The alternative to (Kerry, Gore, Kennedy, Clintons, Reeve & Michael J. Fox's) worldview is not a compassionate society that excludes "only" tiny embryos; it's a society that lacks compassion in which protection and inclusion are based on power and one's ability to make a contribution. It's a utilitarianism that seeks to promote the greatest good for the greatest number and in the process will be willing to sacrifice the weak and the vulnerable. And that is an age-old dilemma.
The irony is that this ethic leaves little, if any, room for people like the late Christopher Reeve. On a strictly utilitarian basis, the resources devoted to caring for the severely injured could be "better expended" on those with prospects for a full recovery. But, of course, we don't believe that.
The fact that we don't operate that way is a testimony to what Christianity taught our culture about the sanctity of human life. And if we continue to value and protect the vulnerable, it will be because millions of Christians keep hope alive by remembering what matters most: human life. http://xrl.us/dom6 http://xrl.us/dono
Two familiar quotations come to mind as being applicable as we approach the end of the first quarter of the year 2006. The first is the opening line of Charles Dickens memorable “A Tale of Two Cities” – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …”
And the second one, equally appropriate, is from Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Where to begin? In no particular order of importance or chronologically, here are a few of the situations facing American Evangelical Christians in today’s world.
(1) The Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) is at it again. Just two years ago, on March 7, 2004, Vicky Gene Robinson was invested as the 9th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. Bishop Robinson is an openly practicing homosexual living with a male lover, and has only recently admitted that he is an alcoholic and has entered a treatment center. But he remains as Bishop, and the ECUSA is near a schism, having lost many churches, and a sharp decline in membership. Even the world-wide Anglican Communion has experienced serious dissention over the issue.
Apparently ECUSA didn’t learn from this experience and now as California seeks to choose a new Bishop, at least 3 of the final 7 candidates scheduled for the May election have same-sex partners. The national Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold admits that there may be what he termed a “definite difficulty” if a homosexual Bishop is elected, but feels he should not interfere. Why an historic Christian denomination would attempt another try at ecclesiastical suicide is hard to understand, but such a possibility seems to be real.
(2) In Afghanistan Islam’s Shariah law is thwarted, at least for now. The court in Kabul hearing the charges against Abdul Rahman, a convert from Islam to Christianity, has dismissed the death penalty case for lack of evidence. Rahman has been released while the government attorneys review their charges against him, and is seeking asylum in a non-Muslim country. In a videotaped message, Rahman who converted to Christianity some 16 years ago, is said to have testified, “The punishment by hanging? I will accept it gladly, but I am not an infidel. I am not a traitor. I am a follower of Jesus.” Two facts are of significance to American Christians. (1) Such an enforcement of Shariah law would indicate a grasp of power and influence of the Taliban which was supposedly eliminated by our military action in Afghanistan, and (2) We must always remember that Abdul Rahman is just one of many Christian believers who daily face death for their faith. The international publicity accorded this instance should focus the attention of Christians throughout the world on the evil intent of Islam and Shariah law, and arouse further official denunciation of this outrageous attack on the concept of religious freedom.
(3) The illegal immigration issue is “front and center” before Congress this week. The difficulties in developing a bill which will satisfy the demands of the various opinions so evident on capitol hill are enormous. The quick passage of a bill out of the Judiciary Committee does not signify equally quick action in the full Senate. As the debate moves forward, there appears to be one point of agreement – as stressed in last week’s EPOCH Commentary – the urgent need for halting the entry of illegals across our borders and at our entry points. This obviously requires a restructuring of our immigration and naturalization processes. The other elements of a comprehensive bill must deal with the “guest worker” concept, and future naturalization procedures. The massive protests in several major cities over the past weekend probably will not affect any decisions in the legislative process – such demonstrations seldom have any such effect – but they do serve to indicate how strong the public's feeling is with respect to this issue. The stance of some religious leaders in urging active opposition to complying with the law of the land is of serious concern. In so many ways, the debates now under way in Congress are tremendously important to all Americans.
(4) True Christian believers are on the rise according to at least two reports released this week. The Barna report issued on Monday disclosed that new data indicates that 45% of all adults may be classified as born again – an increase over the level of 31% in 1983 and over the 36% - 43% range from 1992 through 2005. Relating these new figures to the overall “Christian” population of America is equally encouraging. (1) Evangelicals who are born again but also active in spreading their faith now represent 9% of American adults. (2) Non-Evangelical born agains represent 36% of all adults. (3) The so-called “Notional Christians,” who consider themselves Christian but are not born again, have declined from a level of 46% in 1991 to 36% today. (4) And those who consider themselves either atheist or agnostic, and those who hold to other faiths, each represent less than 10% of the adult population. To summarize in a brief statement: religiously America is moving in the right direction (Data from The Barna Group, Ventura CA, www.barna.org)
And that trend is evident also in the enrollment figures for Christian colleges and universities. The 102 Evangelical schools which belong to the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities have seen an increase in enrollment of 70% since 1990. By contrast, enrollment at all public institutions increased by only 13% and at private colleges by 28%. There is a large pool of potential applicants in the 300,000 to 400,000 Evangelical students who will graduate from high schools each year. “Students often want to study where their religious beliefs are respected, and respect for faith can be hard to find on secular campuses,” said Naomi Riley, deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal, “It’s nice for students to go to a place where they don’t have to always be defending their faith.”
(5) Looking ahead: Gay pride observance in Jerusalem? Remember just one year ago – the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans-sexuals (LGBT) were planning for a massive Gay Pride observance called “World Pride 2005.” Fortunately it was postponed, but the LGBT organizers are back at work again, and plans for “World Pride 2006” are moving ahead. The population of Jerusalem is somewhat less than 700,000 but the organizers are planning for 100,000 delegates from all over the world, or a crowd equal to 1/7 of the city’s population. The major religions which have ties to Jerusalem – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – all reject the concept of homosexuality. Yet this holy city, revered by so many of the world’s people, will be the scene of decadent activities taking place in sites where our Lord lived and ministered as recorded in the Scriptures. Christians should pray that circumstances will again cause this sordid event not to take place.
Those are just a few of the widely varying situations unfolding across the country and elsewhere in the world. All can well be matters for prayer, including prayers of thanksgiving for all the blessings God has showered upon this nation.
Quote for the week: "I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them ... we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible, for this Divine Book, above all others, constitutes the soul of republicanism." -- Benjamin Rush, physican, educator and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
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In 1796 the US Supreme Court issued this ruling, "By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion, and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed on equal footing." Some 57 years later, after Congress was petitioned to separate Christian principles from government, in 1853 the House Judiciary Committee issued their formal report, including these words: "In this age there is no substitute for Christianity. This was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to be the religion of their dependents. The great vital, conservative elements in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ." - - - Dr. Gerald Beavan
A UNC student was speeding down the road in her little red sports car and was pulled over by a female police officer for the City of Chapel Hill*, who was a UNC grad.
The cop asked to see the student's driver's license. She dug through her purse and was getting progressively more agitated. "What does it look like?" she finally asked. The policewoman replied, "It's square and it has your picture on it." The driver finally found a square mirror, looked at it and handed it to the policewoman. "Here it is," she said. The officer looked at the mirror, then handed it back saying, "Okay, you can go. I didn't realize you were a cop. (Tks: Shirl)
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The Khmer Rouge followed a harsh brand of communism, killing nearly two million people in their bid to return Cambodia to Year Zero. Now they have a new faith: evangelical Christianity.
Hundreds of former fighters have been baptised in the past year. The Khmer Rouge's mountain stronghold, the town of Pailin in south-west Cambodia, has four churches, all with pastors and growing congregations. At least 2,000 of those who followed Pol Pot, the guerrillas' former leader who died six years ago, now worship Jesus.
Many new converts were involved in the bloody battles, massacres and forced labour programmes that led to the Killing Fields. Between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge sought to eradicate religion, ripping down the country's biggest cathedral, killing Muslim clerics and turning Buddhist temples into pigsties.
According to one pastor, 70 per cent of the converts in Pailin are Khmer Rouge. For many, it offers a hope of salvation. 'When I was a soldier I did bad things. I don't know how many we killed. We were following orders and
thought it was the right thing to do,' said Thao Tanh, 52. 'I read the Bible and I know it will free me from the weight of the sins I have committed.' http://xrl.us/dnws
A cowboy lost his favorite book while he was mending fences out on the range.
The next morning a cow walked up carrying the book in it's mouth. The cowboy couldn't believe his eyes!
He took the book out of the cow's mouth & exclaimed, "It's a miracle!"
"Not really...." said the cow. "Your name was written inside the cover."
News Flashes just in for the year 2035:
Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions in seventh largest country in the world, California.
White minorities still trying to have English recognized as California's third language.
Spotted Owl plague threatens northwestern United States crops and livestock.