religion, christianity, articles
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Potpourri, May 1996


religion, articles, christianity

Introduction

AIDS

Excellent Superb Outstanding

Persecution

Death of a Saint

Interesting

Women Against Nature

Let Freedom Ring

Roots

Challenge

Food for Thought

Double Speak

Foes and Friends

Inspiration

The Firm Foundation keeps right on rolling along. We didn't get many you're-the-greatest type letters this month, but we did get many subscriptions which is the sincerest form of flattery (you thought it was "imitation," didn't you?). Anyway, the paper is making good progress and adding readers every month. The growth is slow but steady, which may be the best kind. (We know of some papers that are going backward.)

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Excellent Superb Outstanding

A large number have responded favorably to our letter request for help in gaining new subscribers. A number of books were ordered. Contributions to the Firm Foundation were sent to help us print and distribute more material in an attempt to stay the tide of liberalism.

Your partnership in this vital work is deeply appreciated far more than you will ever know. "There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." If you have not yet responded, why not do it now? He who has found a friend has found a treasure.

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Death of a Saint

Neal Pollard has sent notice of the death of Clinton Elliot, who spent his life promoting the gospel and defending the truth. Brother Elliot was the publisher and editor of Voice For Truth, an excellent paper dedicated to the promotion of right and virtue. His strong and effective voice will be missed by the church. We extend sympathy to the family.

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Women Against Nature

Senator Jesse Helms wrote a letter of complaint to the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development after hearing about a workshop on flirting techniques for lesbians, held during the women's conference in Beijing, but learned the seminar wasn't part of the conference itself though it was offered at a gathering of women from advocacy groups and non-governmental aid organizations (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sept. 18, 1995).

On a recent TV program, Friends, Carol, the hero's ex-wife turned lesbian lover. On the January 18 episode, Carol was "married" to her partner, Susan, in a storyline that had the ceremony performed by the "Reverend" Candace Gingrich, with the pronouncement that "Nothing makes God happier than when two people any two people come together in love." What about the undeniable politics of casting Candace Gingrich to play the part of the minister? That was a courtesy extended to Ms. Gingrich as a friend of the producers and cast. They had met last year at an awards ceremony for GLAD (Gays and Lesbians Against Defamation), an organization with which Ms. Gingrich is actively involved.

By the way, Friends is billed as "family entertainment."

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Roots

Alex Haley, the author, told 2,500 Army recruits at Fort Dix, N.J., that his best-selling book, Roots, which traces his ancestors back to Africa, "obviously" was great and ranked with the Bible and Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey" (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sept. 18, 1995).

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Food for Thought

Bob Cruse of Red Oak, Texas, in a private letter, reported, "A prominent preacher in the Dallas/Fort Worth area said recently that most of them [preachers] could not preach the truth on marriage and divorce for fear of losing a third or more of their members." He also observed that there are many articles dealing with change agents in the church, but that do not mention "departures from Scripture on marriage and divorce. What change portends greater danger for the spiritual welfare of our children than this departure from God's eternal moral law of marriage?"

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Foes and Friends

According to World (Feb. 24, 1996), "Human rights activists testified Feb. 15 to a House subcommittee about the persecution of Christians from killings and beatings to imprisonment and harassment in communist and Islamic countries. Countries cited: China, North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Pakistan." Chris Smith, chairman of the House International Relations' human rights subcommittee, agreed with the activists' contention that the U.S. government should do more to pressure those countries to stop the persecution. Smith said, "We need to be reminded that when people are persecuted in distant lands, it is often because they believe in God and seek to do his will."

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AIDS

Human Events (Tune 9, 1995) asked: "Why are public health procedures of isolation being used against Ebola and not against AIDS? Does it have something to do with the fact that the carriers of Ebola are Africans and most carriers of AIDS in this country are homosexuals, represented by a politically powerful lobby?"

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Persecution

Professor Eugene Narett, Farmingham State College, said, "I've been guilty of 'thought crime.' For my local daily paper I've written columns criticizing abortion and divorce on demand, quotas, homosexual advocacy, welfare and feminism, with its culture-killing mystique of victimology. This criticism makes me a 'right- wing fanatic' and class traitor to my liberal colleagues." Professor Narett was called on the carpet and castigated by his peers for not being politically correct.

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Interesting

Our thanks to Earl Martin for favoring us with a copy of The Backgrounder, published by The Heritage Foundation. The paper gives some data you may find fascinating. Americans pray even more than they go to church. According to a composite of surveys, 94 percent of blacks, 91 percent of women, 87 percent of whites, and 85 percent of men regard themselves as people who pray regularly. Even the 13 percent of the population who call themselves agnostics or atheists, some 20 percent pray daily.

  • Churchgoers are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
  • Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
  • The regular practice of religion helps poor people out of poverty.
  • Religious belief and practice contribute substantially to the formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
  • Regular religious practice inoculates against suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crimes and divorce.
  • The practice of religion encourages less depression, more self-esteem, and greater happiness.
  • Religion increases longevity, improves chances of recovery from illness, and lessens incidence of many killer diseases.

Professor Randal Jarrell conducted a study of students at the De La Salle Academy, an independent school in the upper west side of Manhattan serving primarily inner-city black and Hispanic middle school children who show substantial academic promise. Those attending church at least weekly are:

  • More optimistic about their futures.
  • Have better relationships with their parents.
  • More likely to dismiss racism as an obstacle to reaching their goals.
  • More likely to have realistic goals for their futures.
  • More likely to see the world as a friendly place in which they can achieve, rather than a hostile place with powerful forces arrayed against them.
  • More likely to see themselves in control of their futures and not as victims of oppression.

(Heritage Foundation studies are available at http://www.heritage.org/)

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Let Freedom Ring

M. Douglas Anderson, a psychologist in the state of Washington, had been counseling a client for three years when she came into one session with news. She had decided to have an abortion.

Dr. Anderson, who is pro-life, was silent for a moment. He thought that concealing his opposition to abortion would be dishonest and would damage the counseling relationship. He then told the woman that he believed abortion was wrong.

Today Dr. Anderson is on a year's probation; his practice is monitored. He was fined $1,500 and ordered to attend sessions on "ethics." According to the state Examining Board of Psychology, Dr. Anderson's disclosure of his "moral and ethical opposition to abortion, moments after the client told him of her decision of have one," was an act of "incompetence, negligence, or malpractice" (World, Oct. 14, 1995).

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Challenge

Bill Clinton signed into law Feb. 10 the 1996 Defense Authorization Act, which contains a provision that requires the removal of HIV-infected personnel from military service. But, with an eye to his homosexual constituency, the president branded the provisions as unconstitutional and made it clear that he did not intend to go out of his way to see that the law was enforced (Human Events, Feb. 23, 1996).

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Double Speak

Jesse J. Roberson, an honest liberal Methodist preacher, wrote to Christianity Today:

I identify myself as a liberal. So do the vast majority of my fellow ministers within liberal Protestant denominations. At least most of them reject the crude undisciplined literalism of an earlier day, and they are at least familiar with biblical criticism and other disciplines encountered in theological seminaries. As a result, nearly all of them have to some extent accepted liberal conclusions.

They have not, however, except for a very few of them, clearly enunciated what they believe and what they deny. Many of them are guilty of what Walter Kaufman labeled 'double speak,' by which he means that many of them go through the process of rethinking the meaning of the traditional words and phrases of historic Christian faith, often radically reconstituting them with meaning which negates Christian faith in its historical sense, but they do not bother to let this be known to their congregations. They use the phrases without indicating that they do not mean by them what the typical parishioner thinks they mean. This, of course, is blatant intellectual dishonesty.

One is continually amazed to hear ministers publicly avow what they deny privately. And if they offer the tired, shopworn excuse that the typical parishioner has not been exposed to the process of learning involved, then the reply is that it is high time that some ministers began the task of bringing their parishioners up to date with what is going on in the liberal Protestant seminaries, and in their own minds.

One is also appalled to learn, repeatedly, that when I tell those who resent my liberalism that I represent, for good or for ill, the overwhelming majority of Protestant ministers, most of them refuse to believe me. They haven't the slightest idea what is currently being taught in the seminaries they support 'for Jesus' sake.'

This dilemma of current liberal Protestantism is compounded, unfortunately, when one considers that many of the ministers who fall with the category I have briefly characterized here, simply do not realize that they have already rejected basic historic Christianity.

With all these necessary qualifications, however, one cannot escape the feeling that sometimes moral cowardice, and sometimes conscious intellectual dishonesty keeps many liberal Protestant ministers silent. This feeling can be stated more plainly and more strongly Should the majority of liberal Protestant ministers ever decide to be intellectually honest with their congregations, the Lutheran Reformation would seem altogether mild by comparison. Protestant parishioners would, I am convinced, leave their churches wholesale.

How interesting! I wonder what would happen in the churches of Christ if the liberals among us would be honest and admit the degree of their unbelief Some "members of the board" might even be shocked into action.

Although there may be no atheists in foxholes, a recent study conducted by the Survey Research Center of the University of California in Berkeley attests that there are atheists in the churches ... and they are, for the most part, preachers.

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Inspiration

Four ideas about how the Bible is inspired are:

  1. One view holds that every word of the Bible is totally inspired by God and contains truth free from error. The assumption here is that God effectively persuaded all biblical writers to put down just the correct words all the time.
  2. Another way is to say that inspiration applies to the ideas and concepts but not the actual words of the Bible.
  3. Still other Bible students have argued that God inspired not words or ideas but individual people. These folks then wrote what they did, using the language and thought forms of their culture.
  4. Yet another view is that God inspired the community that produced, preserved and passed on the writings we call Scripture.

Those four views sum up human opinion as to how the Bible came into existence. Now, of the four, which conforms to the Bible claim:

But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual (words) (1 Cor 2:12-13).

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Feature Book: Among the Scholars


by David W. Hester

Paperback, 167 pages
$7.99 + shipping and tax if applicable


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Published May 1996