Tag Archives: New Testament

Oh, yeah, and Mary was a virgin, too

The Amarillo Globe-News published a brief editorial today that takes to task an Alabama Republican politician who sought to defend embattled fellow Republican Roy Moore against accusations that he made improper sexual advances on a 14-year-old girl.

Here’s what the G-N published:

The recent statement by Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler in reference to the scandal surrounding GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore is wrong on many counts.

However, we will stick to one — it is historically wrong, at least according to the Bible.

Zeigler invoked the relationship between Mary and Joseph as some sort of reason not to criticize Moore, who has been accused of sexual assault against a 14-year-old girl decades ago when Moore was in his 30s.

In the Bible, specific ages are not provided for Mary and Joseph, although it can be assumed Mary was a teenager at the time she gave birth to Jesus.

According to Jewish customs at that time, men were also typically young when they were “betrothed.” Therefore, it is quite likely Joseph was not much older than Mary.

The editorial, I need to mention, omits a critical element about Mary and Joseph. It is that Scripture tells us that Mary was a virgin. She and Joseph didn’t produce the child she was carrying, according to the New Testament.

And that, in my mind, makes the Alabama auditor’s “defense” of Roy Moore even more ridiculous.

Bible gives POTUS authority to blow up the world?

One of the many wonderful aspects of the Bible is that it can be interpreted in countless ways.

My understanding of the Bible I’ve read since childhood is that no one is entirely right or entirely wrong … if they believe in what they are interpreting.

So, when a preacher says that the Bible gives the president of the United States all the authority he needs to blow another nation to bits, well, that’s the preacher’s belief. It doesn’t have to be mine.

The Rev. Robert Jeffress is an avid Donald Trump supporter who went on “Fox and Friends” — the president’s favorite TV show — to proclaim that Romans 13 gives the president justification for attacking North Korea in the wake of that country’s threats to the United States.

I looked up Romans 13 in the Bible on my desk. I scoured through it and I don’t read anything of the sort. Then again, I’m not a biblical scholar. I’ll give Jeffress credit for studying the Bible more than I have. But as I noted already, we ultimately are left to our own value systems to interpret words written thousands of years ago. Believers can differ in their understanding of the holy word.

Some of them take the words literally; others — such as yours truly — take a more interpretive view of its contents. I won’t challenge Rev. Jeffress’s faith. I’ll just stand by a different view of the Bible’s contents.

The Bible I’ve read tells me Jesus Christ preached love and tolerance. I don’t know where he says it’s all right to destroy thousands of human lives because of a political dispute.

Is it in there? Somewhere? I don’t believe it is.

Should ‘short-circuited’ remain a talking point?

Clinton-and-Trump

A former colleague of mine scolded me once a few weeks ago over my criticism of Donald J. Trump’s gaffe when he referred the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as “2 Corinthians.”

My critic reminded me that people who speak for a living could be excused for saying things improperly on occasion. He made an interesting and thought-provoking point.

So, I’m left to wonder about Trump’s opponent in the presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said she “short-circuited” when answering questions about the e-mail controversy that continues to dog her.

She’s been pilloried for the statement by her foes, led by Trump, who’s now questioning whether Clinton’s got the intellectual snap she needs to be president of the United States.

Trump and Clinton will square off soon in the first of three joint appearances. It’s seems a good bet that Trump will bring up the “short-circuited” comment. He’s hired a new campaign CEO and manager, both of whom vow to “let Trump be Trump.”

Is the criticism of Clinton fair? Or did she — as a politician who makes her living these days talking constantly — merely say something in a less-than-artful manner?

As my ex-colleague/critic reminded me: He knows “how easy it is to say something wrong and even incredibly stupid despite knowing better.”

Politicians, though, usually aren’t allowed — for better or for worse — the luxury of a simple misspeak.

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

Golden-Rule-1

“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.

Trump earns evangelical support … how?

evangelicals

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?

 

'Church' to protest at this funeral?

Westboro Baptist “Church” is at it again.

The target of this gang of goofballs this time is the funeral of the late Rev. Robert Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral megachurch in California.

Schuller died this past week.

Seems that Westboro “church” members believed Schuller was too tolerant of gay people. So, to carry their hateful message to this latest extreme, they plan to launch a protest at Schuller’s funeral.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/westboro-baptist-church-says-it-will-protest-schuller-funeral/ar-AAayvFr

I don’t know what to say, except that these idiotic displays of intolerance go so far beyond what Jesus Christ himself taught that it utterly baffles me that Westboro can even call itself a “church.”

Schuller, in the eyes of the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro “church” members, had the bad form to preach a sunny form of Christianity. He brought forward messages of hope, not hate. Westboro “church” officials said he should have talked more about going to hell and, perhaps, less about going to heaven.

Westboro has created a lot of notoriety picketing funerals of fallen warriors, men and women who’ve died in battle defending the right of citizens to speak out. Westboro’s agenda, such as it is, is a fervently anti-gay message. LGBT citizens are going straight to hell, says Westboro “church” doctrine.

So, here we go again.

A crackpot cult is going to launch yet another picket.

Let’s all turn our backs on them, shall we?

 

Evolution, Bible not mutually exclusive

What is it with politicians who cannot answer a simple question: Do you believe in evolution?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, one of a thundering herd of Republicans considering a run for the presidency in 2016, got asked that question in Great Britain.

He punted on it. Actually, he choked on it. Neither result is surprising given that he needs to curry favor with the evangelical wing of his political party.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/02/12/scott-walker-dodged-a-question-on-evolution-that-was-dumb-but-not-for-the-reason-you-think/

Actually, I’ve never quite gotten the notion that evolution and the biblical theory of creation are mutually exclusive.

I long have held the view that one can believe in both ideas: that the world evolved over billions of years and that God orchestrated its evolution.

The Book of Genesis talks about how God created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh day. As one who believes in the presence of God, I’ve never quite bought the notion that the “days” mentioned in the Bible are days as we’ve come to know them as human beings. I long have held the view that biblical “days” can be measured in almost any increment we choose.

I get that the Bible doesn’t acknowledge the existence of prehistoric creatures or the existence of human beings in any form other than what is mentioned in Genesis or any of the books that follow through the Old and New testaments.

From my standpoint, that doesn’t discount the existence of those creatures or of prehistoric hominids.

So, Gov. Walker cannot answer the question about evolution because he fears some backlash by evangelicals? Come on. You can believe in both elements of creation. The way I read Scripture, they aren’t mutually exclusive.

 

Let's not cherry-pick Scripture

Read this editorial carefully. It’s a brief but brilliant lecture on how politicians shouldn’t selectively quote Scripture to make a cheap political point.

http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/opinions/editorials/article/Gov-Perry-s-view-reflects-poorly-on-all-of-us-5974944.php

The target of this opinion from the Beaumont Enterprise is the lame-duck Texas governor, Rick Perry, who told the Washington Post that Scripture tells us there always will be poor folks. As the Enterprise noted, Perry’s comment to the Post is just another way of saying “What’s the use?” in helping the poor.

The editorial also notes that Jesus possibly was referring to an Old Testament reference that calls on us to reach out and help the poor whenever possible.

Conservatives and liberals alike have this annoying habit of turning to the Holy Word and cherry-picking passages, taking them out context, and turning them into their political ammunition to fire at their adversaries. Conservatives use the Bible to argue against gay rights, abortion rights and whether to teach evolution in public schools. Liberals use the Bible to argue for helping the poor.

I’ve always been leery of those who keep citing Scripture — Old and New Testament alike. It’s always good to examine all of what Jesus told his followers or what the prophets were saying many centuries before Jesus Christ’s birth.

Gov. Perry’s misuse of a biblical statement is just one more example that we must not follow.