"One gear forward" -- in other words one vice-
presidential nominee has been selected -- Senator
Joe Biden named by Barack Obama, with John
McCain's choice expected yet this week. Thus for
the battle which is about to begin in earnest, we will
at least soon know who the major combatants are.

To resurrect an old principle which applies here: "See
one political convention, and you've seen them all."

For these two weeks the media will -- to the extent
possible -- shelve all other current happenings to give
extensive coverage to the Democrat and Republican
conventions. But the news coverage of those two
conventions is not our primary responsibility. Our
purpose is to comment on current events from the
Evangelical viewpoint. As the two conventions move
through their prescribed courses, political platforms
will emerge, and based on what the political parties
stand for we -- as Evangelical Christians -- will
make our decisions and take our stands.

It is already obvious that the "neo-Evangelicals" (see
below) are active at the Democrat convention in
Denver, as the party anchors itself ever more firmly
in support of freedom of abortion, and legalizing of
homosexual marriage, both detrimental to the moral
concept of the family as the basic unit of our society.

In that regard, a leading Vatican official, Archbishop
Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Apostolic
Signature, has said that pro-abortion elected officials
who are Catholics shouldn't receive communion. In
Archbishop Burke's words: "If they support
abortion, which entails the taking of innocent
and defenseless human lives... A person who
commits sin in this way should be publicly
admonished in such a way as to not receive
Communion until he or she has reformed his
life.” Obama's Vice President pick, Joe Biden, is
a Roman Catholic. This may be a demonstration
of how sincere the Obama team is about their new
embracing of religion and faith, and brings into
question Biden's influence on Catholic voters.

Some things are difficult to understand, even
when the facts are known. For example, Hallmark
has announced the production of same-sex wedding
cards. This is quite an acknowledgment by the
nation's largest greeting card manufacturer. The
thing which is so difficult to understand is how such
a small element of our population can exert such
influence. The US Census Bureau gives these facts
concerning the US population: 76% claim to be
Christian; those claiming to be born-again,
Evangelicals are 44%; the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian,
Bi-sexual, Trans-sexual) are only 1.51%, made up
of Gay men (0.7%), Lesbians (0.32%) and Bi-
sexual (0.49%). It is indeed difficult to understand
how such a small percentage of our nation's
population can wield so much influence in so many
areas of our national life.

This is not a theological journal, but in this
country religion has played an important role in
political campaigns ever since Jerry Falwell's
"Moral Majority" made moral issues a major
factor in national campaigns. In this year's
election in November, both parties are seeking
the support of the religious voters, whether it be
the "religious Right" (Hillary Clinton's "vast right
wing conspiracy') or the "religious Left." And the
terminology in use is puzzling or even confusing.

In the 1940s the term "Evangelical" had real meaning,
but by the 1970s its meaning had become greatly
diffused. Carl Henry, the 20th century's father of
evangelical theology, found it necessary to adopt a
new term, "new-Evangelicalism." Like the original
concept, this position, too, was based first on
Gospel preaching and individual regeneration,
followed by social and cultural reforms which were
the outworkings of the Christian life.

But today we have that same term resurfacing, but
with a different emphasis - this "neo-Evangelicalism"
places more emphasis on social and cultural reforms,
and less on following the Great Commission of Jesus
Christ - to go and preach the Gospel to everyone in
the world.

But here is where the confusion really increases, for
there appears to be little difference between the "neo-
Evangelicalism" and the "new-Liberalism" or the "new-
Left." In all of these categories. seeking a cure for
HIV/Aids, relief of poverty, concern for "Global
Warming," and protecting the environment have
become more important issues than the spiritual
ones such as salvation and regeneration, with their
associated moral concerns such as opposing the
killing of children by abortion, and destroying the
family through same-sex marriage - all of which are
dismissed by the neo-Evangelicals as "sin issues."

Traditionally, in recent years at least, the "Religious
Right" vote has been quite solidly Republican. This
is an important segment of the population for either
candidate, and the Democrats are making every
effort to take as much of that support from the
Republicans as possible. So look for increased use
of the term "Evangelical" and try to sort out the
difference -- if there is any -- between the "neo-
Evangelicalism" and the "new-Liberalism" or the
"new Left."

The Olympic games ended over last weekend,
with the USA ahead in the total medal count, 110 to
100 for China, with Russia next with 72. Rounding
out the top nations were Britain, 47; Australia, 46;
Germany, 41 and France 40. In gold medals, China
led with 51 to America's 36. At the closing ceremony
the Olympic flag was handed over to the Mayor of
London, the site for the games in 2012. The closing
ceremony, absent the hype which promoted the
opening ceremony, earned essentially the identical
comments: "Spectacular . . . overly long."

By way of ideological summary, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld
at the Yale School of Management, writing in
Forbes.com: "The manufactured uniformity is
both a triumph and a challenge for China.
Perhaps the sacrifice of individual pleasures for
collective achievement is acceptable to the
people of China and other Eastern cultures in a
way it isn't in the West. Since the next Olympics
will take us to Kipling's London, we are likely to
see a return to chaos, confusion, conflict and
spontaneous joy."

A Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, writing in
his famous "Poor Richard's Almanac," in 1735, may
have had almost prophetic foresight of our time, in
these words: "Here comes the orator! With his
flood of words, and his drop of reason."

A Few Random Afterthoughts . . .

If you ever found it difficult to understand some
of the reports on happenings within the church, be
reassured: it isn't your fault. Here's an example of
current theological "newspeak" (reminiscent of Leon
Uris' novel, "1984"): as reported by The Christian
Post, female theologians participating in a discourse
in Bangalore, India released this statement: "There
is an urgent need to bring together differing
analysis and perspectives on the systemic roots
of the life-threatening socio-economic and
ecological crises and to explore possibilities of
articulating a clear faith stance and envisioning
a future beyond empire... In particular it is
crucial to include feminist/womanist thinking
in the current debates in order to identify the
theological and ethical challenges posed by
empire." There would seem to be a simpler way
to say whatever it is they are trying to say.

Recalling the Saddleback forum: one exchange
which has not been forgotten, and which has been
touched on by several columnists during the past
two weeks, concerned one of the few questions
posed by Rick Warren which got into the Christian
realm -- the question as to when human life begins.
John McCain said unequivocally that life begins at
conception, and added that his would be a "pro life
administration." Barack Obama answered that the
resolution of the question was "above my pay grade."
No further comment.

Probably enough has been said about Al Gore's
theory of global warming. However this one note
from Ann Coulter in her book, "If Democrats Had
Any Brains They'd Be Republicans," should be added:
"The temperature of the planet has increased
about one degree Fahrenheit in the last century.
So imagine a summer afternoon when it’s 63
degrees and the next thing you know it’s . . . 64
degrees. Ahhhh!!!! Run for your lives, everybody!
Women and children first!”

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