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

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