A CHANGE IN OUR APPROACH TO NEWS
MAJOR COMMENT No. 1
We have long had a very high regard for Mark
Alexander, Publisher of the Patriot Post, and read
it regularly. This past week Mark made a suggestion
which we will condense and utilize the basic element.
He sent this message to all of his subscribers: "As
you know, our readers are our best promoters ...
Please take a moment and invite your family,
friends and associates to subscribe." Then he
suggested a message for his subscribers to send to
friends, family and names on their group lists.
We totally agree! Our subscribers are also our best
promoters. Because we have never had funds to pay
for promotional projects, we have been able to grow
only through our subscribers recommending our
newsletter to others. And several thousand new
subscribers have joined because many of you
have done just that!
So, like Mark Alexander, we are suggesting a brief
message you may be willing to send to your circle of
friends. Here it is: "I subscribe to American News
Commentary" a weekly email newsletter offering a
concise, informative and challenging analysis of the
week's most important news events which have a
direct effect on the lives of Christian believers -- and
with helpful suggestions as to what we can do about
them. I urge you to do the same -- subscribe to
American News Commentary by going to this link:
And it is totally FREE! No subscription charge, no
solicitations for contributions, and nothing is offered
We hope many new subscribers will join the Patriot
Post and we also hope that many new subscribers
will join the American News Commentary.
MAJOR COMMENT No. 2
By far the most frequent news item in the American
news media, print and broadcast, are the announced
plans of the Obama administration to deal with the
American aspects of the present world-wide economic
crisis, whether is it called "recession" or "depression."
Almost daily the president speaks to another group,
mayors, governors, the Congress and public rallies
reminiscent of his recent campaign for election
There are several elements in this so-called "Stimulus
Plan," each one of which concerns all of us, but some
of which are not within our purview. .
On military matters, we are not experts, but we
can understand one aspect of the military situation
as outlined in this this news release, with no need for
any editorial comment: "BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -
Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Friday
(Feb. 20) signed the bill to close an air base the
U.S. military uses for troops and supplies heading
to Afghanistan. Once the Kyrgyz government
officially presents the measure to U.S.
representatives, the American military will have
180 days to withdraw from the Manas facility.
"U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the
U.S. would work with Kyrgyzstan on keeping the
base open, and said one option may be offering
to pay larger fees to do so.The air base is the
United States' only base in Central Asia and is
used to transport military personnel and cargo
to Afghanistan and to refuel aircraft. (President
Obama has just authorized an increase of 17,000
U.S. troops in Afghanistan.)
"Bakiyev announced plans to close the base after
talks in Moscow in early February, when he
secured more than $2 billion in aid and loans
Some of the news media are already calling this new
venture "Obama's Viet Nam." This is not our field of
expertise, but it is an area for American Christians'
concern and prayer.
On Economic matters, again, this is not our area of
expertise, but we can certainly observe what is taking
place. On the day the president signed the 1,000-plus
pages of the "Stimulus Plan" (admittedly unread by
any of the Senators and Members of Congress who
voted for it) the Dow Jones Index plunged some 300
points to new 3 year lows. Within two or three days
it had reached a low level not experienced since the
days of the Clinton administration 12 years ago. The
new Secretary of the Treasury was heralded for his
forthcoming announcement of a new plan to deal
with the bank crisis. But when he presented it, he
failed miserably, even by the most kind evaluations.
The subtle hints about "nationalizing the banks" from
key people in Washington haven't helped.
Meantime, despite all these conferences and summit
meetings, the president's performance approval
index as reported daily by Rasmussen Reports,
continues on it's gradual decline and the Consumer
Confidence Index, which measures consumer
confidence on a daily basis, fell again on Monday to
55.5 -- the lowest level of consumer confidence ever
recorded in the seven-year history of the Index, and
the fourth time a new low has been set this month.
This particular problem -- this aspect of the crisis --
is not one for which we have any experience in solving
-- nor, apparently does anyone else -- but it is an
urgent matter for prayer that the present administration
will ultimately do better than in its first attempts.
And on political matters, this, too, is not our area
of expertise, but here, too, we have serous concerns.
The new administration promised "transparency" (the
new buzz word for open and honest disclosure) and
a new standard of ethical behavior. "We need
earmark reform," candidate Obama said in the
presidential campaign debate in Oxford, Miss. But
the new omnibus spending bill is said to contain
9,000 "earmarks" -- billions of dollars for local
projects inserted by the members of Congress as
the bill moved through the various committees.
And the political transparency got a bit clouded as
one presidential cabinet appointment after another
fell by the wayside on grounds of some sort of
personal corruption. And the much talked about
and much promised health-care reform -- that all-
important cabinet post is still open. And the Census
operations -- always a function of the Commerce
Department -- have been shifted into the White
House, where control of the nation's congressional
and electoral representation will now be managed.
No, it's politics as usual in Washington . . . but this
is not an area where we have any direct expertise.
But in Christian belief matters -- there we can
speak authoritatively. And in this area we do have
some serious concerns with the Obama "Stimulus
Plan," and some other items on the Obama Agenda.
These issues are not as between Republicans and
Democrats, nor in a certain sense are they between
Conservatives and Liberals. The issues in the Obama
administration's plans which are of most concern to
us are between Christians and anti-Christians.
We have long emphasized the Christian heritage
of America as demonstrated by the founding fathers.
For example, Patrick Henry in 1796: “It cannot be
emphasized too clearly and too often that this
nation was founded, not by religionists, but by
Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of
Jesus Christ." But in one decision after another
President Obama is scrapping the Christian principles
upon which this nation was founded, and that must
be of concern to every Christian.
The president encourages abortion, and freedom of
choice for women to kill their babies. Since the Roe
v. Wade decision, some 50 million babies have been
killed in America. How would you rank this?
The president opposes any ban on same-sex unions,
has pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,
signed into law by President Clinton, and offers strong
support to LGBT issues. How would you rank this?
The president's "Stimulus Plan" which he very hastily
signed into law contains severe restrictions on religious
schools and colleges. How would you rank this?
This Democrat administration with its control of both
houses of Congress is set on a course to re-institute
the "Fairness Doctrine" which will effectively silence
Conservative and Christian use of broadcast media.
How would you rank this?
With all the publicity the president is receiving,
it is only reasonable, and to be expected, that some
dire predictions about his place in history would
emerge. One correspondent this past week wrote
that he may be the last president of the United States
of America. Other staunch advocates of the "end
times" view-point have put together the usual
eschatological prophecies of the Bible and have
clearly (in their minds) proved that he is the anti-Christ;
just as they did for Mussolini, FDR and Mikhail
Gorbachev, to name a few in times past.
From Election Day, 2008, we have urged prayer
by American Christians for God to give wisdom to
President Obama and his administration as they
attempt to deal with the challenges they face. We
still do urge such prayer support, but that in no way
lessens our concerns with respect to the anti-Christian
positions we have outlined herein.
Just one founding father quote: “Providence has
given to our people the choice of their rulers, and
it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest
of our Christian nation to select and prefer
Christians for their rulers.” -- John Jay, 1816
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
Not exactly a "one liner," but a nice tribute to a
great American leader, as found in a recent
advertisement: "Few have had a greater impact
on America than Dwight D. Eisenhower. As
general he led the Allies to victory in World War
II. As the 34th U.S. president , he brought a time
of peace and prosperity to Americans after
decades of depression and war."
An embarrassment for Nancy Pelosi and Catholic
political leaders. Speaker Pelosi had a brief audience
with Pope Benedict XVI -- and her news release was
so different from the official release by the Vatican as
to lead to the question: "Were they both at the same
meeting?" The Vatican report said that the Pope
quite frankly lectured Ms. Pelosi on the necessity for
Roman Catholics to respect life at all stages, starting
with conception. Ms. Pelosi's "spin" was that she
and her husband were delighted to have met the
Pope, and that she had commended him for his
response to the needs of unfortunate people around
the world. She made no mention of the stern rebuke
she had received. Ms. Pelosi's final embarrassment
must have been that contrary to usual practice, there
was no picture of her with the Pope. Vice President
Biden is also a nominal Catholic, and like Ms. Pelosi
also supports abortion. One wonders if he will dare
visit the Pope, and how his publicists will handle the
American church membership is in decline with
few evidences of any growth. Of the nation's 25
largest church groups, only 4 reported growth in
membership according to the 2009 Yearbook,
edited by the National Council of Churches, and
just released this week. Those 4 which showed
growth in membership were: Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) up by 1.63%;
Assemblies of God up by 0.96%; Jehovah's
Witnesses up by 2.12%, and Church of God of
Cleveland, Tenn. up by 2.04%.
The two largest churches, Roman Catholic and
Southern Baptist, reported declines of 0.59%
0.24% respectively. Given the size of both churches,
the declines were not earth-shattering, but both
were contrary to the growth patterns usually
reported, and they now join the majority of the
nation's churches in reporting a loss in membership.
More gaffes by the Archbishop of Canterbury:
just one year ago Rowan Williams predicted that it
was inevitable that the Shariah Law of Islam would
become "enshrined" in the British legal system.
Now he says that public opinion is siding with him,
and that society is coming around to his views. Just
what the ailing Anglican Communion needs!
And from the second president: "The general
principles, on which the Fathers achieved
independence, were . . . the general principles
of Christianity."-- John Adams, 1813
- - - - - - - - - - -
NEWS ALERT: THE CHRISTIAN CAUSE
NEWS ALERT: THE CHRISTIAN CAUSE
IN AMERICA FACES SERIOUS PROBLEMS
UNDER THIS ADMINISTRATION
We could have -- and probably should have --
expected what is happening. Summed up in a few
words, Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel addressed
this message to the President and the Congress this
week: "This is morally wrong." And he applied
that fact to so many things the Obama White House
and the Democrat controlled Congress are doing.
We have often cited statements from our nation's
founding fathers concerning the Christian principles
upon which this nation was established. The founding
fathers felt very strongly about what was morally
right The present administration's failed campaign
promises of a higher level of ethics and "transparency"
(the current "in" word for full and honest disclosure)
brings to mind a concept involving truth and what is
morally right, as advocated by Thomas Jefferson in
a letter he wrote in 1875: "It is of great importance
to set a resolution, not to be broken, never to
tell an untruth ... he who permits himself to tell
a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second
time and a third time, till at length it becomes
habitual; he tells lies without intending to do it,
and truths without the world's believing him."
Thomas Jefferson was mainly concerned about the
new national government he was helping to create.
His words may have had a personal application,
expressing as they do the message of the ninth
Commandment -- "Thou shalt not bear false
witness" -- or more simply: You shall not lie.
But primarily his was a message for the new
government of the United States of America. In
today's situation he would have advocated that
the government should do what is morally right.
What the government is proposing is, in Matt
Stavaer's words, "Morally Wrong." But we could
well have expected what is happening. President
Obama has kept his word. What his administration is
doing was always part of his campaign platform --
that he would take a strong anti-family position,
prohibiting any ban on same-sex marriages, even by
repealing existing law which accomplishes that, And
that he would oppose any amendment to the US
constitution to protect the traditional concept of
marriage between a man and a woman as set forth
in the Bible, and would support the efforts of the
homosexuals to dictate American social and cultural
policy. That he would establish new laws to encourage
abortions and resist any attacks on the infamous Roe
v. Wade decision (ignoring the fact that since that
decision some 50 million babies have been killed in
our country). We have already seen that his first
major accomplishment in office has been to advocate,
even demand that Congress pass his "stimulus bill"
with its strong restrictions on churches and religious
schools and colleges. Meantime, his Democrat
controlling leaders of Congress (Pelosi and Reid)
are working to bring back into being the previously
removed so-called "fairness doctrine" with its
ultimate goal of silencing Conservative voices on
radio and television.
And those are just a few of Matt Staver's "morally
wrong" actions by this new president which now
appear to be changing (that was his word) the
division in this country from being one of Republicans
vs. Democrats to one of Christians vs. anti-Christians.
This kind of "change" -- unprecedented in the history
of this nation -- is not what we really wanted, but it is
apparently what we are going to get.
The news headlines this past week, and all the
top stories in all the media, focused on the president's
"Stimulus Plan." One headline caught our eye: "Do
you find the stimulus stimulating?" To the
extent that the "stimulus plan" focuses on financial
matters, it is out of our area of expertise which is
more involved with evangelical Christian issues. For
example, one review which we read estimated that
the combined national deficit thus created is greater
than the total world gross domestic product - GDP.
Thus we are seriously concerned over the direction
in which President Obama seems to be taking the
nation. And we are not alone in that concern. The
Rasmussen Daily Reports reflect the same concern
on a national basis. This week their polling showed
that following Congressional passage of the "stimulus
bill," consumer confidence fell to a new record low,
"the third time in February that the daily Consumer
Index has fallen to a record low." The president's
approval rating has also continued to slide, with 36%
of the nation’s voters now Strongly Approve of the
way that he is performing in his role as President. At
the same time 26% of voters Strongly Disapprove,
to give him a Presidential Approval Index rating of
+10. That Approval Index rating is the lowest yet
for the new President.
And even the "elite media" is speaking up. It
has always been abundantly clear that the mainstream
media have had a love affair with Barack Obama
during the campaign and transition, but the honeymoon
may soon be over. Thus the trade publication,
Advertising Age, predicts that the media will inevitably
begin taking a more critical look at the new president,
saying "All political infatuations must come to an
end — and already you can begin to see the
media straining mightily to assert its ‘objectivity..’”
The article notes that even the New York Times and
the Los Angeles Times, both strongly supportive of
Obama during his campaign, are noting trouble in the
closing days of the transition period. Overseas, the
London Daily Mail carried these comments, "The
new President may not be tested and held to
account as he should be. Brilliant though he may
be - and we really don't know one way or the
other - he is undoubtedly very inexperienced.
Would people be wise to go on judging Mr.
Obama by the quality of his oratory rather than
the efficacy of his deeds? Oratory can be uplifting,
as Winston Churchill proved at various junctures
during the last war, but America needs effective
policies not pretty words." So it can be said that
interesting days are ahead.
As believing Christians we should not be surprised
at what is happening from a religious standpoint. Our
president was born into and raised in an environment
based on the Islamic faith. His Christian experience
consisted of more than 20 years sitting under the
ministry of a pastor whose rant that brought him fame
was "Not G_d Bless America . . . it's G_d Damn
America." Does this mean we should not pray for
our president? Of course not. We have urged from
the first that we should pray for God to give President
Obama wisdom to deal with the problems we face.
And from a founding father on money: "Paper
money has had the effect in your state that it will
ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest,
and open the door to every species of fraud and
injustice." -- George Washington, in a letter to
Rhode Island, 1787
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
Don't you just love "one liners?" - Group # 3:
"Goodbye, America! It Was Fun While It Lasted."
-- Ann Coulter
"When Tim Geithner stepped to the microphone, \
he totally bombed in his debut." -- Investors
"The Geithner flop is just the latest in a string of
mini-disasters by the new administration, which
is learning every day that campaigning is a lot
easier than actually governing." -- Gary Bauer
"This bank-plan blunder could be another nail in
his coffin. Apparently, Tim Geithner is not yet
ready for prime time." -- Investors Business Daily
"What they did is over-promise and under-deliver"
-- Thomas Barrack, CEO, Colony Capital
And just one more: in last week's issue of TIME
Magazine "In Box" letters, from Nancy Martin in
North Carolina: "Give me a break! Tax evasion
is criminal. If any one of us did what Tim Geithner
did we would be in jail."
The Anglicans are in the news again: It was
announced this past week that the General Synod
of the Church of England has approved a resolution
calling for greater efforts to convert non-Christians.
Supporters of the resolution said that the church has
moved too far toward political correctness. The Rev.
Nezlin Sterling, a member of the New Testament
Assembly, urged Anglicans to think of every non-
Christian as a "potential convert." But Stephen
Lowe, the bishop of Hulme, said that some of the
supporters of the resolution had engaged in
"evangelistic rants" and did not have experience
with a "multi-faith, multi-ethnic society." It has
taken some 2000 years for them to understand the
"Great Commission" of Jesus Christ.
And on the world scene: Dr. Carl Moeller,
President and CEO of Open Doors USA, reported
that for the seventh consecutive year, North Korea
ranked number one on Open Doors annual World
Watch List for 2009. After North Korea in the top
ten rankings spots, in order, are Saudi Arabia, Iran,
Afghanistan, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Laos,
Eritrea and Uzbekistan. The World Watch List ranks
countries by the intensity of the persecution of
Christians who openly demonstrate their faith.
This past week we observed the 200th anniversary
of the birth of two men: Abraham Lincoln and Charles
Darwin.. Both men shaped history, and great attention
has been given - and rightfully so - to the nation-saving
work of Lincoln. But Darwin, with his promulgation
of the theory of evolution has presented us with one
of our greatest challenge both as an intellectual and
a religious issue. The teaching of evolution as a
supposed scientific fact remains a major concern for
in the nation's schools. Even the Vatican seems to
have moved into the evolution camp, in a statement
this past week that Darwin's theory of evolution fits
in with Christianity despite its conflicts with the Bible's
account. Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the
Pontifical Council for Culture, said last week that
evolution's role could be traced back to St. Augustine
and St.. Thomas Aquinas. The Vatican will hold a
conference next month to mark the 150th anniversary
of the publication of Darwin's "Origin of the Species."
The announcement said intelligent design would not
be on the agenda, seeming to put to rest the widely
held speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might officially
endorse the principle of intelligent design.
How about this from one of the nation's current
best selling authors, even if the book has one of the
longest titles ever: "There is a good chance that
anything that goes wrong is going to be George
Bush's fault, and everything that goes right is
going to be credited to Barack Obama. Heads,
Obama wins. Tails, George Bush loses." -- from
Bernard Goldberg, author of "A Slobbering Love
Affair; the True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid
Romance Between Barack Obama and the
Long book titles seem to be proliferating -- here is
a new one one by an author we greatly respect, Ray
Comfort: "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but
You Can't Make Him Think."
A thought to remember: The framers of the US
Constitution used only 4 pages to write the entire
document. The "Stimulation Bill" which has just been
consummated, uses 1,071 pages.
And from a founding father: "The multiplication
of public offices, increase of expense beyond
income, growth and entailment of a public debt,
are indications soliciting the employment of the
pruning knife." -- Thomas Jefferson, 1821
NEWS COVERAGE OF AMERICA'S PROBLEMS
FOCUSES ON THE POLITICAL ASPECTS, BUT
IGNORES THE SPIRITUAL ASPECTS
For the past three weeks -- President Obama's total
period to date in the White House -- willingly or not,
we have had our attention focused on the so-called
"Stimulus" bill which represents the president's theory
for addressing the economic problems afflicting our
nation, and just about every country in the world.
In an attempt to justify this expenditure of almost a
trillion dollars (the largest expenditure in our nation's
history) in one of his frenzied attempts to counter
the rapid decrease in the public's trust of the plan he
admitted it had been criticized as being a "spending
bill" and refuted that reasoning with the scintillating
comment: "What do you think a stimulus is?"
This is not an unprecedented concern. Note this
comment by Carter Glass, Secretary of the Treasury
under Woodrow Wilson: "Is there any reason why
the American people should be taxed to guarantee
the debts of banks, any more than they should be
taxed to guarantee the debts of other institutions,
including merchants, the industries, and the mills
of the country?"
But now as the two versions of the Obama bill move
into conference sessions, it does so amid ever lessening
support from the American public -- the taxpayers
who must ultimately pay for this administration's
spending plan. For the first time more voters oppose
the plan than support it -- a Rasmussen poll just a
few days ago reported that 43% oppose it, 37%
support it and 20% are not sure. Two weeks ago
45% supported it, while in that same period those
opposing it have grown from 34% to the present
43%. And half of the nation's voters think that
whatever version Congress ultimately adopts may
end up doing more harm than good.
Joining in that thought is the Congressional Budget
office (CBO) which continues to insist officially that
"President Obama's economic recovery package
will actually hurt the economy more in the long run
than if he were to do nothing."
Last week Business Week magazine spoke of the
several judgment errors the Obama administration
has created recently, commenting,"These missteps
mark the beginning of his 'shakedown cruise,' the
maiden voyage where the seaworthiness of his
Administration is put to its initial test." Following
the nautical comparison, commentator Greg Lewis
said "Only a few weeks out of port, the Good Ship
Obama, which set sail under the flag of bipartisan
cooperation, seems to be foundering."
But setting aside the financial and political aspects
of the bill, there are certain very important elements
of it which have serious implications for all Christian
believers in America.
Some observers have pointed out that the massive
Obama economic stimulus bill contains dangerous
provisions which can pose real problems for Christian
churches, Christian schools and and associated ministries
across the nation. Simply stated -- and you won't find
this explanation everywhere -- the problem lies in the
fact that funds from grants under the stimulus bill may
not be used for facilities that advance “sectarian
instruction, religious worship, or a school or
department of divinity; or in which a substantial
portion of the functions of the facilities are
subsumed in a religious mission.”
Last week the Senate rejected an amendment offered
by Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) that
would have stripped that language from the bill.. Jay
Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice
had this reaction: "This isn't like a convenient
oversight. This is intentional. This legislation pokes
its finger in the eyes of people who hold religious
So much that the Obama administration is doing runs
counter to our often expressed reminders of this
nation's Christian founding principles as expressed by
our founding fathers. Speaking to this concept, Rev.
Jonathan Falwell commented last week: "Sometimes
you just have to scratch your head and wonder if
our lawmakers have even a basic understanding
of our nation’s rich history of religious freedom."
What can we do? Should we give up? First, let it
be clear that the Christian church, the Evangelical
cause, in America is not dead. It is not even seriously ill.
True, it has been suffering from a form of lethargy.
The former aggressive action in favor of moral values
and basic Christian principles like family and marriage
and respect for life were allowed to be set aside, and
lacking Christian moral leadership in the last election,
the American people voted for "change." And they
were right -- "change" is what is needed, but it must
be a change to the historic Christian principles upon
which this nation was founded. The change we need
is not as this week's Newsweek magazine cover says:
"We are all Socialists now."
Somehow it seems that there has never been a more
appropriate time than this to call to mind the familiar
word from God: "If my people, which are called
by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray,
and seek my face, and turn from their wicked
ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will
forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
(II Chronicles 7:14)
We have urged prayer for President Obama, that
God would give him wisdom in how to deal rightly
with the problems our nation is facing. We continue
to encourage our Christian friends to do just that.
Instead of our usual quotes from the nation's
founding fathers, we offer these memorable quotes
from some recent presidents: from FDR - "The
only thing we have to fear is fear itself." From
Ronald Reagan - "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down
this wall." From Richard Nixon - "I am not a
crook." From JFK - "Ask not what your country
can do for you ..." From Bill Clinton: "I did not
have sexual relations with that woman." From
George W. Bush - "I'll be long gone before some
smart person ever figures out what happened
inside this Oval Office." From Barack Obama -
"I screwed up." Seems like there should be
something there for just about everyone.
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
We have had our share of wild fires, but nothing
ever approaching the devastation and destruction of
the present conflagrations raging in the State of
Victoria in Australia. Friends and readers of this
newsletter in Australia have shared with us some of
the news of the ongoing tragedies there -- the loss
of life, the destruction of homes, property and
possessions . . . and still no end in sight. Christians
in America are urged to support our fellow believers
in Australia with our prayers during these difficult
days. "Pray one for another... the effectual
fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
(James 5: 16)
Don't you just love "one liners?" - Group # 2:
Concerning President Obama's recent ethics scandals
and setbacks domestically and overseas: "If this
keeps up, he might demand an election recount!"
-- Gary Bauer, Feb. 4, '09
"The one thing Barack Obama's nominees to the
Department of Justice seem to have in common
is a disrespect for human life," -- Wendy Wright,
president of Concerned Women for America.
"Just to show you the tremendous waste, there is
so much money appropriated in this bill you could
give every unemployed person in the nation a
check for $75,000..." -- Scott Wheeler, Feb. 6, '09
The UN joins our administration in supporting
the abandonment of the traditional concept of families.
Arie Hoekman, representing the United Nations
Population Fund (UNFPA) said at a conference last
month that the breakdown of traditional families,
high divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births, far
from being a crisis really represent "a triumph for
human rights against patriarchy." At least this
demonstrates that for better or worse, the US and
the UN are thinking alike.
Remember those atheistic bus ads in Britain?
Now some churches and Christian organizations
have placed their own ads on buses reading: "There
is a God. BELIEVE. Don't worry and enjoy your
life." The Trinitarian Bible Society is using this
line from Psalm 53:1, "The fool hath said in his
heart, 'There is no God." A leader of the group
"Christian Voice" said of this positive response:
"The forces of darkness are in retreat."
Instead of a quote from our founding fathers,
we offer this one from Kevin McCullough writing
on Townhall.com: "President Obama has turned
the will of the American people against him. In
one rookie mistake after another, his decisions
have shaken even the majority of his supporters.
His insisting to not listen to his employers -- We
The People --is now adding arrogance to his
unsteady hand. His policies involving political
payback instead of finding genuine solutions
are now demonstrating to all of us that the
vagueness of his campaign speechmaking was
merely the work of a hollow wordsmith after all."
“Evangelical” and “Evangelicalism”
and their Status in the 21st Century
This is not a deep, scholarly theological treatise on the overall subject of “Evangelical” or the related “Evangelicalism.” Rather it is a simple, down-to-earth, easy-to-understand, practical, no-nonsense evaluation of the meaning of the terms and the use or misuse of those terms in the reporting or discussion of religion today.
It is clearly evident that there is much confusion, or at least lack of agreement, as to the meaning of the term. A recent Ellison Research report disclosed that 36% of all adult Americans say they have “no idea what characterizes an evangelical.” The report said “almost half of all Americans don’t really know what an ’evangelical Christian’ is, and the rest generally can’t agree on a definition.”
The present use or misuse of “Evangelical” and related terminology is confusing and an obstacle to a correct understanding of what the terms really mean. The media, print and/or broadcast, is perhaps the greatest offender. To them any individual or church (whether a denomination or an individual congregation) which is more conservative in theological thought than whatever the “average” belief is conceived to be, is labeled “Evangelical.” To some the term “Evangelical” is taken to be the equivalent of “Protestant.” To others the focus is even sharper, and ”Evangelical” is considered to mean “Pentecostal.“ Thus in some quarters the term is defined very narrowly; in others much more broadly.
Because of the broad, very frequent use and/or misuse of the terms, and because of the extreme importance of the concept in the overall ministry of the Christian faith, the world’s largest religion, it is important to establish the meaning of just what these terms really mean.
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 other choices) 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 ." 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, their 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.
Second, 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. 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. As a result they were labeled "Fundamentalists." In time that term became a target for ridicule, criticism and even open antagonism.
At the start, these five were considered as 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 -- not one of which is specifically addressed in the Scriptures.
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.
Thus by not relying on dictionary or encyclopedic definitions and by not dwelling on the history of the use of the term “Evangelical,” we can be much more sharply focused on the use and meaning of that term in religious thought today .
The entry of the term “Evangelical” into present-day theological vocabulary essentially began with establishment of the NAE, which 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 thus seriously impaired.
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 those 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, true Evangelicals 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 realm."
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 an amazing 60 years ago -- the
Evangelical movement has seen its highs 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."
It has been 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 in understanding 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 (or 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 the early American "Fundamentalists," and, like those beliefs, are true and essential because they are from the Word of God.
Michael Youssef, Ph.D., one of America’s most successful and most true to the Gospel “mega church” pastors, has written an analysis of this subject, “What is an Evangelical?” which may be found on WorldNet daily.com.
Dr. Youssef 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 comment: "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 Christian."
Thus as a brief, 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 as apart from being 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. More recently Haggard has appeared in an HBO documentary film (produced by Alexandra Pelosi -- yes, it's that family) and has made several promotional appearances on various TV shows.
As if that were not a large enough problem, 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 in that interview:: "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." Family Research Council President Tony Perkins used the term "left-leaning evangelicals." Unfortunately that may represent a growing number of individuals, although there is considerable support for the opinion that such terminology is really an oxymoron.
None of these events help enhance the reputation of true Evangelicals and/or the NAE, whose original intent and purpose were focused on the highest goals.
So it is a confusing situation. The true and accurate meaning of the term “Evangelical” for an individual, and the term “Evangelicalism” (or even the current “New Evangelicalism” or “Neo-Evangelicalism”) for a system of belief has not changed. But the designation of “Evangelical” is glibly assigned to anyone who is a Protestant who does not profess extreme liberal views of the Christian faith, or who has achieved some success in attracting large crowds to one of the nation’s “mega churches.” In many -- even most -- instances of such use of the term, there is no evidence of belief in the basic elements of the Evangelical Christian faith which have been so clearly defined by Carl Henry, Alister McGrath and Michael Youssef as cited herein -- who are only a few of the many theological scholars who have based their convictions on the authority of Scripture.
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 share in the challenging responsibility of returning this nation to the position of world Christian leadership which it once held, and which its Founding Fathers intended.
ARE WE STILL HOLDING?
ARE WE STILL HOLDING TO THE HISTORIC
PATTERN OF AMERICA'S LEADERSHIP AS
A CHRISTIAN NATION -- OR ARE WE
FACING A DANGEROUS "CHANGE?"
Take just a moment to recall these historical facts.
Think back to an event which took place almost 400
years ago -- Nov. 11, 1620 -- when in Provincetown
Harbor, Cape Cod, the Pilgrims on board the sailing
ship, Mayflower, drafted and signed the first governing
document of the Plymouth Colony, the Mayflower
Compact. Their purpose was clearly stated: "In the
name of God, Amen. Having undertaken, for the
Glory of God and advancement of the Christian
Faith ...Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony
in the Northern Parts of Virginia ..."
Just a few years later, in 1629, the Salem Covenant
confirmed: "We covenant with our Lord, and one
with another; and we do bind our selves in the
presence of God, to walk together in all his ways,
according as he is pleased to reveal himself unto
us in his blessed word of truth; and do explicitly,
in the name and fear of God, profess and protest
to walk as followeth, through the power and grace
of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We avouch the Lord to
be our God, and our selves to be his people, in the
truth and simplicity of our spirits."
And just one more early document from the original
pilgrims; the Boston Covenant of 1630 read: "In the
Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in Obedience
to his holy Will and Divine Ordinance, We whose
Names are here under written, being by his most
wise and good providence brought together into
this part of America in the Bay of Massachusetts
do hereby solemnly and religiously (as in his
most holy Presence) promise and bind ourselves,
to walk in all our ways according to the Rule of
the Gospel ..."
And after 150 years, this view continued: From
George Washington, our first president: "While we
are zealously performing the duties of good
citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be
inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the
distinguished character of Patriot, it should be
our highest glory to add the more distinguished
character of Christian." (1789)
And from John Adams, our second president: "Let
divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots,
unite their endeavors to renovate the age by
impressing the minds of men with the importance
of educating little boys and girls, inculcating in
the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity,
and leading them in the study and practice of the
exalted virtues of the Christian system.” (1790)
And one more from Patrick Henry: “It cannot be
emphasized too strongly or too often that this
great Nation was founded not by religionists,
but by Christians; not on religious, but on the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. (1776)
Very obviously this nation was founded on
Christian beliefs and principles, and was intended
by the founders to be a Christian nation. This fact
of history should come as no surprise to our readers
because in more than 100 issues during the past 5
years we have cited the views of our nation's founding
fathers concerning the Christian faith.
Now with that fact of history in mind - a fact
which was observed and renewed for over three
centuries - where does our nation stand today with
respect to the Christian faith and the intent of the
What is happening today must be a matter of serious
concern for us - and all - Christians.
We are seeing a new administration moving into its
position of elected power in America, and we can
examine the published agendas, and recall the many
promises made by the new president Barack Obama
during his campaign for the presidency. On almost
every issue, the new administration is taking a position
which is contrary to historic Bible-based Christian
principles and practice.
Remember candidate Obama's pledge at a Planned
Parenthood event in 2007 concerning the Freedom
of Choice Act which will essentially remove all
controls from the abortion process, which has killed
at least 50 million babies since the infamous Roe v
Wade decision: "The first thing I'd do as president
is sign the Freedom of Choice Act, On this
fundamental issue, I will not yield." And involved
in his strong support of abortion, is his support for
increased embryonic stem cell research.
In a similar pledge he promised to repeal the Defense
of Marriage Act (signed into law by Bill Clinton) and
thus force all states to recognize same-sex marriages
entered into in perhaps one or two states. So on these
two Bible based principles, it is clear that the Obama
administration is taking an anti-Christian position.
President Obama's strong support for the LGBT
(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-sexual) community
is evident in other elements of his administration's
Those include enactment of new "Hate Crimes" laws
to eliminate criticism of homosexual life styles; oppose
any constitutional amendment to ban homosexual
marriages; expand adoption rights for gay couples
and individuals; support new civil union federal
privileges for LGBT couples -- but there is more.
Check the agenda email site for yourself.
It is clearly evident that our present and future
course is to "change" (the Obama operative word!)
from America's heritage as a Christian nation and
become a nation with a multi-religion philosophy - a
far cry from the founding principles which for more
than 200 years have made this the greatest nation on
These facts do not in any way negate the urgency and
importance for America's Christians to pray that God
will give wisdom to President Obama as he makes
decisions which will affect our nation for years to come.
The American Revolution which brought this nation
into being was based largely on religious grounds. It
appears to be time for the Christians in America to
embark upon a new revolution, to reclaim this nation
for God and for the Christian faith. As an initial step --
you have every right to ask your Senators and
Congressional Representatives to hold to Christian
principles in their decisions.You can reach them all by
calling: the national switchboard at 1-(202) 224-3121.
Always remember they represent you -- and they are
Having said all that, it does make one wonder why
the president would offer such strong support for the
LGBT cause, since homosexuals represent something
in the 1.6 - 4% range of the US population . . . and
Christians represent 80% of that population, and one
branch of the Christian church, the Roman Catholics,
represent 25% of the US population, and the Catholic
church has taken the strongest possible stand against
same-sex-marriage and abortion. And at the state
level, 30 states have already adopted constitutional
amendments banning same-sex marriage by solid
majorities. One does wonder just whom President
Important thoughts from two great men, as a
reminder that historically this was a Christian nation:
"Not until I went into the churches of America
and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness
did I understand the secret of her genius and
power. America is great because America is good,
and if America ever ceases to be good, America
will cease to be great." -- Alexis de Tocqueville,
French historian, 1835
"Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest
weapon and the supreme call for all Christians
today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to
pray... I humbly urge that we take time to pray -
to really pray. Let us pray for our nation. Let us
pray for moral forces everywhere, for our national
leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be
our practice." -- General Robert E. Lee, 1855
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
Don't you just love some "one liners?" "We must
not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt."
-- Former US President Thomas Jefferson, 1816.
“This bill is about spending money that we don’t
have for things we don’t need." -- US Senator
Tom Coburn (R, OK), 2009
"Does it make sense to include in a plan to prepare
America for the 21st century borrowing billions
from Beijing to mail out in $500 checks to folks
who don't pay income taxes, so they can run down
to Wal-Mart and buy more goods made in China?
-- Commentator Patrick Buchanan, 2009
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who has been
impeached by the Illinois legislature, and has been
removed from office, remains under criticism and
attack for his un-governorish actions as the Governor
of Illinois. It would seem to be time to give serious
consideration to the question: "OK, he's guilty, but is
he any worse than most other government officials?"
How about conducting your own personal poll, and
ask yourself if a politician at the state or federal level
can really be honest? And if you can think of one (or
perhaps more than one) who is, jot down any such
name(s), and if you can really think of any, use those
overwhelming statistics as a measuring rod for his
comparative status in the American political scene.
The sad thing is that in his plea for exoneration he
said that this is what politicians do to get elected.
The real task we face is to elect honest politicians.
For just a few moments it was almost like a planned
and rehearsed comedy routine -- Al Gore testifying
before the Senate on behalf of his theory of "Global
Warming" on a day when our nation's capitol was
almost shut down due to ice, snow and extremely
cold weather, but as the dwindling number of his
"scientists" so readily do, he shifted to a new term:
"Climate Change." But that is one of the popular
"slippery slopes" -- the change in climate, world-
wide, for the past 100 years or so has not shown
any change in the direction of Mr. Gore's dire threats
of massive flooding throughout the world. Plus, the
worst ice storms on record were raging in other parts
of the country even as he spoke.
For what it's worth: The Pew Research Center
last week released the results of a survey as to
America's most popular cities. The first 5, in order,
were Denver, San Diego, Seattle, with Orlando
Tampa and San Francisco tied for 4th place, and
Phoenix as No. 5. By contrast, the 5 least desirable
cities were Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kansas
City and Minneapolis.In case you are planning to
relocate, this might be a helpful guide.
And from a religious standpoint, from a current
Gallup poll, the five most religious states, in order,
are: Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee
and with Louisiana and Arkansas tied for fifth place.
And the five least religious states are Washington,
Alaska, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and at the
A thought on being a real American: "Some
Americans need hyphens in their names,
because only part of them has come over;
but when the whole man has come over,
heart and thought and all, the hyphen drops
of its own weight out of his name."
-- President Woodrow Wilson, 1914
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