Politicians and Evangelicals

With the Iowa caucuses in view some Republican hopefuls are trying to garner the social conservative, evangelical vote.

Former Republican Vice Presidential candidate and professing Christian Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for President. Despite his recent gaffe calling Second Corinthians “two” Corinthians while speaking at Liberty University, Trump received the endorsement of Liberty University’s president Jerry Falwell. Jr. He is a heavyweight in the evangelical community and his endorsement is a political plum.

I am stunned. When Trump touts his faith he comes across like a bull buffoon in a Christian china shop. He seems insincere and hopelessly oblivious to what it means to be a Christian and yet evangelicals are flocking to his side as he panders to their hopes.

Ted Cruz strikes me as being more sincere when he says, “I’m a Christian first, American second (I’m glad he didn’t say American “two”). I share his sentiment, because I believe being a Christian first makes me a better American. Of course, Cruz is hoping we will think it will make him a better President.

Marco Rubio has been more open recently about his Catholic faith and upbringing. So much so, that while speaking in Waverly, Iowa, an atheist claiming to represent millions of American non-theists, and the fastest growing voter bloc in America, asked Rubio if he was running for “pastor-in-chief.”

This atheist’s shameless attempt to showcase his disbelief merely gave Rubio another opportunity to showcase his belief, and did little if anything to help the atheist cause. In a nation where, according to a Gallup Poll, 78% believe in the existence of God, Americans are not likely to elect an “atheist-in-chief.” Politicians know that.

To become the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate had to be an astute political observer of his time. He wanted to release Jesus, but political expediency won the day when the Jewish leaders cried, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar,” John 19:12. Pilate the politician could not risk that report reaching Rome, so he condemned Christ to be crucified

No politician or political process can effectively address the problems of our nation that are spiritual in origin and nature. Christian citizenship demands that we inform ourselves of the issues and prayerfully vote our convictions knowing there may be little political gain amid a voting culture that is becoming increasingly less Christian.

Realistically, Republican politicians and evangelicals will share an uneasy alliance because in the political sense they need each other. But it is foolish for evangelicals to pin their hopes to a political process that hangs on a vote of the majority in the current cultural climate.

Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36. Let us serve the King we can trust and His kingdom that will eclipse all governments and religions, and establish an everlasting reign, and has a better claim on our loyalties.

Advertisements

Evolution Is Evolving

One of the arguments against the theory of evolution is, if evolution is a natural process, why are there no contemporary examples of it? Why are there no living, transitional or intermediate life forms evolving? Why aren’t living things still evolving?

The truth is the theory of evolution is evolving into settled scientific fact according to most science articles written on the subject. They give lipservice to evolution being a theory, but couch its presentation in factual language.

This is true whether we are talking about inorganic evolution, how the universe and matter came to be, or organic evolution, the beginning of life and how it has reached its present diversity and complexity. Why should anyone believe evolution is more than a theory when the whole scientific community is not in possession of a single observable fact about how or when either the universe or life began, and was not present to observe the actual, admittedly lengthy, evolutionary process of each?

Some will say, we do have facts regarding organic evolution; we have the fossil record. At this point let me be clear. Christians do not doubt the past existence of those life forms represented in the fossil record, we do take issue with how that record is interpreted. The coelacanth is a case in point.

The coelacanth was a well-known ancient fish because it was widely represented in the fossil record, but thought to be extinct for more than 65 million years. Interpreting the fossils of coelacanths, paleontologists determined the coelacanth was an intermediate life form between fish and amphibians. Ergo, it was believed to live in costal areas and also had lungs to breathe during brief forays on land. It was thought to be capable of walking with its three pair of ventral, fleshly lobed fins.

But Christmas came early for creationists on December 22, 1938, when a native fisherman caught a supposedly extinct Coelacanth off the southwestern coast of Madagascar. Evolutionary theories about the Coelacanth collapsed faster than a house of cards hit by a leaf blower when that native fisherman hauled up a net full of facts.

Here is the first mistake made by scientists, and it is a big one, the coelacanth is not extinct. Not only are there several colonies in the waters off Madagascar, there are more in the waters of Indonesia. The coelacanth is a pelagic, it lives in the deep waters of the oceans, it is not a costal dweller. It swims everywhere it goes and does not attempt to walk even on the ocean floor as observed in an expedition by Hans Fricke funded by National Geographic. It is a true fish with gills and does not have lungs.

This is why Paul warned Timothy, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding…oppositions of science falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith,” 1 Timothy 6:20-21 (KJV).

Evolution is evolving, but the facts don’t.

Irreconcilable Differences

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called for a meeting of the thirty-eight Anglican leaders from around the word to address an issue that threatens to fracture their communion. The five-day meeting began this past Monday. The issue is homosexuality.

Trouble has been brewing since 2003 when Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, was consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church is the Anglican branch of the church in America. Conservative leaders within the Anglican Communion here in America and throughout the Anglican Church met Robinson’s appointment with disapproval.

Subsequently, a group of conservative Episcopal bishops have split with the church in America and formed the Anglican Church in North America. Anglican leaders from six African nations have threatened to walk out this week if common ground cannot be gained. Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of the Anglican Church in Uganda has already said he will not take part if “discipline and godly order” is not restored.

Some have said the meeting will not survive the week and may even be over by the time you read this article. Indeed, the last called meeting of the primates in 2011 was boycotted by a third of the bishops because of this issue. Why is this so divisive?

Welby is frustrated that the real issues of global warming, poverty, and violence are not being addressed because Anglicans cannot get past the matter of sexuality. And that may be part of the problem; he does not think the biblical view of human sexuality is a real issue.

Some have suggested the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was inhospitality. While sodomizing two travelers against their will is certainly inhospitable, God did not rain “brimstone and fire” on two cities turning them into ash heaps because they refused them a meal or lodging.

To trivialize sin as mere inhospitality reveals a disregard for what God says about human sexuality and the consequences of its abuse. Something that God takes very seriously. That is why human sexuality is spoken of in the Scriptures in simple, repeatedly, unmistakable language.

“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female” is a descriptive prohibition. I do not wish to be unkind, but it takes a special kind of stupid to mess that up. So here’s the rub, the issue is not that the Scriptures are unclear about the practice of human sexuality, the issue is do we recognize the authority of God’s word in defining what we believe and do, or do we ignore it?

Welby and those who agree with him do not see the authority of the Scriptures and human sexuality as real issues. The conservative voices within the Anglican Communion see them as the real issues. With such diametrically opposed views it is difficult to see a continued marriage of the two. I see a divorce in the making on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

Does Your Liberty Trump Mine?

Rebecca Chamorro decided she did not want to have more children after the birth of the baby she was carrying. She elected to have a tubal ligation immediately after her delivery by C-section at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California. The rural hospital denied her request because as a Catholic medical facility it is against the hospital’s policy to tie a healthy woman’s tubes.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Dignity Health, the network of Catholic hospitals Mercy Medical is part of, on Chamorro’s behalf. The ACLU cites previous postpartum sterilizations that have been performed at the hospital as a basis for the suit.

I am not an especially bright person. I know this because I have enough critics who tell me so, but I think I know what is going on here. Knowing the Roman Catholic’s stand on the divine perspective of the procreative process, any exception to the policy on tubal ligations was based on the woman’s medical condition that made a future pregnancy exceptionally problematic.

If the woman’s medical condition posed a genuine threat to the health and life of the prospective mother, and the child she would carry, there would be no objection to a prophylactic sterilization. It would be common sense, medically speaking. Mercy Medical opposed a tubal ligation it considered elective and medically unneeded.

The ACLU mentioned the previous exceptions for public posturing to foist its viewpoint on a perspective pool of jurors. There are plenty of medical facilities that would gladly do the tubal ligation for Chamorro, but then the ACLU would not get the publicity they crave and the courtroom fight they want.

So what is at stake here? The ACLU suggests that Chamorro’s liberty to have a tubal ligation creates an obligation on the part of Mercy Medical to do the procedure contrary to the medical center’s stated policy based on its religious convictions.

Religious liberty is as old as the Exodus. Pharaoh had enslaved Israel to serve him. Moses, speaking for God said, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me,” Exodus 8:1. God thought Israel had served Pharaoh long enough, and it was now time for Israel to serve Him.

The First Amendment is considered the cornerstone for the other nine in the Bill of Rights. I think it is significant that when our founding fathers sought to protect basic human liberties, the first one they protected was freedom of religion; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

I do not believe our founding fathers ever intended the Constitution to afford a liberty to one citizen that becomes coercive to the liberty of another. Chamorro could go to another hospital or medical facility that would appreciate her business. Why try to enslave Mercy Medical to do her bidding?

The concept and use of liberty is not to enslave another, and deprive them of their liberty. Pharaoh learned that the hard way.

Forgetting What Lies Behind

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians writes, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:13-14.

Last year is behind us and the new year lies ahead. For some it will be a time of reflection of the past year, and a time to set new goals, or revive old ones. Paul’s words ring with renewed relevance during this time of reflection and resolutions.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul is profoundly practical here.

The past is done; it cannot be changed. No amount of contemplation will change it. So what should be our response to the past and where should we focus our thoughts?

Thoughtful analysis of last year’s mistakes and failures can help us recognize where we went wrong so that we do not repeat them. Once the analysis is done dwelling on the past is not helpful. Morbid musing on our past can paralyze present action, and forestall future progress. Don’t let the past become a prison.

The same can be said of our sins. Some analysis is helpful if we do not want to repeat our folly. But only repentance of our sins and the forgiveness of Christ can clear the record. Guilt can thwart our progress. Genuine repentance, the decision to turn from sin, brings genuine forgiveness. With a clean slate we need to forget, and not allow our conscience to cripple us from taking our place in the cause of Christ.

We also need to forget any accomplishments or successes. I do not mean to forget how we did these things; we need to remember how we achieved success in order to build on these and accomplish more. But in another sense, we need to forget so that we are not lulled into the attitude that we can rest on our laurels.

There is nothing wrong in glorifying God through our successes and accomplishments and celebrating them. We merely need to temper theses things with the knowledge that as long as we have breath, and there are those who do not know Christ, our work is not finished.

By “forgetting what lies behind” we can reach unhindered “forward to what lies ahead.” What lies ahead is God effecting in us our ongoing transformation into the image of His Son Christ Jesus. Our character, the person we are becoming in Christ, is the only thing that will survive this life, and into eternity.

Here is a key point. Paul is talking about himself. As an apostle of Christ he is duty bound to set an example for other believers, but he is primarily responsible for his own walk with God. God has not called me to criticize another; He has called me to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead, to follow Him.