Jimmy Carter at Liberty Is 2018’s Most Surprising Yet Hopeful Commencement Speaker by William Ringenberg

Former President Jimmy Carter has accepted an invitation to deliver the commencement address at Liberty University on Saturday. Many will view this announcement as surprising, some even as disappointing for one reason or another. I view it as hopeful.

Carter is a progressive evangelical; the Falwell family and Liberty University identify with fundamentalist evangelicalism. Politically, Carter is generally liberal while the Falwells are conservative. Historically, Carter and Liberty’s late founder Jerry Falwell Sr. had differed sharply and personally on multiple issues—most notably civil rights and American defense of Israel.

So why, in this current era of adversarial politics in the state and even in the church, are the two contrasting forces coming together?

It is less surprising that Carter is willing to accept the invitation than that Liberty chose to offer it in the first place. While the former president can be unflinching on what he views as absolute moral principles (such as his opposition to racism), his career-long natural instinct has been to bring people together as much as possible (like when he met with former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1978 at Camp David).

To work cooperatively with a broad range of evangelicals in achieving common evangelistic and social justice goals would not normally be difficult for Carter.

By contrast, fundamentalists, almost by definition, are more or less separatists. But Jerry Falwell Sr. modified that separatist mentality by entering the political arena as the founder of the Morality Majority, which set out to influence the conservative social agenda.

Gradually his college and his successor, son Jerry Falwell Jr., came to embrace the Republican Party as a vehicle for implementing their social goals.

We all know what happened next. The nation unexpectedly elected a Republican president who supported much of the conservative agenda but did not reflect the Christian virtues of moral purity and intellectual honesty in his personal life.

Falwell Jr.’s support for President Donald Trump created a sense of ethical dissonance. A significant number of the Liberty students objected strongly and publicly to the stance of their leadership. Had the institution sacrificed its soul for political advantage? Had it confused its moral agenda with its chosen political institution for advancing it?

And then came the big surprise. In 2017 both Carter and Falwell Jr. attended Donald Trump’s first presidential prayer breakfast. Carter reached out to the son of his former adversary, and Falwell Jr. was grateful. The Liberty president was a trained lawyer (educated at the University of Virginia) and greatly enjoyed politics and prominent politicians. Falwell invited leading Republicans and Democrats to Lynchburg for major assemblies. (University leadership has explained that they extend invitations to politicians from both parties, but GOP figures have been more likely to accept. Barack Obama was invited to speak in 2012, for example, but opted to send Virginia Senator Tim Kaine instead.)

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Source: Christianity Today

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Why Gambling Is So Popular by Jim Denison

This week, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that prohibits sports gambling. The landmark decision gives states the right to legalize betting on sports.

New Jersey plans to be the first state to offer legal wagering on the results of a game. Delaware, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are expected to follow suit.

My purpose today is not to debate the legalities of sports gambling. Rather, it is to focus on gambling in the context of biblical truth and God’s best for us.

The promise and power of gambling

According to the American Gaming Association, gambling in the US is a $240 billion industry employing 1.7 million people in forty states. Why is gambling so popular?

The former Director of Gaming Enforcement for the state of New Jersey told a conference that the success of Atlantic City was tied to how well it sold its “only products.” He explained:

“That product is not entertainment or recreation or leisure. It’s really adrenaline: a biological substance capable of producing excitement–highs generated usually by anticipation or expectation of a future event, especially when the outcome of that event is in doubt.”

According to a chief regulator of the industry, gambling is not only a drug, but a mind-altering drug. One author calls it a “controlled substance.”

Psychologists offer several reasons for the popularity of gambling in our culture:

• It provides a sense of partial reinforcement we crave. “I’ll get lucky next time” is a powerful lure.
• Some fall for the “gambler’s fallacy” of believing that a string of losses makes a win more likely.
• The illusion of control causes many gamblers to believe that they have some power over the outcome (whether picking numbers in a lottery or blowing on dice before throwing them).
• Loss aversion is a major motivator: we feel more pain over losing $100 than joy over winning $100. When a gambler loses money, he or she is motivated to keep gambling so as to recover what has been lost.

Solomon observed, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty” (Proverbs 28:19 NIV). He added, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV).

Paul warned that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The plague of addictive gambling

As many as 750,000 young people have a gambling addiction. People between the ages of twenty and thirty have the highest rates of problem gambling (defined as “an urge to gamble continuously despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop”).

People who abuse alcohol are twenty-three times more likely to develop a gambling addiction. An estimated 50 percent of those with gambling problems commit crimes to support their addiction.

According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, there is evidence that pathological gambling is an addiction similar to chemical addiction. Winning at gambling has been compared neurologically to a cocaine addict receiving an infusion of the drug.

Those who are pathological gamblers are highly likely to exhibit other psychiatric problems, including substance abuse, mood and anxiety disorders, or personality disorders.

Problem gambling has also been linked to increased suicide attempts. A report in the US by the National Council on Problem Gambling showed that approximately one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide. The council also reported that suicide rates among pathological gamblers were higher than for any other addictive disorder.

Step-based treatment programs now exist for problem gamblers. Anti-addiction drugs are being tested on gambling addicts as well.

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Source: Christian Post

Anne Frank’s Lost Diary Entries Are About More Than Dirty Jokes by Jim Daly

Since they were discovered at the end of World War II, the diaries of Anne Frank have long served as both a fascinating and sober snapshot of one of the most difficult periods of world history.

You’ll recall that Anne was just 13 years old and in hiding following the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands when she began chronicling her observations and innermost thoughts from inside a sealed off section of a family friend’s business in Amsterdam. Along with seven other people, including a sister and her mother and father, it was there that Anne lived for the next two years. They were discovered in August of 1944 and sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Only Anne’s father, Otto, survived.

Historians and students have studied Anne’s writings ever since. Late yesterday, news broke that researchers, using new digital technology, have deciphered two previously hidden pages of Anne’s red-checkered diary. News accounts suggest they contain “dirty jokes” that had been deliberately covered over (presumably by Anne) with brown masking paper and tape.

That a 13-year-old girl would be curious about human sexuality should surprise no one, of course. Truth be told, the “dirty jokes” are quite tame when compared to some of the graphic references that populate today’s news, i.e. the latest White House Correspondents’ dinner. So it would be easy to simply note this latest discovery as something of a curiosity, a psychological juvenile dip into sexuality, and move on.

But buried within the newly uncovered material is a statement so straight-forward that it’s also quite profound.

Writing about how a young woman enters into puberty around age 14, Anne says this maturation for a teenager is “a sign that she is ripe to have relations with a man but one doesn’t do that of course before one is married.”

Today, modern sensibilities find this type of moral clarity surrounding sex to be at best old-fashioned and at worst, confining and downright repressive.

But to Anne, waiting to have sex until she was married was completely normal.

“Of course,” it was.

Just consider the fact that in 1940 in the U.S., 3.8 percent of women who gave birth were unmarried compared to over 40 percent today. Child-bearing outside of marriage is increasingly common because marriage is increasingly uncommon.

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Source: Christian Post

Ireland: Don’t Sacrifice Your Faith on the Altar of Abortion by Sean Martin

I can trace my ancestry to County Tyrone in Ireland. I still vaguely remember my great grandmothers Irish accent. Ireland holds a special place in my heart. And that is why my heart is currently breaking for that country.

On May 25 Ireland will vote on whether to repeal the 8th Amendment to their constitution which provides legal protection to children in the womb. While the Catholic church has been clear that they oppose repealing the 8th, other churches have been less so.

Among those in stunning support of the repeal is Bishop Michael Burrows from the Church of Ireland. The Christian leader was quoted in an article in The Irish Times on March 30 stating his view and his reasons for supporting the repeal. Unfortunately, his reasons were practical, but completely lacking any sound theological reasoning. Burrows said he believes the 8th is “incorrigibly flawed,” but does not seem to expound on how it is flawed. He also stated, “I believe sufficiently in parliamentary democracy to hand the matter to the legislators and indeed to trust them – that is their duty and their vocation.”

This statement is tragically revealing. Bishop Burrows is saying first that he trusts the government to make life and death decisions for other human beings. Throughout history, government license to arbitrate over life and death has not gone well for the most vulnerable in a country whose government wields that kind of power. Here in America, that has certainly been true for the more than 60 million children that have been killed since 1973 when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion at a federal level.

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Source: Christian Post

To the Class of 2018: Turning Grief Into Hope by Rob Schenck

Graduation Day can be the best and worst 24 hours of your life. Trust me, I know. Over my 60 years, I’ve personally been through six graduations.

Graduation Day might be the best day of your life because you know you’ve finished a span of your educational career—and hopefully you finished well. It also might be the worst day of your life because you leave behind what’s familiar—instructors, friends, even hallways and classrooms that have become like a second home.

Whether it’s a good day, bad day, or a mix of both, what all graduates should have in common on this important occasion is a rack of great memories associated with whatever school you’re leaving behind.

Sadly, that’s not the case for many graduates these days.

The escalating numbers of school shootings in America have reduced too many graduations to crisis moments, when missing classmates who should have walked with their peers to collect their diplomas are painfully absent. In many commencement exercises this year, as in years past, names will be read in haunting memoriam, and soberly vivid scenes of dead classmates will blur an otherwise exhilarating day for grieving students and parents alike. This sad situation must never, ever become normalized.

The Psalmist said, “My soul is weary with sorrow . . .” (Ps 119:28a). So should be the souls of all who have had to experience the horror of a school shooting; who must live with the sadness, scars, nightmares and the fear that it may happen again. We should all be weary at a time and culture when people sigh and say, “There’s nothing we can do about it.” We should be weary at the voices that claim the only way to eliminate a mortal threat on school grounds is to make fortresses out of our buildings, erect barriers around fields and tracks that make athletes invisible to those they used to visually inspire, and place heavily armed guards and weapon-wielding teachers at classroom doors, in cafeterias and on rooftops, as if students were inmates and school buildings were penitentiaries.

It does not need to be this way.

Those of you who are graduating this season—from grammar schools to high schools, and graduate schools to doctoral programs—know this. You already understand that a downward vision for the future of our schools is not the solution. We can look upward instead. Up is the direction of faith and optimism. Up is the direction of hope. Yet one lesson we all learn in school is that achieving any vision takes hard work. It will take all of us working together to realize a future where a student’s only worry is whether he or she finished their homework, is on time for class or is prepared for the next exam. No student should start a day, or finish a class, or walk on stage to collect a hard-earned diploma worrying if somebody will open fire on them.

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Source: Christian Post

Is America Shaking Its Collective Fist at God Through the Wholesale Slaughter of the Unborn? By Jerry Newcombe

Some people virtually celebrate abortion.

•Cecil Richards, president of Planned Parenthood for a dozen years, is leaving her position as a virtual celebrity. Her “legacy” includes 3.5 million abortions by Planned Parenthood during her tenure.

•Some of the signs seen at January’s pro-abortion-rights march, such as “Abortion on Demand & Without Apology,” prompted lifenews.com to note, “New Women’s March T-shirts Celebrate Killing Babies in Abortion” (1/17/18).

Today we have surpassed the 60 million mark in number of abortions since the Supreme Court’s companion decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which on January 22, 1973, gave us abortion on demand.

What does God say about all this? Through the Hebrew prophets, God declared, “Woe to those who shed innocent blood.” Not only did He tell us to do no murder (which would include the unborn), but He tells us by way of the prophet Isaiah that we should not call evil good and good evil.

Yet today, rather than lament abortion, some celebrate it. A couple of weeks ago on national television Michele Wolf, the crude comedian, made people laugh at the White House Correspondents Dinner by joking about abortion. I suppose we could note that at least she recognized the unborn as a “baby.”

I find it fascinating to reflect on what some of our forebears said about the evils of slavery. Even some of those who owned slaves, like Thomas Jefferson, recognized it as a great sin. Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

George Mason, one of our founding fathers—again, a slaveholder from Virginia—knew that it was wrong. He said, “Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of heaven on a country.”

But someone might say, “Isn’t there a constitutional reason for abortion? The Supreme Court said so, and there it is.” However, they also said, in the Dred Scot case of 1857 that the slave has no constitutional rights. We fought a Civil War over it. Many see that great tragedy as God’s judgment—the judgment of heaven brought on by about two and a half centuries of slavery in America. (Lincoln implied that in his Second Inaugural Address.)

Meanwhile, is there a constitutional basis for Roe?

I once asked that question of former Yale Law professor, Robert Bork, who was nominated to the Supreme Court until he was so lied about by the left that he got “borked” and was unable to serve there. This happened, despite the fact that the Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court, says “Bork’s legal competence and personal integrity were indisputable.”

Here is what Robert Bork told me about the infamous 1973 abortion decision: “If you read Roe against Wade, it’s a very interesting opinion. It’s about 51 pages or something of that sort. There’s not an ounce of legal reasoning in it. He goes through what the ancient Egyptians thought about abortion, he goes through the English Common Law of abortion, he goes through what the American Hospital Association thinks about abortion, what the American Medical Association thinks about it, and then, suddenly, after all this history, which is utterly irrelevant to the issue before him, he suddenly says, ‘Well, there is a right of privacy and it’s broad enough to cover the right to abortion.’ Bang, it’s a terrible opinion.”

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Source: Christian Post

Right on Cue, the World Condemns Israel by Michael Brown

Israel is slaughtering unarmed men! Israel is killing women and children! Israel is butchering babies! It’s time for the world to condemn this genocidal nation!

As I wrote in my last column, things are falling into place just as scripted by Hamas. The terrorist organization recruits and sends its young men on suicide missions. Israel responds with the expected force. The media reports the events along anti-Israel lines. Then the nations of the world rise up to condemn evil Israel.

I previously cited Aaron Klein and Melanie Phillips, both of whom pointed out how the secular media plays right into Hamas’s hands. Since then, David Friedman, our ambassador to Israel, also weighed in, dubbing the protests and the ensuing casualties “a public relations event.”

He said, “If I could give a word of advice to the media, if they purport to care so much about the Palestinian cause: this coverage of Palestinians running to the fence, burning tires — it’s the fuel or the lubricant for further malign behavior.”

He added, “there’s a reason why Hamas sends impressionable kids to the front, telling them that the border is safe to cross. They want them to be killed or injured, to make the front page of the paper.”

That is the satanic and cynical strategy of Hamas.

Alan Dershowitz made similar comments, claiming that when the media reports in such “a biased manner,” that “incentivizes and encourages Hamas.”

He said, “You use children and women, you deliberately put them on the front lines, you make it impossible for Israel to defend itself without occasionally killing a woman or a child or an elderly person. And every time Israel accidentally kills somebody like that, Israelis grieve. Israel loses. Hamas cheers and celebrates because that’s exactly what they want. They want the media to show the body count. They want the media to show the dead baby, even though Israel tried everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties.”

It doesn’t matter that Hamas has admitted that more than 80 percent of those killed on Monday were Hamas members.

It doesn’t matter that the dead baby (seen with grieving mother), did not die at the hands of the IDF. (And why on earth would you bring an infant anywhere near the front lines of an active shooting site?)

It doesn’t matter that, “A Hamas leader said in an interview that the terror group was ‘deceiving the public’ when it spoke of ‘peaceful resistance.'”

All that matters is that Israel is evil and Israel is monstrous and Israel is genocidal.

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Source: Christian Post