Atheist Michael Newdow has been pestering the courts to rule that the phrases “under God” found in the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust,” our nation’s national motto, are unconstitutional. The usually liberal Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals surprisingly ruled against Newdow. The Court wrote:
It is something of a surprise to me just how many Christians are unfamiliar with Brian McLaren. Although by no means a household name, Brian McLaren is probably one of the top five most influential writers/thinkers within (and to some degree outside of) evangelicalism. While you or your family may not be reading his books or his website, I can almost guarantee that one or more of the leaders at your church are. Initially, McLaren was nearly synonymous with the "emerging" church movement, but lately he has become more independent of this association; not because he has made a deliberate break with them, but mainly because he has outgrown them. And even though he is saying many of the same things as the emerging church, McLaren has a much bigger platform from which to say it.
Stanley Fish, writing in the New York Times, describes the way various traditions understand the “role of religion and public life.” He begins by pointing out that “Classical Liberalism,” not to be confused with a leftist political philosophy, “is that policy decisions should be made on the basis of secular reasons, reasons that, because they do not reflect the commitments or agendas of any religion, morality or ideology, can be accepted as reasons by all citizens no matter what their individual beliefs and affiliations.” Their reasoning goes like this:
For decades now, modern-day prophecy writers have been claiming that the increase and severity of earthquakes are sure indicators that the rapture is near. Carl G. Johnson wrote in 1972 that “the greatest earthquakes that have ever shaken this world have all come since the close of World War I. Several of them shook the whole earth.” How does he know this since the development of modern-day earthquake measuring equipment didn’t get their start until 1880? The Richter Magnitude Scale wasn’t developed until 1935. Were there more severe earthquakes before 1880? The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 is estimated to have been 9.0 on the Richter scale. John Wesley (1703-1791) mentions a great earthquake that hit Sicily in 1692, describing it as
Some of the inspiration I get for writing articles comes from emails I receive from supporters and antagonists. I received the following email the other day from a supporter who had a good question about a misunderstood and misapplied Bible passage:
One of the more interesting phenomena to arise in televised sports is the fact that many people tune in to the Super Bowl not so much to watch the game, but to watch the ads. The commercials that air during the game – many for the very first time – generate almost as much hype and interest as the action on the field. This year’s game, Super Bowl XLIV, was the most watched program in television history, besting the 27-year old record held by the final episode of M*A*S*H. This is a remarkable accomplishment, especially considering that viewers in 2010 have many more programming options available to them than did viewers in 1983. The Super Bowl is much more than a championship football game, it has become a cultural event. Because of this, Super Bowl ads are often very good indicators of where American culture is as a whole.
The chairwoman of the Texas school board makes the point that the seven Christians on the board are not trying to inject into the historical record what isn’t there but rather to uncover facts that have been suppressed (see related article). “I don’t know that what we’re doing is redefining the role of religion in America,” says Gail Lowe. “Many of us recognize that Judeo-Christian principles were the basis of our country and that many of our founding documents had a basis in Scripture. As we try to promote a better understanding of the Constitution, federalism, the separation of the branches of government, the basic rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, I think it will become evident to students that the founders had a religious motivation.”
For nearly 40 years, Texas has been fighting yearly battles over textbooks for the simple reason that the choices Texas makes, the nation makes. The decision of the school board of Texas will most likely affect the textbook selection of your public schools in your state. Texas distributes 48 million textbooks every year. This is a huge market if you are a textbook publisher. While California is the nation’s largest textbook market, the state’s financial crisis has not made it a major player. New York and Illinois are also big markets. Any new textbooks are going to be tailored to fit with what the textbook adoption agencies decide in to do in Texas since Texas has money to purchase new textbooks. “The state’s $22 billion education fund is among the largest educational endowments in the country.”
Don’t blame “the government.” Don’t blame Democrats or Republicans. Pogo said it best: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We get the government we want. This is the reason Ted Kennedy was in office for more than 40 years. A majority of people in Massachusetts voted for him. He was the titan of big government, and people loved him for it, even though any other politician would have been run out of office after the Mary Jo Kopechne affair. Kennedy’s ability to bring home the bacon blurred their ability of see his legislative record through the Constitution. They were enamored with Camelot, a fictional story of what the Kennedy’s were not. It’s all about the pork. Actually, it’s about the stealing of pork and using elected government officials to do it for us. Stealing money from a neighbor in one state to fund the education of a child in another state will get you arrested. But if you elect enough congressmen to do it, you’re a “progressive.” Like children, we lack self-control. We want what’s not ours. If we are ever going to turn this nation around, we must understand the makeup of self-government.
American Vision received an email from a Christian who claims that it is unloving to condemn the homosexual lifestyle. His arguments are based on faulty science, bad logic, and a misreading of the Bible. His comments are in bold, my comments follow:
What is government? When this question is asked, most people respond by equating government solely to a centralized civil State. Even our language reflects the confusion: “Government? It’s in Washington,” or “The government will take care of its citizens through its many programs.” Both of these statements reflect a misunderstanding of the true nature of government. They portray the idea that the only governing institution is a political one. Historically, however, the term “government” was always qualified in some way, unlike our present-day definitions.
How many times have you heard that the Ten Commandments are no longer necessary today? Or that since Christ said that He came to "fulfill the law" (Matthew 5:17), Christians are not obligated to them any longer. Or that the Ten Commandments were given to Israel, not modern America. The list could go on. Many Christians, unaware as they are of the Old Testament, make all sorts of bizarre remarks to avoid facing up to the fact of God’s law. The pertinent question has been phrased many different ways, but essentially it is this: "If not God’s law, which law? And if not God’s law, why not?" In other words, if God’s law has been set aside, which one do we put in its place? And, if we claim that God’s law is no longer binding on individuals, where do we get our biblical justification for claiming this? The answers have been many and varied, but they have seldom been convincing.
Why is the topic “Does God Exist?” important? Because it has both temporal and eternal significance. Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great, says that religious faith “will never die out, or at least not until we get over our fear of death, and of the dark, and of the unknown, and of each other.” Being afraid of the dark and other people hardly have eternal consequences. The unknown can harbor things that should make us fearful, especially if the unknown means judgment based on what we do in this life. Hitchens has no empirical
Part of the problem in interpreting the Bible is that while it has the marks of ordinary writing, it is much more than literature. Jesus sat down with His disciples after His resurrection and poured over the OT to showed them how all of the books – designated as “Scripture” or “the Scriptures” – applied to Him (Luke 24). We have to assume that the book of Job was included in the survey. In what way is the book of Job a sign post that points to Jesus Christ? I believe it’s found in the use of “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1). Many commentaries have posited that “sons of God” is a reference to angels rather than human beings.
American Vision’s offering of E.C. Wines’ Commentaries on the Laws of the Ancient Hebrews brought many interesting responses. Some of them were troubling. One emailer asked, “Do you want legalism? I sure don’t!” Keeping God’s law is not legalism. Another emailer wrote, “Under the New Covenant, love the Lord God with all thy heart, mind, soul and strength. Love thy neighbor as thy self, encompasses all the law. We are not bound by Mosaic law! [Matt. 22:36-40].” I pointed out that in response to the question by the Pharisees about which is the Greatest Commandment, Jesus quoted the Mosaic law, in particular Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:5. Jesus went on to say that “on these two commandments depend the whole Law and Prophets” (Matt. 22:40). Jesus did not say that because of these two laws the law passes away.
Theodore Olson has written a cover story for Newsweek magazine with the title “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage.” You may remember Ted Olson as an Assistant Attorney General (Office of Legal Counsel) in the Reagan administration. While serving in the Reagan administration, Olson defended the President during the Iran-Contra affair. Olson successfully represented George W. Bush in the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore in the highly contested 2000 Presidential election. He was married to fellow-conservative and author Barbara Olson who was a passenger on the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Unlike every other college and university in America, Penn State University has had only one head football coach during my entire lifetime of 38 years. As a matter of fact, you have to go back six years before I was born to reach the point when Paterno became the head coach at Penn State. And for 16 years before that, Joe was an assistant coach, which puts his entire tenure at the school right at 60 years. That’s longer than most marriages. Actually, it’s longer than Joe’s own marriage. Joe and Sue Pohland were married in 1962 – twelve years after Joe was hired as an assistant coach. And, if you think about it, a marriage is how most pre-Baby Boomer Americans regarded their careers. A marriage of business rather than love of course, but a marriage nonetheless; one where dedication, commitment, and trust was required – on both sides.
With the exception of Rhode Island, every early American colony incorporated the entire Decalogue into its own civil code of laws. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut declared that the Governor and his council of six elected officials would “have power to administer justice according to the laws here established; and for want thereof according to the rule of the word of God.” Also in 1638, the Rhode Island government adopted “all those perfect and most absolute laws of His, given us in His holy word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby. Exod. 24. 3, 4; 2 Chron. II. 3; 2 Kings. II. 17.”