87 reasons to celebrate Arnie’s life

The King was born 87 years ago. There’s no record what Arnold Palmer weighed at birth, but there is no doubt he became one of America’s true heavyweight sports figures.

To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, Palmer truly walked (and golfed) with Presidents and Kings but didn’t lose the common touch. Here are 87 reasons to celebrate Arnie’s life:

1. He made hitching up your pants cool.
2. He brought big-time golf to Orlando, turning the sleepy Florida Citrus Open into the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
3. He signed a zillion autographs – all of them legibly.
4. He beat prostate cancer.
5. He served three years in the U.S. Coast Guard.
6. The Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is ranked among “Best Children’s Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.
7. JFK sent him film of his golf swing to critique.
8. In 49 years, he made $1,784,497 on the PGA Tour.
9. In 2014, he made $42 million in endorsements and other income, according to Forbes.
10. He went to the same high school as Fred Rogers from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
11. He rallied from seven shots behind on the final day to win the 1960 U.S. Open.
12. He designed the first golf course built in China.
13. You can order an “Arnold Palmer” and restaurants worldwide will pour you a half-iced tea, half-lemonade.
14. He’s still a member of the Latrobe (Pa.) Elks club.
15. He broke100 for a round of golf when he was 7.
16. When Palmer turned 37, Dwight D. Eisenhower flew to Latrobe to deliver a surprise birthday greeting.
17. He met his first wife, Winnie, on a Tuesday and asked her to marry him four days later.
18. They were married 45 years until her death in 1999.
19. He played in 50 Masters.
20. He became a pilot to help overcome his fear of flying.
21. He rode into a 2013 Wake Forest football game on the back of a motorcycle.
22. He was the last golfer to look debonair with a cigarette dangling from his lips.
23. He has a Congressional Gold Medal.
24. He has a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
25. He’s the only sports figure to have both.
26. His grandkids called him “Dumpy.”
27. He has 62 PGA Tour wins.
28. When arch villain Goldfinger was cheating while playing golf against James Bond in the 1964 film, Sean Connery’s caddie said, “If that’s his original ball, I’m Arnold Palmer.”
29. He gave Kate Upton her first golf lesson.
30. He personally taught hundreds of pro golfers how to properly comport themselves.
31. His father was a lowly club pro, so Arnie wasn’t allowed to swim in the club pool.
32. He swam in the creek that supplied the pool water and joked that he urinated in it.
33. He hung out with Frank Sinatra.
34. He really did drive that tractor seen in the Pennzoil commercials.
35. He helped start the Golf Channel.
36. He was honorary national chairman of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation for 20 years.
37. He made eye contact with fans.
38. The Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies delivered 13,800 newborns in 2014.
39. Richard Nixon asked his advice on how to end the Vietnam War.
40. He was Associated Press Athlete of the Decade for 1960s.
41. He won seven majors.
42. Kirk Douglas was asked of all his famous acquaintances, who had the most personal magnetism? His answer: Arnie.
43. He loves bologna.
44. He worked as a paint salesman after getting out of the Coast Guard.
45. He has 13 streets named after him.
46. He doesn’t expect people to call him “Mr. Palmer.”
47. He addressed Congress in 1990 on the 100th anniversary of Eisenhower’s birth.
48. He shot 71 in his first high-school golf match.
49. He has his own winery.
50. He has refused any marketing overtures to make an Arnold Palmer wine comprised of half-Chardonnay and half-Cabernet Sauvignon.
51. It took him 13 years to become the first golfer to win $1 million in career earnings.
52. Matt Every, winner of this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, got a first-place check for $1,134,000.
53. In 1976, he set a round-the-world speed record in a Learjet that still stands – 57 hours, 25 minutes, 42 seconds.
54. Only two rooms in the Pennsylvania house he grew up in had heat.
55. He had a hole-in-one five years ago.
56. He was confident enough to wear pink before it was fashionable.
57. The Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History is home to the world’s leading collection of golf artifacts.
58. He quit the Champions Tour when he felt he was playing like a golf artifact.
59. He expects men to take off their hats when they go indoors.
60. He helped found a nature preserve named after his first wife.
61. Gerald Ford’s first act after leaving the presidency was playing a round of golf with Palmer.
62. The Latrobe airport is named after him.
63. He bought the golf course that wouldn’t allow him to go swimming as a kid.
64. He came up with his simple yet iconic multicolored umbrella logo.
65. He often cries during the national anthem.
66. After a lifetime of signing autographs for free, he finally charged for his signature during the 1994 Bay Hill tournament when his grandchildren told him business was slow at their lemonade stand. Palmer agreed to sign for anyone who’d buy a $1.50 glass. The kids made a quick $50 before running out of lemonade.
67. The Arnold Palmer Medical Center is the largest facility in the U.S. dedicated to children and women.
68. When he was 17, he had a photo taken with Hollywood starlet Esther Williams.
69. His around-the-world record flight would have finished sooner, but he stopped to refuel in Sri Lanka and rode an elephant.
70. For years, the trophy at his Orlando tournament was a sword.
71. His would-be father-in-law boycotted the wedding because he doubted Palmer could make enough to support a family.
72. He designed more than 300 golf courses around the world.
73. He came up with the concept of modern Grand Slam in 1960.
74. He flew a Boeing 747 before they were in commercial service.
75. The golfing great Arnold Palmer appeared in the animated “The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show” in 1971.
76. He’s an honorary starter at the Masters.
77. There’s an Arnold Palmer statue at Wake Forest.
78. Nike’s “LeBronold Palmer” sneakers are named for him and LeBron James.
79. He led the campaign to prevent golf courses from being built in Florida’s state parks.
80. After first seeing Palmer’s jerky swing, Gene Sarazen said Palmer wouldn’t amount to much of a golfer.
81. He can still be spotted walking his dog at Bay Hill.
82. His dog’s name is Mulligan.
83. His review of Bill Clinton’s golf game: “He can hit a long way, he just doesn’t have a ZIP code.”
84. In 2010, Esquire named him one of “The 75 Best Dressed Men of All Time.”
85. He smoked his last cigarette on Dec. 23, 1973.

For the other two…

Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal, red states and blue states—the political divides in our country tend to fall into binary structures. The ones we are most familiar with tend to be firmly established, and we often know, through intuition or experience, what side we align with.

But over the past few months there has been a new political divide, an intramural division within American social conservatism. And this discord has been felt most prominently within the evangelical wing of this movement.

Evangelicals are not a monolithic entity, and there have always been differences and disagreements on politics. Still, within the social conservative faction (which accounts for around 60 percent to 75 percent of evangelicalism) there has been a general sense of unity. At least there was before this election season. The candidacy of Donald Trump has caused a split within this group that has grown increasingly rancorous as we inch closer to the election.Even by the standard of partisan politics, Trump is a uniquely polarizing figure. Before this year few could have predicted he’d bisect socially conservative evangelicals into warring camps.

Witness vs. Justice

In an attempt to bridge this chasm I want to explain the reasoning of both sides (at least as I have observed the debates), examine their strengths and weaknesses, and propose a way forward. While the two sides may not agree on much before November 8, we can at least attempt to seek a modicum of understanding and reconciliation.

There are differences and disagreements within each group and just as many areas of overlap between the two sides. By painting their outlines with a broad brush we will miss many important aspects and nuances. Still, doing so will help us focus our eyes on a few of the most essential elements.

To give a label to each side, we can identify the division as between those focused on Witness and those foregrounding Justice. Let’s start with by explaining the Justice side.

Justice Side

The concern of this group can be summed up in two words: Supreme Court. Many of the issues they care about most are matters of justice that will likely be decided by the court—abortion, marriage, transgenderism, religious liberty, and so on. They’re legitimately worried that if the liberal party candidate, Hillary Clinton, is allowed to choose the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia it will set us back decades, and even push us to a point from which our country may never recover.

Although Trump might not have been their first choice of candidates, they see him as the lesser of two evils. They don’t necessarily know what he would do in office, but they are quite certain how Hillary will govern. For this reason they are willing to take a chance on Trump. To reverse an old saying, “Better the devil you don’t know than the one you do.”

The strength of this position is its clarity and simplicity. This group reasons that even if Clinton and Trump were to govern in the exact same way on every issue and differ only on Supreme Court nominations, we would be no worse off and would, in many ways, be much better off since the Court would be returned to its former status quo.

This is form of minimax strategy, which is often used in two-player, zero-sum games (like presidential elections). Minimax is a strategy of always minimizing the maximum possible loss that can result from a choice a player makes. The Justice side believes by supporting and voting for Trump they are minimizing the maximum possible loss of justice that would result from a Clinton presidency.

For the Justice side, the timeline we should be thinking on is decades, rather than the next four to eight years. My TGC colleague Bethany Jenkins summed up this rationale when she said, “As a lawyer who has read hundreds of cases, I’ve found one thing certain: Presidents come and go, but a SCOTUS Justice lasts a lifetime.” (NB: Bethany is not a Trump supporter, though she is sympathetic to the concerns of the Justice side.)

That is the main strength of the Justice position. The drawback is the trade-offs they have to make to endorse Trump, specifically sacrificing the “character issue” not only from this current presidential election but also from every election in the future.

A prime example of a champion on the Justice side is Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a member of Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. After hearing Trump bragged about committing sexual assault, Jeffress said the comments were “lewd, offensive, and indefensible.” But he said he’d still support Trump for President. “I would not necessarily choose this man to be my child’s Sunday school teacher,” he said. “But that’s not what this election is about.”

The implication is that there is not even a minimal biblical standard of character for a man or woman seeking a leadership role in America’s government. While integrity and a reputable character might be preferred, it’s a luxury good, not a prerequisite to receive the political support of evangelicals.

The result of this decision to disregard character is likely to live longer than even the most robust Supreme Court Justice. No longer can we credibly claim a lack of character is a disqualifier from public office. If Hugh Hefner decides to run for president and chooses Larry Flynt as his running mate, they could credibly claim to be the candidates for evangelical “Values Voters,” so long as they promised to appoint conservative judges.

Witness Side

Now let’s examine the Witness side. This group is also concerned about the long-term threat that will result from allowing Clinton to choose Supreme Court justices. In fact, on this matter they share all of the same concerns as the Justice side. Where they differ is in fervently believing the damage done to our gospel witness in choosing Trump outweighs the potential devastation caused by a liberal Court.

This side rejects the concept of the “lesser of two evils” as being unbiblical since Scripture calls us to reject all evil. They believe the character of both candidates has made them unfit for the highest office in the land, and that voting for either to be President would violate their conscience. Additionally, they believe Trump has made comments that reveal him to be racist, sexist, and/or anti-life—all while claiming to be a Christian. For this group, turning a blind eye to Trump’s character for the sake of political expediency betrays our calling as Christians.

The strength of the Witness position is its integrity and faithfulness. They contend that by supporting Trump (or Clinton) evangelicals are sending the message that we’re willing to sacrifice our witness as ambassadors of Christ, and that we’re willing to choose evil on the chance it will lead to a good outcome.

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As a non-profit journalistic organization, Christianity Today is doubly committed to staying neutral regarding political campaigns—the law requires it, and we serve our readers best when we give them the information and analysis they need to make their own judgments.

We can never collude when idolatry becomes manifest, especially when it demands our public allegiance.

Just because we are neutral, however, does not mean we are indifferent. We are especially not indifferent when the gospel is at stake. The gospel is of infinitely greater importance than any campaign, and one good summary of the gospel is, “Jesus is Lord.”

The true Lord of the world reigns even now, far above any earthly ruler. His kingdom is not of this world, but glimpses of its power and grace can be found all over the world. One day his kingdom, and his only, will be the standard by which all earthly kingdoms are judged, and following that judgment day, every knee will bow, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, as his reign is fully realized in the renewal of all things.

The lordship of Christ places constraints on the way his followers involve themselves, or entangle themselves, with earthly rulers.

On the one hand, we pray for all rulers—and judging from the example of Old Testament exiles like Daniel and New Testament prisoners like Paul, we can even wholeheartedly pray for rulers who directly oppose our welfare. On the other hand, we recognize that all earthly governments partake, to a greater or lesser extent, in what the Bible calls idolatry: substituting the creation for the Creator and the earthly ruler for the true God.

No human being, including even the best rulers, is free of this temptation. But some rulers and regimes are especially outrageous in their God-substitution. After Augustus Caesar, the emperors of Rome became more and more elaborate in their claims of divinity with each generation—and more and more ineffective in their governance. Communism aimed not just to replace faith in anything that transcended the state, but to crush it. Such systems do not just dishonor God, they dishonor his image in persons, and in doing so they set themselves up for dramatic destruction. We can never collude when such idolatry becomes manifest, especially when it demands our public allegiance. Christians in every place and time must pray for the courage to stay standing when the alleged “voice of a god, not a man” commands us to kneel.

This year’s presidential election in the United States presents Christian voters with an especially difficult choice.

The Democratic nominee has pursued unaccountable power through secrecy—most evidently in the form of an email server designed to shield her communications while in public service, but also in lavishly compensated speeches, whose transcripts she refuses to release, to some of the most powerful representatives of the world system. She exemplifies the path to power preferred by the global technocratic elite—rooted in a rigorous control of one’s image and calculated disregard for norms that restrain less powerful actors. Such concentration of power, which is meant to shield the powerful from the vulnerability of accountability, actually creates far greater vulnerabilities, putting both the leader and the community in greater danger.

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By Andrew Camp

6 Reflections on Community Inspired by Bonhoeffer

“I don’t know about you, but I am constantly tempted to get so caught up in my vision, planning and execution of community.”

My church has recently launched a series on community called Better Together. In conjunction with the sermon series, I, in collaboration with my senior pastor, wrote a small group curriculum to complement the series. I love community, which is why I love small groups. Like many of you, I work hard on our small group system at my church to equip leaders and to help many in my church experience the fullness of community—the good, the bad and the ugly.

However, as I continue to reflect on community and work toward helping others experience community, I constantly find myself drawn back to and challenged by the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his classic work, Life Together. In it, he writes:

God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly…. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.

Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness and His promise. (pp. 27-28).

I don’t know about you, but I am constantly tempted to get so caught up in my vision, planning and execution of community, that I rarely stop to seek God’s heart for the community which He has called me to shepherd.

Please do not misunderstand me: I do not believe God wants you or me to be laissez faire when it comes to community either. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” Structure and guidelines are good as it relates to community; they can help foster an environment where people feel safe to be vulnerable.

So how do we draw the balance. Here are some preliminary thoughts:

1. Pray for your specific community. Thank God for placing you in that specific community. Don’t repress your frustrations about your community, but in the midst of frustrations, be thankful as much as you are able.

2. Listen to God. Don’t spend so much time in prayer for your community that you miss God’s voice to you regarding your community. Remember that God has already laid the foundation.

3. Spend time listening to your people—not just your leaders, but others as well. Know where they are at and what they need to continue to grow spiritually.

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Here’s The Simple Biblical Explanation.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

In the question of who’s the worst sinner, between Donald and Hillary… the answer is simple and straightforward… it’s you and me.. or whoever judges Donald and Hillary.

Jesus said it even better than Dietrich, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.” – Matthew 7 (The Message)

I’m attracted to the invitation of Jesus to focus on our issues (however big or small they are) as oppose to glorifying someone else’s (as big or small as their sins are).

It’s the “plank in our eye” approach, which really helps with living a happy sonship.

Christ came to save us from our sin, but also to save us from the idea that we could be saviors of ourselves, or anyone else.

He made it clear to the Pharisees (who loved to compare levels of sin) that lust was just as bad as adultery, and hatred was just as bad as murder.

So yeah, we are all as bad as Donald/Hillary.

And we need Jesus as much as they do.

I know, that you know, that both Donald and Hillary have clear and distinctive things that they need to repent for.

But so do you.

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The first presidential debate on September 26 attracted a record 84 million viewers. I was one of them.

Another sizable audience is predicted to watch the second presidential debate tonight. I will not be one of them — nor will my wife or my kids.

The lewdness factor of the election reached new heights this weekend, and it has been suggested that tonight’s debate should be rated R and prefaced with a parental advisory warning. Mud will be slung (and there’s never been more mud to sling). Ratings will be high again.

We are troubled by the personalities and we are troubled by their policies — and when you add those two features together, many Christians are simply withdrawing themselves from both major candidates and both major parties.

If it feels odd to withdraw support like this from such a major American institution, you’re not alone. Writer and hip-hop artist Sho Baraka recently opened a powerful op-ed piece by writing, “As a black Christian in an urban environment, I consciously struggle to give my allegiance to either political party. In this way, this election gives many white evangelicals a sense of what it’s like to be a black believer in America today.”

The 2016 election is giving a lot of us a taste of displacedness. Perhaps like never before in this country, for black and white evangelicals alike, there’s a new feeling of un-belonging. But it’s not a shrugging cynicism. Under the political disillusionment, we are all finding ways of voicing concerns for the welfare of our nation. We are displaced, yes, but we are not separatists.

Believers in Babylon

About 2,600 years ago, under the shadow of a pagan superpower, another believer felt this same pinch: Daniel, a godly man living in exile in the Babylonian empire, a nation which traced its origin back to the rebel egotropolis, Babel. Yet in spite of his disagreement with Babylon’s policies, Daniel gave his life to serve the nation.

The book of Daniel is thoroughly political, revealing the power of God’s sovereign undertow beneath the tides of world politics, and all for the sake of his chosen people. Even as his people endured exile in Babylon, God sovereignly governed the world’s political leaders — raising, dropping, and reordering political powers for millennia (Daniel 2:21).

Into this pagan society, Daniel fought to balance his loyal service to Babylon with his ultimate obedience to God. And what he needed was a transhistorical vision of God’s rule over the nations. He got it in the form of a dream from the restless sleep of Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar.

In Daniel 2:36–45, we read about a giant statue of a man that towered perhaps one-hundred feet in the air and glistened brilliantly in the noonday sun.

The dream was given to Nebuchadnezzar. The interpretive key was given to Daniel.

The statue was a stack of nations, said Daniel. The metal man was capped with Babylon (represented in the gold head), placed atop Medo-Persia (the silver torso and arms), placed atop Greece (the bronze belly and thighs), and placed atop Rome at the bottom (the legs of iron and feet of clay). This layered statue represented a succession of the world’s four great superpowers from Daniel’s day into the future, all stacked vertically and cemented together (Hamilton, 330).

Then it toppled.

The statue was targeted by a stone, which flew into the dream like a comet, smashed into the statue’s feet, and, on impact, shattered the entire statue like safety glass. With one blow, the statue exploded into a pile of rubble, pulverized into a heap of human superpower dust, barely hitting the ground before the wind blew it all away into oblivion.

The small meteoric stone, now on the ground, began to grow and expand into a mountain that covered the entire earth — the image of a new and unshakable kingdom now spread out over every continent, displacing all the world’s superpowers in history.

The fall of this giant man-statue is meant to remind us of David’s sling-whirling, Goliath-defeating precedent. In both cases, the world’s powers must fall before the reign of a Davidic king.

Return of the King

This theatrical dream triggers a future history: a new king will establish God’s global reign over creation (the mountain). Later in the book, God gave Daniel a dream of his own, ushering him into a divine throne room of stunning imagery to see “the Ancient of Days” presiding over a glorious coronation anointing, over “one like a son of man” (Daniel 7:9–13).

This king, this “son of man,” entered in to receive his Cosmic Commission: to reign over all the peoples and nations and languages of the earth, to be globally adored in glory, and to be obeyed by all peoples.

The Davidic symbolism of chapter two, and now the introduction of this “son of man” in Daniel 7, combine to reveal the connection to Christ. Jesus would use this “son of man” phrase about eighty times in the Gospels: to reference his own authority, to reference his own need to suffer and die, and most importantly, to communicate his future glorified majesty and authority (NDBT, 236).

Christ found ample opportunities to tie all the major features of his Messianic purposes back to the throne room scene in Daniel 7. His words remind us that God’s agenda reigns on debate night — and every night.

The Politics of Jesus

The throne-room coronation scene in Daniel 7:13–14 is striking for helping us understand Christ’s self-revelation, and for understanding our mission as Christians, in a world of confusion. To make the connections, we need to set the “Cosmic Commission” of Christ in Daniel 7:13–14 alongside the Great Commission of Christ in Matthew 28:18–20.

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Published in the July/August 2000 Magazine
by Rodney Nelson

What Is a Good Citizen?

The continuing American cultural debate on what is good and bad in the body politic again brings up the question that the first Christians asked in their totally different and hostile milieu. The great early American statesman and orator Daniel Webster once stated that “whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens.” This declaration poses the key question-Is Christianity essential to a good and just society? Does a free society depend on the influence of Christianity? Ironically, many in contemporary America charge conservative Christians as being an influence that would deny some people their rights as citizens. In essence, many Americans see Christians as a negative influence upon society, if not a threat.

Because many Christians stand for prenatal life and campaign for its preservation, a majority of Americans (many Christians included) counter that this is against a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy if she chooses. Because many Christians stand against euthanasia, an increasing number of Americans see this as a violation of a citizen’s right to die if they choose. Because many Christians wish to express their faith in the public arena, many Americans are offended because this violates the rights of those individuals holding contrary beliefs. Because many Christians believe that gay rights are special rights, they are labeled as homophobic and discriminatory. Because Christians believe in a traditional family of one husband, one wife, and children, some Americans view this as a biased and narrow definition of family. Many women’s groups see traditional Christian belief as not only a hindrance to but the instigator of historic chauvinism against women. And the list goes on.

But let us turn the situation around to where Christianity is a newcomer on the scene and the society is pluralistic (like today), yet exhibiting values completely contrary to Judeo-Christian values and ethics. Let’s look at how the early church handled itself amid accusations, exclusivity, and misunderstanding in a pagan culture.

As Christianity began to impact the larger Roman world it found itself at odds with prevailing culture and opinion in its earliest years of existence. Roman officials and society at large began to take note of this new system of belief in a Jewish Messiah. Christianity gradually became seen as distinct from Judaism. Judaism, though satirized and belittled by many Romans, was respected as an ancient tradition, thereby gaining some status within the empire as a legal religion. Christianity did not have such status for a long time.

Rome tended to see Christianity not as a religion but as an atheistic superstition (superstitio). The Romans saw themselves as religious (religiosus) and pious (pius), and considered Christianity an offshoot superstition. A superstition was seen as any belief or practice that deviated from Roman custom. They viewed Christianity as vulgar and exclusive, since Christians refused to participate in state celebrations and festivals. Later Christians would be charged with the greatest offense-refusing to pay tribute to the emperor.

Christian beliefs and practices were misunderstood, with rumors spreading that they were cannibalistic (“Take and eat; this is my body broken for you” = Eucharist), incestuous (believers greeting each other as brothers and sisters with a “holy kiss”), secretive (closed Eucharist services), sexually perverted (confused with Gnosticism), ignorant and poor (most converts were of the lower classes), philosophically bankrupt (compared to classical Greek-Roman philosophy), and fanatical (martyrdom by choice). Christianity had a huge public-relations problem.

Christian Apologists to the Rescue

Beginning with the apostles, Christians sought to answer the charges brought against them by the surrounding culture. The word apologetics (apologeo) came into vogue. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason (apologian) for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV). “I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3, NIV). Christians would take this concept and expand it to a very sophisticated defense of their faith in the succeeding centuries.

What did the apostles tell their readers and hearers about relating to the empire? This is a crucial question insofar as Christians today are confronted with similar issues. Not coincidentally, they took their cue from their Saviour. This fact demonstrates the continuity between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of the apostles.

Jesus laid the groundwork with His famous and provocative statement in Matthew 22:21 (cf. Mark 12:17), “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (NIV).* The reaction to this statement by the religious establishment was amazement, because in the Jewish and Roman world the religious and civil authority were one. To separate obligation to one and then to the other was truly without precedent.

This groundbreaking teaching provided the impetus for later apostolic declarations of loyalty to God first and then to the state. “But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God” (Acts 4:19, NIV). This view was unanimous among the other apostles. “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29, NIV). This was a truly revolutionary statement.

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A family of refugees receiving an English lesson from William Stocks, 23, in Marietta, Ga. “My job is to serve these people,” Mr. Stocks said, “because they need to be served.” Credit Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

MARIETTA, Ga. — William Stocks, a white, Alabama-born, Republican-leaning member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, arrived at the tiny apartment of a Syrian refugee family on a Wednesday night after work. He was wearing a green-striped golf shirt and a gentle smile, and he was eager to teach yet another improvised session of English 101.

Mr. Stocks, 23, had recently moved to Georgia from Alabama, states where the governors are, like him, Southern Baptists. They are also among the more than 30 Republican governors who have publicly resisted the federal government’s plan to resettle refugees from war-ravaged Syria, fearing that the refugees might bring terrorism to their states.

To Mr. Stocks, such questions belonged in the realm of politics — and he had not come that evening for political reasons. Rather, he said, he had come as a follower of Christ. “My job is to serve these people,” he said, “because they need to be served.”

But politics and faith have always had the potential to conflict in the questions about resettling Syrian refugees in the United States.

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Justin Brierley finds out why popular author and broadcaster Eric Metaxas is backing Donald Trump

Eric Metaxas is dressed down in a T-shirt on the day I meet him. The trademark round-rimmed spectacles are firmly in place, but he has forgone his usual outfit: a suit with a pocket handkerchief.

I am similarly attired, as New York, where Metaxas lives and works, is experiencing an unprecedented summer heatwave. The air-conditioned studio on Wall Street in downtown Manhattan – where he records his daily show, syndicated nationally across 300 Christian radio stations – provides welcome relief from the blistering heat outside.


This radio role is fairly new. Until recently, Metaxas was primarily known as the witty and intellectual evangelical author of popular William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer biographies. His Socrates in the City events in New York and Oxford, during which he interviews Christian thinkers, have also reached many people.

Yet Metaxas’ interests lie beyond the purely highbrow. His past writing credits include children’s books and scripts for Christian cartoon series Veggie Tales. He also enjoys exploring the experiential dimension of faith alongside the intellectual. His conversion took place when he was 25 and was sparked by an extraordinary dream; a story he tells alongside many other supernatural accounts in his 2015 book, Miracles (Hodder & Stoughton).

Commencing his weekday radio show 18 months ago has given him a fresh outlet for his funny side. The guests he interviews are diverse, but the listeners keep coming back for Metaxas’ gregarious personality and engaging style.

The author’s profile reached a new peak in 2012 when he gave the opening address at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama seated next to him. Obama’s policies on abortion and religious liberty had long been anathema to many evangelicals, including Metaxas. That he was able to make Obama laugh while delivering pointed criticisms of the president’s administration is a testament to Metaxas’ rhetorical ability (whatever you make of his politics). He even made sure the POTUS left with a copy of his Bonhoeffer work in hand.

The title of Metaxas’ latest book, If You Can Keep It (Viking), is a reference to Benjamin Franklin’s response to a woman who asked him, as he left the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “Dr Franklin, what have you given us, a monarchy or a republic?” He answered, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

Metaxas fervently believes that America is on the edge of losing that ability to govern itself unless it returns to the common values of freedom and liberty on which the republic was founded. He admits that the current

presidential race represents a “terrible choice”, but he has (along with a handful of other high-profile US evangelicals) chosen to publicly back Trump, believing Clinton will send America teetering over the edge of the precipice.

He acknowledges that it is a messy business and one for which he has drawn criticism, (Metaxas stridently criticised Trump during the nomination process) but, like so many of his evangelical contemporaries, Metaxas believes that loyalty to his country, and the Christian values it was founded upon, means that compromises have to be made for the greater good. Religion and politics are a combustible mixture in the US, and for Metaxas and his fellow countrymen, this year’s election is proving to be no exception.

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October 2016
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