THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SHIFTS
ONE GEAR FORWARD, BUT THE
NATIONAL NEWS CONTINUES
"One gear forward" -- in other words one vice-
presidential nominee has been selected -- Senator
Joe Biden named by Barack Obama, with John
McCain's choice expected yet this week. Thus for
the battle which is about to begin in earnest, we will
at least soon know who the major combatants are.
To resurrect an old principle which applies here: "See
one political convention, and you've seen them all."
For these two weeks the media will -- to the extent
possible -- shelve all other current happenings to give
extensive coverage to the Democrat and Republican
conventions. But the news coverage of those two
conventions is not our primary responsibility. Our
purpose is to comment on current events from the
Evangelical viewpoint. As the two conventions move
through their prescribed courses, political platforms
will emerge, and based on what the political parties
stand for we -- as Evangelical Christians -- will
make our decisions and take our stands.
It is already obvious that the "neo-Evangelicals" (see
below) are active at the Democrat convention in
Denver, as the party anchors itself ever more firmly
in support of freedom of abortion, and legalizing of
homosexual marriage, both detrimental to the moral
concept of the family as the basic unit of our society.
In that regard, a leading Vatican official, Archbishop
Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Apostolic
Signature, has said that pro-abortion elected officials
who are Catholics shouldn't receive communion. In
Archbishop Burke's words: "If they support
abortion, which entails the taking of innocent
and defenseless human lives... A person who
commits sin in this way should be publicly
admonished in such a way as to not receive
Communion until he or she has reformed his
life.” Obama's Vice President pick, Joe Biden, is
a Roman Catholic. This may be a demonstration
of how sincere the Obama team is about their new
embracing of religion and faith, and brings into
question Biden's influence on Catholic voters.
Some things are difficult to understand, even
when the facts are known. For example, Hallmark
has announced the production of same-sex wedding
cards. This is quite an acknowledgment by the
nation's largest greeting card manufacturer. The
thing which is so difficult to understand is how such
a small element of our population can exert such
influence. The US Census Bureau gives these facts
concerning the US population: 76% claim to be
Christian; those claiming to be born-again,
Evangelicals are 44%; the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian,
Bi-sexual, Trans-sexual) are only 1.51%, made up
of Gay men (0.7%), Lesbians (0.32%) and Bi-
sexual (0.49%). It is indeed difficult to understand
how such a small percentage of our nation's
population can wield so much influence in so many
areas of our national life.
This is not a theological journal, but in this
country religion has played an important role in
political campaigns ever since Jerry Falwell's
"Moral Majority" made moral issues a major
factor in national campaigns. In this year's
election in November, both parties are seeking
the support of the religious voters, whether it be
the "religious Right" (Hillary Clinton's "vast right
wing conspiracy') or the "religious Left." And the
terminology in use is puzzling or even confusing.
In the 1940s the term "Evangelical" had real meaning,
but by the 1970s its meaning had become greatly
diffused. Carl Henry, the 20th century's father of
evangelical theology, found it necessary to adopt a
new term, "new-Evangelicalism." Like the original
concept, this position, too, was based first on
Gospel preaching and individual regeneration,
followed by social and cultural reforms which were
the outworkings of the Christian life.
But today we have that same term resurfacing, but
with a different emphasis - this "neo-Evangelicalism"
places more emphasis on social and cultural reforms,
and less on following the Great Commission of Jesus
Christ - to go and preach the Gospel to everyone in
But here is where the confusion really increases, for
there appears to be little difference between the "neo-
Evangelicalism" and the "new-Liberalism" or the "new-
Left." In all of these categories. seeking a cure for
HIV/Aids, relief of poverty, concern for "Global
Warming," and protecting the environment have
become more important issues than the spiritual
ones such as salvation and regeneration, with their
associated moral concerns such as opposing the
killing of children by abortion, and destroying the
family through same-sex marriage - all of which are
dismissed by the neo-Evangelicals as "sin issues."
Traditionally, in recent years at least, the "Religious
Right" vote has been quite solidly Republican. This
is an important segment of the population for either
candidate, and the Democrats are making every
effort to take as much of that support from the
Republicans as possible. So look for increased use
of the term "Evangelical" and try to sort out the
difference -- if there is any -- between the "neo-
Evangelicalism" and the "new-Liberalism" or the
The Olympic games ended over last weekend,
with the USA ahead in the total medal count, 110 to
100 for China, with Russia next with 72. Rounding
out the top nations were Britain, 47; Australia, 46;
Germany, 41 and France 40. In gold medals, China
led with 51 to America's 36. At the closing ceremony
the Olympic flag was handed over to the Mayor of
London, the site for the games in 2012. The closing
ceremony, absent the hype which promoted the
opening ceremony, earned essentially the identical
comments: "Spectacular . . . overly long."
By way of ideological summary, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld
at the Yale School of Management, writing in
Forbes.com: "The manufactured uniformity is
both a triumph and a challenge for China.
Perhaps the sacrifice of individual pleasures for
collective achievement is acceptable to the
people of China and other Eastern cultures in a
way it isn't in the West. Since the next Olympics
will take us to Kipling's London, we are likely to
see a return to chaos, confusion, conflict and
A Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, writing in
his famous "Poor Richard's Almanac," in 1735, may
have had almost prophetic foresight of our time, in
these words: "Here comes the orator! With his
flood of words, and his drop of reason."
A Few Random Afterthoughts . . .
If you ever found it difficult to understand some
of the reports on happenings within the church, be
reassured: it isn't your fault. Here's an example of
current theological "newspeak" (reminiscent of Leon
Uris' novel, "1984"): as reported by The Christian
Post, female theologians participating in a discourse
in Bangalore, India released this statement: "There
is an urgent need to bring together differing
analysis and perspectives on the systemic roots
of the life-threatening socio-economic and
ecological crises and to explore possibilities of
articulating a clear faith stance and envisioning
a future beyond empire... In particular it is
crucial to include feminist/womanist thinking
in the current debates in order to identify the
theological and ethical challenges posed by
empire." There would seem to be a simpler way
to say whatever it is they are trying to say.
Recalling the Saddleback forum: one exchange
which has not been forgotten, and which has been
touched on by several columnists during the past
two weeks, concerned one of the few questions
posed by Rick Warren which got into the Christian
realm -- the question as to when human life begins.
John McCain said unequivocally that life begins at
conception, and added that his would be a "pro life
administration." Barack Obama answered that the
resolution of the question was "above my pay grade."
No further comment.
Probably enough has been said about Al Gore's
theory of global warming. However this one note
from Ann Coulter in her book, "If Democrats Had
Any Brains They'd Be Republicans," should be added:
"The temperature of the planet has increased
about one degree Fahrenheit in the last century.
So imagine a summer afternoon when it’s 63
degrees and the next thing you know it’s . . . 64
degrees. Ahhhh!!!! Run for your lives, everybody!
Women and children first!”
SEVERAL MAJOR NEWS STORIES ARE
VYING FOR OUR ATTENTION; HERE
ARE OUR COMMENTS ON A FEW
What seems to be the biggest news story, and thus
conceivably the most important, is the Russian attack
and invasion of the small independent nation of
Georgia. With America voicing the strongest protest,
and urging Russia to withdraw, Russia -- or Prime
Minister Putin -- has effectively challenged America
and President Bush to choose between its diplomatic
ties with Georgia, or its long term relationship with
Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
responded to Bush's call for Russia to respect the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia by
declaring "We can forget about talks on Georgia's
For those of us who can remember, what we are
seeing today is fearfully similar to the attempt to take
over Europe by Adolph Hitler some 70 years ago.
Even given the possibility of some measure of
success from the agreement for a cease fire and
withdrawal of Russian forces as crafted by French
President Sarkozy and US Secretary of State Rice,
this crisis may be only at its beginning, rather than
at its conclusion.
In the opinions of some observers, the new "cold war"
has already begun -- as Russia, through Deputy Chief
of Staff, General Nogoitsyn, threatens to use nuclear
weapons against Poland because of their agreement
with the US to install nuclear missile defense devices,
saying,"Poland, by deploying the system, is exposing
itself to a strike -- 100 per cent." Russian military
doctrine allows using nuclear weapons in such event.
Former Senator Fred Thompson, once an almost
presidential candidate, summed up the total situation
and spoke of the future effect: "While this crisis
plays out, we should also note that these events
give evidence of a larger reality; the next
American President is going to face an inter-
national landscape that is more difficult and
more treacherous than we have ever faced."
Based on that evaluation -- which appears to be
perfectly valid -- Thompson added this conclusion:
"This is no time to elect a president whose
international experience is limited to speaking
to adoring European crowds who want to see
the United States retreat from the world until
they require our help in the next crisis that
threatens them... This election cycle the traffic
in the world is very heavy, and dangerous; it's
no time to give a kid with barely a learner's
permit the keys to the car."
Lower in importance, and really low in terms of
accepted moral standards, is former Senator John
Edwards' affair with a video employee who worked
on his failed presidential campaign. As she so often
does, Ann Coulter summed it up well in the heading
for her column of August 14: "Even By Trial
Lawyer Standards, Edwards A Real Sleazebag."
With the nation's apparent salacious appetite sated
by the extensive detailed coverage of the affair by
the news media, it is not our intention to repeat the
tawdry details of Edward's extra marital exploits.
Rather, we offer two reminders: (1) We Americans
should be profoundly grateful that Mr. Edwards'
failed to be elected vice-president in 2004, and
that his campaign to become the Democrat nominee
for president in the present election also failed. And
(2) It is a simple fact that individuals with morals as
low as those demonstrated by former president
Clinton, and wannabe-president Edwards should
never be elected to positions of leadership in our
government, and certainly not elected as president.
In support of that conviction, recall these statements
by men who established the principles upon which this
nation was founded.
"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)
"If the citizens neglect their duty and place
unprincipled men in office, the government will
soon be corrupted ... because the citizens neglect
the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make
and administer the laws." (Noah Webster, 1832)
"Those who are Mahometans (Muslims), or any
others who are not professors of the Christian
religion, can never be elected to the office of
President or other high office, unless first the
people of the America lay aside the Christian
religion altogether." (Samuel Johnson, 1788)
Those were the principles our Founding Fathers
established for this new nation. Those principles
made America great. The abandoning of them will
lead to America's demise -- or our Founding Fathers
were wrong in establishing what we later chose to be
called, "one nation, under God."
And there is the Olympics story. Begun in 776
BC as a religious ceremony honoring Zeus and
Hora, the name grew out of the place where the
games were held: Olympia. The games continued
essentially as a Greek affair for some 1200 years,
before being banned by the Roman Emperor
Theodosius in 393 AD. They were revived as
our present day international games in 1896 in
Athens with 12 nations competing in 9 events.
Since then the Olympic games have been held
without interruption every 4 years -- climaxing
with this year's games in China.
In recent years the games have been beset with
serious problems such as charges of bribery to
influence the International Committee to select a
host city, financial deficits, use of performance
enhancing drugs by athletes, etc. Now the China
games are branded with a new offense: fakery.
The TV audience for the opening ceremony was
nearly 35 million in the US, with record numbers of
viewers in all major TV markets around the world.
"Spectacular" was the over-riding term for the
opening ceremonies, with "too long" (at 4 hours)
the next most frequent descriptive term. But now a
series of disclosures have revealed that "fakery" is
also a fitting term for that ceremony.
Fake #1 -- the angelic 9 year old girl who sang so
beautifully the "Ode to the Motherland," was actually
lip-syncing a recording by another young girl, Yang
Petyl, whom the producers decided not to use in
person because she has crooked teeth.
Fake #2 -- the ethnic children, in different native
dress who carried the Chinese flag, supposedly
representing the 56 ethnic groups which make up
the China of today were young actors from the
Galaxy Children's Art Troupe, mostly all from the
dominant Han ethnic group which makes up some
92% of China's population -- the other 55 ethnic
groups make up only 8% of the population.
Fake #3 -- TV viewers were awed by the fireworks
displays which seemed to erupt from right in the vast
stadium and which did things that fireworks have
never done before-- but they were both pre-recorded
and computer generated, and were only seen by the
TV audiences -- not by the spectators in the stadium.
One blogger wrote: "So forget Beijing 2008. Best
opening ceremony so far is still Sydney 2000.
They didn't see it necessary to use computer
generated images to impress the world."
We can't fail to mention the so-called religious
joint appearance of Barack Obama and John McCain.
It wasn't the block-buster sensation Rick Warren's
PR firm had anticipated, but the media keeps labeling
Warren as the most influential Evangelical in the
country . . . and a successor to Billy Graham. Mr.
Warren's first statement on Saturday evening was
"We believe in the separation of church and
state." With that phrase he severed himself from
the nation's Evangelicals, and more deeply placed
himself within the "new Liberalism," or the "new Left."
As for being another "Billy Graham," that is surely
an implausible comparison. Billy Graham was an
evangelist in the Evangelical tradition, fulfilling the
definition of the "New Evangelicalism" as offered
by the theological father of the Evangelical position,
Carl. F.H. Henry, "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." ("The
Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism") Or
as Billy Graham used to preach, "Communism says
change society, and society will change man.
The Gospel says change man and man will change
society." Billy Graham and the true Evangelicals put
social change as the result of the Gospel, never in
place of it. Cures for HIV-AIDs, relieving poverty,
enforcing human rights, concern for the environment
-- all these are good, but they must follow the Gospel,
not displace it.
And that is where Evangelicalism differs from the
New Liberalism or the New Left. But you can't fault
the media. They are not theologically trained; they
write what they are told.
As for the program involving Obama and McCain;
pure objectivity is difficult when so much affecting
America as a Christian nation is at stake -- but in our
view, John McCain emerged as the clear winner,
based on the type of questions which were asked.
And then there is the gasoline problem, arising
from our dependence on imported oil. While the
entire nation is pleading with Congress to lift its ban
on off-shore drilling and drilling in the Alaskan
wilderness, Nancy Pelosi sent Congress on an
extended Summer vacation -- her rationale: the
Democrat mantra "we can't drill ourselves out of
this problem." Do they think we are all incredibly
stupid? They argue that if we started drilling today it
would take 5 years before there were meaningful new
supplies. But if we had started drilling 5 years ago,
we would have that supply now. How does it make
any sense to keep delaying new drilling when there is
always that 5 year lag? Apparently while she was on
her nation-wide book signing tour, Ms. Pelosi heard
enough people complaining, and now she says when
Congress ends this vacation, she will permit a vote
on new drilling to develop America's own source of
oil. The question remains: Why is Congress so
reluctant to listen to and respond to the demands of
the American people?
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
A projected change in America: some months ago
we reported on a projection to the effect that by
2050 people of the white race will be in the minority.
Now a later survey has revised that projection, and
the minority status for whites is estimated to occur 8
years earlier, in 2042. By 2050, the white percentage
will be 46%, with Latinos 30%, blacks 15% and
Asians 9%. One other interesting statistic: by 2050
the population 85 and older will triple to 19 million.
Where do Americans get their news? A survey
just released last week gives an interesting report:
46% get their news from TV . . . 34% from
newspapers . . . and 25% from the Internet. Just
think back a few years when there was no Internet
. . . and even a few more years when some of us
can remember there was no TV, just radio . . . and
yet today radio isn't even listed as being of any
Rather than our usual closing quote from one of
our Founding Fathers, or from a distinguished
former national leader, we offer this quotation from
a present day voice who so often cuts straight to the
heart of the issue: "Once upon a time, we saw
America as the greatest nation on earth.
American citizenship was a great privilege, an
honor worth dying for. Today, our history is
being rewritten by the politically correct,
patriotism is mocked by the elites and many
yearn to be 'citizens of the world.' Why is it that
in America today radical groups like MoveOn.org
and the militant homosexual rights movement
have come to wield such influence in our public
policy debates? How was the radical “green”
movement able to so dominate our energy policy
and put so many of our own vital resources off
limits? These are difficult questions, but they
deserve our attention. America desperately needs
to rediscover the cherished values that once
united us and turn again to the common sense
principles that have served us so well." -- Gary
Bauer, "End of Day," 08/14/08
* Originally Published as EPOCH Commentary*
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Vol. 11, No. 7 August 13, 2008 © 2008
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from our readers who say how much they enjoy our
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please send them to us at our familiar email address:
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THE INIMITABLE YOGI BERRA ONCE
SAID IT SO WELL: "THIS IS LIKE
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN"
Where to start? There quite a few of Yogi's "deja
vus" to choose from. We are going to have to use
some of his "deja vuing" in order to comment on
some important issues which have resurfaced in the
past few days.
In our issue of Dec. 5, 2007, we commented on the
letter from "138 Islamic scholars" addressed to Pope
Benedict XVI, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and
a broad assortment of prominent American religious
leaders. The letter was titled "A Common Word
Between Us and You," and challenged Christians
to an extended discussion on some basic beliefs
claimed by the Muslims as common to both faiths.
As could well have been expected, the far-to-the-left
Liberals at Yale Divinity School prepared a response
and asked a very diffuse group of American
Christians ranging all the way from extreme Liberals
through a mixture of pseudo-Evangelicals, and right
up to and including a few true Evangelicals, to sign
the response, which they ran as a full page ad in the
New York Times in December.
The nominal "Evangelicals" who signed the response,
essentially capitulated to the Muslim view that we
all worship the same God, and that love of neighbor
is the most important feature of the two religions.
Ignored by those signers is the fact that Muslims deny
the Trinity, deny that Jesus was the Son of God, and
reject the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ
for the sins of the world. Beyond denying those basic
tenets of the Christian faith, Muslims also hold that
they and Christians share in the Abrahamic Covenant.
Yet with all those impossible-to-reconcile beliefs,
some more-or-less Evangelicals did sign the response.
There may be more who later came to their theological
senses, and insisted that their name be removed, but
the President and Provost of Wheaton College are the
only ones which have been publicly recognized as
having done so. They were right, of course.
Now for the deja vu. This was not a one-shot effort
by the Liberal Left -- in a meeting at Yale just a few
days ago, July 28-31, a recommendation was agreed
upon that called for Christian and Muslim clerics to
pledge to publicly speak in praise of the traditions of
each other's faith during a designated week each year.
It was even suggested that such a proposal be made
to the United Nations. We should not be surprised if
that happens -- what would surprise us would be to
hear any Muslim cleric speak in praise of the Christian
faith -- in their eyes a religion for infidels. We can, of
course, conceive of some of the "pseudo Evangelicals"
speaking favorably of Islam.
The Lambeth Conference has ended, some will
say with a dull thud, rather than a bang. Rowan
Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been
given praise, although faint, for steering the conference
away from making any definite decisions, resorting
instead to a series of indaba discussions which were
essentially talking and listening, but not deciding. The
essential problems which the conference faced from
the start -- the ordination of a homosexual bishop
and the blessing of same-sex unions -- were still
unsolved at the close of the conference which was
notable by being boycotted by at least 250 Bishops
who cling in this Liberal age to the orthodox faith of
the Anglican Communion.
Now for the deja vu: The London news media has
disclosed letters written by the Archbishop of
Canterbury, in which he states very clearly: "I
concluded that an active sexual relationship
between two people of the same sex might
therefore reflect the love of God in a way
comparable to marriage." In support of his
views, he says that "the Bible does not address
the matter of appropriate behavior for those
who are for whatever reason homosexual, by
instinct or nature." He further writes, "The church
has shifted its stance on several matters... and I
am bound to ask if this is another such issue." It
could be suggested that if he read his Bible a bit more
carefully, the weakness of his position that there is
no condemnation of homosexuality, or that modern
times should dictate the message of the church, he
would understand the ridiculousness of his views.
Those are just two examples of the ongoing battle
between the "new Liberals," and the traditionalists
who hold to "the faith which was once delivered
unto the saints." These new Liberals even go so
far that God himself (or herself) must be redefined.
The theory of evolution has become an underlying
force to lead mankind onwards and upwards. Amid
all this "progress" is the continuing battle to honor
the freedom of choice of women to kill their unborn
children, and the ever-increasing movement to give
new "rights" to homosexuals at the price of rejecting
the traditional concept of marriage and family. And
while these moral values are under attack, on an
international front the new Liberals are attempting
to weaken the Christian position by opening doors
to increased cooperation with the Muslims. This
is a battle to be decided not by military might, but
by ideological convictions. Here we of the West
are at a disadvantage, because while the Muslims
may be weak militarily, they are strong on belief
and conviction. The West, while strong militarily
is weak on belief and conviction. The challenge
before the Christian church is to bring back to
America a firm conviction as to the principles
upon which this nation was founded.
A thought provoking editorial comment:
"Summer vacations, Olympic games, and even
election campaigns must not distract us from
the frightening reality that Iran is building a
nuclear bomb launch and that it may soon be
too late to do anything about it." (IBD//8/08)
And from a Founding Father: "We should never
despair, our situation before has been unpromising
and has changed for the better, so I trust it will
again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put
forth new exertions and proportion our efforts to
the exigency of the times." -- George Washington,
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
The 2008 Olympic Games: more than just a few
athletic contests with medals made of metals of
varying degrees of value. This time, in an amazing
blend of sport and politics, TV viewers around the
world joined with 91,000 in the Olympic stadium
to watch a dramatic presentation of history set to
music and dance and electronic wizardry, reminding
world leaders -- Bush, Putin and Sarkozy, among
others -- that Beijing is the center of a universe called
China, which is absolutely as legitimate as those born
in Athens and Rome . . . London and Washington.
Although blurred by the dense haze of the world's
worst air polluters, the games are underway; the final
count of the "Golds" will soon be published.
That lawsuit against God: the Nebraska lawmaker
who made news recently by filing a lawsuit against
God for making terrorist threats against mankind in
the form of floods, earthquakes and other calamities,
and demanding that He cease and desist immediately,
says that his suit is valid, and he will continue to press
it until it is deemed unlawful by a judge. The State
Senator, Ernie Chambers, says "Anybody can file
a suit against anybody -- even God."
Another new holiday -- this time in California.
And by the way, that mess about the new Muslim
holiday which canceled Labor Day at the Tyson
plant in Shelbyville, TN (ANC, 08/06) has finally
been straightened out -- Labor Day will be observed,
and a new Muslim holiday will be added. However,
the Muslims are not to blame for the new holiday
proposed in California. The State Assembly passed
AB2567 which would make "Harvey Milk Day" an
official state holiday, observed by schools, etc. Harvey
Milk was a homosexual activist and member of the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors -- murdered by
a fellow county supervisor. Young people will thus be
forced to commemorate the life of a man whose claim
to fame was his sexual orientation.
Don't trust the media; but you already knew that.
The Baptist Press reported on a Pew Research
Center survey disclosing that just 6% of national
journalists consider themselves the be Conservatives --
as against 36% of the nation's population. And 32%
consider themselves to be Liberal or very Liberal,
and 2/3 admit their political leanings affect their
reporting of the news. We have long known that the
elite media observes the world scene through Liberal
biased lens. One more survey repeats the story from
previous surveys, that the media's Liberal bias isn't
news to us -- it's just reality. Keep that in mind as
we move through this election cycle.
From a former president: "Now more than ever
before, the people are responsible for the character
of their Congress. If that body be ignorant,
reckless and corrupt, it is because the people
tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption.
If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because
the people demand these high qualities to
represent them in the national legislature."
-- President James Garfield, 1877