in the United
States are a form of organized crime. The most
obvious crime being committed in these
communities is bigamy, child abuse -- teen and
pre-teen girls are forced to marry older men and
bear their children." Reid happens to be a Mormon
himself so being this frank is a bit on the unusual side.
Makes sense! "As the hypnotic mantra of
"change" is repeated endlessly, few people even
raise the question of whether what few specifics
we hear represent any real change, much less a
change for the better." - Thomas Sowell, 07/15/08