Sun04202014

Religion

President, peanut farmer and Sunday School teacher

James Earl Carter Jr., the 39th President of the United States, is the author of 25 books. Here, he talks about his latest, "NIV Lessons from Life Bible."

Kam Williams: Hi President Carter, I'm really honored to have another opportunity to speak with you.

President James Earl Carter Jr.: It's a pleasure for me, too, Kam. Thank you!

KW: Editor/legist Patricia Turnier asks: "What message do you think people will take away from the Lessons from Life Bible?"

President Carter: I think that what people will get out of these comments in the Bible, and also out of my previous book "Through the Year with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President" is how pertinent, how important and how applicable the ancient texts are to our modern-day life. That's what I try to emphasize in all my Sunday school lessons when I teach at Maranatha Baptist Church. So, I think the main message to remember is that we must accommodate changing times while clinging to unchanging moral values. That's why I say the aim is to apply the text to modern-day life....

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles asks: "Is there a personal moral tension between being a good Christian and being a good commander of a nuclear submarine? How can an officer – especially one of great faith – reconcile being asked to lead troops into battle with the Fifth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Kill?

President Carter: The most important Bible teaching that I remembered when I was in the Navy and when I was commander-in-chief, was that we worshipped "The Prince of Peace." Jesus Christ is The Prince of Peace. So, I considered myself, as a submarine officer, as helping to preserve the peace. And I felt the same way when I was president. As a matter of fact, although we had some terrible challenges and temptations when I was in office, we never dropped a bomb...we never launched a missile...and we never fired a bullet. I think that one of the main requirements for a strong military, like a strong submarine force, is to prevent war, not to cause war.

KW: Larry Greenberg says: It seems like we are at a point now where books are moving from bound paper to digital media. How will this impact the study and reverence for the Bible?

President Carter: You can already download any of the religious texts onto electronic mechanisms like a Kindle. But I think many people prefer to hold a book in their hands. We recently gave my daughter, Amy, a new electronic device, but since she used to work in a library, she still insists on reading exclusively from books. I take my Bible with me to church every Sunday to teach the Bible lesson. I do that whenever I'm in Plains, oh, about 35 to 40 times a year. So, I think that for many people, particularly when reading Holy Scriptures, a Bible you can hold in your hands is most appropriate....

KW: Tracy Ertl, Publisher of TitleTown Publishing, says: "...Mr. President, what is something that every God-believing American could do this year to bring more stability and safety to the youth of the country?"

President Carter: I think all of us could insist on preserving the truth and preserving the peace. We could insist that political candidates tell the truth about controversial issues. And secondly, we should be sure to encourage our political leaders, after they're elected, to preserve the peace. My latest book, of course, is about the Bible. I worship as a Christian. I worship The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. He's not The Prince of War. That's why it really aggrieves me when I sometimes see fellow believers lobbying to start a war over something minimal when the peaceful approach might be the best....

KW: Rev. Florine Thompson asks: What is your favorite bible verse and why?

President Carter: As a Christian, like a lot of other Christians, my favorite is John 3:16, where it explains in the Bible that God loves us all so much that He gave His only son to die and save us from our sins. Another favorite verse of mine is the one that says, "Be ye kind one to another." As I've already mentioned, I also like the ones that refer to Jesus promoting peace. And I like the one that Paul described to the Galatians, which says that everybody is equal in the eyes of God: servants and masters... men and women... Jews and Gentiles...That every human being is equal to each other in the eyes of God....

KW: Thanks again for the time, President Carter. I really appreciate it.

President Carter: Thank you, Kam, I really enjoyed talking to you again.

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