A NEW ADMINISTRATION BEGINS WORK
AS A NEW ADMINISTRATION BEGINS WORK,
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE NATION'S
CONSERVATIVES AND EVANGELICALS?
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
"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
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
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
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
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