Glenn Beck claims that God has told him to vote for Ted Cruz. Thomas Kidd has posted a fascinating article recounting his dispute with Beck about such claims of divine instruction. One of the more interesting aspects of the post is Kidd’s discussion of Jonathan Edwards’ tendency to make similar pronouncements. He states,
“For example, during a 1736 drought, [Edwards] explained that God was chastising New Englanders for the “corruption in our hearts.” Similarly, during a plague of crop-destroying worms in the 1740s, he suggested that the people’s neglect of the poor had precipitated the infestation.”
Kidd points out that most evangelicals today refrain from making such confident claims about interpreting God’s providential actions. When asked to comment on Beck’s claim about Cruz, Kidd replied,
“[T]he Bible certainly offers principles on how to think about government and politics. The Bible does not, however, tell us which individual candidates to vote for…There are many reasons why devout Christians should hesitate to vote for Donald Trump, but God has not revealed Ted Cruz as the divinely anointed alternative, either.”
In response, Beck has chastened Kidd for his reticence. Kidd may not know the mind of God, but Glenn Beck surely does:
“To you, Dr. Kidd. To you. To you God hasn’t revealed Cruz as divinely anointed.”
Hmm…..Suffice it to say that I agree with Kidd much more than Beck. Thomas Kidd’s entire article can be found here.
Recently a $1 billion Powerball jackpot sent the nation into a frenzy. An article in The Week magazine entitled “Addicted to Lotteries” (02/12/16 p. 11) presents some sobering facts about our country’s “harmless” obsession.
People waited in 3-hour lines during the latest Powerball frenzy
- Last year Americans spent $70 billion on lottery tickets. That’s more than what was spent in this country on video games, movie tickets, and sporting events combined.
- Over half of all lottery tickets were purchased by just 5% of the population. This group “tend(s) to be poor and uneducated.” A Duke University study found that people with household incomes of less than $25,000 spend an average of $583 per year on the lottery (Upper income families spend about half that much). The educational differences are even more pronounced. High school dropouts spend around $700 while college graduates spend less than $200.
- Lottery defenders generally claim that the money raised by state lotteries goes to support education. However, the states that do not have lotteries on average spend 10% more of their budgets on education than the states that do have lotteries.
“While the lotteries spend millions promoting their games as harmless entertainment and encouraging people to imagine themselves quitting their jobs and buying mansions–‘Hey, you never know,’ reads the New York lottery’s tagline–studies show that poorer players are 25% more likely than richer players to consider a ticket a genuine investment, and to vastly overestimate their chance of winning.”
The article concludes that lotteries are “just a tax in disguise” designed to exploit the poor. I have to agree.
This post is cross listed at www.betweenthetimes.com
During this election cycle a great deal of attention has been given to the evangelical vote. And for good reason: evangelicals are believed to make up 20% of the voting electorate. However, counting the number of evangelicals has always been a challenging task. Some evangelicals attend mainline denominational churches, and not everyone attending evangelical churches hold to what are typically considered evangelical distinctives. And to make things even more complicated, some who hold to evangelical beliefs do not self-identify as evangelicals. Leith Anderson and Ed Stetzer, working with a group of evangelical leaders, came up with four belief statements that appear to identify evangelicals when used in a questionnaire. They report their findings in the latest issue of Christianity Today (April, 2016) in “A New Way to Define Evangelicals” (pp. 52-55; the online version can be found here).
The four belief statements are:
“The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.”
“It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.”
“Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.”
“Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal life.”
Their findings? Anderson and Stetzer conclude that “29 percent of whites, 44 percent of African Americans, 30 percent of Hispanics, and 17 percent from other ethnicities have evangelical beliefs.” This means that, overall, about 30 percent of Americans hold to evangelical beliefs.
Cross posted at www.betweenthetimes.com
The bombing in Lahore, Pakistan of Christians on Easter Sunday, which targeted women and children, was so horrific, atrocious, and barbaric that even the mainstream media is beginning to notice. The Daily Beast has published “Christians Are Still Persecuted Around the World. Here’s Where.” It’s worth your time to read. Several takeaway points:
- Most Americans fail to have “an accurate understanding of the real state of Christian persecution around the world.” The media ignores this persecution because there appears to be little interest among Westerners.
- Yet the level of persecution is increasing dramatically. “Last year, more than 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith.” That number is up 3,000 from the previous year, and next year’s number is expected to be even higher.
- 22% of all nations have “blasphemy laws” and 11% have law against converting to another religion.
- Even nations that are officially tolerant fail to address social intolerance or provide safety to their Christian citizens. “Bangladesh is perhaps the clearest example, where you have secular activists and Christians being murdered, more or less with impunity.”
The entire article can be found here.