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Export date: Sat Aug 19 16:37:56 2017 / +0000 GMT

Nicholas Kristof Interviews Jimmy Carter, Asks "Am I A Christian?"






Nicholas Kristof writes: I decided to quiz former President Jimmy Carter. He's a longtime Sunday school teacher and born-again evangelical but of a more liberal bent than Keller.  - Nicholas Kristof, author, New York Times writer. ( Excerpts by WHTT)





In this Aug. 23, 2015 file photo, former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown in Plains, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)AP

In this Aug. 23, 2015 file photo, former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown in Plains, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

AP


Kristof: How literally do you take the Bible, including miracles like the Resurrection?





Carter: Having a scientific background, I do not believe in a six-day creation of the world that occurred in 4004 B.C., stars falling on the earth, that kind of thing. I accept the overall message of the Bible as true, and I also accept miracles described in the New Testament, including the virgin birth and the Resurrection.

If you heard a report today from the Middle East of a man brought back to life after an execution, I doubt you'd believe it even if there were eyewitnesses. So why believe ancient accounts written years after the events?

I would be skeptical of a report like you describe. My belief in the resurrection of Jesus comes from my Christian faith, and not from any need for scientific proof. I derive a great personal benefit from the totality of this belief, which comes naturally to me.

What about someone like me whose faith is in the Sermon on the Mount, who aspires to follow Jesus' teachings, but is skeptical that he was born of a virgin, walked on water, multiplied loaves and fishes or had a physical resurrection? Am I a Christian, President Carter?

I do not judge whether someone else is a Christian. Jesus said, "Judge not ..." I try to apply the teachings of Jesus in my own life, often without success.

How can I reconcile my admiration for the message of Jesus, all about inclusion, with a church history that is often about exclusion?

As St. Paul said to the Galatians in 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." In His day, Jesus broke down walls of separation and superiority among people. Those (mostly men) who practice superiority and exclusion contradict my interpretations of the life and teachings of Jesus, which exemplified peace, love, compassion, humility, forgiveness and sacrificial love.

Do you sometimes struggle with doubts about faith?

Yes, but eventually I decide what I believe, as an integral part of my existence and a guide for my life. This is based on what I consider to be the perfect life and example of Jesus.

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