Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mere Christianity

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost laments the fact that so many Christians see it as their God-given mission in life to rip apart the theological beliefs of other Christians. It's not that beliefs aren't important, but some beliefs are very important and some are not. It's unfortunate that Christians too often can't tell the difference.

Which are the important beliefs, the ones that we really can't be Christians without believing? Well, I wouldn't want to argue about the list, but I'll suggest these seven propositions are pretty much the sine qua non of Evangelical belief. It would be hard to maintain a muscular Christian faith while denying any one of these seven affirmations.

1. God exists

2. Scripture is authoritative

3. Man is fallen

4. Death is not the end of our existence

5. Jesus is in some sense divine

6. Jesus' death on the cross is essential to our eternal life

7. Jesus rose literally and historically from the dead

The reader may disagree with some of the above or, more likely, may wish to include other propositions in addition to these seven. That's fine, but this is what I consider to be the core of Christian belief, what C.S. Lewis called "mere Christianity," and over the days leading us to Christmas I wish to elaborate on each of these claims and explain how and why I believe each is essential to Christian faith.

More Good News From Iraq

Despite the impression the MSM strives to create of an Iraq in chaos and on the brink of civil war, that's not the perception of most Iraqis according to this ABC/Time poll:

Surprising levels of optimism prevail in Iraq with living conditions improved, security more a national worry than a local one, and expectations for the future high. But views of the country's situation overall are far less positive, and there are vast differences in views among Iraqi groups - a study in contrasts between increasingly disaffected Sunni areas and vastly more positive Shiite and Kurdish provinces.

An ABC News poll in Iraq, conducted with Time magazine and other media partners, includes some remarkable results: Despite the daily violence there, most living conditions are rated positively, seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve in the year ahead.

Not all the results are good, of course, Iraqis are less positive about the outlook for the country as a whole than they are about their own lives, for example, but the fact that most Iraqis are optimistic about their future is an important bit of news. We'll be interested in how the evening news shows and the nation's pundits spin it.

Reform or Disband the U.N.

Here's another reason, if one were needed, why the U.N. cannot be trusted to arbitrate the world's conflicts: At a public meeting celebrating the International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People held at U.N. headquarters on November 29th, the three top U.N. officials, including Kofi Anan, appeared on a platform on which was displayed a map of the middle east. The map was a pre-1948 edition which does not show Israel. What message do you suppose the leadership of the U.N. is sending by that little gesture? Lest there be any doubt, those assembled also observed a moment of silence for Palestinians who died as suicide murderers.

The U.N. has become a society of thugs, tyrants, and thieves - third world petty crooks and dictators masquerading as statesmen. The organization is a charade, pretending to be devoted to settling disputes when in fact it's dedicated to plundering the wealth of the developed world and facilitating the demise of Western values and civilization. It's past time to pitch it into the Atlantic and start over with nations that share a common commitment to the principles upon which the U.N. was originally founded.