Tag Archives: The Bible

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.

Why not debate climate change in public schools?

books

As a believer in the view that human beings are contributing to Earth’s changing climate, it causes me some pain to say the following.

I believe the Portland Public Schools system has made a mistake in banning texts that question the causes of climate change.

Oregon’s largest public school district has issued a directive that bans texts that cast doubt on what many scientists have said: that human activity has created a global warming crisis that threatens the planet’s ecosystem.

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-20/portland-public-schools-ban-educational-materials-denying-climate-change?src=usn_fb

I grew up in suburban Portland, Ore., so this decision strikes me close to my heart. I attended Portland schools until the seventh grade; my parents moved us to the ‘burbs in East Multnomah County in 1962.

I have long feared that human activity — deforestation and the emission of carbon gases into the atmosphere — have contributed to the changing climate. Did you see the latest report that said April was the 12th consecutive month of record temperatures worldwide?

That doesn’t mean, though, that we cannot allow our students access to those who doubt the results of such activity.

This isn’t even close to the same thing as teaching the biblical version of Earth’s creation alongside Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory. One theory is based on a faith-based belief; the other is based on science. Teach the scientific theory in public schools and teach other in church.

Climate change and its causes, though, seems to be fair game for an open discussion in our public schools.

The Portland school system has slammed the door on those who have raised legitimate concerns about the notion that Earth’s climate is changing and that humans are the primary cause of that change.

Do I accept those concerns? No. That doesn’t mean they’re coming from crackpots.

The students would do well to be exposed to competing ideas on this important global issue.

 

Obama ‘pretends to be a Christian’? Really?

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How in the world does Mike Huckabee possibly know what’s in another man’s heart and soul? What on God’s Earth qualifies him to make such a claim by saying another man “pretends to be a Christian”?

That’s what the former Arkansas governor and current Republican candidate for president has done with Barack Obama.

He said the president “pretends to be a Christian,” suggesting quite openly that the president’s profession of faith in Jesus Christ — which he has made several times during his presidency — is somehow inauthentic.

Huckabee has stepped in it with this ridiculous assertion.

What’s more, he contends that the president and his administration are making it more difficult for Christians to worship as they please.

Let’s hold on here.

I would challenge Gov. Huckabee to offer a single example of how Christians these days are less able to worship in their church. He needs to provide specifics on how individuals are being punished or harassed or ostracized by the federal government because of their religious faith.

If he’s referring to the case of Democratic Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis, who’s made news by refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples based on her religious belief, well, that argument is a non-starter. Davis took an oath to serve all the people and she has no right under the secular law to which she swore to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

As a friend of mine noted on social media, the only authority that can judge someone’s faith “isn’t from Arkansas.”

Kim Davis redefines hypocrisy

AP_kim_davis_mm_150901_4x3_992

Oh, my. I don’t know where to begin with this little item.

Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis remains on the job, even though she refuses to follow the oath she took to follow the laws of her state and nation. Those laws say that gay couples are entitled to be married.

That’s not God’s law, Davis says. So, she’s refusing to follow the law.

Davis’ marital history

Then there’s this: Davis is married to her fourth husband. She’s been divorced three times. That’s not as big a deal as this next tidbit, which is that she gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband.

Five months. Do that math and recall your sex education teaching about human gestation.

I believe Scripture has plenty to say about sex outside of marriage, not to mention adultery. But, hey, who’s keeping track?

In another interesting twist, the twins were fathered by Davis’s third husband, but were adopted by her second husband. I mention that only because it, well, doesn’t exactly fall into the category of a “traditional family.”

Davis has brought all this scrutiny on herself by declaring her strong belief in God’s holy word.

However, she works for a secular government agency. She is drawing a paycheck financed by the public, many of whom, I’m quite certain, disagree with her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

And no matter what the county clerk says, God’s word does not supersede the oath she took when she took public office. The oath requires her to follow the law of the land.

She’s refusing to do so. Davis needs to quit her job … immediately.

 

Where do these people find forgiveness?

The loved ones of the men and women Dylann Roof allegedly shot to death have done what?

They have forgiven the young man? They say that if God can forgive him, how can they not?

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/245569-families-forgive-accused-church-shooter

This one is going to take some time for me to process.

Roof stands accused of killing nine people at a church in Charleston, S.C. It appears to have been a racially motivated massacre. He is known to have said he wanted to start a “civil war” and that he believes blacks and whites shouldn’t mix.

So, he went to a Bible study, was welcomed by the African-American church members. He sat with those victims for an hour — and then he opened fire.

Today, he went to court for an arraignment and several family members said they forgive this individual for committing a monstrous act of terror against them and those he killed in cold blood.

I consider myself a committed Christian. I know what Scripture says about forgiveness, how Jesus Christ urges us to love one another, no matter the sin. He didn’t distinguish among sins, never said one sin was greater than another.

What the young man is accused of doing, though, crosses a line that makes his alleged sin far greater than, say, using impolite language.

Could I forgive someone for doing something that Dylann Roof is accused of doing?

Hypothetical questions are tough to answer.

Perhaps one day, I could.

One day.

Perhaps.

From my perch halfway across the country where this carnage occurred, I harbor intense anger toward this young man.

I stand amazed that those who are suffering such intense grief and heartbreak can find it in them to forgive.

 

What does Bachmann know about End Times?

Michelle Bachmann must know something none of the rest of us ever imagined knowing.

The former Republican congresswoman from Minnesota seems to know that the End Times are here. They’re about to arrive. The world is about to end.

Who’s responsible for this? You get one chance at this one: Yep, it’s Barack Obama.

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/bachmann-end-times-are-here-thanks-Obama

I’m no religious scholar, but here’s my understanding of what my Bible says about the End Times.

Put quite simply, the End Times will come without anyone knowing it’s coming. It’s just going to happen. We won’t know the end has arrived until, well, it arrives.

She told a conservative radio host that the president is lying about Islam and about the war we are fighting against Islamic extremists. Then she added that the End Times are coming as a result of the president’s deception. Bachmann said she is excited about the possibility, she said. “The good news that I want to transition to is that, remember the prophets said in the Old Testament, they longed to look into the days that we live in, they long to be a part of these days. That’s why these are not fearful times, these are the most exciting days in history.”

My interpretation of Scripture suggests the End Times is a metaphor for each of our lives. If we believe in Jesus, then we’ll go to heaven to be with him when the end arrives. And I don’t believe you can predict when that moment arrives.

Then again, some politicians — such as Michelle Bachmann — seem to think they know everything.

'Young Earthers' enter creation debate

It’s probably good to pronounce this right off the top: The debate over the actual age of Planet Earth will never end — and by “never,” I mean absolutely never.

A fascinating element has come into focus about whether the planet was created less than 10,000 years ago, which many folks believe is contained in Scripture. A group called “Young Earthers” believes the Bible quite literally.

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/religion/age-of-the-earth-controversy-heating-up-as-young-earthers/article_1fe82f62-1e34-5e77-a5b9-22ddd2c898cb.html

They say the Book of Genesis lays it out there: God created the world in six days measured the way we humans do it and then rested on the seventh day. The Sabbath is part of God’s plan for those he created in his image, they say.

There you have it. End of debate, yes? Not even close.

An interesting article in the Tulsa (Okla.) World discusses this debate as it’s occurring in Oklahoma. According to The World: “While an ancient Earth is considered settled science in academic circles, it has been discussed and debated for decades in some evangelical churches and schools and in some conservative Christian colleges.”

Man, this is why I love the Bible so much. It can be interpreted by anyone who can take away whatever they wish.

I’m thinking The Almighty had this in mind when he instructed the men who wrote those holy words. God must have told them, “Write all those biblical books in such a way as to ensure that humankind never stops debating whether to take these words literally or put their own interpretation on what’s written — as long as they’re believers, of course.”

Bill “The Science Guy” Nye and Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, staged a debate in Tulsa a year ago about the creation of the universe. As The World reported: “At the heart of the debate is whether the biblical record demands a young Earth scenario, with creation 6,000 to 10,000 years ago in seven literal 24-hour days. ‘Old Earth”’evangelicals insist that the young Earth position is just one among many possible ways to interpret the biblical record. And evangelicals on both sides of the debate are concerned that the issue is becoming divisive. Some young Earthers insist that old Earthers cannot be true Bible-believing Christians.”

It’s the last sentence, the one about young Earthers doubting the faith of old Earthers that can be troubling as this debate rages on.

I’m simply inclined to ask: How can anyone question legitimately another person’s commitment to faith or belief?

Those who believe God created humans in his image — as I do — surely must know that he kept certain powers to himself. Only the Creator knows what’s in others’ hearts.

Let the debate continue — forever.

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.