Center for Neighborhood Enterprise

I caught a segment on The World and Everything In It recently featuring Robert Woodson. He is a black leader who was around for the Civil Rights movement and remembers Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. personally. He has worked for helping those in poverty improve their position through empowerment rather than subsidy.

The basic premise is to look at the poor neighborhoods. Study what the

What he said made a lot of sense. I looked him up and found links and contributions on a number of other sites.

Poverty Cure

Center for Neighborhood Enterprise

The Bob Woodson Show

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Restoring Love

Downtown Dallas in the background with the Tri...

Downtown Dallas in the background with the Trinity River in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Restoring Love event in Dallas, Texas is another example of Christians taking a stand and showing what is good and attractive about being a Christian and following God’s ways. Restoring Love is an example of how Christian service, charity, and compassion can and should meet all the needs that the government attempts to fill with welfare programs. Volunteers will distribute food to the hungry, repair houses of the elderly, take part in community clean up efforts and so much more.

The catch for us Christians is that if we are not willing to step up and be the church with acts of Christian love and charity, we have no business demanding that the government get out of that area. If we in Christian love will live out our faith and put feet on our worldview, that will be a sweet and inviting fragrance to the lost. And just in case it isn’t, as in the case of people like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund are on call to defend our place in the public square.

The Jefferson Lies

Jefferson bible

Jefferson bible (Photo credit: naypinya)

Thomas Jefferson has been upheld as a leading founding father who was liberal and secular, advocated the strict separation of church and state, questioned the Bible, wrote his own version of the Bible, slept with his slave and fathered illegitimate children. David Barton’s new book The Jefferson Lies brings these reports about Jefferson to the table and examines them in light of Jefferson’s own writings and historical evidence. The results are eye-opening. I would like to share a brief description of these here in my blog if you would like a more detailed description I recommend purchasing the book The Jefferson Lies. You can also catch Barton’s discussion of his new book on WallBuilders Live! from the second week of May (2012).

I remember I was a teenager at church camp the first time I heard that Thomas Jefferson had created his own version of the Bible by cutting out certain parts of Scripture. This has been a little gnawing factoid in the back of my mind for three decades. Are these reports true? What did he cut out? How can Jefferson be a Christian or even have a respect for the Bible if he would cut out part of the Scripture? This kind of concern has put Jefferson in the place of the most secular founding father. But let’s look at the facts.

Jefferson created two works which are both referred to as “the Jefferson Bible”, one in 1804, the other in 1820. The first work in 1804 Jefferson created in response to a suggestion from a missionary that said in order to evangelize the Native American tribes a short work embodying the key teachings of the Gospel should be assembled. This work would be much more likely to be read by someone who is interested in the Christian faith but not ready to work their way through a 2 1/2 inch thick book. Jefferson took two copies of the Bible and went through the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and cut and pasted together a chronological version of Jesus’ life. He took the accounts from all four Gospels and put them in timeline order and eliminated accounts that were told more than once by the different gospel narratives. Jefferson called this work An Abridgment of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ. He did not call it the Jefferson Bible. He created it solely as a tool for sharing Christian teachings with Native American tribes. While some Christians might object to abridging the Scriptures, we cannot say that this was an act of offense against scriptural teaching. Rather it affirms that Jefferson believed the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to be worthy of spreading in teaching to others. This can also be supported by the fact that Jefferson on a number of occasions contributed money toward Bible societies: groups whose purpose and mission was to distribute copies of the Bible, the full Bible.
The 1820 work of Thomas Jefferson often referred to as the Jefferson Bible is actually the more common of the two. This collection of passages from the Bible distills the moral teachings of Jesus Christ into one short work that Jefferson put together based on his belief that of all the moral teachings through the centuries, the morals of Jesus Christ where the highest, best, and most likely to bring about a peaceful and prosperous society when properly adhered to. If only we would learn this lesson today.
All told, this way of treating the Bible is quite a bit different than what I was led to believe about Jefferson. I’m still inclined to believe that he was one of the more secular founding fathers. However, he seems to have had a great deal more respect for scripture than many Christians do today.
I’ll try to follow up on some of the other points about Jefferson in later posts. In regard to the Jefferson “Bible”: When did you first hear about it/them and what effect did it have on your opinion of Thomas Jefferson?

Bible Helps with Achievement?

A bible from 1859.

A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a recent article on the World on Campus website discussed how students with a personal faith have a tendency to have higher levels of achievement.  Please click the link and check out the article for yourself. I include a few tidbits here.

William Jeynes did a meta analysis of over 1000 studies to discover that for both African-American and Hispanic students having a strong personal faith actually closed the achievement gap with white students. Another key component that indicated achievement was when minority students were raised in traditional two parent homes.

When schools downplay the importance of scripture and scriptural principles, it creates conflicts for students from church-going backgrounds. These conflicts likely make it harder for students to develop the kind of strong internal faith that the study found influences higher achievement.

Excluding religion from the classroom has been the enforced norm since the early ’60s here in America. Since that time our test scores have steadily decreased. Turning back the clock on this would be difficult for many to even imagine let alone put into practice. But some people have already begun to bring the Bible in the classroom to study as literature and history which I blogged about back in January.

Do you think including Bible lessons in our public schools would improve our educational program?

Chuck Colson (1931-2012)

great book

Chuck Colson’s Autobiographical testimony (Photo credit: son.delorian)

Chuck Colson passed away this weekend. He will be missed as a conservative Christian voice. Perhaps because of his time on the inside and living the first half of his life without God, Chuck seemed to be able to find positions on issues that dealt with both the justice and compassion parts of the Gospel. Thankfully Chuck invested time in passing the leadership torch to the next generation. John Stonestreet and Eric Metaxas are currently standing in on his Breakpoint broadcast which I’ve listened to for years. I hope they continue to bring valuable analysis of current events from a Christian worldview.

Colson Center

Manhattan Declaration

The Point Radio with John Stonestreet

Eric Metaxas: Author

Marginalizing Christians in Education

gavel

Image by s_falkow via Flickr

There is an effort to marginalize and eliminate the Christian voice from education and the public square. Liberal groups, though they tout a message of tolerance, are actually quite intolerant of Christians expressing or following their beliefs and ethics in the public square.

If you have felt concerned about getting sued or attacked for your beliefs as a Christian, you might be interested in knowing about a story which transpired recently in Florida. A high school history teacher expressed his view that the legalization of so-called same-sex marriage was wrong on his Facebook page. A complaint was filed by someone (not one of his students) and the teacher was put on administrative leave. The school district and principal was contacted by Matt Staver’s Liberty Counsel. They Informed the superintendent that it was legally clear that teachers do not lose their 1st amendment rights when they take their teaching jobs. The teacher was reinstated with no further punitive action. Click here to hear the WallBuilders episode on this event.

If you as a teacher have felt like your Christian views and practices are unwelcome in the public school setting, you could benefit from the support and encouragement of Christian Educators Association International (CEAI). This association’s goal is to support and encourage Christian teachers in the public school setting. They have conference opportunities to meet and connect with other teachers. They know that many teachers got into public education as an opportunity to be missionaries there. There is a training event coming up in the Los Angeles area in the spring. This month they had an article in their magazine Teachers of Vision. It explains some of the misperceptions and misinformation regarding expressions of faith (especially the Christian faith) of teachers in the classroom. I’ll try to add more information on these CEAI activities in later posts.