ContraCelsum Backup

Dear Reader: Although Google professes to have a policy of free speech, there are now disturbing examples of Google peremptorily shutting down blogs on the Blogger platform espousing views which (presumably) Google wants to censor. Therefore ContraCelsum has set up a mirror blog via WordPress ( We update the latter weekly. If this site should suddenly go dark, you will find ContraCelsum alive and well at the above address. You may want to bookmark it now (just in case).

Thursday, 21 August 2014

In Celebration of Human Life

Every Person is Precious and Special

Daily Devotional

What We Were Made For

John Piper

Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)
The gospel is the enjoyment of fellowship with God himself. This is made explicit here in 1 Peter 3:18 in the phrase “that he might bring us to God.”

All the other gifts of the gospel exist to make this one possible.
  • We are forgiven so that our guilt does not keep us away from God.
  • We are justified so that our condemnation does not keep us away from God.
  • We are given eternal life now, with new bodies in the resurrection, so that we have the capacities for enjoying God to the fullest.
Test your heart. Why do you want forgiveness? Why do you want to be justified? Why do you want eternal life? Is the decisive answer: "because I want to enjoy God"?

The gospel-love God gives is ultimately the gift of himself. This is what we were made for. This is what we lost in our sin. This is what Christ came to restore.

“In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see

A Latter Day Julius Caesar

Christians: The world's most persecuted people

The former Chief Rabbi is appalled at the lack of protest about the treatment of Christians round the globe, and so should we be 


One woman, at least, is safe. Throughout much of her pregnancy, she had been in prison in Khartoum, capital of the Republic Sudan, living with the dread expectation that she would be hanged once her baby was born. Her crime was that she had married a Christian and been accused by the authorities of apostasy, renouncing her faith, even though she maintained she had never been a Muslim in the first place. On Thursday, Meriam Ibrahim's eight-month ordeal finally ended when she was flown out of the country to Rome where she, and her new baby daughter, met the Pope in the Vatican.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Letter From the UK (About The Global Warming Scam Turning to Toast)

Mann v Steyn: If This Trial Ever Goes Ahead Global Warming Is Toast

15 Aug 2014

Mark Steyn has published his latest brief in his protracted court case with discredited climate scientist Michael Mann (who is suing him for libel) and it's a corker.

Here's a sample:
The audacity of the falsehoods in Mann's court pleadings is breathtaking. For example, on page 19 of his brief below dated January 18, 2013, he cites the international panel chaired by the eminent scientist Lord Oxburgh, FRS as one of the bodies that "exonerated" him, whereas on page 235 of Mann's own book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, he states explicitly that "our own work did not fall within the remit of the committee and the hockey stick was not mentioned in the report." It is deeply disturbing that a plaintiff should make such fraudulent claims in his legal pleadings. It is even more disturbing that the first such fraudulent claim - to be a Nobel Laureate and thus in the same pantheon as Banting, Einstein, and the Curies - should have led to the amended complaint and the procedural delays that then followed. It would be even more profoundly damaging were his other transparently false claims to be entertained for another two years before trial.

It is clear from the ease with which Mann lies about things that would not withstand ten minutes of scrutiny in a courtroom that he has no intention of proceeding to trial."
For the full background to the case, read this. But all you really need to know is that Michael Mann is exploiting the flaws in the US legal system to try to draw out proceedings as long as possible in order to exhaust - or bankrupt - Steyn into submission.

Unfortunately for Mann he picked the wrong victim.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

August 20

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm

Browning ... defined faith.... ‘With me, faith means perpetual unbelief kept quiet, like the snake ‘neath Michael’s foot’. Here is Michael and there is the snake beneath his foot and he just keeps it quiet under the pressure of his foot.... Faith is unbelief kept quiet, kept down. That is what these men [in the boat on LakeGalilee} (Luke 8:22-5) did not do, they allowed this situation to grip them, they became panicky. Faith, however, is a refusal to allow that. It says: T am not going to be controlled by these circumstances —I am in control.’ So you take charge of yourself, and pull yourself up.... You do not let go, you assert yourself....

That is the first thing, but.... That is not enough, because that may be nothing but resignation. That is not the whole of faith.

Two Very Different Houses

Economic Literacy in Oz, Ignorance in NZ

New Zealand appears to have a strong streak of xenophobia.  It also can be characterised as excelling in economic and commercial ignorance.  These things tend to come out especially during election campaigns, but they are always there, simmering away just beneath the surface, waiting to break out like a bad case of acne.

One traditional cause célébré is residential housing and whether New Zealanders can afford it.  Prices are rocketing up in some locations (Auckland, Christchurch) bringing forth pronouncements of doom.

But attitudes across the ditch appear to be very different.  House prices have ratcheted up in that country as well, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.  And, more to the point, the  presence of strong Chinese demand is having a significant impact.  In New Zealand, a similar phenomenon has produced xenophobic reactions against Chinese immigration and house-buying.  Not so in Oz--at least not in the Sydney Morning Herald, which is hardly a denizen of right wing, pro-business, free market economics.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Letter From the UK (About European Ossification)

Economic Europe is paying the price for political Europe

August 14th, 2014
The Telegraph

Remember what European Monetary Union was supposed to do? It was going to add zillions to Europe's GDP, they said.  According to the Lisbon development plan, by 2010, the EU was going to be "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable".

The truth is that Europe is failing badly. At a time when the rest of the world is growing, data out today shows France stagnating. Shockingly, Italy's output is lower today than it was fourteen years ago. Even Germany is going into reverse.

Economic Europe is paying the price of ever more political Europe. Introducing layer upon layer of rules, regulations and directive is starting to ossify. Europe's economy has consistently performed worse than expected as a result of decades of dirigisme. 

Here in Britain we have nothing to be complacent about. To be sure, cheap credit is stimulating output. Combined with welfare reforms, this is driving a spectacular jobs boom. But beware.  We might be outside the euro – and therefore free to engage in our own monetary stimulus. We are not outside the single market regulatory sclerosis. The deadweight of all those directives presses down on us every bit as much as on the Eurozone. Strip away the easy money stimulus, and we're not that much better off.

For years, politicos have told us we need to be inside the European single market to prosper. So why is wealth now being created almost everywhere but inside the highly regulated single market? Those parts of the world that are flourishing somehow don't seem to struggle to sell either inside or outside Europe.

It is not only European monetary union we ought to steer clear from.


Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

Charles Spurgeon

"Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide."
Genesis 24:63

Very admirable was his occupation. If those who spend so many hours in idle company, light reading, and useless pastimes, could learn wisdom, they would find more profitable society and more interesting engagements in meditation than in the vanities which now have such charms for them. We should all know more, live nearer to God, and grow in grace, if we were more alone. Meditation chews the cud and extracts the real nutriment from the mental food gathered elsewhere. When Jesus is the theme, meditation is sweet indeed. Isaac found Rebecca while engaged in private musings; many others have found their best beloved there.

Very admirable was the choice of place. In the field we have a study hung round with texts for thought.

The Contra Celsum S-Files

Above and Beyond

The S-Files seek to recognise outstanding civic actions.  One such occurred at the parking terminal at Auckland International Airport in recent days.  An older man collapsed on the ground.  His family were in shock.  An Air New Zealand cabin crew, having just come off shift, happened to spot the collapsed man as they were walking to their cars.  Then their training took over.

The NZ Herald reports:
When Aleisha Kerr came across a man lying on the ground surrounded by his family, it was clear he was in trouble and that she needed to act fast.  The Air New Zealand crew member's first-aid training kicked in and she and two colleagues began CPR, helping to save the man's life.  The man stopped breathing and collapsed outside Auckland Airport on Saturday.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About Babylonian Exiles)

The R2K Crucifix Problem

Douglas Wilson
Blog & Mablog
August 14, 2014

Carl Trueman recently wrote A Church for Exiles for First Things, which you may read here. If you would like, a good response from Joel McDurmon can be found here. But my response to Carl will be a tad shorter than Joel’s — just enough to register a few basic concerns.

First, it is undeniable that exile is a strong biblical motif, and it is one that Christians do need to draw on. But in Scripture, it is always a paired motif — like salt and pepper, or ham and eggs. We find, all through the Bible, the patterns of death and resurrection, exile and return, cliffhanger and helicopter.

There is both a cross and a crown. Triumphalists are those who just want the crown. Defeatists are those who just want the cross. Trueman is a defeatist — for all his Reformed credentials, his faith is a crucifix faith. Note that both the defeatist and the triumphalist are partly right, but in such a way that their partial truths undo the point of the whole thing. “Jesus died” is true, but is not gospel apart from resurrection. And “Jesus rose” is meaningless nonsense if there had been no death.

Carl says this: the Reformed tradition “possesses the intellectual rigor necessary for teaching and defending the faith in a hostile environment.” I believe this is quite true. In fact, I agreed with many of the points that he made throughout the article — but he left out one crucial thing. Let me insert that missing element. “The Reformed tradition possesses the intellectual rigor necessary for teaching and defending the faith in a hostile environment, while preparing for our inevitable comeback.” Why? It is not just exile. It is exile and return. Nehemiah rhymes with Jeremiah after all.

Daily Devotional

God Forgives and Is Still Fair

The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die. (2 Samuel 12:13–14)
This is outrageous. Uriah is dead. Bathsheba is raped. The baby will die. And Nathan says, “The Lord has put away your sin.”

Just like that? David committed adultery. He ordered murder. He lied. He “despised the word of the Lord.” He “scorned God.” And the Lord “put away [his] sin.”

What kind of a righteous judge is God? You don’t just pass over rape and murder and lying. Righteous judges don’t do that.

Here is what Paul said in Romans 3:25–26:

The Ugly American Re-Emerges From the Closet

Boss Hogg's Soft-Imperialism

One of the reasons the climate change charade has been mocked in the "third world" is the persistent disquiet that it is a "first world" issue, with the unfortunate by-product of oppressing poorer nations by impeding their economic and social development.  In other words, the "third world" sees the climate change circus as Western soft-imperialism.

One response of the poorer nations has been to say, "If you want us to impede our own economic development, pay us big time in compensation."  Unfortunately, since the Global Financial Crisis the West has run out of money.  So, the traction of the climate change crusade has disappeared in the Southern Hemisphere quicker than a politician's integrity. 

But pompous, paternalistic and imperialistic Westerners just don't get it.  They have not washed their ears out in a long time.  And this is where the syndrome of the offensive, ugly American rears its head again.  Consider the supercilious, condescending, paternalistic US Secretary of State, John Kerry.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

A New Form of the Slave Trade

‘Baby Gammy’ raises awareness for true nature of ‘surrogacy motherhood’.

Posted on August 12, 2014 
By J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
After two weeks of media reports on baby Gammy, is difficult to discern which version of the story is the one we should believe. Is it true that the Australian couple who used the services of a Thai “surrogate mom”, upon learning that one of the two children that the “surrogate mom” was expecting suffered from Down syndrome, asked her to have an abortion? Is it true that, when finally the “surrogate mom” gave birth to both children, the wannabe “parents” took the healthy child home to Australia, leaving the “surrogate mom” with the handicapped one? Is it true that they were aware that they were in fact having two children instead of one? Or is it true, as they claim, that the agency that was handling the “surrogacy pregnancy” never informed them of the second child and its handicap?

Whatever may be the case, one thing is certain: such cases are bound to occur, and even with great frequency, wherever the practice of “surrogacy motherhood” is accepted.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

August 16

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away

How careful [Jesus] was always to speak of ‘my Father and your Father’. He does not say ‘our Father’. He says ‘my Father’. He teaches His disciples to pray, ‘Our Father’, but He never includes Himself with them. He always takes pains to emphasize this difference, that He is the Son of man. He is man and yet He is not only man ... [see Matthew 11:27; John 14:6].... He deliberately sets Himself up as the authoritative Teacher.... ‘Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time.... But / say unto you ...’ He declares Truth, with authority ... it is this characteristic, personal emphasis which brings Him into contrast with the prophets.... They were great personalities.... But there is not one of them who ever used this Truth. They all say, ‘Thus saith the Lord’. But the Lord Jesus Christ... says,’/ say unto you’. At once He is differentiating between Himself and all others. ‘Now is the time for final authority’, He seems to be saying. He emphasizes this fact constantly in the Sermon on the Mount.

When He concludes that great sermon, He does so by uttering one of the most staggering and astounding things that He ever said. ‘Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock....’ There, you see, His whole emphasis is upon ‘these sayings of mine.’ Here is His claim to final authority. And if it is possible to add to such a statement, He did so when He said, ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away’. There is nothing beyond that.

Authority, pp. 18–19

The West is Ideologically Closer to Isis Than We Care to Admit

Lacking Logic and Without Shame

Here is a shout out to all our liberal friends who stand tall defending the sanctity of human life, labouring to ensure that murder always remains a capital crime and that manslaughter remains a serious crime.

Dr C. Everett Koop, a former Surgeon General of the United States, once wrote:
I do not know anyone among my medical confrères, no matter how pro-abortion he might be, who would kill a newborn baby the minute he was born.  (He might let him starve to death.  He would not kill him.) My question to my pro-abortion friend who will not kill a newborn baby is this: "Would you kill this infant a minute before he was born, or a minute before that, or a minute before that, or a minute before that?"  You see what I am getting at.  How can one consider life to be worthless one minute, and the next consider that same life to be precious?  So much for logic. [J Everett Koop, "A Physician Looks at Abortion", Thou Shalt Not Kill: The Christian Case Against Abortion, edited by Richard L. Ganz (New Rochelle: Arlington House, 1978), p.9.]
Sadly, as our civilisation integrates into the void there are now doctors who would willingly murder newborn infants.  The infamous Dr Gosnell is a notorious example.  Thankfully, this is still considered a crime, and Gosnell has been sentenced.  

Dr Koop's charge is that logic fails in the matter of abortion.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Letter From America (About Militarising the Police)

We Must Demilitarize the Police

Senator Rand Paul
Time Magazine
14 August, 2014

[One of the horrible consequences of political rhetoric which brands causes as a "war", as in "the war against drugs" or the "war against poverty" or the "war against terrorism" is that government authorities progressively see themselves as a military force.  When it comes to policing, it is a very small step to militarise the police, so that they resemble (and act like) an invading army, not a protector of the public.  Rand Paul's piece below is right on the money. Ed.]

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.
If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.
The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.  The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.
But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences. And those who suffer the consequences are usually innocent civilians.

Glenn Reynolds, in Popular Mechanics, recognized the increasing militarization of the police five years ago. In 2009 he wrote:
Soldiers and police are supposed to be different. … Police look inward. They’re supposed to protect their fellow citizens from criminals, and to maintain order with a minimum of force.
It’s the difference between Audie Murphy and Andy Griffith. But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences. And those who suffer the consequences are usually innocent civilians.
The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson observed this week how the rising militarization of law enforcement is currently playing out in Ferguson:

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

August 15

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Now on a higher plane I dwell

Do I always place everything in my life, and everything that happens to me, in the context of my Christian faith, and then look at it in the light of that context? The heathen cannot do that.... He does not believe in God, or know anything about Him; he has not this revelation of God as his Father and himself as His child.... But what really proves that we are Christians is that, when these things come to us, or happen to us, we do not see them just as they are; as Christians we take them and put them immediately into the context of the whole of our faith and then look at them again....

Our Lord asked His disciples, ‘Where is your faith? Why are you not applying it?’ ... Something happens to us that tends to upset us. The heathen in the natural man makes him lose his temper, or become hurt and sensitive. But the Christian stops and says, ‘Wait a minute. I am going to take this thing and put it into the context of everything I know and believe about God and my relationship to Him’. Then he looks at it again.

Conspiracy Nutters

VRWC Alive and Well In New Zealand

The Clintons Will Be Impressed

We have just had a powder puff explode onto the political scene.  One of our most virulent conspiracy nutters, Nicky Hagar has released a book just prior to the general election alleging a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy ("VRWC") between the Prime Minister and two right-wing, National Party supporter bloggers.  The "vastness" of the conspiracy evidently turns around the influence of Kiwiblog and Whaleoil--both very widely read blogs in the New Zealand landscape.

The NZ Herald provides a summary of the nothing story thus far:

John Key has come under attack in a book that paints his administration as being obsessed with "dirty politics".  It claims elements of the National Party have turned to "attack blogs" to manipulate public opinion and demonise political opponents. . . .The book is claimed to be based on thousands of emails obtained by a hacker from computers operated by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. 

Well, knock us down with a feather.  Who would ever have expected such collusion?  The thing about conspiracy nutters is that they filter all of reality through the conspiracy lens, so that everything, yes everything manifests a conspiracy.  In this case, Hagar, being virulently left-wing, sees all of life as one VRWC.  In this mindset, co-incidence always means causation.  Why, we are sure that if this blog were as widely read in New Zealand, as the aforementioned blogs, Hagar would have somehow woven Contra Celsum into his fantasy.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About Banal Facilitators of Evil)

The Root of the Disease

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
August 8, 2014

In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt writes this:

“Without Jewish help in administrative and police work — the final rounding up of Jews in Berlin was, as I have mentioned, done entirely by Jewish police — there would have been either complete chaos or an impossibly severe drain on German manpower” (p. 117).

She goes on to quote someone who observed that it was scarcely possible for a few thousand people, most of whom worked in offices, to liquidate many hundreds of thousands of other people without the cooperation of the victims. Moreover, that cooperation frequently consisted of participation in the bureaucratic processing. Before being gassed in the camps, they had to stand in line and fill out numerous forms.

The subtitle of Arendt’s book is telling: “A Report on the Banality of Evil.”

Or, to look at the threat another way, we also have to remember the banality of bureaucracy. At root it is the same banality.

Here is Lewis in the Preface of Screwtape:

“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of “Admin.” The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About Breaking Their Teeth)

Like a Fist

Douglas Wilson
August 11, 2014

As Iraq continues to spiral toward chaos, and is doing so in the Facebook era, the one thing we should want to avoid is directionless or aimless outrage. Anger under such circumstances is certainly appropriate and necessary, but like a fist, it needs somewhere to land. I am writing primarily about the treatment of Christians there by ISIS, but of course that cannot be at all separated from a host of other issues and circumstances. Let me start with the more important, and finish with a few related observations.

1. There truly are evil men in the world, and this is what imprecatory psalms were made for. This is why we have them. There are men who will grin for the camera over the prospect of beheading Christian children, and our response to them should be to pray the words of God back to Him.

“Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: Break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord” (Ps. 58:6).
“Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: Seek out his wickedness till thou find none” (Ps. 10:15).

Our psalter has this second example rendered as “O God, come down and break their evil arms.” In the face of the kind of evil that is abroad in the world, evangelical Christians need to stop filling up their worship services with sentimentalist treacle, and worship biblically in a very dark world. We are confronted with a great and growing evil, and we are discovering that we do not have the liturgical vocabulary to respond appropriately at all. When we sing or pray the psalms, all of them, there are two consequences that should be mentioned. One, we are praying in the will of God, and He hears such prayers. Second, we discover that praying and singing biblically transforms us. This really is the need of the hour.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

August 14

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Doest thou well to be angry?

... that blessed condition which is described in Philippians 4:11–13 ... ‘For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content’

In other words, he has arrived at a condition in which he is no longer hyper-sensitive. He is in a condition in which it does not matter very much what happens to him; it is not going to disturb him. ‘I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.’ That is the position in which all of us who are Christians should be.

The man who is not a Christian is not there, and cannot possibly be there. He is like a barrel of gunpowder; you never know when there is going to be an explosion.

Fundamental Beliefs of Hamas

Killing Jews Hastens the Day of Judgment

In the light of the present conflict between Israel and Hamas, we thought it may be helpful to re-publish some of the founding documents of Hamas.  Any discussion of the conflict's rights and wrongs which fails to take account of these fundamental realities is doomed to myopic irrelevance.  It will simply miss the point, let alone fail to understand the issues.

In any war, or negotiation, the imperative, "Know your enemy" is both wise and necessary advice. 

The Charter of Hamas was issued in 1988 as the founding document of Hamas.  In this constitution the complete obliteration of Israel is a fundamental principle of Hamas and its objectives.

Important excerpts [as translated by the Avalon Project, under the oversight of the Yale Law School] include:

Structure and Formation

Article Three:

The basic structure of the Islamic Resistance Movement consists of Moslems who have given their allegiance to Allah whom they truly worship, - "I have created the jinn and humans only for the purpose of worshipping" - who know their duty towards themselves, their families and country. In all that, they fear Allah and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors, so that they would rid the land and the people of their uncleanliness, vileness and evils . . . .

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Letter From the UK (About Double Standards)

The West must face the evil that has revealed itself in the Iraq genocide 

The Telegraph
August 10, 2014

A beautiful mosaic of ancient religions, cultures and languages in the Middle East is being systematically destroyed. Until now, the world has watched mutely. When Muslims were threatened with genocide in Bosnia, the international community acted in concert to prevent the campaign against them developing into a full-scale pogrom. I went there myself, as part of an effort to bring relief supplies to all those who were affected. I was also present when millions of Afghan refugees poured into Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of that country. Once again, Western countries, Christian, Islamic and secular organisations were at the forefront of bringing relief to these people.

For years now the Christian, Mandaean, Yazidi and other ancient communities of Iraq, have been harried, bombed, exiled and massacred without anyone batting so much as an eyelid. Churches have been bombed, clergy kidnapped and murdered, shops and homes attacked and destroyed. This persecution has now been elevated to genocide by the advent of Isis. People are being beheaded, crucified, shot in cold blood and exiled to a waterless desert simply because of their religious beliefs.

What began in Iraq, continued in Syria. Here the West’s ill-advised backing of an Islamist uprising (largely funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar) against the Assad regime has turned into a nightmare which has given birth to ultra-extremist organisations like Isis. Once again, religious and ethnic minorities, whether Christian, Alawite or Druze, have been the victims, alongside ordinary people of all kinds. Isis, now armed to the teeth with weaponry originally intended by the suppliers for "moderate" Islamist groups, has arrived in Iraq with a vengeance beyond anything that unfortunate country has so far experienced.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

August 13

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Faith’s Trial

Scripture is full of this idea of the trial of one’s faith. Take the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews.... Every one of those men was tried. They had been given great promises and they had accepted them, and then everything seemed to go wrong.... Think of the trial of a man like Noah ... of ... Abraham, the trials that men like Jacob and especially Moses had to endure. God gives the gift of faith and then the faith is tried.... That is the theme of all the scriptures. You find it in the history of the Patriarchs and of the Old Testament saints, you find it running through the New Testament....

We must start by understanding that we may well find ourselves in a position in which our faith is going to be tried. Storms and trials are allowed by God. If we are living the Christian life, or trying to ... on the assumption that it means just come to Christ and you will never have any more worry in the whole of your life, we are harbouring a terrible fallacy.... Our faith will be tried, and James goes so far as to say, ‘Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (trials)’ (James 1:2).

And Can It Be . . .

The Essence of Christendom

G. K. Chesterton

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Christendom will become reified in a nation when the overwhelming majority of citizens believe and act as Chesterton describes. Ah, it will never happen, says the cynic--which means that the Unbeliever cannot accept that God's redeeming power, sovereign grace, and ability to cause the population of an entire nation to be born again is either real or adequate.

Yet that is exactly what the prophet tells us to anticipate.  Behold, the ultimate and final manifestation of Christendom.

Isaiah 65:17-25  English Standard Version (ESV)

New Heavens and a New Earth

“For behold, I create new heavens
    and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
    or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
    in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
    and her people to be a gladness.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
    and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
    and the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
    an infant who lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
    and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy[a] the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain
    or bear children for calamity,[b]
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
    and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
    and dust shall be the serpent's food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.


  1. Isaiah 65:22 Hebrew shall wear out
  2. Isaiah 65:23 Or for sudden terror

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About Resentment)

Merchants of Resentment

Douglas Wilson
August 6, 2014
Blog and Mablog

Is it possible to sow the wind and reap the whirlwind (Hos. 8:7)? Well, of course it is. We live in a world where disproportional effects can follow hard after trivial causes. Not only so, but the disproportional effects can be unevenly distributed. Two toddlers disobey their mothers in exactly the same way, and one of them dies while the other gets a scolding and his family gets a cute story.

It is not my purpose here today to defend the justice of God given the fact of this unevenness. That is another task for another time. I simply want to take that unevenness into account as a fixed given. It happens. Whatever we think of it, we have to deal with it. We have to factor it into our calculations. All mothers warn their toddlers of certain things because some mothers lose their toddlers.

Sometimes the disproportionate effects are the result of sinful, human actions. Sometimes the trivial causes are also sinful, but not nearly as heinous, and other times there is no sin involved at all. The combinations of responsibility are varied and many.

Here is a (made up) example of the former scenario. Suppose a young teen-aged girl has been warned by her mother and father about her circle of friends, and she has been warned repeatedly.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

August 12

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

One Lord Jesus Christ, Light of Light, Very God of Very God

There He was (Luke 8:22–5), weary and tired, so tired, in fact, that He fell asleep.... Look at Him. There is no doubt about His humanity. He is fatigued, He is tired and weary, so much so that He just falls asleep, and, though the storm has arisen, He still goes on sleeping. He is subject to infirmity, He is a man in the body and flesh like all the rest of us. Ah, yes, but wait a minute. They came to Him and awoke Him saying,
‘Master, carest Thou not that we perish?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the sea, and they ceased and there was a calm ... it is not surprising that the disciples, seeing all this, wondered and said one to another, ‘What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him’. Man, and yet obviously God. He could command the elements, He could silence the wind and stop the raging of the sea. He is the Lord of nature and of creation, He is the Lord of the universe. This is the mystery and the marvel of Jesus Christ—God and Man, two natures in One Person, two natures unmixed yet resident in the same Person….

Western Double Standards

Siege Warfare and Urban Assaults

There are few military actions more difficult, more deadly, more dangerous, and more risky for non-combatants than house to house, urban assaults.  It is thus inevitable that whenever Israel invades Gaza, as it  recently has, civilians (that is, non-Hamas fighters) would be caught up in the violence of war, and would lose their lives.  To our knowledge there has never been an urban military assault that managed to prevent all harm to civilians living in the city.  This does not make the death of any civilian less tragic.  It is simply a statement about reality. 

In former times, when armies laid siege to a city, they usually followed the laws of siege warfare.  They first of all offered terms of peace to the city.  Surrender the city, or face a long siege.  Everyone knew this was the right thing to do.  It was right for the besieging army, since sieges were usually long, complex, and very costly affairs both in terms of materiel and lives.  It was also the right thing to do for the city, since sieges were most often deadly to the general population.  They usually did not end before thousands died of malnutrition, hunger, and disease.  The final reason for offering terms was that the laws of siege warfare permitted a general slaughter, enslavement, looting all of value, and razing the city to the ground once the city walls had been breached. It was regarded as a just reparation for the costs borne by the besieging army.

Against this background, Israel's activities in Gaza seem excessively moral and highly ethical--the shrieks of outrage in the Western media and Commentariat notwithstanding.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Letter From America (About the Bible)

Mark Noll on Our Changing Understanding of the Bible in America

August 8, 2014
Bible Gateway

Yesterday, Mark Noll delivered a public address in conjunction with the Bible in American Life conference. Noll is a respected scholar of the history of Christianity, as well as the author of the influential Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. I thought I’d share just a few of his insights here.

In his address, Noll presented four findings of the Bible in American Life Report that he feels say something particularly important about the way Americans experience the Bible. (If you haven’t done so, I strongly encourage you to read the report’s findings—they’re fascinating and surprising. We summarized some of the key findings here.)

Here are the four findings that Noll held up as saying something particularly important about the Bible in American life.

1. Catholics are reading the Bible outside of worship services more.
The Catholic church has long been accused by Protestants of discouraging people from reading the Bible “on their own,” outside the context of worship services. The Bible in American Life Report found, however, that Catholics are reading the Bible on their own more and more—so perhaps it’s time to retire that old criticism. Noll pointed out that this increased Bible reading among Catholics has coincided with new, and unprecedented, joint actions by both Catholics and Protestants in the public sphere.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

August 11

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website

Christ is the only Way

The gospel of Jesus Christ confronts and challenges the modern world with the statement that it alone has the answer to all man’s questions and the solution to all his problems. In a world that is seeking a way out of its tragedy and its troubles, the gospel announces that the solution is already available…. It denounces the fatal habit of pinning our hopes to something that is going to happen, and announces that all that is needed by men, individually and collectively, has been at the disposal of mankind for nearly two thousand years.

For the central message of the gospel is to tell men that everything necessary for their salvation is to be found in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of God. He, it proclaims, is the full and final revelation of God. It is in Him, His life and His teaching, that we see what man is meant to be, and the kind of life that man is meant to live.