America is more starkly divided than at any time in our history. Even among Christians, there is deep disagreement especially between liberals and conservatives on how to heal our nation and restore our values.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has authored nearly two dozen books expressing his views, but perhaps none as significant as his 2005 work, “Our Endangered Values.” Carter is a lifelong Christian, proudly liberal, and has spent many years teaching Bible classes at his Maranatha Baptist Church in Georgia, which he founded due to his own theological disagreements with his boyhood hometown church and its support for the conservative Southern Baptist Convention.
Although staunchly liberal in his views, he has had some significant accomplishments for the cause of Christ in the political realm. As president during the late 1970’s, Carter negotiated with Chinese Communist Premier Deng Xiaoping to open China to the free distribution of Bibles and obtained agreement to allow Christian churches to hold worship services—albeit with government oversight. (p.26) Carter witnessed the gospel to foreign leaders, including former Polish Communist leader Edward Gierek. Carter believed that Gierek became a secret Christian who remained silent to keep his political position. (p.24-25) Carter has been an outspoken opponent of the so-called “Patriot Act” allowing government the power to negate constitutional rights. (p.118) He also firmly resisted Jewish pressure to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Trump later caved in to. (p.33)
In the economic realm, in his volunteer work with the “Habitat For Humanity” organization, Carter endorsed their stand on the biblical prohibition of debt-usury. Carter also expressed strong concern over the skyrocketing U.S. national debt growing exponentially. This debt was $1 trillion when he left office, and reached $4 trillion by the year 2000. Carter exclaimed, “What has happened since 2000 is almost incredible,” referring to the debt reaching $8 trillion in 2006. (p.191) That debt has now grown to over $33 trillion, or over four times as much as the “incredible” amount of two decades ago, and with apparently no end in sight until the entire Babylonish financial superstructure collapses.
Indeed, Carter’s liberal theological views sometimes have been at least partially sound in the past. At the time this book was written, he was an opponent of homosexual marriages, as were most Americans in 2005. However, he says that “Christ never included homosexuality among his very strict reminders of deviations from a perfect life.” (p. 67) Yet the New Testament does in fact condemn this lifestyle. Carter is forced to admit that the Apostle Paul opposed sodomy (homosexuality) but says that this was only one “among a long list of his other concerns.” (ibid.) This seems an oblique effort to imply that we should not be concerned about this issue and can ignore the biblical injunction! Speaking in 2004, Carter noted that there is “little difference of opinion between political parties on this issue” of homosexual marriages. How much things have changed in only two decades! Democrats like to flock together, and his views on this issue may very well also have flip-flopped these days as a loyal part of the liberal crowd.
It is notable that Carter is a strong opponent of the modern cultic dispensational-futurism that has swept through the Fundamentalist and Evangelical churches, with its unbiblical “rapture” and “future single world Antichrist” falsehoods. This teaching was never heard of until its invention during the 19th century. Carter refers to it as, “One of the most bizarre admixtures of religion and government…There are literally millions of my fellow Baptists and others who believe every word of this vision…It is the injection of these beliefs into America’s governmental policies that is a cause for concern. These believers are convinced that they have a personal responsibility to hasten this coming of the “rapture” in order to fulfill biblical prophecy.” (pp.113-114)
On the other hand, some of his theological stances appear plainly to be efforts to dodge the clear teaching of Scripture, and he quotes the Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II for support when Scripture stands in his way. (p.83) Carter strongly opposes the death penalty, calling it “somewhat illogical” for Christians to be proponents when the sixth commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill.” (p.80) As a Bible teacher, Carter should know that the King James Version is not accurately translated here. The Hebrew literally says, “You shall not commit murder.” (Exo. 20:13, Amp.) The Bible in Basic English Version is even clearer, “Do not put anyone to death without cause.” Removing hard-core criminals from society is not murder. It is Carter who makes the Bible seem illogical when “Thou shalt not kill” is set against biblical lists of crimes requiring capital punishment. Carter says, “Furthermore, there has never been any evidence that adding the death penalty reduced capital crimes.” (p.81) To the contrary, it has often been noted that after Bruno Richard Hauptmann was executed for the death of the Lindbergh baby in 1932, abductions fell drastically for many years. Carter rather scornfully claims that the purpose of the death penalty is “to protect white victims.” (p. 84) Apparently, he is opposed to that?
One of the serious problems with liberal Christianity is that they pick and choose what to accept in the Bible. They have a strong bias against not only Old Testament moral ethics, but an unconcealed critical anti-Paul mentality. Carter says, “…some verses from Paul’s letters to the early churches indicate his departure from Jesus’ example and a strong bias against women…” (p.90) In other words, he claims that Paul contradicts Jesus and is untrustworthy; we can therefore only trust the gospels, not any of the remainder of Scripture. Some liberal theologians also disparage the Gospel of John as being anti-Semitic, leaving very little in the Bible that they consider acceptable for Christians to use.
Politically, he has very blunt views that stand in stark contrast to historic facts; Democrats stand for diplomacy, Republicans rely on force, he says. (p.162) Yet in our twentieth century experience it has been Democrats that have started our major wars: President Wilson got us into World War I after promising to keep us out; Franklin Roosevelt brought the U.S. into World War 2; Presidents Kennedy and Johnson got us into the Vietnam War and it took Republican Richard Nixon to get us out. Carter is a big fan of Lyndon Johnson (p.117), the man who as U.S. Senator pushed through Congress the Federal 501-c3 Act in 1954, shackling the political freedom of Christian Churches and making them subject to government control.
Carter is a strong pacifist, not only opposing war but opposing national defense as well. He claims the biblical injunction “an eye for an eye” (Lev. 24:20) was intended as a limitation, not a command. (p.82) Rather, the meaning seems clear that the punishment must fit the crime, but Carter would not be in favor of that. He strongly opposed the “Star Wars” program to intercept incoming enemy ICBM’s (p.138), and claims that “The only arms race is one that we are having with ourselves.” (p.199) This seems dangerously misinformed today with the growing danger from China’s military buildup, and nuclear threats from Putin’s Russia.
In summary, Jimmy Carter and liberal Christianity use the Bible as a pick-and-choose mixed bag to substantiate and advance their liberal agenda, disfavoring uncomfortable verses and reinterpreting others to their own satisfaction. These liberal semi-believers are a growing and potent force to lead Christians astray.