Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Letter from the UK (About Jihad in Schools)

Jihad At Work 

ContraCelsum recently carried a piece about Jihadis attempting to take over Birmingham schools, by means of lies, subterfuge, threats, and intimidation.  It has now emerged that there is substance in the allegations.  The official investigations have widened to include 25 schools, not just he handful first mentioned. 

Below is an update on what is unfolding:

Extremist Muslims Try To Be Headteacher at 25 Birmingham Schools

14 Apr 2014

The investigation into a plot by radical Muslims to take over schools has been extended to 25 institutions across the City of Birmingham. Last month Breitbart London reported that a probe had begun into whether jihadis had tried to sack the headteacher of one school and replace them with a radical Muslim. Today's Daily Mail reports the investigation is now much wider.

Whilst Birmingham City Council will not name which schools are involved, it is clear from the average size of schools in the City that many thousands of children may be affected. This would include a huge number of Christian children.  Yesterday the number of schools under investigation rose to 15, and today it has risen again to 25. It is unclear whether this number will increase further, or how successful the jihadis were at infiltrating the schools concerned.

A Modern Take on a Venerable Folk Tale

Who Will Help Me . . . ?

The parable of the Little Red Hen has been read to countless generations of children.  It is an old folk tale, probably Russian in origin.  Its ethical point  is delightfully made.  "He who will not work, let him not eat", said the Apostle Paul, to which the Little Red Hen says, "Amen". 

There are countless applications of the parable, but one in particular caught our attention recently.  It concerns the wistfulness sometimes expressed by moderns for the "good old days" by which is meant a  longing for Christian ethics and values once held by society, whilst rejecting Christian metaphysics and theology.   The particular occasion was a review of a series of radio programmes in the UK featuring a prominent Guardian journalist, Madeleine Bunting,  bestowing her reflections about Holy Week upon her listeners.

Charles Moore, writing in The Telegraph, reviewed her ruminations, thus:

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

So Go Nomo to the Pomo

So I have written about the problems of postmodernism, what I have called the problem of European brain snakes. This might seem a little dismissive, but it all works out, because it actually is dismissive. Allow me to collect my thoughts on this in one place.

First, postmodernism, and all the posturing and posing connected thereunto, is utterly inconsistent with the spirit of testimony that faithful Christians love to exhibit. Our testimony (marturia) is to the truth, and the truth is personal and ultimate. When I say the truth is ultimate, I do not mean ultimate in the concerns of our own little faith community. I mean Lord of all that is, Lord of Heaven and earth, and King of all nature. The truth is Jesus, and He is eternal life — and there is no other.

“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son” (1 John 5:10). “I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21). “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (1 John 2:27). “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6).

Anyone who can reconcile the aroma of these passages with the stench of postmodernism has already had too much graduate school, and should be sent home immediately.

Gratuitous Prejudice

Established Religion

We have a kind of faith in the nature of people that we do not have in the botanical processes of nature itself--and I use the word "faith" in its full religious force.  We really do believe that all human beings have a natural telos toward becoming flowers, not weeds or poison ivy, and that aggregates of human beings have a natural predisposition to arrange themselves into gardens, not jungles or garbage heaps.

This sublime and noble faith we may call the religion of liberal humanism.  It is the dominant spiritual and intellectual orthodoxy in America today.  Indeed, despite all our chatter about the separation of church and state, one can even say it is the official religion of American society today, as against which all other religions can be criticized as divisive and parochial. 

Irving Kristol, "Thoughts on Reading About a Number of Summer-Camp Cabins Covered with Garbage," The New York Tims Magazine, Nov. 17, 1974, p.38.

Monday, 28 April 2014

World Views At War: Merry Warriors Needed

Sex After Christianity

Gay marriage is not just a social revolution but a cosmological one.

What A Difference Fifty Years Can Make

Psychology, Sin, and Bigotry

In 1960--more than half a century ago--a prominent psychologist, O. Hobart Mowrer wrote the following in the American Psychologist:
For several decades we psychologists looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus and acclaimed our liberation from it as epoch-making.  But at length we have discovered that to be "free" in this sense, i.e., to have the excuse of being "sick" rather than sinful, is to court the danger of also becoming lost.  This danger is, I believe, betokened by the widespread interest in Existentialism which we are presently witnessing.  In becoming amoral, ethically neutral, and "free" we have cut the very roots of our being; lost our deepest sense of self-hood and identity; and with neurotics themselves, find ourselves asking: "who am I?"  O. Hobart Mowrer, "Sin, the Lesser of Two Evils," American Psychologist, XV (1960), pp. 301-304.
Fast forward to the present decade.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Letter From Al Jazeera (About Crime and Punishment in New Zealand)

Restoring Hope

In New Zealand the Maori model of restorative justice uses indigenous cultural practices as a vehicle for social change.

[The following video (and written commentary) appeared on Al Jazeera about New Zealand.  It demonstrates powerfully the biblical truth that justice is to be a restorative process, with perpetrators making restitution to the victims.  When done properly, this not only helps heal the victims but it restores the perpetrators to a position where they are able to live productive and useful lives.  In New Zealand, this sits alongside the state judicial system, not as an alternative or substitute.  While the piece is lengthy, it is well worth viewing. 

We have one qualification we believe is worth making.  The principles and processes are portrayed here as Maori.  Whilst in this case, Maori are applying them, they are not intrinsically indigenous (as witnessed by the diversity of ethnicities involved).  Rather, they are human.  They are Christian, and biblically grounded.  Ed.]

New Zealand’s restorative justice model brings victims, offenders and their families together to sit down and discuss the crime committed and the impact it has had on everyone involved.

Humanist Militants

 Emergent  Self-Consciousness

There are plenty of signs that secular humanism is becoming more demanding, more militant.  We are now at the "side with us, or shut up" stage.  We stand on the verge of the next stage: "side with us, or we will shut you up".  A cluster of secular "truths" are becoming so fundamental that militant devotees of humanism now regard them to be self-evident.  Amongst these are oddities such as global warming, saving the whales, homosexual rights, trans-gender rights, and homosexual "marriage".  For humanist militants, all these are now "settled".  Debate no longer tolerable .  If you don't subscribe to these self-evident truths, you are a heretic, a danger to the body politic, and must be forced to conform or, if not, silenced. 

One of the early apostles of militant secular humanism is John Dewey.  The humanist manifesto is set forth in his book, A Common Faith, written way back in 1934. [John Dewey, A Common Faith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934.)]  Paul Vitz observes:
John Dewey concludes his book, A Common Faith with an exhortation to make humanism an active "common faith": in humanism "are all the elements of a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race.  Such a faith has always been implicitly the common faith of mankind.  It remains to make it explicit and militant. [Paul C. Vitz, Psychology as Religion: the Cult of Self-Worship (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1977), p. 37.]
Almost a hundred years after Dewey was writing and nearly forty years after Vitz was diagnosing the increasingly religious nature of pop psychology, humanist militants are in the majority and now bold enough to demand control.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Their Spindly Tower of Temerity

I want to point out two things related to our society’s “evolution” on same sex mirage. The first is that — how shall I put it — the whole thing is being conducted with a certain measure of chutzpah, brass, gall, audacity, arrogance, presumptuousness, cheek, crust, effrontery, insouciance, nutmeg, and bay leaves.

The second is that this spindly tower of temerity is being held up, or so they maintain, with the flying buttresses of evolutionary inevitability. When it comes to historical inevitability, these guys are as dogmatic as Hegel on one of his grouchy mornings.

This is what they do. Remember that when Obama changed his mind (he didn’t really, but work with me), he didn’t say he changed his mind. He evolved. That’s just another word for changing your mind, isn’t it? No, it is not. Quite different, at least in the current system.

Vulcan Blessings

Moving Off Welfare Into Work

We have more good news from the trenches.  The battle against being enslaved to welfare has not only been joined, but--for the moment--is being won in New Zealand.  The present government has been quietly opening up a number of  fronts in the war against welfare benefits as a human right.  The common theme in this battle is to reject the notion of welfare as a lifestyle choice. 

As in the United States under the Clinton administration, the driver is not ideological (at least, not overtly so).  Rather it is part of the wider effort to get government spending under control and bring the fiscal situation back into surplus--then, eventually, into government debt reduction.  Therefore, welfare needs to be discriminatory--delivered to those who really need it, not to those who would prefer it as their chosen lifestyle.  This, from the NZ Herald:

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Letter From America (About Mozilla's War)

Mozilla’s Culture War Is a Bad Model for Business

The decision to remove Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich is not good for anyone on any side of the culture war

Last week’s forced resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich should have sent a shudder through gatherings all over the country. This shudder was felt, it’s true, in gatherings of evangelical churches, Roman Catholic parishes, Orthodox Jewish synagogues. But this shudder should also have gone through corporate boardrooms, because it signals a dangerous trend of forced political uniformity, rather than tolerance, in corporate America. That’s not good for anyone, on any side of the culture war.

At issue, of course, is Brendan Eich’s 2008 donation of $1,000 to a campaign in support of Proposition 8, a California ballot measure to retain the definition of marriage in that state to the union of one man and one woman. Eich was hounded out of his job by activists who didn’t simply disagree with Eich’s view but who wouldn’t tolerate any dissenting view in the company at all. The goal, it seems, wasn’t dignity or justice, but enforced equality of thought.

As social conservatives, we, of course, were shocked by this development. Columnist Rod Dreher spoke of it as Portlandia’s form of Sharia Law. But those on the traditional marriage side of the cultural divide weren’t alone.

Hades, Fury, and Bullies

Manhood Problem

New York Times columnist David Brooks said Sunday that President Barack Obama has a “manhood problem” in the Middle East.  “[L]et’s face it,” he said. “Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a — I’ll say it crudely, but a manhood problem in the Middle East. Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad, somebody like Putin?”

“I think a lot of the rap is unfair, but certainly in the Middle East, there’s an assumption that he’s not tough,” Brooks added during a roundtable discussion on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  Chuck Todd, NBC’s chief White House correspondent, added that “internally they (the Obama Admin.) fear this.”

(H/T: TheBlazeMediaite)
Look, dealing with this is literally easier said than done.  Just get the President to mount the podium once again, adopt that haughty proud look, waggle his finger in that professorial hectoring mien, and speechify.  Carpet bomb the Middle East and Russia with lofty language, soaring rhetoric, and finger wagging threats.  Internally, the Russians fear this.  Its dread keeps them awake over in the Kremlin into the wee small hours--until Comrade Vodka takes over the watch. 

But, on a sober note, it is disconcerting.  It is precisely this kind of situation which, when combined with this make of man, will produce a "display" to prove a point.  Some theatrical move on Obama's part to demonstrate just how much of a man he really is.  Hades hath no fury like a venal politician scorned.  The bluster of bullies sounds the loudest.  Wars have begun this way. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Prejudices Crumbling Down

True Spirituality

Eugene Peterson, writing in Books and Culture

Fifty years earlier, I heard for the first time the word "spiritual" used in association with the theologian John Calvin. It happened in New York City as I was listening to a lecture by the Quaker philosopher Douglas Steere in a series on "Spiritual Classics." The week previous, I had been in attendance at the first in the series, on Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. Intrigued, I was back for the second. If I had known of the subject beforehand—John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion—I probably wouldn't have come. But after five minutes, I knew I was in the right place at the right time.

Although I had been a pastor for a couple of years, I had little interest in theology. It was worse than that.

All That Glitters is Not Gold

A Confusion of Cause and Consequence

Paper money is inherently risky.  So is electronic money.  Authorities (politicians and bureaucrats) can create it out of nothing.  Monetary economists call it "fiat money".  It is created by fiat of the authorities.  Every newly created item of currency, which adds to the stock of currency on issue, marginally devalues the existing stock.  The abiding risk of paper and electronic currency is not just inflation--the gradual erosion of value of the currency--but hyper-inflation.  The price of goods and services rises because the value of money is falling by the day.

We have all heard the horror stories of hyper-inflation.  Germany in the 1930's.  Zimbabwe several years ago.  Venezuela now.  Money being trucked into a shop in a wheelbarrow to buy a loaf of bread.  That sort of thing. It evidences and portends horrendous economic collapse and an inevitable looming depression.  

The government more often than not has a vested interest in devaluing the currency and inflating the money supply.  That interest lies in the public debt.  As public debt grows through reckless governments spending more than they can raise in taxation, the temptation to inflate the currency (that is, print more money or create it electronically) rises.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Too Thick to Deal With

Looking over the comments below Gaywalkers, Gaytards, and the Gaystapo, I can see that it is time for a refresher course in why we talk here the way we do. To write the same thing for me is not grievous, and for you it is safe (Phil. 3:1). But, alongside the refresher course, a hearty well-done for those of you who clearly do get it.

First, we must recognize the utter lack of proportion that this kind of thing represents. The strategy of pc-correctness is calculated to silence any form of effective opposition to their despotic agenda, and it does this by inverting the proportions. So what we see is an ever-expanding circle of taking offense at trifles, coupled with an ever-increasing pile of “acceptable” outrages. It is demanded that we never use any language that might, under some circumstances, considered in the right light, hurt a fly, while at the same time insisting that the savage butchering of millions of children be considered a women’s health issue. We have a professional class of feminist offendees agonizing over “micro-aggressions” against women, for example, while simultaneously demanding their right to continue unabated their macro-aggressions against the unborn.

We demand groveling apologies from the fellows who fail to strain out a gnat, and give Medals of Freedom to those public-spirited figures who managed to choke down the camel.

Falling Shadows and Anthropophagic Banquets

The Trajectory of Statism

We have never been interested in political party activism--even whilst finding politics an entertaining sport.  We loathe and detest the incipient statism of almost all modern political parties.  The idea that the State is the saviour of mankind is a falsehood which has brought ruination and devastation to countless peoples and nations throughout time.  Our political confession of faith is pretty simple: Jesus is Lord, and no putative statist religion or its devotees will ever conquer Him, regardless of how many high priests and acolytes it may put forward.

In the long arc of human history, statists and their political parties--even those which falsely profess Christianity--are doomed to antipathic ridicule as evil nullities.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Gaywalkers, Gaytards, and the Gaystapo

Posted on  

Let us begin, shall we, with some basic distinctions.

The first has to do with the basic sin issue, with politics not involved. When I was in the Navy, and had evangelistic discussions with whoring drunks, sin was always the issue. I was presenting the gospel to them, and the necessary response to the gospel message is “repent and believe.” I would talk with men who were ashamed of their sin, and also to men who were belligerent about it. I would confront them with their tomcatting ways, and they would confront me for being such a Jesus freak. But, to everyone’s credit, after we would have what the diplomats call a frank exchange of views, nobody ran off to tattle.

Those who are tempted with same sex attractions — both those who are ashamed of it and try to resist it and those who are given over to it — are gaywalkers. God built the road, and it is straight road, and he told us to cross at the intersection. Refusing to do so, or wavering on the point, is a sin issue, not a political issue. Let’s talk about it. As we address this kind of thing, the faithful Christian is dealing with the homosexual on exactly the terms as he deals with adulterers, gamblers, liars, drunks, and so on. Sin is sin, and Jesus is the only way out of that death trap. So let’s talk about it.

But then there are the gaytards. These are the people — homosexual, straight, and whatever Justin Bieber is — who are the ideal receptacle for the cultural propaganda served up by our duly appointed thought managers. They believe in “gay rights” for the same reason that they believe in climate change.

Lenten Meditations

Holy Week, Day 8: Sunday

Saturday, April 4, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Doug Moo and Andreas Köstenberger on the importance of women being the first to discover the empty tomb and the meaning of Easter Sunday.

H/T: Justin Taylor

Camels and Needles

Inglorious Rich Man Trying to Pass Muster

Every so often Unbelief pulls of its particular mask and shows itself in all its ignoble vainglory.  Big Nanny Michael Bloomberg served as the fall guy recently.  Bloomberg, you recall, has become exceptionally wealthy owning and developing Bloomberg News.  He served as a three-time mayor of New York City.  During his tenure he became infamous for his nannying controls over what people eat and inhale: sugar, fat, and tobacco.  Mike has a plan for our good, whether we like it to not.  Mike knows best.  Mike for Saviour.

Bloomberg is also famous for his record of donations--to all kinds causes, but most often to doppelganger Bloomberg favourites.  The most recent is gun control in the United States.

Our Lord declared that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Clearly, our Lord would not have said that had He met up with Michael Bloomberg, who clearly regards himself as the exception to our Lord's warning.   This, from the New York Times:

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Lenten Meditation

Holy Week, Day 7: Saturday

Saturday, April 4, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament scholars Andreas Köstenberger and Douglas Moo. Dr. Köstenberger looks at the role of Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’s burial, the rules for burial at the time, and what we know about first-century tombs. Dr. Moo answers the question of where Jesus was between his death and his resurrection, focusing on 1 Peter 3, which says that Christ preached to spirits in prison. Is this a reference to Jesus descending into Hades?

H/T: Justin Taylor

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Lenten Meditation

Holy Week, Day 6: Friday

Friday, April 3, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with historian Paul Maier and New Testament scholar Andreas Köstenberger, looking at the origin, object, and purpose of Roman crucifixion, along with one difference in emphasis between the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and John on suffering and glory.

H/T: Justin Taylor

Mouldy Tyrannies, Free Spirits

Freedom For Us, Controls for Everyone Else

There are two ways in which a secular society can be organized.  It can be built upon maximising a form of human freedom, or it can enforce one view as absolutely right, imposing it upon all.  The former champions liberty of opinion and freedom of thought, word and deed.  The latter champions order, structure, and the one right way.  The former reflects libertarianism.  The latter reflects an authoritarian dictatorship either by One or the Party.

Unbelief will always pull either one way or the other.  But over time, libertarianism will crumble and tyranny will win out.  Why?  Libertarianism has no authoritative standard by which the limits of liberty can be nailed down. It has no authoritative standard to define what the human being is who is to be free.  Humans in the womb, senile humans, comatise humans don't necessarily qualify.  Sexual perversions performed by sexual perverts do.  Man-boy-"love" must enjoy the protections of liberty.  Libertarianism produces the ruthless discarding of humans from their own race. Libertarianism inflicts a deadly tyranny upon those judged to be "outsiders".

At the same time, libertarianism must foster and allow and even indirectly encourage views which champion authoritarianism, its opposite. Libertarianism is a vacuum which the natural order eventually abhors. Consequently, all secular societies gradually morph into tyrannies of one kind or the other.

Here is an example of  what we speak.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Lenten Meditation

Holy Week, Day 5: Thursday

Thursday, April 2, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with scholars Doug Moo, Nick Perrin, and Paul Maier, focusing on the background of the Passover, why Jesus and the disciples reclined at the Last Supper instead of eating at a table, and why the Jewish officials had to get Pontius Pilate involved after beginning their judicial proceedings against Jesus.

H/T: Justin Taylor

What in the World To Do?

Building, Restoring, and Cleaning

The perspective held by Christians about human society and economy tells one a great deal about their beliefs concerning Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. 

That we all live in human society to one degree or another is inescapable.  Even the foolish Stylites, who committed themselves to a life of isolation from all others, living on poles in the extreme attempt to divorce themselves from human society and the world, could not escape.  The most famous were plagued by tourists coming to gape.

Since living "in the world" is a providential given--a divine decree--the belief we Christians have about the world and our place in it is a vital concern.  Since God has placed us in human society and human economy, we had better get our understanding of it right and in conformity with the Bible. 

R. H. Tawney tells us that there are four distinct beliefs or attitudes about human society and human economy. He presents them as follows:

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Lenten Meditation

Holy Week, Day 4: Wednesday

Wednesday, April 1, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with historian of ancient history Paul Maier (of Western Michigan University) and New Testament professor Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), focusing on the behind-the-scenes motivations and actions of the Sanhedrin as they plot to put an end to Jesus once and for all.

H/T: Justin Taylor

Christian Activists

Hard Work the Highest Service

The general medieval world-view was deeply suspicious of economic motives.  Lucre was, after all, filthy.  Therefore, it had to be limited, controlled, and governed.  All economic activity had to be carried on for the public good; profits must be restricted to sustenance payments.  Clearly, the medieval world had a problem with the Parable of the Talents. 

These generalisations hold generally true.  But there were exceptions.  Gradually, as Western economies developed, the exceptions became more common, more widespread.  Medieval theology, and the economic theories it produced, were broken apart by economic realities.  Theological understanding did not catch up until the Reformation--and then, only gradually.

John Calvin argued that laws against usury were entirely inconsistent.  They simply did not make sense.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Lenten Meditation

Holy Week, Day 3: Tuesday

Tuesday, March 31, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and Andreas Köstenberger (of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) along with historian of ancient history Paul Maier (of Western Michigan University), focusing in particular on the opposition to Jesus and what angered his Jewish antagonists so much.

H/T: Justin Taylor

Hard to Believe

 Naomi Klein On a Good Day

A recent piece in the Guardian by Naomi Klein should come with a health warning:  "During reading, you may die laughing".  Naomi (the Fulminator) Klein--the ardent anti-globalization campaigner and anti-climate change warrior--has turned her attention to the latest evil to threaten humanity.  Ukraine is going to exploit its natural gas reserves by means of fracking. This is eeeeeviiiillll, says the Fulminator.

Why so?, you mildly ask   One would have thought that Ukraine, hitherto dependant upon Soviet (er, Russian) gas, would be well within its rights and prerogatives to harvest its own gas supplies using whatever means it saw fit.  Moreover, it would be wise to do so.  Since fracking is a recovery technique accepted to be safe, what's the fuss about?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Lenten Meditation

Holy Week, Day 3: Tuesday

Tuesday, April 1, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Nicholas Perrin (of Wheaton College) and Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), focusing in particular on the cursing of the fig tree, the cleansing of the temple, and the role of the temple in the theology and practice of Jesus. We will be releasing a new video each day this week.

H/T: Justin Taylor

Lenten Meditation

Grinding Axes in the Dark

The late Christopher Hitchens liked to frighten little children with horror stories about the evils of religion.  Often times he was more narrowly referring to the religion of Islam, but he did not hold back from the "evils" of Christianity, either.  Of all the things that offended him, the offence of the Cross of Christ was the most acute.  He wrote:
The idea of a vicarious atonement, of the sort that so much troubled even C.S. Lewis, is a further refinement of the ancient superstition [of atoning sacrifice]. Once again we have a father demonstrating love by subjecting a son to death by torture, but this time the father is not trying to impress god. He is god, and he is trying to impress humans. Ask yourself the question: how moral is the following? I am told of a human sacrifice that took place two thousand years ago, without my wishing it and in circumstances so ghastly that, had I been present and in possession of any influence, I would have been duty-bound to try and stop it. In consequence of this murder, my own manifold sins are forgiven me, and I may hope to enjoy everlasting life. [Cited by Tim Challies, quoting from Hitchen's God Is Not Great.]
Against this, the Apostle Paul provides the counterpoint:

Monday, 14 April 2014

Lenten Meditation

Holy Week, Day 1: Palm Sunday

Sunday, March 29, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Doug Moo (of Wheaton College Graduate School) and Andreas Köstenberger (of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary). We will be releasing a new video each day this week.

H/T: Justin Taylor

A Great Oxymoron of the Age

Christian Socialism

We have recently read R. H. Tawney's, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. (London: John Murray, 1923).  Being published in the period historian, Richard Overy has called the Twilight Years [The Twilight Years: The Paradox of Britain Between the Wars (New York: Viking/Penguin, 2009)]), Tawney's work is significant in that it cannot help but reflect the radical, revolutionary changes taking place in the intellectual and spiritual history of Britain and the West at that time. (For a summary and interaction with Overy's Twilight Years, readers can refer to a series of eight pieces, published in Contra Celsum in early 2010, the first of which can be found here.)

Tawney was both a professing Christian and an ardent socialist.  In these days, when socialism has become thoroughly secular, racked with the deadly sins of avarice, envy, and covetousness, "Christian socialism"  ranks amongst the seven most infamous oxymorons of the modern world, along with "Christian capitalism".

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

All Stove In

Posted on  

Andrew Sullivan should receive real credit for saying, as he did, that if the treatment of Brendan Eich is what the gay rights movement is all about, then he, Sullivan, wanted to be dealt out. Eich is the Mozilla CEO who was forced to resign because he donated money a few years ago in defense of heterosexual marriage, which is to say, marriage. In a tweet the other day, Andrew said, “The hounding and firing of @BrendanEich disgusts me – as it should anyone interested in a tolerant & diverse society.”

For those who are opposed to this sort of business, they will have many opportunities to register their dissent. There will be a steady stream of them. As I put it the other day, in this Tolerance Parade, the elephants just keep on coming —

This stand means that Andrew is not a hypocrite, and I am glad for it. When I debated him a while ago, he said that he would be opposed to some of the things that we opponents of same sex mirage were predicting would come from all this. And good to his word, this incident shows that he meant what he said. He is no hypocrite. If Andrew comes to read this, an honest well done from me.

But the fact that he is not a hypocrite does not keep him from being a patsy. He is like an idealistic revolutionary who labored for years to overthrow the czar, only to have Lenin, three weeks after the revolution, send around a couple of the boys to put a bullet in his head.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

April 14

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

If you tarry till you're better
You will never come at all!

There is a very simple way of testing yourself to know whether you believe that [we must look to Christ and Christ alone]. We betray ourselves by what we say.... I often had to deal with this point with people, and I have explained the way of justification by faith and told them how it is all in Christ and that God puts His righteousness upon us.

I have explained it all to them, and then I have said, "Well, now are you quite happy about it; do you believe that?" And they say, "Yes." Then I say, "Well, then, you are now ready to say that you are a Christian." And they hesitate. And I know that they have not understood. Then I say, "What is the matter; why are you hesitating?" And they say, "I do not feel that I am good enough."

At once I know that in a sense I have been wasting my breath.

Memorial Stones

Humble Heroes of the Faith

Missionary endeavour and the acceptance of the Gospel by Maori have been pretty much air brushed out of recent accounts of New Zealand history.  Secular humanism is a trick the living of our day are attempting to play upon the dead.  We Christians have a duty to ensure that the past is not lost.  To that end, Keith Newman's Bible and Treaty: Missionaries Among the Maori--A New Perspective [London: Penguin Books, 2010] is a much needed corrective to the current whitewashing. 

Contained in Newman's book is a gripping story of one Taumata-a-kura, an East Cape, Ngati Porou tribesman.  He had been taken as a slave during a raid by the northern Ngapuhi tribe, but in the early 1830's found his way to the mission school at Waimate, where he learned to read and write, and was instructed in the basic doctrines of the Gospel.  He eventually made his way back to his family and tribe.
One account describes the reunion of Taumata-a-kura with his people as "aioio ana te noho a te iwi" (black with people who hung onto his every word).  Ngati Porou believed he had been lost forever but now here he was, as if he had returned from the dead.  Rumours of his return, along with his message of an "atua hou" (a new god), had reached up into the Waiapu Valley before he even set foot in his homeland.  [Newman, p. 118.]

Friday, 11 April 2014

Letter From the UK (About Looking Back)

How did the IPCC’s alarmism take everyone in for so long?

Climate scaremongers are still twisting the evidence over global warming 

4:16PM BST 05 Apr 2014

When future generations come to look back on the alarm over global warming that seized the world towards the end of the 20th century, much will puzzle them as to how such a scare could have arisen. They will wonder why there was such a panic over a 0.4 per cent rise in global temperatures between 1975 and 1998, when similar rises between 1860 and 1880 and 1910 and 1940 had given no cause for concern. They will see these modest rises as just part of a general warming that began at the start of the 19th century, as the world emerged from the Little Ice Age, when the Earth had grown cooler for 400 years.
They will be struck by the extent to which this scare relied on the projections of computer models, which then proved to be hopelessly wrong when, in the years after 1998, their predicted rise in temperature came virtually to a halt. But in particular they will be amazed by the almost religious reverence accorded to that strange body, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which by then will be recognised as having never really been a scientific body at all, but a political pressure group. It had been set up in the 1980s by a small band of politically persuasive scientists who had become fanatically committed to the belief that, because carbon dioxide levels were rising, global temperatures must inevitably follow; an assumption that the evidence would increasingly show was mistaken.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

April 11

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

The porches of Prayer

I know a number of Christian people who have a universal answer to all questions. It does not matter what the question is; they always say, "Pray about it." ... What a glib, superficial, and false bit of advice that can often be; and I am saying that from a Christian pulpit.

You may ask, "Is it ever wrong to tell men to make their problems a matter of prayer?" It is never wrong, but it is sometimes quite futile.... The whole trouble with this poor man [Psalm 73] ... was that he was so muddled in his thinking about God that he could not pray to Him. If we have muddled thoughts in our mind and heart concerning God's way with respect to us, how can we pray? We cannot. Before we can pray truly, we must think spiritually. There is nothing more fatuous than glib talk about prayer, as if prayer were something which you can always immediately rush into.

Improving the Citizens

Ve Vill Make You Free

There has been a bit of aog'nghast in certain quarters in the United States recently.  It turns out that a previously highly regarded chap called Brendan Eich was recently appointed CEO of Mozilla--an internet browsing software company--but was subsequently forced out because he was a pariah.  His crime?  Years ago he was guilty of donating some money to a political campaign in California to restrict the institution of marriage to adult males covenanting with adult females. 

That meant he could not serve as the CEO of an internet browsing company.  He was guilty of thought-crimes.  Eich was forced out for his political and ethical opinions.  The supine Board of Mozilla surrendered faster than Baltic Ukraine, and with less fuss and bother.  All this, in the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave"--a sentiment which must now be understood in the wider context of a herd of lemming-like creatures rushing for the cliff.  To be fair, some public homosexuals have expressed shock, horror, and outrage--and good on them.  Andrew Sullivan, for example, who campaigns for the recognition of homosexual marriage wrote: “The hounding and firing of @BrendanEich disgusts me – as it should anyone interested in a tolerant & diverse society.”  Bill Maher, who has publicly ridiculed even the suggestion that homosexuality may be immoral, spoke disconsolately of a "gay mafia":
I think there is a gay mafia. I think if you cross them, you do get whacked. I really do. TheBlaze
Satirist H. L. Mencken commented on this kind of thing from a broader perspective:

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Foolish Politicians, Nannies and Wowsers

Prohibition Redux

The old adage from George Santayana runs, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.  A corollary is the proverb, a hundred blows on the back of a fool make no impression (Proverbs 17:10), but a word to the wise is sufficient. 

History has illustrated and taught repeatedly that when the state overreaches to ban or criminalise something as contraband (all for our own good, of course), criminals get richer and stronger.  It happens every time.  When governments overreach to ban tobacco and cigarettes, or tax them out of existence, it becomes, in the words of Yogi Berra, deja vu all over again. 

This, from Breitbart London:

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

April 10

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Let all the people praise Thee!

We should all have a consuming passion that the whole world might come to know God [as the ever-present One who will never leave us nor forsake us] ... The Psalmist in Psalm 34 invites everybody to join him in "magnifying" the Lord. What a strange idea! ... At first sight that appears to be quite ridiculous. God is the Eternal, the self-existent One, absolute and perfect in all His qualities. How can feeble man ever magnify such a Being? How can we ever make God great or greater (which is what we mean by magnify)? ... And yet, of course, if we but realize the way in which the Psalmist uses it, we shall see exactly what he means.

He does not mean that we can actually add to the greatness of God, for that is impossible; but he does mean that he is concerned that this greatness of God may appear to be greater amongst men.


The Sport of David-Brenting

The instinctual sympathies of the media in New Zealand are statist--that is, generally the media, with few exceptions, favour more state intrusions, controls and beneficences than less.  Given that predilection, it is not surprising that the media and the Commentariat in general lean Left and are comfortable with giving left-wing parties and causes a supportive shove. 

Therefore, when the Left turn against left-wing parties, such as Labour, something significant is churning beneath the surface.  We have discerned in recent weeks the sport of David-Brenting the Labour leader, David Cunliffe in national media.  As our readers will know, the David Brent character in the hit show, The Office, is the past master of cringe comedy--the most cruel and cringe-causing lines, the only relief to which is embarrassed laughter.  The media appear to have cottoned on to this, and are goading Cunliffe to deliver David-Brent-like utterances which cause the entire nation to cringe. That Cunliffe appears serious only exacerbates the "cringe".  It is the media's version of a blood sport.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Letter From Australia (About a Caravan of Doom)

Caravan of gloom slowing down

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

April 09

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Get right at the center

Let us now see what the gospel has to say about life. The first principle is that face to face with the problems of life there is only one thing that needs to be examined—namely, the eye, the center, the soul; ... the light of the body is the eye; the only thing that needs to be examined is the eye, for if the eye is single, the whole body will be full of light. But if the eye is evil, the whole body will be full of darkness; ... our Lord goes on to add the solemn warning [Luke 11:35], "Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness." ... How direct is [the gospel] in its approach! ... It comes at once to the heart of the matter.

This direct simplicity is perfectly illustrated ... in an incident which followed immediately after our Lord had spoken the above words. He went in at the request of a certain Pharisee to dine in his house and at once sat down to meat. The Pharisee observing His act was surprised, marveling that Christ had not first washed before dinner.... [Our Lord] turned to him and delivered a stern denunciation of the Pharisees and their ways and views.

Looking Out For Orphans and Widows

Walking in the Footsteps of the Almighty

One of the most neglected ministries of Christian households is adoption.  We struggle to understand why this might be the case.  After all, adoption is at the heart of the Gospel, of the Christian faith.  Without it, none could be saved.  God is the infinite adoptive parent.  The Trinity is the infinite adoptive family.  Yet, for some reason, the Christian community is not all that geared up to adopt children--we, who, ourselves, are all adopted.  God is the One who takes up the solitary and puts them in families (Psalm 68: 5,6).  God is the One whose eye is upon the orphan and the widow. But His people?  Not so much.

When Christians adopt orphans they are walking in, and after, the steps of God Himself.  We thus rejoice with the Dyer family whose adoption of Jendah has finally been recognised by the New Zealand government.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Noahic Clickbait

So no, I haven’t seen the movie, and no, this is not a review of it. Aside from that resulting in a couple of hours that I couldn’t get back, there would be the problems caused by the possibility of me writing a review of an Aronofsky film that might run counter to the analysis of soi disant hipster film dude critics. And, as everyone knows, one of my top priorities is to keep those guys from looking at me in scorn and contumely. So a review is really something I cannot risk — risk emotionally, I mean.

Noah Running
Me, avoiding the theater.

But one good thing about the movie is that — as a number of people have pointed out — everybody is talking about a Bible story. That’s something, right? Well, maybe. The possibility exists that we might talk about it all wrong, with our latter case being worse than the beginning.

And that brings me to the focus of my labors this morning. One person on Twitter has been having a little bit of fun with my view that the setup for the Noah story was the fact that “angels get it on with our wimmin,” and so, thought I, why not? As the spelling of wimmin might indicate, this view of mine can easily be represented as being worthy only of those who go up to the high mountain meadows of Tennessee in order to chase the powers of the air with butterfly nets. So let’s talk about it, shall we?

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

April 08

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

We look to Christ—to Christ alone

God accepts this righteousness of Christ, this perfect righteousness face to face with the Law which He honoured in every respect. He has kept it and given obedience to it; He has borne its penalty. The Law is fully satisfied. God's way of salvation, says Paul, is that. He gives to us the righteousness of Christ.

If we have seen our need and go to God and confess it, God will give us His own Son's righteousness. He imputes Christ's righteousness to us who believe in Him, and regards us as righteous, and declares us and pronounces us to be righteous in Him. That is the way of salvation, the Christian way of salvation, the way of salvation through justification by faith. So that it comes to this. That I see and I believe and I look to nothing and to no one except to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Triumphant Irrelevance

The West Does Not "Get" Islam

The usual world-view applied to the Islamic wars in the West  is, unsurprisingly, Western.  Wars such as the Syrian civil war are understood through Western glasses, which see the "real" conflict as fundamentally secular, non-religious, focused upon political struggles over power and of who is going to rule, and not infrequently with a Marxist chaser thrown in--poor versus rich, possessed versus dispossessed.  It is assumed that issues of freedom, democracy, free elections, the rule of law, and so forth, are intrinsic to the struggle.

Western diplomacy presupposes that all these Western pre-occupations are the "real issues" and seeks to persuade, cajole, bribe, and threaten accordingly.  If the Sunni rebels are "freedom fighters" they have our support.  If the Shi'ite Alawites are authoritarian tyrants, they become a Western opponent, if not an enemy.

Rarely does the role and critical contribution of Islam come into consideration.  The explanation for such a glaring omission is straightforward.  In the West's worldview, religion is an irrelevance.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Lenten Meditations

True Truth and Real History

As we approach the season of Passover and the once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints Atonement, here is an interesting piece on the actual date of Messiah's crucifixion.

Justin Taylor refers us to an article recently published in First Things, which discussed the evidence for the exact date of Jesus' death. 

April 3, AD 33

In our new book, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, we assume but do not argue for a precise date of Jesus’s crucifixion. Virtually all scholars believe, for various reasons, that Jesus was crucified in the spring of either a.d. 30 or a.d. 33, with the majority opting for the former. (The evidence from astronomy narrows the possibilities to a.d. 27, 30, 33, or 34). However, we want to set forth our case for the date of Friday, April 3, a.d. 33 as the exact day that Christ died for our sins.

To be clear, the Bible does not explicitly specify the precise date of Jesus’s crucifixion and it is not an essential salvation truth. But that does not make it unknowable or unimportant. Because Christianity is a historical religion and the events of Christ’s life did take place in human history alongside other known events, it is helpful to locate Jesus’s death—as precisely as the available evidence allows—within the larger context of human history.

Among the Gospel writers, no one makes this point more strongly than Luke, the Gentile physician turned historian and inspired chronicler of early Christianity.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

April 07

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
"Now we can all live like this!"(Olive Schreiner)

... All Christians are to be like this. Read the Beatitudes, and there you have a description of what every Christian is meant to be. It is not merely the description of some exceptional Christians. Our Lord does not say here that He is going to paint a picture of what certain outstanding characters are going to be and can be in this world. It is His description of every single Christian....

[It is a] fatal tendency to divide Christians into two groups—the religious and the laity, exceptional Christians and ordinary Christians, the one who makes a vocation of the Christian life and the man who is engaged in secular affairs. That tendency is not only utterly and completely unscriptural; it is destructive ultimately of true piety and is in many ways a negation of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no such distinction in the Bible. There are distinctions in offices—apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, evangelists, and so on. But these Beatitudes are not a description of offices; they are a description of character. And from the standpoint of character, and of what we are meant to be, there is no difference between one Christian and another....

Read the introduction to almost any New Testament Epistle, and you will find all believers addressed as in the Epistle to the Church at Corinth, "called to be saints." All are "canonized," if you want to use the term, not some Christians only. The idea that this height of the Christian life is meant only for a chosen few and that the rest of us are meant to live on the dull plains is an entire denial of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Beatitudes in particular.... Therefore let us once and for ever get rid of that false notion. This is not merely a description of the Hudson Taylors or the George Miillers or the Whitefields or Wesleys of this world; it is a description of every Christian. We are all of us meant to conform to its pattern and to rise to its standard.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, i, pp. 33-4

“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”

Thankfully We Live in an Enlightened Age

A Warning to Jews and Lepers

Atmospheric calamities provoke ignorant fears.  Scapegoats must be found.  In the early 14th century, Europe was troubled by very, very bad weather--somewhat akin to what the UK, Europe, and the United States have experienced over the past eighteen months.
The summer of 1314 was uncommonly cold and wet in Europe.  Crops rotted, harvests were late, and alarmed authorities placed price controls on farm products and firewood.  All these were routine disasters that had happened many times before. 

The awful weather of 1314, however, was just the beginning of a succession of catastrophes.  Bad crops seldom happen two years in a row, but the weather in 1315 was even worse than during the previous year.  Heavy and incessant rains caused flooding that smashed dikes.  Rising rivers destroyed villages.  Violent storms crashed onto the coasts [c.f. the floods and storms in the UK this winter, Ed.]  The tragedy stretched from Scotland to Italy and from the Pyrenees to the homes of the Slavs.  Food prices rose over fivefold and starvation was widespread.  Even that was not the end.  The weather wreaked havoc once again in 1316, causing the worst famine in European history.  People ate cats, rats, insects, and animal droppings, and then, lacking anything better, dug up corpses in the burying grounds.  Epidemics and violent crime were widespread.  Bloody and public self-flagellation was common.  Scapegoats--Jews, lepers, noblemen--were murdered without hesitation.  [Peter L. Bernstein, The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2000),  p.97]
Some observations spring to mind.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional


A First Book of Daily Readings

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

My Father knows

Our Lord says, "Our Father which art in heaven"; and Paul says, "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." ... It is vital when we pray to God, and call Him our Father, that we should remind ourselves ... of His majesty and of His greatness and of His almighty power; ... remember that He knows all about you. The Scripture says, "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." ... It is not surprising that, when he wrote Psalm 51, David said in the anguish of his heart, "Thou desirest truth in the inward parts."

If you want to be blessed of God, you have to be absolutely honest; you have to realize He knows everything and that there is nothing hidden from Him; ... as the wise man who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes put it, it is vital when we pray to God that we should remember that "He is in heaven and we are upon the earth."

Then remember His holiness and His justice, His utter, absolute righteousness; ... whenever we approach Him we must do so "with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire" [Hebrews 12:19].  That is the way to pray, says Christ; ... never separate these two truths.

Letter From America (About Facing the Truth)

Doctor’s Conversion From Atheism to Christianity 

Inspiration for a Central Character in Major Hollywood Film


Martin Yip is one of the main characters in “God’s Not Dead,” the Christian movie thatstunned observers with its impressive performance at the box office about a student who debates an atheist professor on the existence of God.  Yip’s character, an atheist who converts to Christianity after meeting protagonist Josh Wheaton on campus, is actually based on a real-life doctor who went through a similar experience decades ago.

Dr. Ming Wang, an eye surgeon in Nashville, Tenn., was studying in the U.S. when he became a follower of Jesus.  His story, captured in the 2013 book “God’s Not Dead” (the book preceded the film), began in China, where he grew up with parents who taught at a medical school, according to the Tennessean.
Watch Wang share his story on TBN below:

More Histrionics. More Noise Please. We're Desperate.

The Way of the Fool

The IPCC has published its latest broadside in a flailing attempt to get its fictitious anthropogenic apocalypse back on track.  It's got to the stage when it is becoming amusing.  We are now in the denouement stage of the plot.  We are in clear and present danger! shrieks the siren.  All kinds of calamities are about to fall upon the human race if the global temperature rises by between 2 and 4 degrees in the next one hundred years.  Case and argument is weak.  Shout louder. 

Excuse us.  Pardon.  Two degrees.  That hardly sounds like a calamity.  No, well, the script used to read eight to ten degrees, but the scaremongering and Chicken Littling has been toned down just a bit, especially since global temperatures have shown no signs of going up over the past fifteen years--despite carbon dioxide disgorgement continuing on its merry way over that time.  But in order to get action, a calamity of some sort must be concocted.  A "clear and present danger" must be manufactured from somewhere to make governments and the poor suckers they govern get in line.

Whilst the apocalyptic orchestra has toned down the volume, it has increased the screeching.  No harmonies or melodies in sight.

Friday, 4 April 2014


Book of the Month/April 2014

God in the Whirlwind

I have been blessed by David Wells for many years. This book, God in the Whirlwind, is the capstone of a particular writing project, one that began with No Place for Truth. I read that book in 1994, and have been faithfully reading his other contributions as they came out. The other books, well worth readying, are God in the Wasteland, Losing our Virtue, The Courage to Be Protestant, and Above All Earthly Pow’rs.

It is not too much to say that this book is his positive affirmation of what he believes, a fitting conclusion to his sweeping critiques of all the things he doesn’t believe — which he dissected so ably in the earlier books.
So I would like to make three observations about this book. The first is that Wells draws a sharp contrast between that with comes “from above” — the gospel of grace — and that which comes “from below” — everything else. This is actually the issue in all comparisons of different faiths, approaches, religions, or worldviews.

A second important emphasis is the distinction he draws between redemption and therapy. We now live in a therapeutic culture, one in which forgiveness is not needed, but treatment is.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

April 04

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

Paul's daring word about propitiation

The true Christian realizes ... God's way of salvation in Christ. This is the great good news. "This is the thing I am preaching," says Paul, in effect, to the Romans, "this righteousness that is of God, that is in Jesus Christ, His righteousness."

What is he talking about? It can be put in the form of a question if you like. What is your view of Christ? Why did He come into the world? What has God done in Christ? Is He merely a teacher, an example, and so on? ... No, this is something positive, this righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. Salvation is all in Christ; and unless you feel yourself shut up to Christ with everything else having failed, you are not a Christian, and it is not surprising that you are not happy.

The Lusts of Vlad the Impaler

Good Luck with Finland

It has been reported that Vlad the Impaler has his eyes on restoring Russia's borders to the 1917 status quo.  In Vlad's mind, international law and treaties are null and void after that year. This, from the NZ Herald:
After annexing Crimea and with troops massed on the border of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will not stop trying to expand Russia until he has "conquered" Belarus, the Baltic states and Finland, one of his closest former advisers has said.  According to Andrej Illarionov, the President's chief economic adviser from 2000 to 2005, Mr Putin seeks to create "historical justice" with a return to the days of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Speaking to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, Mr Illarionov warned that Russia will argue that the granting of independence to Finland in 1917 was an act of "treason against national interests".  "Putin's view is that he protects what belongs to him and his predecessors," Mr Illarionov said.  "Parts of Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States and Finland are states where Putin claims to have ownership."
Let's think about Finland.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Global Warming Not a Problem--Even If True

Global Warming Will Not Cost the Earth

IPCC Report Admission

The economic costs of 'global warming' have been grossly overestimated, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - has admitted.  Previous reports - notably the hugely influential 2006 Stern Review - have put the costs to the global economy caused by 'climate change' at between 5 and 20 percent of world GDP.

But the latest estimates, to be published by Working Group II of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, say that a 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of the century will cost the world economy between just 0.2 and 2 percent of its GDP.  If the lower estimate is correct, then all it would take is an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent (currently it's around 3 percent) for the economic costs of climate change to be wiped out within a month.

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

April 03

A First Book of Daily Readings

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

The "God-fearing" man

There was a time when the designation applied to the Christian was that he was a "God-fearing" man. I do not think you can ever improve on that.... It does not mean craven fear; it does not mean "the fear that hath torment"; but it is a wonderful description of the true Christian. He is of necessity, as we are reminded very forcibly in the seventh chapter of this* Gospel, a man who lives in the fear of God.

We can say of our blessed Lord Himself that His Life was a God-fearing life.... So often modern Christians, who may be able to give very bright and apparently thrilling testimonies of some ex­perience they have had, do not suggest that they are God­fearing people; but give the impression of being men of the world, both in dress and appearance and in a kind of boisterousness and easy confidence....

Antidotes to Bigotry and Hate Speech

More Free Speaking, Please

There is a controversy broiling in Australia over free speech.  That country has moved radically away from free speech rights in recent years.  The present government, under Tony Abbott is seeking to redress the balance.

The issues are now familiar to us all.  Advocates of spurious human rights have promulgated the radical curtailing of free speech by proscribing "hate speech", otherwise known as bigoted speech, offensive speech, racist speech, anti-Islamic speech, and so forth.  In reality all these proscriptions seek (and achieve) curtailing certain kinds of speech.  The Commentariat is agog and aghast in Oz over the government's intentions to reform the current anti-free speech regime in Australia.  Consider the umbrage taken by a Sydney scribe, printed in the NZ Herald:
It's all part of Tony Abbott's vision of a new Liberal dawn. The Australian Prime Minister's conservative Government intends to dilute racial vilification laws to enshrine the right of Australians to be bigots.  Amid fury and concern even within his own party, Abbott has invoked the greater goal of free speech to amend the Racial Discrimination Act to allow offensive, insulting and humiliating abuse so long as it does not incite hatred or violence.
Do people have a (freedom) right to be bigots?  Of course.  To be ignorant?  Of course.  To be a venter of spleen?  Of course.  Everyone has a right to go down to the pit in their own way.  It's called freedom.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Letter From the UK (About A Coffee Calamity)

Guardian: Climate Change Will Kill Your Coffee

Climate change is killing the taste of your coffee, claims a new report in the Guardian's Environment section.According to environment editor Damian Carrington, "global warming is leading to bad, expensive coffee" because "rising heat, extreme weather and ferocious pests mean the highland bean is running out of cool mountainsides on which it flourishes." 

Despite the fact that there hasn't been any warming detected on Earth since 1997, Carrington's article leans heavily on the words of Dr Tim Shilling of the World Coffee Research organisation – a man whose entire career relies on increasing awareness around coffee production.  Shilling claims that "Over the long term, you will definitely see coffee prices going up as a result of climate change."  . . .

The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) is set to echo Shilling's concerns in its latest report due to be published on Monday. It said, "The overall predictions are for a reduction in area suitable for coffee production by 2050 in all countries studied. In many cases, the area suitable for production would decrease considerably with increases of temperature of only 2.0-2.5C."  But leaks from the IPCC's forthcoming report have already themselves nullified the concerns over economic growth with regard to climate change.
The latest estimates say that a 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures will cost the world economy between just 0.2 and 2 percent of its GDP.  "If the lower estimate is correct," James Delingpole wrote earlier this week for Breitbart London, "then all it would take is an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent (currently it's around 3 percent) for the economic costs of climate change to be wiped out within a month.
"This admission by the IPCC will come as a huge blow to those alarmists... who argue that costly intervention now is our only hope if we are to stave off the potentially disastrous effects of climate change."
The Guardian notes that "Climate change is also increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, as more energy is trapped in the atmosphere", though IPCC advisor Matt Collins begged to differ when referring to Britain's extreme weather events this year. He said: "There is no evidence that global warming can cause the jet stream to get stuck in the way it has this winter... If this is due to climate change, it is outside our knowledge".
. . . . Dr Shilling advised that creating genetic variants could be the answer to saving the coffee industry.   "I am very optimistic this strategy will produce the plants we need," he said. "But the weak point is the time available. It is a race – if we had started 10 years ago, we would be very confident that today we would have tools to battle climate change. But I wonder if coffee growers will be able to withstand climate change for another 10 years."
Shilling may be in luck. According to a recently published, peer-reviewed paper, the pause in warming temperatures may yet last into the 2030s, with Arctic sea ice already recovering.