Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Pretend Christians for President?

Abraham Lincoln grew up in a Christian home, but when he was in his early twenties, his law partner described him as “a man surrounded by people exceedingly liberal in matters of religion.” Through their influence, Lincoln was soon a fanatical atheist who argued against the existence of God at every opportunity. He soon gained a reputation for being so contentious about his atheism that people would avoid him on the street. But his faith journey took a providential turn in a different direction when he met and fell in love with Mary Todd, a devoted Episcopalian. Under her loving influence, his atheistic rage turned into a passionate search for the truth about God. Lincoln now devoured the Bible, became a Christian believer and became as fanatic about his new Christian beliefs as he had been with his former atheist beliefs. Recently, liberal scholars have reviewed his early writings as an atheist and discounted his many years of later writings and speeches as a man with deeply held Christian beliefs. The scholars have concluded that, “Lincoln was an atheist or at least an agnostic and that his public use of God-language was merely the religious window dressing required of politicians in a religious age.” They are wrong about Lincoln but do politicians really do that? Is our current president doing that? Are the democratic candidates doing that? Let’s look at some of the politicians in the news today and see what we think based upon what they have said about their religion and their faith...

Every president has been a Christian and that’s why our current crop of candidates are trying so hard to be one themselves. A look at the numbers will show us why: In America, 70.6% of us identify as Christian believers but in the 2016 presidential election, 75% of those who voted were Christians. Last month, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution recognizing the so-called “religious nones” as “the largest religious group” in their party. (Religious nones are atheists, agnostics and those who are not affiliated with any religious faith). As the Democratic party reaches out to embrace this demographic group, that’s why we see some uncomfortable religious contortions by the candidates and hear their puzzling deflections of questions about their faith as they try to be both “Christian” and “non-Christian” at the same time. By the way, only about 22% of all Americans consider themselves to be the “religious nones” but only 15% voted in the 2016 election. 

The following comes from network news sources – mostly from CNN and the candidate’s biographies. Note that following the snippet of information about the candidate’s faith I have put “In My Humble Opinion” (imho) about whether or not I personally believe the person is a Christian believer. You may disagree! All of the Christian democratic candidates have a liberal social justice mind-set and, for some, their words and actions might bring a fundamentalist Christian to a different conclusion about their faith. Even if I strongly disagree with the candidate’s theology and/or lifestyle, I consider them to be a Christian if they appear to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and appear to be sincerely living out their faith as they understand it.

Kamala Devi Harris named after a Hindu goddess, was raised in the Hindu faith by her mother who told the L.A. Times that “A culture that worships goddesses produces strong women.” Hindus do not believe in God and Harris is understandably reluctant to talk about her faith. As a Senator, she listed her religion as “Baptist” but has not attended a Baptist church since the age of twelve. She only talks today about attending the Black Baptist church with a neighbor friend and singing in the choir, but she will not answer questions about her “Baptist” church experience and is most likely referring to Vacation Bible School since small children do not sing in Baptist church choirs. Her policies suggest an anti-Christian bias and she recently stated that the free exercise of religion is meant to be practiced within an institutional religion, meaning that she believes it is inappropriate for us to freely express our religious beliefs outside of church on a Sunday. imho NO

Elizabeth Warren lists her faith as “Methodist” and repeatedly talks about teaching Sunday school fifty years ago during her first marriage. When asked about her church attendance since that time, she deflects the question by replying that she was “raised Methodist” and nearly every time the issue of her faith has been raised, she responds that it doesn’t matter what you believe, it’s about your actions and she quotes Matthew 25 (doing for the least of these). Both Warren and Saunders seem to become uncomfortable, and at times defensive, when being asked questions about their religious beliefs. imho NO

Socialist candidate Bernie Saunders is a cultural Jew who stated, “I am not an atheist but I don’t believe in God.” Huh? He recently told a Black Youth Leadership Conference that, “The Bible, if is about anything, it’s about justice and standing up to the wealthy and powerful.” The anti-Christian Saunders determined that an administration nominee (Russell Vought) was unfit for public office because of his Christian belief that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. imho NO

Beto O’Rouke is a non-practicing Catholic who has publically attacked both the Catholic church and her priests. The large majority of those who are Muslim, Jewish, and Christian believe that human sexuality and marriage are rooted in Scripture. O’Rouke recently stated that, if elected, he would ensure that any church who holds to those traditional religious beliefs and does not conform to liberal thought about same sex marriages would lose their tax-exempt status. A collective shudder went through the rest of the progressive candidates as they saw that the political blunder of one of their own guaranteed that he will never be elected our President. imho NO

Tulsi Gabbard is deeply committed to the polytheistic (many gods) religion of Vaishnava Hinduism, which teaches that the preserver god Vishnu and his incarnation Krishna are Supreme Gods. She took her congressional oath of office on the supreme yoga/Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. I have a lot of respect for her because she is openly honest about her religion and is not pretending to be a Christian to win an election! imho NO

Cory Booker is the most outspoken about his Baptist faith and when he speaks in churches he preaches his liberal politics with the passion and cadence of a Black Baptist preacher. I was impressed by what appeared to be his genuine and sincere Christian beliefs until after a shooting, he told CNN news that “offering thoughts and prayers (for victims and survivors) was bulls**t.” He was making a point about gun control but that statement offended and turned away many of the Black (and non-Black) Christian voters whose support he needs next year. He also offended Black conservative voters when he applied a “religious test” to judicial nominee Naomi Rao and grilled her on her Christian beliefs about same sex marriage to make sure her beliefs were in alignment with his own progressive liberal religious beliefs. imho YES

Pete Buttigieg was baptized in the Catholic church as an infant and he grew up attending Catholic schools. While at Oxford University, he began to explore his sexuality and transferred from the conservative Catholic church to the ultra-liberal Episcopal church. He and his husband are members of that church and both are regular church-goers. Buttigieg articulates well the social justice doctrine of his Episcopal church and has said that “Scripture is about protecting the stranger, and the prisoner, and the poor person, and that idea of welcome.” imho YES

“My religion defines who I am,” said Joe Biden, “And I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life.” Biden has said that it was his faith that brought him through the death of his first wife, Neilia, and his infant daughter in a car crash and through the death of his son, Beau, in 2015. A few years ago, Biden publicly stated that he supported his Church’s doctrine on abortion and marriage and his votes as a Senator affirmed his Christian beliefs. During his current run for president, his progressive liberal advisers are redefining who he is and he no longer supports Catholic doctrine on abortion and marriage. Last Sunday, Biden attended a Catholic church and was denied Communion by the priest who later said, "Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching." Bishops and practicing Catholics are divided over whether Biden is still “Catholic.” But from a strictly Biblical point of view that we are saved through grace alone by faith alone then, imho YES

Let’s look now at our most recent former President. Barack Hussein Obama was born to a Muslim father and an atheist mother who listed his religion as “Muslim” in the Indonesian school where he received instruction in the Islam faith. Obama said he was converted to Christianity when he was twenty seven and was baptized at Trinity United Church in Chicago. The pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was quoted in a recorded interview as saying, “I made it comfortable for him to accept Christianity without having to renounce his Islamic background.” But those who attended Trinity United Church of Christ said that Obama and his family were never involved in their church and he only attended for political reasons. Obama often spoke eloquently about his Christian beliefs and yet in 2015, a CNN poll showed that 29% believed he was Muslim. No modern president has ever had his faith questioned to the extent that Obama had. imho ???

If you’d asked me in 2016, I would have said Hillary Clinton imho YES and Donald Trump imho NO!!! 

Donald Trump may tie with Dwight D. Eisenhower for being the least Christian president when he was elected. (Eisenhower was a Jehovah’s Witness who, after being elected, was persuaded by the Rev. Billy Graham to become baptized and join the Presbyterian church.) During Trump’s campaign, his cluelessness about the Christian faith was sometimes laughable. He misquoted the Bible several times and one time referred to “Second Corinthians” as “two Corinthians.” At one photo opportunity to show him in church, he revealed his unfamiliarity with a church service when the communion plate was being passed down the pew and he took a wad of cash out of his pocket confusing the communion plate with the collection plate. I remember the photo of him holding up a Bible. It’s a very old – what appears to be a pew Bible – hardcover, tattered and well-worn from years of use in a church. Stamped on this old pew Bible in very large brand-new shiny gold letters to be easily picked up by the camera, was the name DONALD TRUMP. When people were seeing the things I just commented on and they were disbelieving that Trump was a Christian, he held this Bible up at a conservative Christian rally and said that his mother gave it to him many years ago. Perhaps. But it looked like a prop to me. During the campaign, Trump said the Bible was his favorite book but he was never able to answer any questions about it. During an interview, he was asked if he liked the Old or New Testament better and he replied, "It’s all the same to me." He was asked to name his favorite Bible verse and he replied by saying his “favorite chapter in Proverbs was never bend to envy." Trump didn’t know the difference between a Bible “chapter” and a “verse” and the so-called biblical quote "never bend to envy" does not appear in the Bible. Trump said to an interviewer that he’d never asked God for forgiveness but, “When I drink my little wine and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness.” 

During a sermon where I did not advocate for any candidate but just talked about the faith of each one, I said that if Trump is elected president, he may be the most atheistic, immoral and ungodly president we have ever had. I would not say that today. Under the influence of Evangelical Christian Vice-President Pence, Trump has surrounded himself with Evangelical Christians and his first Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus was a devout Eastern Orthodox Christian. The majority of Trump’s cabinet are Evangelical Christians and a few days ago, the media expressed their rage after Trump asked HUD secretary Dr Ben Carson to open the cabinet meeting in prayer. According to the racially diverse group of megachurch pastors Trump has invited to advise him on matters of faith, Trump has accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and is now a Christian believer. I trust those Black, Hispanic and White men and women of God who know Trump better than you and I do. That's why if we apply the same standard to Trump that we applied to the liberal candidates, then... imho YES

Which Presidents were the most religious? Jimmy Carter was the first “born again” president and he still teaches Sunday School in his Baptist church. George W. Bush was our Nation’s most outspoken Evangelical president. William McKinley was a strict Methodist who avoided drinking, swearing and other sins and sang hymns while working in his White House office and James Garfield was the only ordained clergyman to serve as president. And of course, Abraham Lincoln who as president attended church weekly, kept a Bible on his White House desk and would turn conversations with his visitors into discussions about religion. Lincoln gave magnificent political speeches and proclamations that were God-centered and in one of his inaugural addresses spoke of “Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land.” 

One of the above democratic candidates or Donald Trump will most likely be our next President and you may cry tears of great joy or tears of rage and grief. Just remember that no matter what the outcome, we have a God who has never yet forsaken this favored land and never will. God is in control. “The Lord has established His throne in Heaven, And His Kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19

This material was compiled from network news, other third-party news sources, Wikipedia and campaign biographies and is intended to give the reader information about the apparent religious views of various political candidates. Nothing is intended to be a recommendation for or against any individual politician running for office. You are encouraged to let this information be a starting point and do your own research that you may vote wisely.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Do You Need A Rescue List?

Dear Friends,

There’s a story of an old country parson who was always filled with the joy of the Lord and unrelentingly thankful even during the worst of circumstances. That Saturday an unexpectedly huge snow storm swept over their town and they awoke Sunday morning to downed trees, no electrical power and collapsed roofs. As a few hardy parishioners gathered in the church for Sunday services they grumbled out loud that there was certainly nothing for the good reverend to be thankful about that morning. “MERCIFUL FATHER!” bellowed the pastor, “WE COME INTO THY PRESENCE AND THANK THEE THAT NOT ALL DAYS ARE LIKE THIS ONE..!!”

We celebrate Thanksgiving day in November but as Christians, we have so much to be thankful for, one day is not enough for us.  We have a season of Lent to prepare us for Easter Sunday and a season of Advent to prepare us for Christmas Day. Perhaps we need a “season of thanksgiving” and maybe the season should start today and never come to an end. Because as Christian believers, everyday should be a day of thanksgiving. G.K. Chesterton said, “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” And that's why the Apostle Paul said, “ everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 

As the country parson found, there is always something we can give thanks for even in the worst of storms. But how do we remain thankful for all things in the middle of our personal life-storms? We were talking with a good friend last week about how easy it is to pray, keep encouraged and have hope for our future when life is going well and how difficult that all is when we are down and discouraged. When our circumstances have plunged us into the pit of despair, it can seem like there’s nothing we can be thankful for now or ever again. We may find ourselves desperately searching for something good to hang on to, but positive thoughts are elusive and gratitude is beyond our grasp. And, that’s why we need a rescue list.
If my computer crashes, I have a “rescue disk” that I can use to reboot my computer and bring it back to life. If my day crashes, my “rescue list” will bring it back to life. I read those things which make me happy and a positive perspective will be restored; my thankfulness will be re-booted. I will be reminded of how good life really is and how much hope I have as a Christian believer. I am reminded that no matter what circumstances I find myself in at the moment, as the hymn goes: “All is well with my soul.” I’m sharing my list with you in the hope you will be inspired to make your own rescue list that will lift you out of the storms of life, fill your heart with gratitude to a gracious God and restore peace to your soul.

This list is very personal but I wanted you to see what I’m talking about. For the past six years it’s lived at the very front of my Bible so that I always know where it is and can quickly find it. These are just some of the things for which I am most thankful. Some may sound spiritual to you and some you may think are just plain silly, but they all bring a smile to my face when I read these.

I would encourage you to make your own “rescue list.” Make it personal and don’t worry if it’s serious or silly. Write down those things that you are most thankful for right now. What brings a smile to your face? What brings joy to your heart? Write those down; tuck the list in your Bible until you need it. The friend I mentioned has a sign in her kitchen that says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” When your life turns sour, reflecting with gratitude upon the things in your list that bring joy to your life will be the sweetener for your “lemonade.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Earthquakes and Fires

Dear Friends,

At 4:30 am on January 17,1994, it felt like a huge giant beneath our house was slamming his fist against the floor. We were being tossed up out of bed towards the ceiling! When the Northridge Earthquake stopped, we found our house almost literally turned upside down. The only pieces of furniture left upright were the beds and the living room piano that had been against the wall but was now eight feet away and in the middle of the room. Months later we were attending a new church and making friends with the worship leader and his wife. When she found out how much damage our house had, she told us that their house had no damage because they pray for God’s protection and then she quoted Proverbs 3:33 “The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked but He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.” Okay..Thanks Patty! Now I understand why we had so much damage! (We never became close friends..)

She was a fervent Pentecostal who believed and taught in their home Bible study what is known as “Positive Confession Theology” that some call “name it and claim it.” She had commanded God to place a legion of angels around her home and proudly told us that was why they had sustained no serious earthquake damage. Maybe she was correct and she and her husband were the righteous ones while my wife and I were the wicked ones. Or maybe she and her husband lived about 40 miles from Northridge while we lived in Sylmar and almost directly on top of the shallow end of the Earthquake fault that broke. The closer to the surface, the more violent the shaking and the strongest vertical forces in the Valley were measured right across the street from us. That’s the “natural” explanation but the “supernatural” explanation is that God does not play favorites. Romans 2:11“He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:45 And I was again reminded yesterday that not only the rains but also the fires of nature can sweep away the homes of the righteous and the unrighteous alike. Homes of the most devout Christians are destroyed in the Santa Ana-fed fiery holocausts along with the homes of the most wicked of sinners. 

Last Thursday night, the Saddleridge Fire started just over a mile West of my house. Heavy Santa Ana winds were blowing toward the West. If they had been blowing East, our neighborhood, right across the street from the hills on fire, would have been quickly engulfed in the flames. At one point, the burning embers were traveling over a mile in the winds and igniting spot fires. In just three hours the fire had exploded to 4,700 acres, the fire was now miles away with many homes lost and the fire resources were deployed to the housing developments in the northern part of the valley. With a minimum of firefighters left in Sylmar, the East Side of the fire in the hills was steadily burning unchecked all night long and directly toward us. By morning, it was right across the street. 

My neighbor and I remembered well the 2008 Sayre Fire that burned houses on each side of us in these same foothills. We knew that when the fire burned past us, the now South blowing winds would blast the embers directly toward our houses and onto our properties. The winds had filled our one acre properties with dried leaves and it takes only one ember to burn down a house. My three 100 foot hoses were stretched out and ready to go. We watched and waited. Then thanks be to God, at 8:35 am, two DC-10 air tankers, each carrying 12,000 gallons of fire retardant, showed up.

Taken from my backyard. 10/11/19 @ 8:35 am
As they dropped their load on the Eastern flank of the fire directly across the street from us, my neighbor and I both stood there praising and thanking God. We watched the blazing fire race up to the retardant and smolder to a stop. It was done and over for us. I unpacked things like the files, computer and guitar from the car while Rhianna put away the cat carriers. But it’s hard to celebrate your blessings when you know that 35 families lost their homes, pets and possessions. Many more had homes partially destroyed in the fires. Where were their DC-10's... 

We thank God for His grace as we pray for those who suffered. And when we are suffering, we can only hope that those who received His grace will remember to pray for us. Life happens to all of us. “The same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, whether righteous or wicked, good or bad, ceremonially clean or unclean, religious or irreligious. Good people receive the same treatment as sinners, and people who make promises to God are treated like people who don’t.” Ecclesiastes 9:2 NLT It can be easy for us Christians to become spiritually prideful and feel “special” and entitled to God’s favor. I’m sorry to say that the religious arrogance of the worship leader’s wife is not uncommon among us good, church-goin’ Christians. But the truth is that “The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time. Ecclesiastes 9:11 NLT 

I sit down at my desk the morning after the fire to write this AMEN Corner. My cat Cody is curled up between the keyboard and the monitor and he’s purring in his sleep. I’m surrounded by my treasured books and the material things that God has gifted me with over my lifetime. I have these things because I live a mile or so East of the fire’s point of origin. If I lived a mile West, I could very well be homeless today. I was not living in the “right place at the right time” during the Northridge Earthquake but I was last Thursday night. God did not send a DC-10 loaded with fire retardant to stop the fire across the street because I’ve always been His favorite. Both the hellish flames and the retardant that quenches the fire, fall on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. God loves my neighbors and me no more and no less than those who lost their homes and are today grieving one of life’s worst personal tragedies. That’s why we can’t ever thank Him for what He has given us without praying for the needs others.
Heavenly Father, You are the compassionate Lord who loves each one of Your children. We pray for those who have been devastated by these wildfires and hold in our hearts the families forever changed by grief and loss. Bring them consolation and comfort. Help them heal from the anxiety and fears they experienced that night. Surround them with Your strength and peace as You heal their memories of this trauma and devastation. May the Holy Spirit be with them and give them the courage to face the long road of rebuilding not just their homes but their broken lives.
We ask Your blessing on the firefighters and emergency personnel who put their own life on the line to help others, and pray that they would be surrounded with Your protection. May their work be guided by the grace and strength that comes from You alone. In the name of Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You and Holy Spirit both now and ever. AMEN.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Church Rules!

Dear Friends,

Outrageous! murmured the church leader as he nudged the man standing beside him and pointed to the renegade Jesus Christ. There He goes again! Who does He think He is? Healing on the Sabbath! Totally against church rules! Not only a clear violation of God’s law, but a detestable offense to all those who love God! And our Bible goes on to tell us that to make things worse, this maverick Messiah even did the healing in church! Right there in the synagogue! Before God and everybody! Luke 6:6-11 Oy vey!

The Pharisees in the synagogue were filled with rage and can you blame them? If we didn’t have church rules we’d have anarchy and lawlessness in our churches. It would be a total disaster! Thank God for the Pharisees who keep God’s house proper and orderly! The Pharisees were the religious leaders who controlled and appointed priests, set temple laws, wrote the liturgy and the rituals. They followed a combination of God’s written law in the scriptures along with the “oral tradition” that they had added. These church leaders gave the oral laws the same authority as God’s written laws. Jesus had a problem with that. Because that’s the sin of legalism. 

I was told many decades ago that “Every Christian has a little bit of Pharisee in them” and while you may object to that generalization, it’s been true of every Christian I have ever known and it is most definitely true of the man I see in my bathroom mirror. It’s also true of all churches and denominations who make up their own laws based on their distinctive church traditions and give them the same weight as the word of God. We Protestants shake our heads at all the unbiblical oral laws, rituals and traditions in the Catholic Church and then we make up our own unbiblical Protestant laws, rituals and traditions. 

I’ve been associated with a conservative church in which there was a great deal of discussion about renting the property for weddings because during the receptions, unmarried Christians were dancing on the property! (we all knew what dancing can lead to!) I’ve been associated with a liberal mainline church who did not permit a person who had accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior to be baptized in their church unless the person was approved by a vote of their membership committee. (John the Baptist did defer to the membership committee before those Jordan river baptisms, didn’t he?) 

A simple definition of legalism is when things that are okay with God, aren’t okay with us. That’s not to say that we can’t create our own rules, rituals and traditions, but when we enforce them as if they were a commandment from God, that’s when it becomes the sin of legalism. And yes. Jesus does have a problem with that.

A 2013 survey by the Barna Group revealed that 51% of Christians in American exhibited attitudes and actions that are more like the Pharisees than they are like Christ. Their attitudes were self-righteous and hypocritical. Sadly, only 14% of all Christians surveyed reflected attitudes and actions that better resembled the attitudes and actions of Christ. The most Christ-like Christians in attitude and behavior were Evangelicals (23%) while only 13%-14% of Catholics, mainline denomination Christians and “notional” (meaning in name only) Christians were Christ-like in their attitude and behavior. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at the attitudes and behaviors of that person in our mirror... 

How do we know if we are more like a Pharisee than we are like Jesus? The more religious you become, the more critical you are of other people. We spend much time talking about what we are against and believe that it is our personal responsibility to take a stand against those who do not follow our own Christian beliefs and values. We focus on pointing out why others are wrong in their church doctrine or traditions. We prefer to be only with like-minded Christians. We make our salvation based on our following “rules and traditions” and not on our faith that comes solely from the grace of God. We believe that outsiders must conform to our distinctive Christian lifestyle before we can accept them in our church. 

A middle-age single woman tells me that she’s been an “outlier” in every church she’s attended because our unspoken rule is that marriage and family is the highly-valued Christian norm and singles just don’t conform to the idyllic church lifestyle. Our “membership committees” admit or deny entrance to our church clubhouse based on whether or not they look, sound, act and smell like us. But thank God that, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

To be more in attitude and action like Jesus we would need to listen to others before we tell them about our faith. We’d need to hang out with unbelievers and those struggling with their faith. We’d need to see that God loves every person no matter what their past looked like and He invites all to accept Jesus as their Savior. We’d need to let others know that God loves them. Instead of telling them how they must change to conform to our church expectations, we need to just love them like Jesus and let God do the hands-on work of changing them. We’d need to help and serve others outside the church. Matthew 25:31-46 needs to be how we live out our faith. Jesus never handed out a legalistic “to-do” list of what must be accomplished in order to achieve righteousness. He just showed them the grace, mercy and love of God. Lord, may we simply do the same. Amen?

Republished From An Earlier AMEN Corner

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Evangelicals - An Inconvenient Truth

Dear Friends,

It has become an “accepted” narrative among the mainstream media in our Country that Evangelical Christians are the enemy of our Nation. We see that in interviews, commentaries and discussions across the TV news networks and the internet “news.” A recent article in the left-leaning Atlantic acknowledged that Evangelical Christians “have been mocked, scorned, and dishonored by the elite culture over the years.” An editorial in the L.A. Times characterized all Evangelicals as “racist.” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough lamented the “degradation of evangelical Christianity” because about  seven-in-ten white evangelical Protestants (69%) say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president. That same poll* showed that 52% of the most liberal church in America (ELCA) also approves of Trump, but that unmentionable fact gets set aside because it does not fit the accepted narrative. According to the media, the good guys belong to the National Council of Churches which is an organization of the mainline and left-leaning Protestant churches and the bad guys belong to the National Association of Evangelicals which are the conservative and right-leaning Protestant churches. Evangelical Christians are characterized as being intolerant, supporting white supremacy, hate gays and lesbians, are “warmongers” and hate immigrants. By the way we are portrayed in the media, it is no wonder that so many in our younger generations are now anti-Christian. So let’s now shed some light on an inconvenient truth. The following is the statement on “Social Justice” from the conservative National Association of Evangelicals:

Jesus summed up God’s law by commanding us to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Matthew 22:35-40 By deed and parable, Jesus taught that anyone in need is our neighbor. Luke 10:29-37 God created all people in his image. The inherent dignity that rich and poor alike possess leads us to share our resources with one another - particularly with those in need. God identifies with the poor and says that those who “are kind to the poor lend to the Lord” while those who oppress the poor “show contempt for their Maker.” Psalm 146:5-9; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 14:31 Jesus said that those who do not care for the needy and the imprisoned demonstrate by such lack of action that they are not his followers. Matthew 25:31-46 The vulnerable include not only the poor, but those with less power, such as women, children, the aged, persons with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, minorities, the persecuted, prisoners and victims of human trafficking. Moreover, God measures societies by how they treat the vulnerable and powerless. His prophets call his people to create just and righteous societies. Isaiah 10:1-4; Isaiah 58:3-12; Jeremiah 5:26-29; Jeremiah 22:13-19; Amos 2:6-7; Amos 4:1-3; Amos 5:10-15 The prophetic teaching insists on both a fair legal system, which does not favor either the rich or the poor, and a fair economic system, which does not tolerate perpetual poverty. It also forbids usury and predatory lending that harms the poor. Exodus 22:25; Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Ezekiel 18:7-9 Economic justice includes the mitigation of suffering, the promotion of equality of opportunity and the restoration of wholeness. The Bible condemns gross disparities in opportunity and outcome that cause suffering and perpetuate poverty. God wants people to have access to productive resources, so they can care for their economic needs and contribute to their community. For example, children need a high-quality education in order to fully develop their God-given talents. Access to proper nutrition, shelter and health care are also important ingredients in helping people transcend poverty. Our social safety net must aim to provide opportunity and restore people to self-sufficiency. Adequate funding for food, shelter and health care should be maintained so that those who cannot care for their families and themselves receive the support they need. We urge Christians who work in the political realm to shape wise laws pertaining to the creation of wealth, wages, education, taxation, immigration, consumer protection and health care that will protect those trapped in poverty and empower them to improve their circumstances. Since family systems are also important for nurturing healthy individuals and overcoming poverty, public policy should support families and marriages. Governments should hold parents responsible for the maintenance of their families, enforcing the collection of child-support payments, and should protect family members from physical and sexual abuse. Immigration policies should prioritize family unity and avoid separating families by deportation or detention. Criminal justice reform should consider how over- incarceration breaks up families. We further believe that care for the vulnerable should extend beyond our national borders. American diplomacy and trade policies impact the poor. We urge our leaders to negotiate trade agreements that broadly benefit those of modest means while protecting human rights and the environment. We also believe effective aid and other initiatives for the reduction of global poverty should be a central concern of American foreign policy. We support strategies that encourage honesty in government, correct unfair socioeconomic structures, empower the poor, promote local entrepreneurship and grassroots economic development, protect refugees, and welcome immigrants. Government should continue to partner with effective international aid agencies, including those that are faith based. In many parts of the world, extreme poverty, disease, famine, environmental degradation, persecution, civil war, and weak or corrupt government create the conditions in which large populations become vulnerable. We support Christian agencies and government policies that promote healthy communities and just, democratic structures. 

Evangelical Christians are often attacked by both those in mainline liberal churches and those in the media for a lack of commitment to the economically disadvantaged and the vulnerable in our society. But the “inconvenient truth” is that the above social justice statement from our Nation’s conservative churches sounds like it’s from the liberal church! That’s because it’s simply what all Christians should believe. It is because of statements such as this one on social justice that New Hope Family Church and New Hope Ministries have always been a member of the National Association of Evangelicals. 

* Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), which surveys over 64,000 Americans every two years

You are if you believe in...

1) The reality of the Trinity. 

2) The deity of Jesus Christ. 

3) The virgin birth. 

4) His sinless life and in His miracles. 

5) The bodily resurrection of Jesus. 

6) The infallibility and authority of the Bible for all matters of faith and religious practice. 

7) The fallenness of all humanity. 

8) Salvation provided by Jesus through His suffering, death and resurrection. 

9) The necessity of personal repentance and acceptance of Jesus. 

10) The importance of a devotional life and growth in holiness and discipleship. 

11) The urgency of evangelism and social transformation. 

12) The return of Jesus Christ to judge the world and establish the final, full rule and reign of God. 

If you can say “YES and AMEN” to these twelve timeless, apostolic, classic and historic Biblical teachings, no matter what church you attend, you are Evangelical.