Tuesday, August 19, 2008

“What Difference Does the Gospel Make?” Online

Check out the audios from last June’s New Life Fellowship Bible Conference, “What Difference Does the Gospel Make?” with speakers Thabiti Anyabwile, Anthony Carter, host Pastor Louis Love and Stephen Love.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My ideal Presidential candidate

After listening last Saturday to portions of Rick Warren’s question and answer forum with Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, I wondered what my ideal Presidential candidate would look like. I imagine my ideal Presidential candidate would…

…support the overturning of Roe v Wade
…oppose the legalization of homosexual marriage
…oppose embryonic stem-cell research
…favor nominating men and women to the Supreme Court in the legal mold of a Justice Scalia, Roberts or Alito
…prioritize the creation of jobs and the improvement of our health care and health insurance systems
…be reticent to talk about his faith in public
…be willing to openly admit that white racism is one of the greatest moral failures (if not the greatest moral failure) of this nation
…support public education and public school teachers
…be willing to admit that invading Iraq was a mistake (no “weapons of mass destruction”)
…commit to balancing the national budget
…be willing to do what needs to be done to fix Social Security and Medicare
…support some kind of compassionate immigration reform

Obviously, the candidate I describe is neither Obama nor McCain. I think Obama is wrong about abortion and homosexual marriage. I think McCain is closer to being right on these issues, but I get the feeling he’s only saying what he thinks evangelicals want to hear. I’ve heard nothing from either candidate that would convince me they understand the gospel.

All of which means I still do not know for whom I will vote in November.

Monday, August 04, 2008


According to The Barna Group, “evangelicals” are those who “meet the born again criteria plus seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.”

I was raised by “evangelicals” but, it would have never occurred to them to use the word “evangelical” to describe themselves. If you had asked Pa Bill or Grandma to identify their religion, they would have told you they were “Christians”. Not “evangelicals”, not “Fundamentalist”, not “conservatives” or “liberals”—just “Christians”. If you asked what they meant by “Christian”, they would have probably said they had been “born again” or “converted”. The old folks who knew the Lord loved to tell you that they had been “born again”, “saved” or “converted”.

We have so many labels today. I don’t complain about that, because today it’s not good enough to just say “Christian”. All sorts of people, who would not be recognized as Christians by most Christian denominations 100 years ago, call themselves “Christian” today. So, unfortunately, labels are needed. You have to be very specific about what you mean.

Yet, it’s ironic that I rarely, if ever, hear evangelicals describe themselves anymore as “born again”, “saved” or “converted”. Have we become too sophisticated for biblical labels?

Politics, abortion and evangelicals

When it comes to politics, sincere believers in Jesus Christ can be found on both sides of the Republican-Democrat divide. This may be news to some evangelicals, because the Republican Party has had a lock on the white evangelical vote for at least the past 28 years, since Ronald Reagan’s first election. However, the Republican Party has never had 100% of the evangelical vote. And, we must remember, most Blacks have voted Democrat for at least the past 40 years, and many Blacks are solidly evangelical in their faith and theology (I’m assuming Black evangelicals are included in the Black voting numbers, since I don’t recall ever hearing of any polls of Black evangelicals as a separate group. I guess pollsters simply assume all evangelicals must be white. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve voted for the Republican candidate in 5 out of the last 6 Presidential elections since 1984.).

The political divide amongst Bible-believing Christians between Republican and Democrat still exists as we head towards November, and it seems this fact is about to cause some believers to become unhinged. As hard as it may be for some political conservatives to realize, there are theologically-conservative Christians who support Sen. Barack Obama. Supporting the Democrat candidate doesn’t make one less spiritual or less biblically-informed. There are good reasons not to vote for Sen. John McCain, just as there are good reasons not to vote for Obama. There are good reasons not to support the Republican agenda, just as there are good reasons not to support the Democrat agenda. It’s simply a mistake to wrap our Christianity in the banner of a political party (or in the American flag!).

I’ve been saddened, angered and/or discouraged as I’ve read some of the sarcastic, mean, angry, condescending and hateful things written by some evangelicals about those evangelicals who are not towing the conservative party line. Clearly, some of us evangelicals have put too many of our eggs in the Republican basket. The Republican Party is no more the hope of this nation than the Democrat Party has been the hope of Black people. Just like the Democrats have always promised the Black community more than they have delivered, so the Republicans have promised evangelicals far more than they have delivered. Folks, we need to look to God for change, not to a politician.

The apostle wrote, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God…” (Eph 6:12ff). The text makes no mention about taking up the weapons of politics or the Republican Party. There’s no mention about taking up an attack against fellow-believers.

Many evangelical Christians are up-in-arms about abortion and, hence, about Sen. Obama. In my opinion, more disturbing than the sin of abortion (and, yes, abortion is a sin) or Obama’s support of abortion rights, is the unkind, even sinful, attitude displayed by some believers towards anyone who disagrees with them in any way about anything at any time. I don’t expect righteousness out of the unregenerate. But, I certainly expect better from those who are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. Those who promote abortion, perform abortions and seek abortions (and those who have had abortions) need the gospel, they need to be the subjects of our prayers and the recipients of our concern. The world doesn’t need our hate.

The Bethlehem Institute writes that “abortion is primarily and ultimately an injustice against God.” That’s true! But, the same thing can be said about racism, about societal injustice towards the poor and the residents of our inner cities, about injustice (and hatred) towards foreigners, and many other sins against humanity right here in our country. ALL sin is an injustice against God! There is absolutely no justification for all the vitriol that is being spewed by some Christians over abortion (all while they say virtually nothing about other societal evils).
That kind of attitude is just not right; it doesn’t honor Christ, and reveals our trust is not in the Lord.

I don’t know how I’ll vote this November, but I do know this: I’m not looking to any politician for change. Meaningful and lasting change will only come from the Lord. Our only hope is that God would be pleased to pour out His Spirit on country. Our hope must be in the Lord.