May 29, 2007

Jimmy Carter is not the Anti-Christ

Ethics Daily ran my lastest column today, which is entitled "Jimmy Carter is not the Anti-Christ." It responds to inaccurate criticisms about Carter that have been made during recent discussions about the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. I specifically deal with the false claims that Carter is pro-abortion and a universalist. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Anyone who continues to claim otherwise simply does not know what he or she is talking about. As a result, their criticism of the Celebration should not be given merit.

... Even when the facts are pointed out, many of Carter's critics continue to issue their attacks. These critics need to reconsider their words before they continue to bear false witness against their brother in Christ.

... Critics of Carter and the Celebration will likewise probably continue to cast allegations, even if they are completely wrong. But in their attacks, they only prove that Carter's main point is correct: Baptists are tragically polarized and for the sake of the gospel need to come together to celebrate our commonalities.

I hope that we can soon more this discussion away from these false claims and into more productive areas like why the Celebration is needed and why all Baptists should pray for it and consider attending it.

6 comments:

  1. Brian,

    Let me clarify . . .

    I maintain that both Rabbi Lerner and Wade Burleson are reporting accurately their May 2007 conversations with President Carter.

    A convenience of pluralism is that one actually believes and can say what pleases the person(s) he is talking with at the time, while not mentioning the other "legitimate" pathways to God he believes exist.

    In his defense, perhaps President Carter doesn't see the exclusivity of Christ to save as a major doctrine. You know, he may feel that, as long as the Christian gospel is included--and is, in fact, his stated personal method--in his list of paths to God, why should any Christian object?

    You, Wade Burleson, and others may prove this assumption of Carter's accurate by refusing to consider the reported statements that indicate duplicity on his part.

    Again, my conviction is that a clear gospel (exclusivity included) message is central to all cooperative efforts under the banner "Baptist."

    I repeat--you, as a Christian journalist, have a responsibility to find out the truth.

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  2. Chuck: Although your theory might be correct, I do not think that the comments by both Lerner and Burleson can be accurate.

    I find it hard to believe the Rabbi's remark for a couple of reasons:

    1. It does not match with Carter's written words that very clearly point out that he sees the need for one to accept Jesus.

    2. I am cautious to accept the word of Rabbi Lerner because he has admitted in the past to making things up. See story here.

    I echo your desire for a clear gospel message to be issued and I truly believe that will happen with the Celebration.

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  3. Chuck3:16 PM

    Brian,

    That's good digging.

    You should be encouraged, and your journalistic/investigative juices flowing to find out, once and for all, if the Rabbi is again misrepresenting the truth, or if the former President of the U.S. and would-be Baptist spokesman actually believes the extraordinary things regarding Judaism and evangelicals which the Rabbi attributes to him.

    Blow the lid on the Rabbi, and you'll have served the Lord, yourself, and all Baptists well.

    Verify the truth of Carter's remarks to the Rabbi, and you'll have served the Lord, yourself and all Baptists well.

    You can't go wrong--unless you do nothing, choosing instead to suppose and hope for the best.

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  4. Brian,

    When you're asking President Carter about the Rabbi Lerner comments, you might also ask him what he meant--in terms of salvation--by his 1986 comment about where Rev. Jerry Falwell could spend eternity:

    http://www.mefeedia.com/entry/2687391/
    (audio via CNN)

    http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=AT&p_theme=at&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB7C24750C8B049&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM
    (print via Atlanta Journal Constitution)

    Carter: "I don't let Jerry Falwell or anyone else define for me what is a Christian". I hope he didn't mean to include Jesus, Paul, Peter, etc.

    There's good news and bad news to be gleaned from this 21-year old instance:

    Good news: Carter's probably not a universalist--probably just a pluralist.

    Bad news: Carter's comments seem very divisive--much like Rev. Falwell has been credited with.

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  5. Chuck: I’ll see if I can find out more (although you overestimate my importance if you think I can get definitely an interview with either of these men!).

    As for your thoughts on his comment about Falwell, I am glad to see you dropping the “universalist” tag. I think he probably meant anyone today and not anyone ever. And while Carter has been too divisive like Falwell was, that does not mean that one should not be able to point out flaws with religious leaders like Falwell.

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  6. Brian,

    Please note that I never used the "universalist" tag. I commented on it (tongue in cheeck, actually) because you had referred to others using it.

    Again, I maintain Carter's reported remarks indicate his inclusive or plural view, either of which are non-exclusive.

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