Jimmy Carter is at war with those he claims to be part of. How one does that and still seems to think he is part of them is quite curious. In the most recent edition of GQ magazine, the former president fired shots across the bow of those he disagrees with, declaring his own credentials to enter the fray and then warning of the dire consequences of not taking his side on the matter:
"I'm one of the few people who have the Christian credentials to debate other Christians, and the political credentials of having been in the White House," he said. "I think it's incumbent upon me to speak out ..."
That, Mr. Carter, depends entirely upon the manner in which you speak. How exactly does one earn "Christian credentials" anyway? (And a bit of help here – let's not bring up your White House years – most Americans have tried to forget them.)
The former president is an angry man, and while he speaks convincingly of his ability to teach Sunday school at his Plains, Ga., church, an examination of the substance of his message is what actually needs to be considered.
In the interview, he spent the first two-thirds discussing his disgust with what he terms "fundamentalists." He went on to describe them like this:
I define fundamentalism as a group of invariably male leaders who consider themselves superior to other believers. The fundamentalists believe they have a special relationship with God. Therefore their beliefs are inherently correct, being those of God, and anyone who disagrees with them are first of all wrong, and second inferior, and in extreme cases even subhuman. Also, fundamentalists don't relish any challenge to their positions ... It makes a great exhibition of rigidity and superiority and exclusion.
Funny, that's not how the vast majority of evangelical Christians (the fundamentalists you're seething with rage over) identify themselves. In fact, the fundamentals of the Christian faith may in fact be the most ecumenically binding aspect of conservative Christians today.
Carter went on to say:
Paul established three little churches in Galatia on a supple but profound belief that we are saved by the grace of God through our faith in Jesus Christ. That was his basic message, and Peter and other disciples did the same thing.
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