What do you answer if you are a Christian and are asked about your values? Where do you draw the lines and how much coloring outside of the lines will you allow others to do?
Like it or not, the values that you have are one of the best indicators of your fitness for office to a lot of people. No candidate is likely to share all of the values of the people he or she is elected to serve. The values in the country are simply too diverse. But after all the mess in the Legislative and Executive branches over the past few administrations, people are fed up and generally want a return to having elected people with values in office that should be espoused by most Christians. This last comment should not be construed as a jab specifically at Republicans or at Democrats - both parties have had their share of problems of late.
The thing is, there is a lack of understanding about what Christianity is all about. The basics are agreed upon. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ's sacrifice for sin and by the grace of God. All Christians would agree with that statement, and if you don't, read Ephesians 2:8.
But by the same token, we serve a risen Savior. God Himself sits on His throne in heaven. Christ is described as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14, 19:16). Politicians, both Christian and non-Christian lose sight of this salient fact. Many go about their daily lives acting like God doesn't exist, even though they say the right words when the cameras are rolling and make appearances at the right churches when the time is right.
That's one of the reasons that captured on TV miracles would be so useful. Divine healing would be another useful act of God to get on tape, particularly if documented by before and after tests by the medical industry. It would help people to see why Christians hold the values they do. Those of us who go to Pentecostal churches regularly see God work. Many others do not. God is real, and He's still at work in people's lives today.
Seeing God in action in people's lives and the world around us might also remind politicians of who should be in charge and focus their attention better on the jobs they are elected to perform instead of the next re-election campaign. He does have opinions on legislation and how the country should be run, and the country would be better off if we listened better.
So, without further ado, here's some commentary about particular hot button issues that raised their heads in this 2008 campaign. I've included links to some Hot Topics pages about some of the more divisive topics where I'll expand my comments.
President Barack Obama got a lot of heat for his comment that the question of when life began was "above his pay grade". I think it is about the best answer that any candidate could give to this hot button topic. I was real proud of him for that. How many candidates are willing to admit ignorance on national TV? They're few and far between! Most will speak on at length (or not at length in the case of Senator McCain) about any subject trying to appease the masses. If they don't know the answer to the question, haven't adequately prepared as to what a particular group wants to hear as the answer, or flat out know their answer won't make the people happy, they're likely to answer a different question (or morph the question back to a war story that will evoke images of heroism in the case of Mr. McCain).
Abortion is a touchy subject. Humans don't agree on it and the American contingent is firmly divided, just as Barack Obama said in his acceptance speech at his party's convention. For my thoughts on what a valid Christian point of view for abortion might be, see Abortion under Hot Topics. Regardless of your feelings on the subject, I really don't think any Christian can fault Mr. Obama for saying the question was "above his pay grade". He clearly won that round in my opinion.
Sarah Palin has some issues surrounding possible leanings toward censorship. I'm pretty tired of the federal government trying to "protect the children" from all perceived moral wrong. It's not their job. It's not the job of the states either. It's the job of the parents.
Christians need to be really careful if they advocate censorship, whether in libraries or on the Internet. There are many more non-Christians than there are Christians when you get right down to it. The number who say they are Christian may be large, but the number of faithful who really try to live out a Christian life is small. There are movements out there trying to ban the Bible as racist and make it a crime to publish one. You need to be very careful that what you advocate to "protect the children" doesn't turn around and bite you.
Christians will almost universally agree that there are many shows of poor quality on television these days. Going out and boycotting the sponsors might seem like a way to enact change. The trouble is that no company really cares unless that sponsor is local and small. None of the big corporations really care unless they've made a whole lot of people mad. It is far better to change the hearts of the country and win them for Christ. He'll take care of changing their hearts Himself. That will cause the economic impact you seek in the advertisers since the new Christian will hopefully no longer be watching the shows the company is advertising on in the first place.
Separation of Church and State
Whenever an outspoken Christian runs for office, the questions about separation of Church and State are invariably raised. For my comments on this topic, see the Separation of Church and State article in Hot Topics.
Let me preface this section with a few basic comments. The Bible's purpose is to highlight God and particularly Jesus Christ. It is designed to show that man is a sinner by laying out a large number of laws that man cannot follow perfectly and which show the separation of a perfect God and an imperfect man. It is designed to introduce us to a blood sacrificial system, from Adam and Eve's time when God clothed them and on through the Old Testament Law carried out by Jewish priests.
This sacrificial system culminated with Jesus Christ. He was born to a virgin with the help of the Holy Spirit giving Him a sin free start. He went on to lead a sinless life and was crucified on the cross to be our ultimate sacrifice for sin. The New Testament continues with Christ's resurrection and the establishment of the New Testament church. It ends (along with Daniel and other references in the Old Testament) with a book of mostly future prophecy about what is to come after the church is removed from the Earth at the rapture, starting in Revelation 4:1 and following.
Any science that can be gleaned from the Bible is of strictly secondary importance to this fundamental message. Having said that, I don't honestly feel that if you interpret the Bible correctly there should be any contradiction between it and science. Many issues are raised about the falsity of the Bible due to what science has discovered. It is my opinion that this is done by Satan to deflect people from spreading the truth of the above paragraphs and by making Christians who might be able to do so look foolish to the world because the Christians don't study the Bible well enough.
So here are a few things that I feel are of particular importance to address. They keep coming up and being used against Christians. What is worse, some Christian groups try to take an imperfect knowledge of the Bible and warp it around bad science to make science look bad and them look good. Most of this information is not original with me. Much of it came from my Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, which is a really good source of information when it comes to understanding the Word. Dake's God's Plan for Man is pretty good as well. If you understand what the Bible actually says, you don't have to fight science and can get on with the work of evangelizing the world for Christ.
How old is the Earth
I've talked about this in other areas of the awmach.net site. Suffice it to say in summary here that the Bible says that "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1)." It doesn't say when, and it doesn't go into specifics. Sounds like the Big Bang the scientists believe in to me. At some point this solar system was formed and the Earth became habitable. All of the various geologic dating techniques (and there are many) point to an age of the Earth in the billions of years (around 4.54 billion at the last estimate). The age of the entire observable universe is much older, on the order of 13.7 plus or minus 0.13 billion years according to NASA's WAMP observations.
The young earth promoters can only make their argument hold water if they wish to make God look like a trickster, which I assure you He is not. How can I say this with certainty? Regardless of your opinions on the scientific accuracy of dating (which seems to be pretty soundly established as far as I can tell), the very fact that we can see the universe due to the finite and fairly slow speed of light means that a creation date of 10,000 years or less is bogus unless God decided to deliberately place every single particle in the entire universe in a snapshot position to be seen making the big bang appear to be so long ago. He certainly could have done that if He wanted, but it strikes me as dishonest. That isn't in His nature, so I have to reject that entire line of reasoning and look for an interpretation of the Bible that lines up with what science has observed.
The Bible doesn't record what all went on from the first habitable state post Genesis 1:1 till the time we see it in judgment in Genesis 1:2. It does imply that Lucifer ruled it at some point in time between those verses. He was heavily involved in worship in Heaven. It does imply that there was civilization at that point in time on earth that he ruled. It does say he led a rebellion against God that was overthrown (Isaiah 14:12-14) leaving the earth in the mess of Genesis 1:2 after God squashed his rebellion. The rebellion certainly didn't happen post-Adam, so it had to happen before. There is simply no other place for it. To me, the description in Genesis 1:2 and in other parts of the Bible of the chaotic state (Jeremiah 4:23-28; 2 Peter 3:5-7) sounds a lot like how the Mediterranean area might have looked after the Mediterranean basin filled with water from the Atlantic Ocean.
Genesis then goes through the restoration of the earth to a second habitable state through the rest of Genesis 1, and records the restarting of the human race. The sun and moon already existed at this point. God simply clears the darkness away so their light is visible on the Earth again. God recreates the sea, plant, and animal life, and starts the line of mankind again. Thus begins the several thousand years of history that the Bible actually records leading up through the early church.
This interpretation of the Bible is consistent with the fossil record. It is consistent with geological dating. Whether or not I am right about the Mediterranean filling, there are geologic records of massive flooding. The fossil record combined with geologic dating puts many different life forms from the early sea life, to dinosaurs, to early mammals way back in time. This is not inconsistent with the Bible. As I said, the Bible is primarily interested in telling the story of modern man and Christ. These creatures did exist - God isn't a trickster. They certainly didn't exist post-Adam or there would have been mention of them in the Bible and other contemporary writing and oral histories. There is plenty of space in the Bible between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 for all of this history to have occurred. It simply isn't something that is worth arguing about and is a distraction to God's work.
The second major flood in human history is also recorded in Genesis as Noah's flood. If you treat it as a major, but local event, you can stay consistent with the Scripture and also be consistent with what may have happened in the historic record. Certainly, when the Black Sea filled from the Mediterranean through the Bosporus, it was a major catastrophe for the area and anyone who wasn't prepared would have been wiped out. It didn't have to be global in nature to take care of the inter-marrying problem that God was dealing with between angels and man (Genesis 6:1-4). Remember that Noah was picked because he was perfect in his generations, not just for his righteousness (Genesis 6:8-9). He would have only had to save the animals of the region which would have been doable with the ark he built and practical rather than trying to stretch it to say it was worldwide in scope.
The Bible declares that God's creation reproduces after its own kind. That, combined with natural selection where the strongest and toughest are the ones to survive and breed lead to gradual changes in the shapes and sizes of critters today. We tend to be taller as humans, for example, than long in the past. We're still humans though. Over time, particular traits win out in other parts of the creation, leading to some species dying out and a minutely different species being what survives. Each still retains their basic characteristics, however, regardless of how long a time period you are looking at. The fossilized mammal horses were different sized than today, but they were still recognizable as horses. The horses of today didn't come from fruit bats or amoebas.
Are there similarities between the species? Of course there are. God is a God of order. Why make everything completely different? Why not reuse what basically works and add a flourish here and there to make things colorful.
The biggest unanswered question about evolution remains this. If a new species is defined as an organism that cannot interbreed with another organism in order to produce a viable offspring, then how can evolution really work. By definition, two different organisms (and a male and a female at that) would have to spontaneously change within the same short period of time into a new species, find each other, and breed in order to propagate themselves as a new species. The evolutionists like to say that with millions and millions of such things happening all around that it is possible. Maybe with fruit flies it would be although I personally doubt it even there. But with higher mammals, it really stretches the imagination to say that it could happen.
So when you are arguing science, you have to differentiate between true science that can be tested, and some scientists idea that just doesn't hold water, but which is put forward because the alternative (that God had a hand in things) is just too much for them to accept. I don't argue natural selection and gradual drift of form, color, or other minor characteristic. But all of the genetics that I see says that things are breaking down over time and not getting better. We're really missing that tree of life from the garden of Eden. You simply don't make a higher organism out of a couple of lesser organisms. It isn't happening today, and it didn't happen in the past.
I'm not sure what fun God had in the ages past creating this and that. The Bible is silent on that subject. But what has gone on from Adam's time on is clear. Don't let that reality be shaken by scientists. The bottom line is there aren't any conflicts between actual science and the Bible. Preach the Gospel and don't get in endless arguments over nothing. The Gospel message is the key thing.