First, this thought for the day with respect to some of
the now threatened wealth-realignment ("stimulation")
programs -- from Sir Winston Churchill: "You don't
make the poor richer by making the rich poorer."

For what it's worth: Although the number of TV
viewers watching the presidential inauguration of
Barack Obama was impressive, they fall short of
those who saw Ronald Reagan take the oath of
office for his first term in 1981.

According to Nielsen Media Research, 37.8 million
television viewers tuned in Tuesday to watch the
swearing-in ceremony, which was the largest
inaugural audience in 28 years. Reagan's first
inauguration in 1981 drew an enormous 41.8 million.

Obama's viewership was, however, 27 percent higher
than Bill Clinton's in 1993, and 30 percent higher than
George W. Bush's in 2001. But it's all over. . . all of
the elaborate stage settings have been dismantled and
the crowds have gone home.

We often made the point that immediately after being
elected was not the time to commend or condemn the
new president . . . and that we should wait until he had\
actually done something, and then evaluate those actions.
That time has arrived, and some of the news headlines
we noted during his first few days in office begin to set
the scene. Consider these few examples:

"Obama's first day a frenzy"
"The Obama Presidency; here comes Socialism"
"Obama to Close Gitmo, Foreign Prisons,
Limit CIA Methods"
"Moral Life of Nation Could be Decided by
One Judge"
"Israel: All Troops have left Gaza Strip, Gaza
Tunnels Back in Business"
"Obama signs bill to use US tax dollars to pay
for overseas abortions"
"Gloom and doom over climate change 'silly'"
"Obama acts to reverse Bush climate moves"
"Bush Tax Cuts Will End"
"Vatican Slams Obama Over Abortion"

... and if those headlines were not confusing
enough, here is one more from the liberal-biased
Washington Post, "Obama Signals Shift in
Governing Philosophy" The story behind the
headline explains as follows, citing Obama's inaugural
speech: "The question we ask today is not whether
government is too big or too small, but whether it
works." The Post explains that this marks a new
governing philosophy which raises the importance of
the basic operations of government to equal the stated
political ideology and policy development. If this new
philosophy of governing works, the Post predicts this
will become the "hallmark of his administration."

Much of the early political activity was predicted
in the promises made during the campaign. And the
fulfillment of those promises was spotlighted in the
extended TV coverage as some of his first actions
were signed and enacted. One, however, slipped by
with no TV coverage at the end of his first week in
office: the decision to use American tax funds to pay
for - and promote - abortions overseas. This action
was done quietly on Friday at the end of the flurry of
the enactment of the week's more popular decisions.

The funding of overseas abortions has been a political
Republican-Democrat football for many years. It was
banned by President Reagan in 1984, reversed by
President Clinton in 1993, and reinstated by President
Bush in 2001. Obama's action was warmly welcomed
by liberal groups and denounced by foes of abortions.
The Vatican was quick to cite Obama's arrogance in
making the ruling, in these words, "It is the arrogance
of someone who believes they are right, in signing
a decree which will open the door to abortion and
thus to the destruction of human life," stated by
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical
Academy for Life.

And as a reminder that the ACLU is still around,
consider this headline: "Illinois Moment of Silence
Ruled Unconstitutional." In Illinois, a state law allows
students to reflect on the day's activities rather than
pray if that is their choice. Seems like a good thing
and a good practice for young people; but in a case
brought by an atheistic talk show host, US District
Judge Robert Gettleman ruled, "The statute is a
subtle effort to force students at impressionable
ages to contemplate religion." The judge was
aided and abetted by the ACLU which said the law
is a thinly disguised effort to bring religion into the
schools. As the French say, "Plus ça change, plus
c'est la même chose" -- the more things change,
the more they stay the same.

And so the new administration has begun, and
some actions merit more condemnation than others,
but at the same time there appears to be a softening
or moderating of some of his campaign promises as
the new president begins to examine the present day
national and international situations from the vantage
point of the office of actual president -- not as just
the candidate for president or even the president-elect.

And now the continuing essay on "Evangelical."
We have established that the concept of "Evangelical"
belief as a theological position grew out of the early
20th century designation of "Fundamentalist." Those
who were so labeled held to the "fundamentals" of
the Christian faith. That basic principle is still true for
"Evangelicals," and reviewing them helps us to
understand who is and who is not an "Evangelical."
The old saying comes to mind: "A square is also a
rectangle." Give that some thought.

Alister McGrath, one of the better (best) theological
minds in Great Britain, offers these distinctives as held
by Evangelicals in his "Evangelicalism and the Future
of Christianity:" (1) The supreme authority of Scripture;
(2) Jesus Christ as incarnate God; (3) the Holy Spirit;
(4) personal conversion; (5) evangelism; and (6) the
importance of the Christian community. Although
they are expressed somewhat differently, these are
closely akin to the fundamentals of the faith held by
American "Fundamentalists," and, like those beliefs,
are true and essential because they are from the
Word of God.

Dr. Michael Youssef, whose analysis of this subject
we referenced last week, goes into slightly more
detail than Dr. McGrath, but also begins with the
over-riding importance of the authority of Scripture,
and includes this concluding evaluation, "Anyone
who does not believe that once they are saved
they will always be saved through the sustaining
power, discipline and chastening by the Holy
Spirit -- is no evangelical."

Dr. Youssef wraps up his discussion with this note::
"If you have concluded that all of these evangelical
qualifications are defining a true Christian -- you
would be correct. For a true evangelical is a true

Thus as a basic statement, it may be said that an
Evangelical believer is one who holds to the authority
of the Scripture, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and
salvation by grace through faith alone, and who is
active in sharing those beliefs with others.

Those attributes of an Evangelical become also the
attributes of an Evangelical church. And yet there
is no uniformity of understanding as to who is an
Evangelical, or as to which church is an Evangelical
congregation. In some classifications, to be an
"Evangelical Christian" is seen as being a right-wing
fundamentalist Republican. (Hillary Clinton's term
was "vast right wing conspiracy.") In other
classifications the term "Evangelical Christian" is used
to distinguish an individual from a Catholic Christian
or an Orthodox Christian. The media is perhaps the
most guilty of misuse of the term, and use it to refer
to any Christian who doesn't fit the traditional, main-
stream Protestant minister category.

Although there has been considerable political activity
on the part of evangelicals, association with a particular
political party is not a foregone conclusion. Yet in
fairly recent years, Evangelical leaders have played an
important role in national politics. Just a few years ago,
in 1980 Jerry Falwell utilized the informal association
"Moral Majority" to build on the theme of moral values
which led to the election of President Ronald Reagan,
and Falwell remained the leader of America's Evangelical
movement and its principal spokesperson until his death
in 2007. The Evangelical world experienced a double
leadership loss in that year, with the death of D. James
Kennedy. To date, no one has stepped into their shoes
to lead the Evangelical, Moral Values, Moral Majority
movement in this nation. In large measure the election
of Barack Obama in the 2008 election can be attributed
to the leadership vacuum in the Evangelical world. And
in looking to the future, no replacement for these two
leaders has appeared on the horizon.

The NAE, which, as a national association of churches
and individuals, should represent the Evangelical cause,
has also suffered leadership losses which have seriously
damaged the association's reputation and ability to lead.
The NAE president, Ted Haggard, pastor of a mega
church in Colorado resigned, or was forced to relinquish
all leadership positions, in 2006, after being involved in
homosexual relationships and narcotic use with a male
prostitute for a period of years. It has now been revealed
that at approximately the same time he had also been
involved in similar relationships with a young male
volunteer at the church. Currently Haggard is now
preparing to appear this week in an HBO documentary
(produced by Alexandra Pelosi -- yes, it's that family)
and is making promotional appearances on various
TV shows.

As if that were not enough, Richard Cizik, for more
than 20 years an NAE official and its political
spokesperson (lobbyist), has recently resigned after
admitting in a TV interview that he favored gay civil
unions, and was not certain of his view of traditional
marriage between a man and a woman. He had also
long been a supporter of the theory of man-caused
global warming. His statement: "I'm shifting, I have
to admit. In other words, I would willingly say I
believe in civil unions. I don't officially support
redefining marriage from its traditional definition,
I don't think." The Family Research Council President
Tony Perkins used the term "left-leaning evangelicals."
Unfortunately that may represent a growing number of
individuals, although we have long considered such a
term to be an oxymoron.

None of these events help enhance the reputation of
true Evangelicals and/or the NAE, whose original intent
and purpose was of the highest order.

So it is a confusing situation. The Evangelical cause is
not dead, or not even seriously ill. What it needs, what
it must have, is a new leader or leaders of the stature
of Jerry Falwell and James Kennedy, to direct the return
of this nation to the position of world Christian leadership
which it once held, as its Founding Fathers intended.

A word from the not too distant past: "There is
little value in insuring the survival of our nation
if our traditions do not survive with it."
-- John F. Kennedy, April 1961

Some Random Afterthoughts . . .

Global Warming - in case you wondered: The
average surface temperature of the planet has warmed
one degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) during
the last 100 years, according to the National Research
Council. Not quite as disastrous as Al Gore thinks it is.
Incidentally, while addressing global warming is a top
priority of the Obama administration, it ranks low on
most Americans' list of concerns, according to a Pew
Research Center poll released last week. Among 20
issues to rank, Global Warming was in last place while
Economy and Jobs, took first and second places in the
survey results.

Contraception as an economic stimulus: The new
Obama-inspired Democrat-acquiesced economic
stimulus package (it seems a bit bizarre to call it a
"plan") as originally drafted included hundreds of
millions of dollars for family planning (birth control via
abortions). But you may ask: "How is birth control an
economic stimulus?" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in
defending the stimulus package argued that babies are
costly: "Family planning services reduce cost. The
states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and
part of what we do for children's health, education
and some of those elements are to help the states
meet their financial needs... contraception will
reduce costs to the states and to the federal
government." Mrs. Pelosi has five children. In
retrospect, one wonders which ones she would have
preferred not to let live by killing some by abortion . . .
or would she advocate going the Chinese government
route of limiting each family to just one child? Of course,
with her and her husband's combined worth of an
estimated $69 million. this problem does not relate, and
it seems to be only the poor for whom she would urge
abortions. As the process continues to move along
however, President Obama has become aware of the
strong objections, even outrage over the funds assigned
to contraception, and has directed Democrat leaders in
the House to remove those provisions from the draft of
the measure.

A bit far afield for us, but this quote from the
Atlanta Journal - Constitution does raise a question:
"The south Georgia peanut butter plant linked to
the salmonella outbreak has a history of sanitation
problems in recent years that include grease and
dirt buildup, unmarked chemical containers and
gaps in doors large enough for rodents, according
to state inspection reports obtained by The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution. The inspection reports from
2006 to 2008 show repeated problems with
cleanliness at the plant, which federal officials have
targeted as the sole source of the national outbreak."
The question: Why was nothing done, right here in America?

From the seldom quoted Theodore Roosevelt:
"Is America a weakling, to shrink from the work
of the great world powers? No! The young giant
of the West stands on a continent and clasps the
crest of an ocean in either hand. Our nation,
glorious in youth and strength, looks into the
future with eager eyes and rejoices as a strong
man to run a race." -- Theodore Roosevelt, in
June 1897




On the day after the inauguration it seems to be
appropriate to quote one of the nation's Founding
Fathers on the subject of the presidency. James
Wilson was named by President George Washington
as an associate justice in the first US Supreme Court,
and was, with James Madison, a principal drafter of
the US Constitution. In his Lectures on Law in 1791
he wrote: "The President is the dignified, but
accountable magistrate of a free and great
people. The tenure of his office, it is true, is not
hereditary; nor is it for life: but still it is a tenure
of the noblest kind. By being the man of the
people, he is invested; by continuing to be the
man of the people, his investiture will be
voluntarily, and cheerfully, and honourably
renewed." Those words, "A man of the people,"
could well be printed on a plaque to be on display
in the Oval Office where every president could see
it at all times.

If one marveled at President Obama's penchant
for a "show business" style of presentation during his
campaign for election, that marvel took on a major
new dimension at this week's inaugural ceremonies.
Beginning with the train ride into Washington a la
Abraham Lincoln (Obama's train was 2 1/2 football
fields in length) through the usual plethora of "gowns
on display" inaugural balls, this was an inauguration
not soon to be forgotten. Of interest to Christians
were the several inaugural prayers, over which so
much prior concern had been expressed.

After California pastor Rick Warren had been
invited to offer one of the inaugural prayers, the
homosexuals expressed outrage because Warren,
as a California resident, had expressed support for
Proposition 8 which California citizens passed by
a strong majority. To appease his many homosexual
supporters, then President-elect Obama invited the
homosexual Episcopal bishop, Vicki Gene Robinson,
to offer the opening inaugural weekend prayer - who
said he was "horrified" to read previous inaugural
prayers because they were so "specifically and
aggressively Christian." He added, "I am very
clear that this will not be a Christian prayer, and
I won't be quoting Scripture."

Bishop Robinson kept his word in his prayer. It was
addressed to the "God of our many understandings,"
whom he asked to bless us with anger at discrimination
at home and abroad, mentioning specifically "gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender people," and
also refugees, women and people of color. He then
reminded us that "our new president is a human
being, not a messiah," and pointed out that "every
religion’s God judges us by the way we care for
the most vulnerable in the human community."
Like he said: it wasn't a Christian prayer.

Bishop Robinson's superior in the Episcopal Church,
Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, will be
pronouncing the benediction at the Inaugural Prayer
Service later today. It will be interesting to see if she
uses a Christian prayer, or if she will follow the lead
of her most prominent bishop.

The Rev. Rick Warren, in delivering one of the prayers
at the inauguration ceremony, was challenged perhaps
by Franklin Graham,who had previously had the the
same responsibility (and whose father had offered
prayer at more presidential inaugurations than any
person in our nation's history). Pastor Warren's prayer
-- as distinct from bishop Robinson's -- was very
definitely a Christian prayer, offered in the name of
Jesus, and concluded with the Lord's prayer as it is
recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The
other prayer to conclude the inaugural ceremony, as
offered by Rev. Joseph Lowery, the civil rights leader,
was clearly to our God and was certainly eloquent,
but was concluded with just "Amen," and with no
mention of Jesus Christ, but with a closing poem of
almost humorous racial comparisons.

And, may we say, there were more defeats for
the atheist leader Michael Newdow. Both President
Obama and Vice President Biden concluded their oath
of office with the words, "So help me God." And
President Obama concluded his address with the words,
"God Bless you and God bless America."

At the time this new administration begins there
is a significant change in Americans' views of politics
and religion. A new Pew Research Center poll
released last week shows a distinct change in public
opinion as to whether there should be any mixing of
religion and politics. And the major change appears
to be among Conservatives who are now registering
opinions much more in line with Liberals. In 2004,
30% of Conservatives thought that churches should
stay out of politics. Today that figure has increased
to 50%. As for politicians talking about their own
religious views, 46% now feel uncomfortable about it
-- up from 40% four years ago. As for political party
views toward religion, 38% feel the Democrats are
favorable toward religion, up from 26% just two years
ago. But 52% feel Republicans are more friendly
toward religion. There is no way we, as Christians,
can find much encouragement in these trends.

All of which makes the essay on "Evangelical"
important in these troubled times. The response of
our readers - the largest we have ever experienced -
has demonstrated that there is widespread concern
and confusion over the present day use of the term.

It will be remembered that in last week's introduction
to this subject, we made it clear that we are not going
to rely on dictionary or encyclopedic definitions of
the term "Evangelical," nor are we going to dwell on
the history of the use of the term. We are much more
concerned about the use and meaning of "Evangelical"
or "Evangelicalism" in religious thought today .

And with so many other items of interest and concern
needing comment this week, it is evident that we will
be unable to complete the essay in this issue. Looking
back to our introductory comments last week, we
pointed out the official entry of the term "Evangelical"
into present-day theological vocabulary, with the
establishment of the National Association of Evangelicals
(NAE) in 1942. The NAE was formed to counteract a
drift toward the extreme right, to the extreme forms of
fundamentalism. The concept of "separation" -- not at
all a non-Scriptural concept, if not taken to excess --
became almost one of "segregation." The mission of the
Church which Jesus Christ established, to evangelize
the world and make disciples of all men was seriously

Those extremists advocated a Christian life style
based on "don'ts," things that a Christian must not do
in order to develop a spiritual life. But a person does
not become spiritual by not doing things.If that were
true, a corpse would be the most spiritual person in
the world, because he isn't doing anything. To become
a spiritual Christian requires a positive action -- "be
filled with the Spirit," (Eph. 5:18, ff)

The positions taken by some of the more strident \
and opinionated fundamentalists were giving the
Conservative view of the Christian faith a bad name,
and led by the early supporters of the NAE many
Conservative Christians began to use the "Evangelical"
label to establish the difference between themselves
and the extreme theological right-wingers.

As the NAE began to operate and unite those
Christians who held to the fundamentals of the faith,
but who believed in an aggressive, positive Gospel
witness, a new wave of evangelistic outreach began
to be manifest in America and throughout the world.

The great gulf between the extremes of American
theological thought (Fundamentalism on the right, and
Modernism on the left) which the NAE sought to bridge ,
was addressed by Carl F.H. Henry, who was rightly
known as the father of Evangelical theology. His book,
"The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism"
published in 1947 spoke to the complaints from the
Modernists that Fundamentalism excluded all efforts
of humanitarianism. In his brief but aggressive analysis
of the issue, Dr. Henry laid down this principle: "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."
For those who tend to stress good works, feeding
the hungry, aiding the poor, offering medical care to
the ailing, as more meaningful than the proclamation
of the Gospel, we have long advocated that these
are the outworkings, the demonstrations of the true
Christian life. Dr. Henry expressed it this way: "The
corporate testimony of believers, in their purity
of life, should provide for the world an example
of the divine dynamic to overcome evils in every

From a time line standpoint it should be remembered
that the "Billy Graham Era" in evangelism began with
the Los Angeles Crusade in the Fall of 1949 in a tent
at the intersection of Washington and Hill Street. From
that point in time -- now nearly 60 years ago -- the
Evangelical movement has seen its high and its lows.
Billy Graham was never an "Evangelical leader." He
was always an Evangelist, and was always one who
put the true Evangelical principles first, and never
compromised in his world-wide preaching of the
message first stated by Jesus Christ: "Except a man
be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter
into the kingdom of God ... Marvel not that I said
unto thee, Ye must be born again." (John 3: 5,7)
But active, aggressive evangelism is just one aspect of
the broad term "Evangelical."

That's it for this week -- next week we will wind
up the essay on "Evangelical" and "Evangelicalism" --
that's a promise. In preparation, we invite you to
click on this link and go to World Net Daily:

That is a very thoughtful and very scholarly analysis
of "What is an Evangelical?" by Michael Youssef, PhD.
And that is where we will take up this subject in next
week's issue.

One more early American view of the Presidency:
"No man can well doubt the propriety of placing a
president of the United States under the most
solemn obligations to preserve, protect, and defend
the constitution. It is a suitable pledge of his fidelity
and responsibility to his country; and creates upon
his conscience a deep sense of duty, by an appeal,
at once in the presence of God and man, to the most
sacred and solemn sanctions, which can operate
upon the human mind." - Joseph Story, writing in his
Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Some Random Afterthoughts . . .

The "Global Warming" hoax just does not seem
to fade away -- but it should. According to Investors
Business Daily, "We're supposed to be living in fear
of our coastal cities drowning because we refuse to
give up oil and the modern machines it powers. Yet
today's sea ice levels match those of nearly three
decades ago." That is fact, based on data from the
University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center.
But those aren't the facts the environmentalists who
predicted the North Pole would be ice free in 2008
want to hear. Al Gore and his followers have been
telling us that melting sea ice and glaciers will very
dangerously increase sea levels -- by as much as
20 feet, according to his award winning film, "An
Inconvenient Truth." Bad title. "Inconvenient" --
yes; "Truth" -- not really. Sorry, Al. One other
problem or question -- If there were any truth in Mr.
Gore's "Global Warming" theory, why is it so cold
for this Democrat inauguration in Washington? And
to top it all -- Al Gore actually appeared at the

And there is this very timely reminder: There is
an effort under way in Washington to change the
present term limits on the office of president. Rep.
Jose Serrano (D, NY) has introduced HJ Res. 5 to
repeal Constitutional Amendment 22 which sets a
limit on the number of terms a president may serve.
The 22nd amendment prevents a president from
being elected to more than two terms in office. If it
is adopted and enacted, President Obama could
become "President for Life." Not likely to happen,
but we have been promised a change.

More problems, close to home:
We have written
previously about the ongoing criminal rioting close to
our border with Mexico. In the past year some 5,300
killings have taken place -- far more than all US
military losses after more than 5 years in Iraq. Now
the US Joint Forces Command on worldwide security
threats, reports that Mexico is in danger of a “rapid
and sudden collapse” due to criminal gangs and
drug cartels, stating “The Mexican government, its
politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are
all under sustained assault and pressure." The
report warns that “any descent by Mexico into
chaos would demand an American response
based on the serious implications for homeland
security alone.” The old familiar phrase comes to
mind, "There are none so blind as those who
will not see." (Possible Scriptural source, Jer. 5:21
"Hear now this, O foolish people, and without
understanding; which have eyes, and see not;
which have ears, and hear not.")

A valid question for the immediate future:
that George W. Bush is no longer president, who
will the elite media (CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, NY
Times, Time, Newsweek, et al) have as their target
of criticism, sarcasm and ridicule . . . on whom will
they put the blame for the nation's (and the world's)
problems? The answer, when it develops, should be
interesting. Stay tuned . . .

These thoughts occur, among others: (1) In all the
self congratulatory exchanges about their prayers at
the various inaugural functions, bishop Robinson and
pastor Warren commended President Obama for
being the president of all Americans -- but by even
making recognition of a God of some sort, didn't
they leave out the atheists in America? (2) As almost
his last official act, president Bush commuted the prison
sentences of US Border Agents Compean and Ramos.
They can now be released in a few months. No pardon
was granted. The felony convictions will be inseparably
linked to their future lives. An insignificant example of
the presidential power and authority which was his to

An important quote from a leader of our time:
"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by
legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one
person receives without working for, another
person must work for without receiving. The
government cannot give to anybody anything
that the government does not first take from
somebody else. When half the people get the idea
that they do not have to work because the other
half is going to take care of them, and when the
other half gets the idea that it does no good to
work because somebody else is going to get what
they work for, that is about the end of any nation.
You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
-- Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005), former three
term president of the Southern Baptist Convention




Next week's issue will be dated January 21, one day
after the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama.
Beginning on that day the new president will probably
begin doing things, making decisions, taking action on
some of the many problems he will be facing. Then,
and only then, will we be able to criticize or commend.
Regardless of what the atheists think, it remains our
conviction that as Christians it is appropriate for us to
pray that God will give him wisdom in the decisions
he must make.

There remains some wonder as to what name the
new president will use. Some have pointed out that
he seems proud of his Muslim middle name, Hussein.
One is reminded that President Bush was often
referred to simply as "W." President Clinton was
always called "Bill." President Carter was always just
"Jimmy," never James. So who knows? But we shall
doubtless soon find out.

As a result of last week's article on atheism, some
readers have reminded us of the Washington state
Governor's support of the atheist sign next to the
nativity scene in the capitol. Others have pointed out
that the atheists are running signs on public transport
buses in London ("There's probably no God. Now
stop worrying and enjoy your life."); and also in
Washington, DC ("Why believe in a god. Just be
good for goodness' sake.") In Australia the signs
on buses were banned ("Atheism: Sleep in on
Sunday mornings." ) Kudos to Australia!

We cannot ignore the Gaza conflict. Any war,
with the collateral deaths of innocent civilians, is not
something any Christian can favor. However, by any
standard, the present attacks on the Hamas terrorists
in Gaza has to be considered a "just war" on the part
of Israel. Some of the fallout indicates that the attacks
on Israel by Hamas which brought about Israel's
retaliation are part of a broader Muslim vs Western
World viewpoint. Already in Malaysia a boycott of
American products is in force. The former Prime
Minister, in calling for a boycott of all American goods,
said last week: “If you stop accepting US currency,
the US can’t trade and can’t make any money, it
will become very poor and it will have to stop the
production of more and more weapons in order
to kill people. We should not be buying all these
weapons from the US. We can buy from the
Russians. People must act… we urge everybody
who loves peace and is against war to support our

Psalm 122-6 remains true, "Pray for the peace of

And this little news item slipped by, almost unnoticed:
"Hamas Reinstates Crucifixions of Christians
While the world focused on Hamas launching
rockets from Gaza at southern Israel, the terrorist
organization voted quietly to implement Islamic
law in the Gaza Strip, including crucifixion of

As for our comments on "Evangelical," and
"Evangelicalism" -- this may very possibly become
an ongoing discussion over a period of two or more
weeks. But here are our initial and introductory
comments on this subject.

First let us accept the fact that standard definitions do
little to help clarify the issue. For example, the new
American Heritage dictionary offers (among others)
this definition: "A member of an evangelical church."
Not particularly enlightening. An Oxford dictionary
offering is considerably more meaningful: "... of a
branch of Protestantism emphasizing biblical
authority." The Merriam Webster Collegiate
Encyclopedia offers this: "...stresses conversion
experiences; the Bible as the only rule for faith ."
And our citing more sources would only produce
more of the same, or similar.

For every day, practical use, the Barna Research
Group of Ventura, CA, a pre-eminent Christian
research organization, offers these breakouts from
the broad term "Christian:" First, "Born again" is
taken to mean those who have made a personal
commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in
their life today, and who believe they will go to
Heaven upon death because they have accepted
Jesus Christ as their Savior. Second, "Evangelical"
is taken to mean those who are "Born again" and
who have certain other convictions, including the
belief that their faith is very important in their daily
lives and that they have a personal responsibility to
share their faith belief in Christ with non-Christians.

We are not going to rely on published definitions,
nor are we going to dwell on the fact that although
the term "Evangelical" is not found in the Bible, it
does come from the New Testament Greek word
euangelion which means "good news" or "gospel,"
and essentially the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"The disciples were called Christians first in
Antioch." (Acts 11:26) And aside from the term
"disciple," which is used some 300 times in the New
Testament, that one use is the only time the followers
of Jesus were referred to as "Christians" -- and they
were never referred to as "Evangelicals." Throughout
the New Testament the followers of Jesus were called
"disciples." In His Great Commission at the close of
His earthly ministry, Jesus instructed His followers to
go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and make
disciples of all men. (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15; NIV)

So we are not discussing a Bible-based concept or a
biblical term, but rather one which men have created
for the purpose of defining some Christians based on
their doctrinal or theological beliefs.

Equally there is little point in tracing the history
of the Evangelical movement, because at certain times
in the history of any movement the men involved at
that moment in its history have shaped the function
and purpose of the movement at that point in time.

For example, a major development in the history of
the Evangelical movement was the creation of the
Evangelical Alliance (EA) in London in 1846. It is
still functioning as just that - an alliance of individuals
and churches of Evangelical convictions. In 1954 the
EA sponsored the Billy Graham crusade in London
which opened the door to the international spread
of evangelism in the 20th century. Then in 1867 the
American EA was established, but in 1908 it became
the Federal Council of Churches, and in 1950 the
National Council of Churches - hardly a conservative
or evangelical organization by any standard.

The motivating factor in the development of the
Evangelical movement in America was the sharp
division among the Christian church in the early years
of the 20th century - the division between Modernists
and Fundamentalists.

In those first decades of the 20th century, the broad
theological spectrum ran from right to left with these
groupings essentially following the traditional bell
shaped curve: Fundamentalist, Conservative, Liberal
and Modernist. The further to the left an individual's
theological viewpoints were positioned, the more
the authority of the Scriptures was weakened.

Theologically conservative Christian ministers and
others in positions of leadership who believed strongly
in the authority of the Bible, took their stand under the
banner of the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Thus they were labeled "Fundamentalists." In time that
term became a target for ridicule, criticism and even
open antagonism.

At the start, these five were the essential fundamentals:
1. The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and
the inerrancy of Scripture;
2. The virgin birth of Christ
3. The belief that Christ's death was atonement for sin;
4. The bodily resurrection of Christ;
5. The historical reality of Christ's miracles.

Somewhere in the early 1940s, the Fundamentalist
groups were infiltrated by some much stricter leaders,
and the concept of "separation" became a dominant
theme. In those years a litany became popular to the
effect that the "5 Cardinal Sins of Fundamentalism"
were Smoking, Drinking, Dancing, Card-playing and
the Movies.

Then in 1942 a new association of like minded
Christian believers was formed: the National
Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Now a new
term was established, and "Evangelical" began to
take the place of the older "Fundamentalist." And
as that term began to fade away, so did its diametrical
opposite, "Modernist." But "Conservative" and
"Liberal" were still valid designations. and somewhere
in that major space on the bell shaped curve, the new
designation of "Evangelical" found its place.

This is more of a task than we had anticipated,
and so we ask that you demonstrate enough patience
to return to this discussion next week, for the next
and possibly the final chapter in the discussion of
Evangelicalism. But maybe not the last. T his subject
is too important to gloss over too lightly.

At the approaching change in our government,
this is a most appropriate time to recall the views of
our Founding Fathers: "Without morals a republic
cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore
who are decrying the Christian religion, whose
morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining
the solid foundation of morals, the best security
for the duration of free governments." - Charles
Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence,
written November 4, 1800

Some Random Afterthoughts . . .

It tends to make you wonder. In Denmark an
editorial cartoonist suggests a bit of humor with respect
to Mohammad, and Muslims around the world revolt.

Let an artist in America portray Jesus or Mary in the
most disgusting manner, and Christians are strangely
silent. President-elect Obama invites the Rev. Rick
Warren to offer one of the prayers at his inaugural
ceremony and because Warren supported Prop. 8
in California, the nation's homosexuals are up in arms.
But when Mr. Obama invited the nation's only openly
homosexual Episcopal Bishop, Vicki Gene Robinson,
to offer the kick-off prayer for the inauguration
weekend, the nation's Christians are again strangely
silent. There is obviously something wrong, somewhere,
in someone's religious convictions.

And again you wonder who is really in charge in
Washington. The Smithsonian Institution’s National
Portrait Gallery has agreed to change the wording
on the plaque accompanying a portrait of President
George W. Bush in response to a complaint by self
described democratic-socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders
(I-VT.). Sanders objected to the plaque's language
because he believed it suggested a linkage between
the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and the
subsequent U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Gallery
Director Martin Sullivan wrote back to Sanders to
say that the wording on the plaque would be changed.
Amazing what just one socialist in the Senate can do.

For what it's worth (and you might want to keep this
in mind when grocery shopping), PepsiCo and the
Campbell Soup company have thus far refused to
take a position of neutrality on the homosexual issue,
and the attacks on marriage and the family. In the
last two years Pepsi has given $1,000,000 (that's
one million) to homosexual causes, and Campbell's
plans to continue to use its advertising dollars to
support homosexual publications pushing the
homosexual agenda and same-sex marriage. The
company sponsored two pages of ads in both the
December 2008 and January 2009 issues of The
Advocate, the nation’s largest homosexual magazine.
There are other sodas, and other soups in the market

An important reminder for today: "We have
forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious
hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied
and enriched and strengthened us, and we have
vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts,
that all these blessings were produced by some
superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated
with unbroken success, we have become too self-
sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and
preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God
that made us." - Abraham Lincoln, 1863




"Atheism"-- throughout the latter half of the 20th
century, mention of atheism was always coupled
with one person's name: Madalyn Murray O'Hair.
As the nation's "leading atheist," she founded the
organization, American Atheists, and served as
its president for more than 30 years, until her death
in 1995 -- she was murdered, along with her son
and granddaughter for other reasons than being an
atheist. Perhaps her most significant act in behalf of
her anti-religious convictions was her victory in the
case before the US Supreme Court in 1963 by
which prayer was banned in American schools. In
1964, Life Magazine labeled her "the most hated
woman in America."

In today's news the name of a new person appears
most frequently in stories involving the activities of
atheists -- Michael Newdow. Newdow claims to
be a Doctor of Medicine, an Attorney, and an
ordained minister of the Universal Life Church (which
on the Internet offers ordinations at no cost and with
no statement of faith). For what it's worth, a review
of thousands of names of "ordained ministers" of\
ULC failed to discover Newdow's name.

Newdow gained media attention when he filed a
suit to ban the use of the words "under God" in the
pledge of allegiance to our flag, when used in public
schools. Two court attempts failed, as did similar
action to remove "In God We Trust," the national
motto, from our money. He filed actions against the
use of Jesus' name in inaugural prayers in 2001 and
2005, and lost in both cases. Now he has filed
another court action against the use of any reference
to God by either of the men who will offer prayers
at the upcoming Obama inauguration.

In this latest legal attempt, Newdow is joined by 17
other individuals and 10 groups representing atheists.
Their action is filed against Supreme Court Chief
Justice John G. Roberts, Jr, against officials in
charge of the inauguration, and against pastors
Joseph Lowery and Rick Warren who have been
asked to offer the prayers. The suit also calls for
the words "so help me, God" not to be used by the
president in taking his oath of office. The lawsuit
says that the prayers are exclusionary, because of
their showing "absolute disrespect to plaintiffs
and others of similar religious views .... ."

The logical question arises: How many people
of "similar religious views" do Michael Newdow
and his atheistic associates represent? To ascertain
an exact number of atheists in America is extremely
difficult. Polls and surveys present estimates which
vary greatly, because there are people who profess
no religious faith, there are agnostics and there are
atheists. Reported as percentages of the US
population, atheists range from as low as 1.7% to
as high as 8%. The figure which seems most widely
accepted is in the 3 - 4% range. The question arises:
how can such a small number of people command
so much attention and wield so much influence?

A new University of Minnesota study, which to
date has received very little coverage from the "elite"
media, found that people rank atheists below gays,
lesbians, recent immigrants and Muslims in “sharing
their vision of American society.” The University
announcement of the study summarized, "Even
though atheists are few in number, not formally
organized and relatively hard to publicly identify,
they are seen as a threat to the American way of
life by a large portion of the American public."
Dr. Penny Marshall, university sociology professor
and the study's lead researcher added this comment:
"Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the
U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the
rule of increasing social tolerance over the last
30 years.”

In media interviews defending his actions, Mr.
Newdow refers to the First Amendment's provision
of the right of free speech. A frequent response to
that argument is that there is a right to speak, but
there is no right to be heard. Political Commentator
Patrick Buchanan in his TV column last week spoke
to the Newdow position, "The village atheist has
the right to be heard; he has no right to be heeded.
While he has a right not to have his own children
indoctrinated in what he believes are false and
foolish teachings, he has no right to dictate what
other children may be taught."

The danger in the Newdow attacks is that he uses
the First Amendment as the basis for his position.
The First Amendment merely says that Congress
shall enact no law affecting an institution of religion,
and shall not restrict free religious expression. Newdow
does exactly the opposite -- he seeks, through the
courts, to restrict freedom of religious expression by
the American people. Atheism is not the dissent over
ordaining of gays and lesbians which is destroying the
Episcopal church. It is not the dissent between liberals
and conservatives over the right of women to kill their
unborn babies. It is not the dissent over the desire of
homosexuals to destroy the American family by
replacing traditional centuries-old concept of marriage
between a man and a woman with the new idea of
same-sex "marriage." No, atheism is way beyond all
that. It is an all-out attack on the basic premise of
religion: to worship God -- and as such is an attack
on Protestants, Catholics and Jews . . . and in fact,
on Muslims and all other forms of religious beliefs.

Atheism is an ever present danger to our Christian
faith . . . and it will not soon go away.

On the lighter side, if there can be a lighter side, in
California Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell decided to
create a new word for "Atheists," thinking this would
encourage them to come out of the closet in spite of
the heavy prejudice against them. Taking their cue
from homosexuals and their embracing of the term
"gay," Geisert and Futrell suggest that "bright" be the
synonym for "Atheist." Richard Dawkins wrote in The
Guardian: "People reluctant to use the word
atheist might be happy to come out as bright."

Of course, it depends on what is meant by "bright."
The Bible states: "The fool hath said in his heart,
There is no God." (Psalm 14:1) "Bright" may not
be an accurate term for atheists.

And to this the Founding Fathers agreed: "In
circumstances as dark as these, it becomes us,
as Men and Christians, to reflect that whilst
every prudent measure should be taken to ward
off the impending judgments, …at the same time
all confidence must be withheld from the means
we use; and reposed only on that God rules in
the armies of Heaven, and without His whole
blessing, the best human counsels are but
foolishness." -- John Hancock, 1775

Some Random Afterthoughts . . .

We are still planning a major essay on the meaning
of Evangelical and Evangelicalism in a soon upcoming
issue. We will discuss what is an Evangelical ... who
are today's Evangelicals ... and who are not, despite
claims that they are.

It's that time of the year again. It seems that at
the start of every year the "seers," the self-named
"prophets" and "prophetesses" suddenly appear
with their revelations and predictions. 450 years
ago there was Nostradamus, and interpreters are
still working with his predictions. In more recent
years there was Edgar Cayce and Jeane Dixon and
the media made much of their guesses about the
future. And now in recent years Pat Robertson, the
wealthy founder of the Christian Broadcasting
Network, and one-time presidential candidate, has
joined their ranks. In his organization's recent annual
prayer retreat he told his staff that God had told him
that Americans would embrace socialism in 2009,
and that the economy would rebound under an Obama
administration. He added that God said that "nothing
would stand in the way of a plan by Obama to
restructure the economy in the same fashion as
the New Deal in the ’30s." One would almost
have to believe that God spoke to Robertson, since
he was not born until 1930, could have known little of
the New Deal, and by the time he was 12 years old
and ready for the Boy Scouts, we were already into
World War II. Robertson may be out of his league
as a credible predictor.

The fallout from the Madoff "Ponzi" scheme. It
wasn't just some individual investors who lost money
and were hurt by the largest fraud case on record --
larger than the massive Enron debacle. As the news
unfolds, it becomes evident that some large charities
were seriously affected. World Magazine reported
that the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation which
has financed hundreds of Jewish youth trips to Israel
posted this notice on its website: "The programs
of the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation
and the Robert I. Lappin 1992 Supporting
Foundation are discontinued, effective
immediately. The money used to fund the
programs of both Foundations was invested
with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities.
The money needed to fund the programs of the
Lappin Foundations is gone." They're not alone.

The JEHT Foundation, which supports reform of
the criminal justice system, said it would also shut
down because its largest donors were Madoff
investors. The Chais Family Foundation, which
gives about $12.5 million each year to Jewish
causes in Israel and in the former Soviet Union,
shut down after losing millions with Madoff. As
the story continues to develop, thus far no
Evangelical Christian organizations are known to
be victims of the Madoff scandal. However, most
of the victims of Madoff's scheme are still unknown
to the public. The fact that Madoff has finally been
exposed is little consolation to the thousands of
investors who probably will never see their money.

A Founding Father's view of government:
"Government is instituted for the common good;
for the protection, safety, prosperity, and
happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor,
or private interest of any one man, family, or
class of men; therefore, the people alone have
an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible
right to institute government; and to reform,
alter, or totally change the same, when their
protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness
require it." -- John Adams, 1776

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