Tag Archives: Bible

Oh, yes, and then there’s the Golden Rule

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“Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets.”

Matthew 7:12

Ah, yes. You’ve that said before, yes?

The New Testament of the Bible attributes that admonition to none other than Jesus of Nazareth.

I am extremely nervous melding Scripture with contemporary American politics. But the Golden Rule seems somehow appropriate to mention in this context.

Ted Cruz last night stood before the Republican National Convention and delivered a stem winder of a speech that said almost everything he was expected to say … except for this: “I hereby endorse Donald J. Trump for president of the United States.”

He didn’t go there. And why do you suppose he declined to take that step?

Because of what he described as the “slander” and “defamation” of this wife and father. Trump tweeted that unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz during the primary campaign. Then he implied that Sen. Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s assassination. Sen. Cruz told the Texas convention delegates this morning that he couldn’t endorse someone who had treated two of his loved ones with such cruelty.

“I am not in the habit of supporting those who attack and slander my wife and my father,” he said.

It’s fair to ask: How do you suppose Donald Trump would react if someone had said anything like that about his father and his wife?

The Golden Rule can be found in many religious contexts, be it Judaism, Hinduism and Islam … in addition to Christianity.

Trump has said he is a “religious person.” Well, someone who knows and follows the teachings provided in the Holy Bible might be aware of what Matthew’s Gospel tells us about how to treat others.

The Golden Rule seems always to take a beating during the heat of a fierce political battle. Politicians say things about their opponents that they never would tolerate from others and none of this is unique to the current campaign.

Trump’s way of tossing out insults and innuendo as weapons against his foes — and against their family members — puts the Golden Rule into sharper-than-usual focus during this election cycle.

I know that critics of this blog will respond with rejoinders about how politicians dating back to the beginning of the Republic have said far worse than what Trump has uttered.

Fine. Bring it on.

However, at this very moment my particular focus is on a major political party’s nominee for the presidency of the United States of America. This man has failed to abide by the Golden Rule.

Pope Francis: evolution is biblical, too

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Pope Francis is my kind of holy man.

The head of the Catholic Church has declared that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and the Bible’s account of creation aren’t mutually exclusive.

Imagine that.

http://www.rawstory.com/2014/10/god-is-not-a-magician-pope-says-christians-should-believe-in-evolution-and-big-bang/

“Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve,” the pope told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Of course, this is the same spiritual authority who has spoken out about climate change and global warming. And why not? He’s a scientist by training and education.

I’ve long been able to justify evolution with the way the Bible describes the creation of the universe. I’ve never been able to accept that Scripture’s account that God created Earth in six days and then rested on the seventh meant that he did all of that in seven calendar days as we understand the measurement of time.

The Holy Father also said he doesn’t believe that God is a “magician” who waved a “magic wand” that enabled him to anything he wanted. “That is not so,” the pope said.

Sure, it’s nice that I happen to agree with the Holy Father on this point.

He’s a lot closer to God than I am. But if I am interpreting his view of how the world was created, I am going to presume he sees the Bible as a sort of holy metaphor.

The world isn’t really 6,000 years old, as some have said in interpreting Scripture literally, word for word.

That’s what I have believed since I was old enough to read about such things. I’m glad that the head of one of the world’s great religions agrees with me.

Does he agree with your view of the world?

Yes, pray for the president

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David Perdue is a U.S. senator from Georgia.

I don’t know much about him, other than he’s a Republican and — perhaps because he’s a Southern Republican — he’s probably quite conservative and devout in his faith.

He spoke today to the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in which he was talking about how we should pray for those in leadership. He mentioned the president, Barack Obama.

“We should pray for the president,” Sen. Perdue said.

Then he mentioned an Old Testament passage to illustrate his point.

“May his days be few,” Perdue said in quoting Psalms 109:8, drawing some cheers and applause from the GOP-friendly audience. It’s a nice passage and, taken by itself, has a light-hearted political twinge to it, which is one of the more fascinating elements of the Bible; one can put many passages into whatever secular context you want.

But wait! This particular Psalm says much more. Here’s what verses 9 through 12 tell us:

“May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.

“May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!

“May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil.

“Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children.”

Hmmm. It kind of loses its light-heartedness. Yes?

Reason prevails in Tennessee statehouse

Old fashionet American Constitution with USA  Flag.

Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, has put his veto pen to good use.

He vetoed a bill that would have made the Bible the “state book” of Tennessee. Frankly, such a law looks like something that might one day find its way to the desk of the Texas governor.

His reasoning is interesting, to say the least. Haslam said giving the Bible such a designation “trivializes” the holy book.

I applaud the governor for making a reasonable decision.

“If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance,” Haslam said.

Indeed.

Here’s another thought: Giving the Bible such a designation quite possibly would violate the U.S. Constitution First Amendment prohibition against government establishing a state religion.

The Bible is a sacred text. It belongs in the homes of families whose faith relies on the Bible’s teachings. It belongs in churches where clergy preach its holy word.

It does not belong as a government-designated “official book.”

Don’t those fine public servants who serve in the Tennessee legislature understand the oath they took, the one that says they would support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?

The Constitution they swore to uphold is a secular document. It prohibits governments at all levels from enacting the kind of law that came out of the legislature in Nashville.

And, yes, the Bible is a sacred text. Let’s not cheapen it by making a state’s “official book.” The Bible is a much more profound document than that.

 

Secular can mix with the holy

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I had an interesting conversation this morning with a young friend, who told me about someone with whom she is close who doesn’t allow her children to celebrate Christmas in a secular fashion.

Why? Well, my friend said, this other person and her husband are devout Christians and want to respect the holy nature of the holiday, which is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. She said they believe allowing the children to climb onto Santa’s lap at the mall and ask him for Christmas gifts takes away from the holiday’s spiritual meaning.

Fine, I said. “But I don’t believe there’s any exclusivity involved here,” I added. My friend agreed.

“You can celebrate both,” I said. Again, she agreed.

I’ll add here that I also believe in both the biblical version of the world’s creation and in evolution. Moreover, the Bible tells us that God created humankind through Adam and Eve, who then produced two sons. As far as I can tell, the Old Testament doesn’t specify that he created only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel — and left it at that.

My friend did add, though, a rather ironic twist to the tale, which is that the family she mentioned celebrates Halloween, allowing the kids to dress up in costume and go scarf up all the candy they can carry.

I’ll add this thought.

The Jesus I’ve read about in the Bible cherished children and wanted nothing but happiness for them. My sense is that he would approve of a Santa Claus-based celebration — as long as Mom and Dad made sure they understood as well the real intent of the holiday. He might even approve of Halloween and, oh yes, the Easter Bunny.

I am now open to any comments you might have on this subject.

Feel free to weigh in.

 

Trump earns evangelical support … how?

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One of the many — countless, it seems — confounding features of this presidential election cycle concerns the support that Donald J. Trump appears to be gathering from a most unlikely bloc of Republican “base” voters.

I’m referencing here the evangelical voters, those folks who describe themselves as devout, “born again” Christians.

Trump’s victory in the South Carolina GOP primary this weekend came in good measure from the support he got among evangelicals.

I don’t pretend to understand all the nuances of every voting bloc in America. Nor will I jump to many conclusions about any demographic group.

What I know about those who adhere to evangelical Christianity is that they take their Scripture quite seriously. They also prefer that others believe as they do.

So, what does Trump believe? How has he lived?

He’s on his third marriage; he’s been divorced twice. More to the point is that Trump has actually boasted — in writing — about the extramarital affairs he’s had with women who were married to other men. Doesn’t the Bible frown on marital infidelity?

He’s on record at one time as supporting abortion. I haven’t actually heard him say he supports partial-birth abortion, but many of his critics have said as much and I haven’t heard Trump actually deny he ever favored such a thing. I believe evangelical voters vehemently oppose abortion. Isn’t that correct?

Trump has made a lot of money building hotels — and casinos, where people go to gamble away lots of money and, perhaps, engage in activity that is, shall we say, a good bit less than righteous.

The man’s lifestyle over many decades has featured a flaunting of vast material wealth. Again, I won’t presume to know what is in the hearts of those who believe in the principles espoused in Scripture, but I doubt seriously that Trump’s opulent lifestyle fits the bill.

And when I hear Trump talk about the Bible and its contents, he sounds for all the world — to my ears, at least — as though he’s talking about a paperback novel he bought off the used-book shelf. Am I wrong or does he sound to anyone else as though he doesn’t have a clue as to what the Bible actually says — about anything?

But here we are. We’ve been through three contested Republican political events; Trump has finished first in two of them. The South Carolina primary took place in a state where New Testament religion plays a major role in the lives of many of those who call themselves Republicans.

This has been a confounding electoral process so far. Donald Trump’s appeal among evangelical voters within the Republican Party base might be the most perplexing development of all.

What in the name of all that is holy am I missing?

 

Iowa uncertainty brings new dimension of weirdness to race

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It’s been said repeatedly for many election cycles that evangelical voters are key to the success of candidates seeking to win the Iowa presidential caucuses.

Republican candidates play to the evangelical voter bloc, realizing the critical role that devout Christians play in the Iowa political process.

The 2016 caucuses are almost here and, as has been the norm this time, some political traditions have been turned upside-down.

Cruz in trouble in Iowa

Consider this: The one-time favorite of Iowa Republicans, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, is now essentially tied in that state by none other than Donald J. Trump.

Cruz is supposed to be the golden boy for evangelical voters. He’s their guy. He’s the self-proclaimed “dependable conservative.” But now his support has eroded as Trump has gained ground and as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has risen as well to compete with Cruz for the evangelical vote.

What’s staggering to me, though, is why Trump is faring so well among those deeply devout voters. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that his expressions of faith sound, well, less than authentic. The “Two Corinthians” gaffe is a small, but still significant, demonstration of what I mean.

Trump talks about the Bible the way one talks about a Louis L’Amour western novel. “It’s a great book,” he says.

Well, I don’t know how this initial contest is going to finish on Monday. It’s only one vote, after all, in a long series of contests that candidates in both major parties will have to face as they fight among themselves for their parties’ presidential nomination.

But the idea that the vaunted evangelical vote is up for grabs with a candidate such as Donald Trump competing for it just boggles my mind.

I’m going to stay tuned for this one to play out.

 

‘2 Corinthians’ gaffe lingers

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The gaffe that Donald J. Trump committed at Lynchburg University just won’t go away.

Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, took a poke at Trump over the verbal blunder.

The Hill reports:

“Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz joked Monday about rival Donald Trump’s flub of a Bible verse.
“While on the campaign trail in Iowa, Cruz began referencing the biblical verse 2 Chronicles 7:14 (‘Second Chronicles’) before he was interrupted by someone in the crowd at the town hall who joked he meant ‘Two Chronicles.’
“Cruz was making light of Trump’s gaffe during a speech at Liberty University last week where he referenced ‘2 Corinthians’ instead of ‘Second Corinthians,’ as it’s commonly known.
“Trump later blamed evangelical activist Tony Perkins for the gaffe, saying ‘he actually wrote out the 2’ for his speech and adding that people in other places of the world ‘say 2.'”
And to think that President Barack Obama’s critics keep criticizing him for his expert use of the TelePrompter.

DeLay’s the latest GOPer to skewer Trump

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I am no fan of former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom “The Hammer” DeLay . . . but you knew that already.

However, the fiery Texan has written an essay that conservatives such as himself should take to heart.

Take a look.

DeLay questions the Republican presidential campaign frontrunner’s commitment to Christian principles. He said the next president ought to be a conservative who bases his political beliefs on Scripture.

DeLay also takes a shot at what he calls Trump’s “clumsy” pandering to evangelicals at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., when he cited “Two Corinthians,” apparently not knowing that the common reference to that New Testament book is “Second Corinthians.”

He then wonders aloud just how a President Trump — my fingers still tremble when I write those two words — would make sure that retail outlets instruct their staffers to wish customers “Merry Christmas” during the holiday season. How would he do that? DeLay wondered. “By executive order?”

DeLay is just the latest political conservative to reveal what many of us on the other side of the fence have believed for a very long time, which is that Trump is a phony.

In this crazy, goofy and bizarre political environment, though, Trump’s brand of phoniness is more appealing to his true believers than the so-called phony rhetoric coming from “establishment politicians.”

 

 

We’re all sinners . . . and need forgiveness

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Donald Trump’s stumbling over the name of a New Testament book Monday seems to punctuate something many of us believed already.

The candidate’s bald-face pandering to a certain Republican Party voting bloc is unseemly on its face.

Trump stood before a “record crowd” at Liberty University and proclaimed the virtues of “Two Corinthians.”

OK, I am not a biblical scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know the name of the book that contains the Apostle Paul’s “second letter” to the people of Corinth. Moreover, I’ve read “Second Corinthians” many times over the years.

Trump, though, has said something else that reveals the pandering element of his pitch to Christian voters. It is that he’s never sought forgiveness because “I don’t need it.”

Trump  didn’t say it overtly, but statements such as that suggest he believes he is without sin. Now, the Bible I’ve read my entire life tells me that we’re all sinners. Every single human being who’s ever been born needs forgiveness for his or her sins.

I don’t intend to pick apart every single thing Trump said at Liberty University, nor do I intend to question Trump’s personal faith journey. Maybe it’s the real thing. Then again . . . well, I just don’t know.

I do recognize pandering when I see and hear it.

Look, I know that politicians pander. It’s part of their DNA. They have to pander to persuade voters that they — the politician — understands them.

Some politicians do it better than others. Trump has said all along he’s not a “career politician.” His performance at Liberty University certainly proves the point — and not necessarily in a way that should make the candidate proud.

Check this out.