Tuesday, 21 November 2017

His Kingdom Is Forever

Martin Luther’s Shelter Amid the Flood of Depression

Ryan Griffith
The Gospel Coalition

For Martin Luther (1483–1546), there was always a clear connection between Scripture and congregational song. The Psalter was Israel’s songbook, not simply David’s. Paul twice commended singing Scripture as part of the ordinary Christian life (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Jesus and his disciples sang together after the Passover meal (Mark 14:26).

Even (perhaps, especially) in the darkest hours, God’s people coupled prayer and Scripture with singing (Acts 16:25). But, like Scripture, vernacular song had been largely absent among the laity in the late medieval church. While chant survived in German monasteries and choral pieces in the Latin processionals and mystery plays, congregational singing was increasingly rare.

Luther not only thought this was unbiblical, he also recognized it removed a major weapon against the enemy. Music was a grace of God because it linked biblical truth with cordial affection. Luther commented:
Music is a fair and lovely gift of God. . . . Next after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor. I would not exchange what little I know of music for something great. Experience proves that, next to the Word of God, only music deserves to be extolled as the mistress and governess of the feelings of the human heart. We know that to the devils, music is distasteful and insufferable.

At least as early as 1523, Luther had begun the practice of turning his biblical meditations into congregational hymns. Singing was a way to meditate on Scripture, driving it afresh into the cold recesses of the heart.

Daily Meditation

On Sensitiveness

C. S. Lewis

Did we pretend to be angry about one thing when we knew, or could have known, that our anger had a different and much less presentable cause? Did we pretend to be “hurt” in our sensitive and tender feelings…when envy, ungratified vanity, or thwarted self-will was our real trouble? Such tactics often succeed. The other parties give in. They give in not because they don’t know what is really wrong with us but because they have long known it only too well…It needs surgery which they know we will never face. And so we win; by cheating. But the unfairness is very deeply felt. Indeed what is commonly called “sensitiveness” is the most powerful engine of domestic tyranny, sometimes a lifelong tyranny.

From Reflections on the Psalms
Compiled in A Mind Awake Reflections on the Psalms. Copyright © 1958 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1968 by Arthur Owen Barfield. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 1968 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

"The Forgotten Ghost of the English Language"

A Legacy That Has Lasted Nearly Five Hundred Years

William Tyndale was martyred, but not before he had translated the Scriptures into common English.  He was born in 1494--two years after Columbus had set sail.  He had relatively humble beginnings, learned the classical languages (Latin, Greek, and Hebrew) at school and then subsequently at Oxford.

He proposed to translate the Bible into English--and was refused permission by the Bishop of London.  He, therefore, left for the Continent and lived in the Netherlands and Germany.  He worked largely alone.  He was often a fugitive.  He had published a tract, The Practyse of Prelates opposing Henry VIII's annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragorn.  That was sufficient to have Tyndale placed on a "capture" list.  Eventually he was betrayed and arrested on the Continent.
He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and was condemned to be burned to death, despite Thomas Cromwell's intercession on his behalf. Tyndale "was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned".   His final words, spoken "at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice", were reported as "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes."  [Wikipedia]
That might have been expected to be the end of Tyndale's influence upon the world.  How wrong that would have turned out to be.

Monday, 20 November 2017

The War Within

The Enduring Appeal of Creepy Christianity

The desire for certainty in an uncertain world yields terrible results.

By David French
National Review Online

Speaking broadly, there are two great, competing temptations that tug at the Christian Church. Both of them are based on the fear of man.

The first is the one that the theologically orthodox discuss and battle the most: the temptation to forsake Christian doctrine to seek the approval of a hostile culture. This is the old argument that the world would embrace the Church if only the Church were more like the world. It is embraced by much of Mainline Protestantism, and it’s the path to religious extinction. In the effort to appeal to the world, the Church becomes the world, and the logic for its distinct existence disappears. Thus the rapid decline of denomination after denomination that has decided to essentially merge with America’s secular culture.

The second temptation is one that attracts the theologically orthodox: the temptation to run toward a form of hyper-legalism as a firewall to protect your family from the sins of the world. Mothers and fathers are desperate for a way to guarantee that their children will grow up to love the Lord. They want to build high walls against sin, so they seek to create distinct communities that are free of the world’s filth and moral compromise.

This second temptation is pernicious. Theologically, it fundamentally denies a very uncomfortable scriptural truth: that this side of heaven we can’t eliminate uncertainty or temptation. We “see through a glass darkly.” We simply don’t have all the answers — for raising children, for sustaining a successful marriage, for thriving in our careers, or for responding to sickness and adversity.

The scriptural response to this fundamental uncertainty is unsatisfying to some. Faith, hope, and love are vague concepts. The Bible doesn’t have a clear, specific prescription for every life challenge. But rather than seeking God prayerfully and with deep humility and reverence, we want answers, now. And thus we gravitate to those people who purport to offer more than the Bible.

Daily Meditation

A Much More Profitable Service

Avoid foolish questions.  Titus 3:9

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them.

Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle's precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus?

Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to "avoid foolish questions."

A Merciless and Unpredictable Tyrant

The Fragile Thinness of Civilization

English history--like most histories--is replete with tyrants and tyrannies.  Henry VIII was one of the worst.  We acknowledge that he was a creature of his times.  The administration of capital justice was so often based upon witnesses whose testimony, in turn, was based upon confessions extracted under torture.

Our times have seen plenty of this kind of evil malice.  Stalin, for example, wanted in some strange way to dress up his infamy and cruelty with show trials.  Testimonies extracted under torture, or the threat thereof, formed a large part of these trials.  Stalin knew all these confessions were garbage, but the formalities had to be adhered to.  Appearances needed to  be maintained.  Why Stalin persisted in such bizarre arrangements is hard to fathom.  Surely he could not have been trying to convince himself.  Was he trying to keep alive the myth of the New Model Man in the minds of the peasantry?

In Henry's case one driver was the need for a legitimate (male) heir; he had a hard time finding the right queen who would produce the goods.  His second queen, Anne was eventually convicted of multiple adulteries and executed.  Was Anne an adulteress?  It seems not.  The testimony against her was probably extracted under torture.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

I Suggest We Not Vote for Dirtier Elections

Douglas Wilson

So I begin these ruminations with a most necessary qualifier, necessary at least in these troubled days of ours. To defend due process is not to defend the dirty deeds that must be prosecuted or rejected under a system of due process. A civilized society, in order to institutionalize a bias against lynchings—against a populace taking what they might call “direct action” based upon what “everybody knows—must insist upon due process.
That said, here is the qualification yet again. I indent it so that certain people can find it more easily. If Roy Moore is guilty of what his accusers say, then he deserves everything he is going to get, good and hard. With a career and reputation in shambles, he would have no complaint against the Almighty over what transpired. As the bluesman Paul Butterfield once put it, trenchantly enough, “Ain’t no one to blame but myself.”

But if he is not guilty of the charges, then the Washington Post and the suborned women who accused him are the guilty ones. Not only are they guilty of false accusation, but they are guilty of something every bit as bad as what they accused Moore of doing. “And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you” (Deut. 19:18–19).

We have an accusation of a disqualifying sexual crime; if guilty, Moore ought not to be a senator. We have the counteraccusation that WaPo was offering money to women if they were willing to accuse Moore. This too is disqualifying; people who do this should be run out of the business of journalism. But notice that I am withholding judgment in both cases. I do not know if Moore molested a girl decades ago, and I do not know if the WaPo paid women to lie about Moore.

Daily Meditation

On Goodness

C. S. Lewis

It has sometimes been asked whether God commands certain things because they are right, or whether certain things are right because God commands them. . . I emphatically embrace the first alternative. The second might lead to the abominable conclusion . . . that charity is good only because God arbitrarily commanded it—that He might equally well have commanded us to hate Him and one another and that hatred would then have been right.

I believe, on the contrary, that “they err who think that of the will of God to do this or that there is no reason besides His will.” God’s will is determined by His wisdom which always perceives, and His goodness which always embraces, the intrinsically good. But when we have said that God commands things only because they are good, we must add that one of the things intrinsically good is that rational creatures should freely surrender themselves to their Creator in obedience.

The content of our obedience—the thing we are commanded to do—will always be something intrinsically good, something we ought to do even if (by an impossible supposition) God had not commanded it. But in addition to the content, the mere obeying is also intrinsically good, for, in obeying, a rational creature consciously enacts its creaturely role, reverses the act by which we fell, treads Adam’s dance backward, and returns.

From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in Words to Live By The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

More on Ardern's Flappy Lips

"It's All About Me"

We posted the other day a piece on how New Zealand's new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has mounted a soap box and oozed sanctimony on Australian migrant policy.  The Ozzies don't have enough compassion.  New Zealand apparently has plenty.  Ardern has "offered" to take 150 of these economic refugees from Manus Island--where they are currently being held--but her "offer" has been strangely put.  She has not only made the offer--she has also insisted that Australia take it up, publicly nagging the Australian PM, Michael Turnbull.

Turnbull is reported to be furious with Ardern's flappy lips.

The Aussies are well experienced in playing hardball when it comes to such squabbles.  They have their own version of utu, or revenge.  A well-timed leak was promiscuously sprayed across both countries this week.  Apparently, the "refugees" on Manus Island have been engaging in under-age sexual activity with members of the local population.

Friday, 17 November 2017

A Morally Perverse Myopia

Western Progressives Continue to Romanticise Communism

Liam Hehir

Fifty years after his death, Che Guevera, the Butcher of la Cabana, remains a romantic icon of radical chic.
Fifty years after his death, Che Guevera, the Butcher of la Cabana, remains a romantic icon of radical chic.
 Ever seen an ordinary young person in a T-shirt bearing the visage of Benito Mussolini? Ever dined at a restaurant bedecked with Third Reich propaganda? Ever listened to a new recording of the Horst Wessel song by a popular contemporary folk singer?

It would be unthinkable for the National Party leader to quote Alfred Rosenberg, ideological architect of National Socialism. No prime minister would ever declare a sympathetic treatment of Reinhard Heydrich to be his or her favourite movie. No credible political figure would argue that the problem with fascism is that it has never been tried properly.

Yet on the centenary of The October Revolution – the coup d'etat that saw the creation of the Soviet Union – communism retains a grasp on the imaginations of Western progressives.

I went out to dinner in Wellington recently.

Daily Meditation

Dependence Produces Fruit

The branch cannot bear fruit of itself.  John 15:4

Charles H. Spurgeon

How did you begin to bear fruit? It was when you came to Jesus and cast yourselves on his great atonement, and rested on his finished righteousness. Ah! what fruit you had then! Do you remember those early days? Then indeed the vine flourished, the tender grape appeared, the pomegranates budded forth, and the beds of spices gave forth their smell. Have you declined since then? If you have, we charge you to remember that time of love, and repent, and do thy first works.

Be most in those engagements which you have experimentally proved to draw you nearest to Christ, because it is from him that all your fruits proceed. Any holy exercise which will bring you to him will help you to bear fruit. The sun is, no doubt, a great worker in fruit-creating among the trees of the orchard: and Jesus is still more so among the trees of his garden of grace. When have you been the most fruitless? Has not it been when you have lived farthest from the Lord Jesus Christ, when you have slackened in prayer, when you have departed from the simplicity of your faith, when your graces have engrossed your attention instead of your Lord, when you have said, "My mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved"; and have forgotten where your strength dwells--has not it been then that your fruit has ceased?

Some of us have been taught that we have nothing out of Christ, by terrible abasements of heart before the Lord; and when we have seen the utter barrenness and death of all creature power, we have cried in anguish, "From him all my fruit must be found, for no fruit can ever come from me." We are taught, by past experience, that the more simply we depend upon the grace of God in Christ, and wait upon the Holy Spirit, the more we shall bring forth fruit unto God. Oh! to trust Jesus for fruit as well as for life.

Loose Lips Launch Ships

Ardern's Moral Posturing Has Consequences

During the Second World War, in Britain the warning was, "Loose Lips Sink Ships".  As the U-boats hunted for convoys of merchant vessels, sinking hundreds as they made their way to Britain carrying vital supplies, people were made conscious of the need for secrecy.  Given German intelligence operatives were active on radio listening posts, information often deemed to be harmless might have been sufficient for security leaks, leading to focused U-boat efforts on expected convoys. 

Now circumstances have changed.  We need to update the slogan from "Loose Lips Sink Ships" to "Loose Lips Launch Ships".  Several years ago Australian waters were invaded by boats launched out of Indonesia, carrying "refugees".  The Labour government of the day welcomed them into Australia.  At its height, one boat a week was arriving on Australian shores.  Most of these "boat people" were not genuine refugees: they were economic migrants who had paid money for passage to Australia.  They arrived, as the scam requires, with all their documentation mysteriously missing.  No passports, no documents proving provenance.  No UN refugee certification.  Nothing. 

Then Labour lost an election, and the Liberal administration stopped the boats virtually overnight.  They simply deployed the Australian navy to detect the ships and turn them back to Indonesia.  They continue to patrol in this fashion, and they continue to turn boats back.

But those in the business of people-running on the seas are smart, well-informed, cunning, and business savvy.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Diminishing Reservoir of Credibility

Not A Good Sign

What is it about the Left and lies and propaganda working together like a Three Ring Circus?  It defies fundamental standards of a duty of care.  Here is Heather Du Plessis Allan's take on Labour's start in government in New Zealand.  The thing that stands out is the baldness of the propaganda and the lies.  It is inexplicable.  
Well that didn't take long. Two weeks and the paint has started to chip off the new Government. After a couple of moments of questionable truthfulness over the last week, the new mob are starting to look a lot more like the last lot, where truthfulness wasn't a high priority.

The most audacious bout of Labour's truth-bending came on the first day of Parliament this week when the king of all logistical cock-ups played out. The drama probably generated flurries of "WTF" texts between political nerds, but it's pretty esoteric to the rest of us, so I'll just give you bullet points.

Daily Meditation

Do Not Harden Your Heart

So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:19)

John Piper

Even though the people of Israel saw the waters of the Red Sea divide and they walked over on dry ground, the moment they got thirsty, their hearts were hard against God and they did not trust him to take care of them. They cried out against him and said that life in Egypt was better.

That is what this verse is written to prevent. O how many professing Christians make a start with God. They hear that their sins can be forgiven and that they can escape hell and go to heaven. And they say: “What have I got to lose? I'll believe.”

But then in a week or a month or a year or ten years, the test comes — a season of no water in the wilderness. A weariness with manna, and subtly a growing craving for the fleeting pleasures of Egypt, as Numbers 11:5–6 says, “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”

This is a terrifying condition to be in — to find yourself no longer interested in Christ and his Word and prayer and worship and missions and living for the glory of God. And to find all fleeting pleasures of this world more attractive than the things of the Spirit.

If that is your situation, I plead with you to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking in this text. Give heed to the Word of God. Do not harden your heart. Wake up to the deceitfulness of sin. Consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our great confession, and hold fast to your confidence and hope in him.

And if you have never even made a start with God, then put your hope in him. Turn from sin and from self-reliance and put your confidence in a great Savior. These things are written that you might believe and endure, and have life.

Reflections on The Another, Yet-to-Come Reformation

Another Demi-Millennium

We have been in the midst of the demi-millennial celebrations and remembrances of the Reformation.  It has certainly been a time of reflection.  One factor, often not given due weight in discussions about the topic is the influence of new technology upon the Reformation.  Without that technology it is unlikely that the Reformation would have taken place--at least in the form in which it occurred.

That technology was the printing press.  The reason this was so significant is that the Reformation was critically involved with the recovery of the authority of the Word of God, over men, the Church, and society generally.  Rapid reproduction and publishing of the text of the Bible for the common man was hugely important.
Printing (from the 1430's) and cheaper paper meant that copies of ancient texts and modern translations could be made available outside the clerical and aristocratic elite, even to ordinary literate people--the gentry, merchants, yeomen, artisans.   Printed Bibles appeared in German in 1466, and in Italian, Dutch, French, Spanish and Czech in the 1470's.  Lay readers ceased to be dependent on the clergy to transmit the world of God.  Instead of asking what God meant (which required experts to explain) they began to ask simply what God said, and decide on its meaning themselves. [Robert Tombs, The English and Their History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), p.160.]
The significance of this technology ought not be overlooked.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

A Significant Book For Our Times

Who Is Truly Catholic?

Fred Sanders
The Gospel Coalition

I keep a shelf of conversionist and church-proselytizing literature in my office library, but I don’t look at it very often, or like it very much.

Most of the books in that genre contain rather poor writing and weak editing, since they’re often churned out from tiny presses to serve a niche market. What is that niche market? It’s people who for various reasons have come to view differences among churches as an urgently vital thing to read books about.

There are times and places where that’s entirely valid, because the theological and spiritual differences are real, which is why I dutifully keep the books around. But even if you avoid the nasty and bellicose entries, the whole genre suffers from a downward tug, a gravitational pull toward low standards of argument, appeals to base motives, and cloying self-congratulation. Few books in the genre avoid palpable tackiness. More importantly, they usually radiate heat without light; when you read them you risk your mind getting softer as your heart gets harder.

But Ken Collins (professor of historical theology and Wesley studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky) and Jerry Walls (professor of philosophy and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas) have somehow broken the spell. They have teamed up, as a church historian and a philosopher, to write a well-reasoned, informative, and truly helpful book about Roman Catholicism. Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation is a serious and substantive account of what Protestants can’t accept about Roman Catholic theology.

What they can’t accept is simple: they object to the exclusive claims of the Church of Rome to be the one true church, and the only ecclesial entity deserving the title of catholic.

Daily Meditation

Being Pulled Into God

C. S. Lewis

An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him.

You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bed- room where an ordinary man is saying his prayers.

The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life—what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Incomparable Playright

The Making of an "English World View"

It is both intriguing and encouraging that Shakespeare seems to be making a revival.  The invention of the pop-up Globe has seen multitudes of people all around the world attending seriously good productions of plays written in (mainly) in the 1590's.  There is no literary figure to compare with Shakespeare on the Continent throughout the early modern period. 

Shakespeare grew up in a time when the biblical world-view was predominant.  This included, amongst other things, a profound belief in human nobility, on the one hand, and total depravity, on the other.  The English Reformation was well underway; it took human faults and failings very seriously.  We do not mean to imply that Shakespeare was a Reformer: on the contrary.  But he could not escape much of the world-and-life view preached and taught by the Reformers--and parts of that world-view he appears to have adopted in all seriousness. 

Consequently, in partial congruence with the Apostle Paul, Shakespeare's view of humanity was that amongst its ranks  "not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth".  [I Corinthians 1: 25f]

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Horrors Of It All

The Gruesome Reality Of Dismemberment Abortion

Abortion providers in Texas don’t think the state should require them to kill a fetus before dismembering it in its mother’s womb.

John Daniel Davidson
The Federalist

Editor’s Note: This article contains descriptions of human dismemberment caused by second-trimester abortions.

A bizarre spectacle unfolded this week in a federal district courtroom in Austin, Texas, where a group of abortion providers argued they shouldn’t have to kill a fetus before dismembering it in its mother’s womb, and the state argued that they should.

At issue is a state law passed earlier this year, Senate Bill 8, that would ban live dismemberment abortions. A live dismemberment abortion is exactly what it sounds like: a doctor uses forceps to tear apart a live fetus, limb by limb, and remove it from the mother’s uterus. This is usually done in the second trimester, when the fetus is too large to be suctioned out.

The law in question wouldn’t ban such a procedure, but it would require abortion doctors in Texas to ensure that a fetus is dead before they dismember it. The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Paxton, hinges on the constitutionality of the Texas law and marks the first time the merits of such a statute have been considered at a trial.

Daily Meditation

The End of History

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:9–10)

John Piper

Paul describes the second coming of Christ as hope and terror.

Jesus Christ is coming back not only to effect the final salvation of his people, but through his salvation “to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.”

A final comment concerns history’s climax in the book of Revelation: John pictures the new Jerusalem, the glorified church, in 21:23: “The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

God the Father and God the Son are the light in which Christians will live their eternity.

This is the consummation of God’s goal in all of history — to display his glory for all to see and praise. The prayer of the Son confirms the final purpose of the Father: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

We may conclude that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever. He stands supreme at the center of his own affections. For that very reason, he is a self-sufficient and inexhaustible fountain of grace.

I Will Make Them a Horror

When God Becomes Weary of  Relenting

The Prophet Jeremiah was serving the Lord in the last days of Judea, before the Babylonians came down and destroyed Jerusalem.  He has been called the weeping prophet because of his lamentations and cries over the destruction that he knew was coming.

In Jeremiah 15, the prophet declares God's sentence upon Judah:
I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, declares the Lord: the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. And I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.  [Jeremiah 15: 3-4]
God declares that He will not relent because of what King Manasseh had done nearly one hundred years previously.  Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, had provoked God in a way so grievous that it "locked and loaded" God's wrath upon Judah.  And this, we may add, in the face of Manasseh's subsequent captivity at the hands of the Assyrians, then release, followed by his repentance and relative faithfulness.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Those Who Do Not Learn From the Past Condemned To Repeat It

Idealising Communism 

Tom Switzer
Centre for Independent Studies

Next week marks the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution. November 7, 1917 was not just one of the most influential events of all time, it ushered in the most terrifying period in human history. In the matter of scale, the Russian revolutionaries and their later successors in China and elsewhere achieved a record of far more deaths than either world war. According to the London-based project to create a Museum of Communist Terror, 15-18 million people died in World War One; 40-80 million died in World War Two; and 80-100 million died under communist regimes.

Yet 100 years later, many young people in the West are ignorant of the ideology that inspired Lenin, Trotsky and millions of their worldwide followers. According to YouGov surveys, only 55% of American millennials think communism was, and still is, a problem. A third of young people believe US president George W. Bush murdered more people than Soviet dictator Josef Stalin did. And about 70 per cent of young British people have never heard of Mao Tse-Tung, the communist revolutionary whose regime murdered tens of millions of Chinese.

The British Labour Opposition’s treasury spokesman, John McDonnell, identifies with the Marxist cause — even once waving Mao’s Little Red Book in parliament.

Daily Mediation

Happy Are Those Who Dwell In His House

The eternal God is thy refuge.  Deuteronomy 33:27

Charles H. Spurgeon

The word refuge may be translated "mansion," or "abiding- place," which gives the thought that God is our abode, our home. There is a fulness and sweetness in the metaphor, for dear to our hearts is our home, although it be the humblest cottage, or the scantiest garret; and dearer far is our blessed God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being.

It is at home that we feel safe: we shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. So when we are with our God we "fear no evil." He is our shelter and retreat, our abiding refuge. At home, we take our rest; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. And so our hearts find rest in God, when, wearied with life's conflict, we turn to him, and our soul dwells at ease. At home, also, we let our hearts loose; we are not afraid of being misunderstood, nor of our words being misconstrued.

So when we are with God we can commune freely with him, laying open all our hidden desires; for if the "secret of the Lord is with them that fear him," the secrets of them that fear him ought to be, and must be, with their Lord. Home, too, is the place of our truest and purest happiness: and it is in God that our hearts find their deepest delight. We have joy in him which far surpasses all other joy. It is also for home that we work and labour. The thought of it gives strength to bear the daily burden, and quickens the fingers to perform the task; and in this sense we may also say that God is our home. Love to him strengthens us. We think of him in the person of his dear Son; and a glimpse of the suffering face of the Redeemer constrains us to labour in his cause.

We feel that we must work, for we have brethren yet to be saved, and we have our Father's heart to make glad by bringing home his wandering sons; we would fill with holy mirth the sacred family among whom we dwell. Happy are those who have thus the God of Jacob for their refuge!

Rotting Foundations

Holy Separation Long Overdue

It is being reported that the secularist paradise of the South Pacific is going to remove all references to Jesus Christ, the King of all kings, from the Parliamentary prayer.  

This would serve to bring the Parliament into line with official truth as it is declared daily in our government run schools.  What should Christians think of this?  Our view is that it is a move long overdue.  Let us be clear why.

We do not mean to suggest that the Lord Jesus Christ ought to have no place of honour, lordship, or kingship over our Parliament.  Quite the contrary.  It is precisely because He is the King of kings that our Parliament and government in general is duty bound to remove all references to Him.  For our governing authorities and our rulers long ago rejected the Christ and entered into a programme of rebellion against Him.  Therefore, to live denying Christ with every breath, whilst praying to Him in a vacuous, mindless way at the commencement of Parliament is the acme of hypocrisy.  It is a perilous course.

If we need reminding what the King thinks of such perversity, let us remind our readers of the seven woes pronounced by our Lord upon the established authorities of Israel.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Europe's Nightmare

Catalonia Isn’t Just Spain’s Problem

Simon Jenkins
The Guardian

With Basques, Bretons, Bavarians and many more eyeing the outcome of events, could this be the moment to formalise various levels of autonomy?

The EU countries may be right that Catalonia is legally a matter of Spanish constitutional law. But they should also be frightened. Catalonia is Europe’s problem.

The imprisonment on remand of eight Catalan politicians, on blatantly political charges, and the Belgian asylum sought by its president, appears to be an engineered confrontation.

Two days ago, the Madrid government reneged on an agreement that it would not suspend the Barcelona government if it did not declare independence and agreed to new local elections next month. Madrid then proceeded with suspension, and Catalonia duly proceeded with declaration – though with no mention of implementation. Madrid immediately arrested those Catalan politicians (and officials) it could find, on charges of rebellion and treason.

So far, so absurd.

Daily Meditation

Is God’s Love Conditional?

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

John Piper

This verse means that there is a precious experience of peace and assurance and harmony and intimacy that is not unconditional. It depends on our not grieving the Spirit.

It depends on our putting away bad habits. It depends on forsaking the petty inconsistencies of our Christian lives. It depends on our walking closely with God and aiming at the highest degree of holiness.

If this is true, I fear that the unguarded reassurances today that God’s love is unconditional may stop people from doing the very things the Bible says they need to do in order to have the peace that they so desperately crave. In trying to give peace through “unconditionality” we may be cutting people off from the very remedy the Bible prescribes.

Let us declare untiringly the good news that our justification is based on the worth of Christ’s obedience and sacrifice, not ours (Romans 5:19, “as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous”).

But let us also declare the biblical truth that the enjoyment of that justification in its effect on our joy and confidence and power to grow in likeness to Jesus is conditioned on our actively forsaking sins and forsaking bad habits and mortifying lusts and pursuing intimacy with Christ, and not grieving the Spirit.


Merrie England

We are accustomed to think of our present and recent centuries as the biggest and the brightest and the best of human civilization.  It behoves the dominant evolutionary world view so to assume and delve for corroboration at every turn.

Robert Tombs, however, produces a picture which would be at substantial variance to this established modern narrative. He writes that in England in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (post Black Plague) was a time of substantial economic growth.  The picture he paints is intriguing, if for no other reason than indirectly to recast our own times as somewhat less singular or exceptional.

Here is the general picture of economic and social progress in England, post Plague, painted by Tombs:

Friday, 10 November 2017

Letter From America (About Murderous Greenists)

The Lynch Mob Targets Scott Pruitt

‘If he has had enough serious death threats, then he shouldn’t have proposed the deep cuts to the EPA budget.’

By Julie Kelly
National Review Online

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s EPA administrator, is the top target of the anti-Trump lynch mob. He’s enduring daily attack pieces in the media and threats of violence against him and his family. It’s hard to think of any cabinet member — current or former — who has been subjected to more vitriol and vilification than Pruitt, and he’s been on the job for less than a year. Suddenly, everything from overlooked Superfund sites to the Flint water crisis to “toxic” pesticides are Pruitt’s fault, which of course means he is poisoning children and destroying the planet.

According to the EPA inspector general’s office, Pruitt has received “four to five times the number of threats” that his predecessor, Gina McCarthy, did. The level of concern for Pruitt’s safety is so deep that agents are being added to his round-the-clock security detail. In a recent Bloomberg News interview, Pruitt said, “The quantity and the volume — as well as the type — of threats are different. What’s really disappointing to me as it’s not just me — it’s family.”

Why are Pruitt and his family in the crosshairs?

Daily Meditation

We Receive No Less Than Christ Himself

As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord . . .   Colossians 2:6

Charles H. Spurgeon

The life of faith is represented as receiving--an act which implies the very opposite of anything like merit. It is simply the acceptance of a gift. As the earth drinks in the rain, as the sea receives the streams, as night accepts light from the stars, so we, giving nothing, partake freely of the grace of God.

The saints are not, by nature, wells, or streams, they are but cisterns into which the living water flows; they are empty vessels into which God pours his salvation. The idea of receiving implies a sense of realization, making the matter a reality. One cannot very well receive a shadow; we receive that which is substantial: so is it in the life of faith, Christ becomes real to us.

While we are without faith, Jesus is a mere name to us--a person who lived a long while ago, so long ago that his life is only a history to us now! By an act of faith Jesus becomes a real person in the consciousness of our heart. But receiving also means grasping or getting possession of. The thing which I receive becomes my own: I appropriate to myself that which is given. When I receive Jesus, he becomes my Saviour, so mine that neither life nor death shall be able to rob me of him. All this is to receive Christ--to take him as God's free gift; to realize him in my heart, and to appropriate him as mine.

Salvation may be described as the blind receiving sight, the deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life; but we have not only received these blessings, we have received Christ Jesus himself. It is true that he gave us life from the dead. He gave us pardon of sin; he gave us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but we are not content with them; we have received Christ himself.

The Son of God has been poured into us, and we have received him, and appropriated him. What a heartful Jesus must be, for heaven itself cannot contain him!

Politics: The National Sport

Indicative of the Future, or a One Off?

Oh, dear. Never mind.  Press on.  The first day of Parliament after the recent election in New Zealand seems to have been a major shambles.  Poor Jacinda Ardern was left high and dry on the beach as the tide went out.  

This from Stuff:
So far so shambolic. If this is a taste of things to come in the new Parliament, get ready for a wild ride.  Labour has run hard up against the reality of dealing with the biggest single Opposition party ever, and the panicked scenes as it tried to bargain its way out of an embarrassing vote to elect the new Speaker are a memory it will want to bury quick smart.

While Labour was still scrambling to recover from that debacle, Foreign Minister Winston Peters dropped a bombshell, serving legal papers taking broad aim at a bunch of Opposition MPs, political staffers, a government department chief executive, and journalists, before heading overseas.  It's a fair bet that this is not what Labour's strategists and senior ministers wanted day one of the rest of the next three years to look like.

Trevor Mallard eventually got the nod after Labour needed National's support to get him elected.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Having Promised the World . . . .

The Shakeup

Jo Moir

With a 100-day plan to uphold and a long list of things on it, not only are MPs worried they'll be stuck at Parliament until the jolly fat guy in a red suit sets off around the world, but also that their summer holidays look set to be spent in the capital.

The Labour-led government is hitting the ground running on a number of promises, including making the first year of tertiary education or training free from January 1 next year.  New Education Minister Chris Hipkins has a full suite of changes he's already getting under way, including reducing the workload for teachers.  In addition, student allowances and living cost loans will increase by $50 a week as well.

Former education minister Nikki Kaye is ambitious and will be strong in Opposition up against Chris Hipkins.  There's nowhere near enough time between now and the festive season to completely remodel the tertiary funding system, which is why newly appointed Education Minister Chris Hipkins has had to sit down with officials this week to work out an interim solution.

Daily Meditation

On God

C. S. Lewis

He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.

From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in Words to Live By The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses. Copyright © 1949, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1976, revised 1980 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Sexual Perversity Celebrated

Kororareka In Modern Garb

There is a degraded Sodomist programme currently "entertaining" people on national TV.  It is a propaganda piece for sexual perversion and gender bending.  It cloaks itself in a pseudo-scientific outfit.
The whole premise of Married at First Sight is to help those who have been unlucky in love find a suitable spouse, based on scientific knowledge of relationships.  But what about people who don't want a partner? And those who are attracted to multiple genders? Or those people who are in a relationship with more than one person (consensually, rather than in an affair)?

Most of us tend to have pretty rigid ideas about what is "normal" in romantic relationships and sexual preference.  But contemporary research and theorising indicates humans are able to be much more flexible when it comes to sexuality and relationships. That is, we are quite sexually and rationally fluid.  [Dr Pani Farvid, "Sexuality - So Many Ways To Go", NZ Herald]
The programme creators and broadcasters appear to believe that if it is possible to do something, the very possibility makes it morally acceptable.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

"What A Lot of Garbage"

Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner

Ross Douthat
New York Times

Hugh Hefner, gone to his reward at the age of 91, was a pornographer and chauvinist who got rich on masturbation, consumerism and the exploitation of women, aged into a leering grotesque in a captain’s hat, and died a pack rat in a decaying manse where porn blared during his pathetic orgies.

Hef was the grinning pimp of the sexual revolution, with Quaaludes for the ladies and Viagra for himself — a father of smut addictions and eating disorders, abortions and divorce and syphilis, a pretentious huckster who published Updike stories no one read while doing flesh procurement for celebrities, a revolutionary whose revolution chiefly benefited men much like himself.

The arc of his life vindicated his moral critics, conservative and feminist: What began with talk of jazz and Picasso and other signifiers of good taste ended in a sleazy decrepitude that would have been pitiable if it wasn’t still so exploitative.

Early Hef had a pipe and suit and a highbrow reference for every occasion; he even claimed to have a philosophy, that final refuge of the scoundrel. But late Hef was a lecherous, low-brow Peter Pan, playing at perpetual boyhood — ice cream for breakfast, pajamas all day — while bodyguards shooed male celebrities away from his paid harem and the skull grinned beneath his papery skin.

This late phase was prettied up by reality television’s “The Girls Next Door,” which kept the orgies offstage and relied on the girlfriends’ mix of desperation, boredom and charisma for its strange appeal. The behind-the-scenes accounts were rather grimmer: depression and drugs, “dirty hallway carpets and the curtains that smell like dog piss,” the chance to wait while Hef “picked the dog poo off the carpet — and then ask for our allowance.”

Needless to say the obituaries for Hefner, even if they acknowledge the seaminess, have been full of encomia for his great deeds:

Daily Meditation

The Real Problem with Anxiety

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30)

John Piper

Jesus says that the root of anxiety is inadequate faith in our Father’s future grace.

One reaction to this might be: “This is not good news! In fact, it is very discouraging to learn that what I thought was a mere struggle with an anxious disposition is rather a far deeper struggle with whether I trust God.”

My response to this is to agree, but then to disagree.

Suppose you had been having pain in your stomach and had been struggling with medicines and diets of all kinds, to no avail. And then suppose that your doctor tells you, after a routine visit, that you have cancer in your small intestine. Would that be good news? You say, emphatically not! And I agree.

But let me ask the question another way: Are you glad the doctor discovered the cancer while it is still treatable, and that indeed it can be very successfully treated? You say, yes, I am very glad that the doctor found the real problem. Again I agree.

So the news that you have cancer is not good news. But, in another sense, it is good news, because knowing what is really wrong is good, especially when your problem can be treated successfully.

That’s what it’s like to learn that the real problem behind anxiety is unbelief in the promises of God’s future grace. And he is able to work in wonderfully healing ways when we cry out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Soros Versus God

Boundless and Bare

In the Progressive world view, novelty is a prized achievement.  The past is an impediment to progress.  The new, the fresh, is immediately attractive.  To be avant-garde is to command respect.  Life and human progress is an unending new season fashion show.  To be alive is to keep up with cutting edge couture.  The Progressive ideology insists upon progress as its lifeblood.

In the Christian world view the past is all determinative.  This contrast alone sets the Christian faith to be against Progressivism.  It sets the Christian faith against modern Western culture.  The God of all creation is a promise maker and a promise keeper.  Every person, society, and nation is subject to God's promise making and promise keeping.  These promises were all made in the past.  We are shaped and conditioned, for example, by the promises and vows God made to the patriarch, Noah (Genesis 9).

Another way of expressing this is to say that God is a covenant making and a covenant keeping God.  God takes oaths and vows.  Moreover, he keeps his oaths and vows.  His oath keeping shapes our entire existence.  Ironically, this does not mean that things do not develop and change.  On the contrary, God's vows include oaths taken to bring the creation to a glorious climax, when every tear will be wiped away and every caviller will be silenced.

These two radically contrary perspectives--Progressivism vs Christianity--necessarily involve very different views of human society and its progress.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Greenist Alchemy Exposed and Rejected

The István Markó Interview

Possibly the Best Thing You Will Ever Read on Global Warming

James Delingpole

Maybe the biggest of all the lies put out by the global warming scaremongers is that the science is on their side. No it isn’t. And if you’re in any doubt at all you should read this interview with the brilliant scientist István Markó. It tells you all you need to know about the science of global warming.

Dr. Markó, who sadly died earlier this year aged only 61, was a professor and researcher in organic chemistry at the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium’s largest French-speaking university. More importantly for the purposes of this interview, he was one of the world’s most outspoken and well-informed climate skeptics, who contributed to several articles on the subject for Breitbart News.

Before he died, he gave an extensive interview to the French journalist Grégoire Canlorbe. Here are highlights of the English translation. As you’ll see, he doesn’t pull his punches.

CO2 is not – and has never been a poison

Each of our exhalations, each of our breaths, emits an astronomical quantity of CO2 proportionate to that in the atmosphere (some >40,000 ppm); and it is very clear that the air we expire does not kill anyone standing in front of us. What must be understood, besides, is that CO2 is the elementary food of plants. Without CO2 there would be no plants, and without plants there would be no oxygen and therefore no humans.

Plants love CO2. That’s why the planet is greening

Plants need CO2, water, and daylight.

Daily Meditation

High Thoughts

Be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  Psalm 100:4

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our Lord would have all his people rich in high and happy thoughts concerning his blessed person. Jesus is not content that his brethren should think meanly of him; it is his pleasure that his espoused ones should be delighted with his beauty. We are not to regard him as a bare necessary, like to bread and water, but as a luxurious delicacy, as a rare and ravishing delight. To this end he has revealed himself as the "pearl of great price" in its peerless beauty, as the "bundle of myrrh" in its refreshing fragrance, as the "rose of Sharon" in its lasting perfume, as the "lily" in its spotless purity.

As a help to high thoughts of Christ, remember the estimation that Christ is had in beyond the skies, where things are measured by the right standard. Think how God esteems the Only Begotten, his unspeakable gift to us. Consider what the angels think of him, as they count it their highest honour to veil their faces at his feet. Consider what the blood-washed think of him, as day without night they sing his well deserved praises.

High thoughts of Christ will enable us to act consistently with our relations towards him. The more loftily we see Christ enthroned, and the more lowly we are when bowing before the foot of the throne, the more truly shall we be prepared to act our part towards him. Our Lord Jesus desires us to think well of him, that we may submit cheerfully to his authority. High thoughts of him increase our love. Love and esteem go together.

Therefore, believer, think much of your Master's excellencies. Study him in his primeval glory, before he took upon himself your nature! Think of the mighty love which drew him from his throne to die upon the cross! Admire him as he conquers all the powers of hell! See him risen, crowned, glorified! Bow before him as the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the mighty God, for only thus will your love to him be what it should.

Not To Be Taken For Granted

A Foundation of Fundamental Rights

Most of the older generation will be familiar with the name Magna Carta.  Modern youth probably far less so.  It was, of course, a charter agreed to by King John of England.  It was signed by the Crown at Runnymede, near Windsor, on the 15th June, 1215.

Robert Tombs provides a summary of the content and significance of Magna Carta.
Magna Carta has been called the first written national constitution in European history, though charters between rulers and rules were not uncommon at the time . . . . In important ways Magna Carta was unique, however.  Its restraints upon the Crown (though later claimed to be the "gode olde lawe" of the Anglo-Saxons) were unprecedented and profound.

It took the form of a contract between the monarch and the "community of the realm"--"everyone in our kingdom"--and ascribed permanent rights and powers to that community, even its humblest members.  It made clear that the king was under the law, and it planned a system (a council of twenty-five barons) to force him to obey it, with the whole community being bound by oath to help them.

Consent by "the common council of our realm" was required for taxation.  Magna Carta was not, of course, egalitarian, but it was inclusive, granted to "all free men," and also giving every man and woman without distinction the right to justice, protection from arbitrary demands for money, goods or labour, and protection against forced marriage.  It was permanent, applying "in all things and places for ever."  [Robert Thomas, The English and Their History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015),  p. 74f.]

Forced marriage was verboten.  That in and of itself indicates a respect for the rights and protections of women.  So, it seems that Lizzie Bennett was standing firmly upon her rights under Magna Carta when she protested (in the movie version) against her mother's insistence upon a forced marriage to Mr Collins: "You cannot make me!" she declared, although "may not make" would have been more appropriate.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Letter From the UK (About Hungary)

Worlds Apart

Victoria Friedman

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that after decades of being under the control of “anti-Christian, internationalist powers” the country needs a government “based on the teachings of Christ” which “made Europe and the Hungarians great”.

Speaking at a celebratory event marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the conservative Fidesz party leader said that it was a duty of his government to protect “the ways of life that have their roots in Christianity”, including human dignity, the family, the nation, and faith communities, adding that Christian Europe needs a spiritual and intellectual renewal.

After decades of oppression under Communist rule, the Hungarians’ emergence from the collapsed Soviet Empire led them to look to their Christian heritage to frame their constitution which begins: “God bless the Hungarians!”

Mr. Orbán told crowds assembled for the anniversary: “We are grateful that the nation has united its strength, regained its feet and strengthened, […] that it has regained its vitality, its capacity for action and the desire to do great things.”

Daily Meditation

On Feeling

C. S. Lewis

I think the thrill of the Pagan stories and of romance may be due to the fact that they are mere beginnings—the first, faint whisper of the wind from beyond the world—while Christianity is the thing itself: and no thing, when you have really started on it, can have for you then and there just the same thrill as the first hint.

For example, the experience of being married and bringing up a family cannot have the old bittersweet of first falling in love. But it is futile (and, I think, wicked) to go on trying to get the old thrill again: you must go forward and not backward. Any real advance will in its turn be ushered in by a new thrill, different from the old: doomed in its turn to disappear and to become in its turn a temptation to retrogression.

Delight is a bell that rings as you set your foot on the first step of a new flight of stairs leading upwards. Once you have started climbing you will notice only the hard work: it is when you have reached the landing and catch sight of the new stair that you may expect the bell again. This is only an idea, and may be all rot: but it seems to fit in pretty well with the general law (thrills also must die to live) of autumn & spring, sleep and waking, death and resurrection, and “Whosoever loseth his life, shall save it.”

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Words to Live By The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Burning Incense to Caesar in the Land of the "Free"

Christian Ghettoization in the United States

We posted recently a piece on the trials of a Christian man in the UK who has been ruled unfit to engage in social work because of his "offensive" Christian beliefs.  It raises the threat of what we are calling "ghettoization"--that is, creating second or third class citizens who face discrimination because of their beliefs.  

It is not just in the UK that this is occurring.  There are now plenty of instances and examples in the United States.  Rod Dreher exposes what is now happening in the "land of the free".
We may not (yet) be at the point where Christians are forbidden to buy and sell in general without state approval, but we are on the brink of entire areas of commercial and professional life being off-limits to believers whose consciences will not allow them to burn incense to the gods of our age.

The workplace is getting tougher for orthodox believers as American commitment to religious liberty weakens.  Progressives sneer at the claims of anti-Christian discrimination or persecution.  Don't you believe them.  Most of the experts I talked to on this topic spoke only after I promised to withhold their identities.  They're frightened that their words today might cost them their careers tomorrow.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Reformation Fail?

Douglas Wilson

So I don’t want to come across like a fastidious person or anything, but there were a couple of things recently that I thought were kind of in poor taste. (“Just a couple? Where do you live, man?”)

I mean a couple of things regarding Reformation 500, the half-millennium anniversary of the Reformation yesterday, and I am talking about a couple things from the Protestant side. I am not talking about all the funny Wittenberg door memes, or the general horsing around that characterizes robust theological debate. (“No, I am not fixing the door. I am fixing your theology.”) So it is not that I think we have to be all sanctimonious about Reformation history. I mean, it is not like we are talking about the signing of the Declaration of Independence or anything.

Special note to a select cadre of my readers. That was a joke. 

But here’s the thing.

Daily Meditation

The Seminary of Suffering

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

John Piper

This is God’s universal purpose for all Christian suffering: more contentment in God and less satisfaction in self and the world. I have never heard anyone say, “The really deep lessons of life have come through times of ease and comfort.”

But I have heard strong saints say, “Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep with him has come through suffering.”

The pearl of greatest price is the glory of Christ.

Thus, Paul stresses that in our sufferings the glory of Christ’s all-sufficient grace is magnified. If we rely on him in our calamity and he sustains our “rejoicing in hope,” then he is shown to be the all-satisfying God of grace and strength that he is.  If we hold fast to him “when all around our soul gives way,” then we show that he is more to be desired than all we have lost.

Christ said to the suffering apostle, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul responded to this: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).

So suffering clearly is designed by God not only as a way to wean Christians off of self and onto grace, but also as a way to spotlight that grace and make it shine. That is precisely what faith does; it magnifies Christ’s future grace.

The deep things of life in God are discovered in suffering.

The First Signs of Ghettoization

Christian Student Expelled for Enunciating Biblical Teaching

Imagine stating a truth from the Scriptures so obvious and clear that it could not be gainsaid.  Imagine, further, that the one who made the statement was, as a result, expelled from a university.  Imagine, still further, that a High Court upheld the expulsion order.

Felix Ngole

That is what things have come to in the UK.
A Christian student who expressed support for biblical marriage on Facebook has lost his legal appeal after a High Court ruling determined Sheffield University has acted lawfully in expelling him.  Devout Christian Felix Ngole was thrown off a social work postgraduate degree course after posting comments on Facebook in support of the biblical definition of marriage that the university deemed “derogatory”.

In 2015, Mr. Ngole posted comments on a social media thread related to Kim Davis, the Christian Kentucky state official who refused to register same-sex marriages, arguing that Davis’s position was based on the “Biblical view of same-sex marriage as a sin”, adding: “Same-sex marriage is a sin whether we like it or not. It is God’s words and man’s sentiments would not change His words.”

Two months later, he received an email from university administrators advising him that his comments were being investigated. He was later interviewed by the university’s investigatory team and was removed from his course by a panel who deemed his comments, “derogatory of gay men and bisexuals”. [Victoria Friedman, Breitbart London]
Note that what exacerbates this case still further is that Mr Ngole was making comment in a social media's string of comments, of which his was just one.  To our knowledge, no other commentator has been thusly dealt with.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Islamic Criminal Gangs in the UK

Another Rotherham Grooming Gang in Court 

Preying Upon and Raping Young Girls

Liam Deacon

A gang of 12 mostly-Muslim men from the Rotherham area have appeared in court to face 45 sexual abuse offences against eight girls under the age of 16.  The men are accused of rape, indecent assault, the supply of controlled drugs, and false imprisonment as part of Operation Stovewood, which was set up in the wake of the Rotherham grooming gang scandal.

The men, all aged between 33 and 38, allegedly committed the crimes between 1998 and 2003, The Star reports.  Amjal Rafiq, 38, Nabeel Kurshid, 34, Iqlak Yousaf, 33, Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, 36, Tanweer Ali, 36, Aftab Hussain, 38, and Abid Saddiq, 36, all appeared at Sheffield Magistrates Court Wednesday.  They were joined by co-defendants Sharaz Hussain, 33, Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, 38, Mohammed Ashan, 33, Masaeud Malik, 33, and Waseem Khaliq, 33.

Nine of them were granted bail, while Mr. Ashan, Mr. Malik, and Mr. Khaliq were remanded in custody after appearing via video link. All 12 will next appear at Sheffield Crown Court on December 1st.

Senior Investigating Officer, Paul Williamson, told the Star: “We have now charged 21 men with over 94 child sexual abuse offences and expect this number to increase as more victims come forward.  Officers are investigating more than 80 suspects and with the support of partner agencies, are currently engaging with 235 victims.

Daily Meditation

The Real Trouble About Forgiveness

TO PHOEBE HESKETH: On how sorrow seems to isolate; and on how hard it is to forgive. Lewis reveals that Joy’s physician had failed to diagnose her cancer at a stage when it could have been treated successfully.

C. S. Lewis

14 June 1960

The most mischievous—and painful—by-product of any sorrow is the illusion that it isolates one, that one is kicked out alone for this from an otherwise cheerful, bustling, ‘normal’ world. How much better to realise that one is just doing one’s turn in the line like all the rest of the ragged and tired human regiment!

Yours is a very terrible bit of it. But I’d sooner be you...than the doctor (one of the closest friends) who could and should have diagnosed Joy’s trouble when she went to him about the symptoms years ago before we were married. The real trouble about the duty of forgiveness is that you do it with all your might on Monday and then find on Wednesday that it hasn’t stayed put and all has to be done over again.

Yes, we will pray for one another.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Minister Hipkins Abolishes Standards

A Matter of School Choice

We have been told that a uuuuuge shake up is coming in education in New Zealand.  New Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins--a man rated by his colleagues as the sharpest pin in the cushion--has already made clear that under his watch kids' schooling is going to change.

First off, National Standards will be axed.  National Standards set achievement and competency levels in core subjects for students, so that the government could be sure that Johnny and Mary were actually learning how to read and write and do maths.  But such neo-colonial hangovers are gone-burger.  Hipkins has, in one fell blow, chopped the old to pieces and declared that New Zealand state run education is going to be so avant-garde that it will have no standards

Take spelling for example.  Spell a word as it sounds, as it feels, as it seems good to you at the time.  No problems.  Take the adjective "delicious".  Now Minister Hipkinz has decreed that there is no standard spelling of "delicious".  Insisting upon a right way smacks of neo-colonial baggage.  It may be spelt "delishish" or "delish" or "zelissus", or "luscious", or "dolishus" or however your fancy would have it.  'Way to go, Minnie Hiphkenz.

What a wonderful world of free creative expression students are about to enter!  Oh, but hold on, Minister Hipkins went on to qualify his radical proposal.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Lest We Forget

Persecution in North Korea

Christians Face Beatings, Rape, Torture for Professing Faith

Frances Martel
Breitbart News

Christian North Koreans who have escaped the brutal regime tell of outrageous human rights abuses against anyone suspected of professing the faith, including routine beatings and rapes and specialized torture for those involved in underground prayer.

In a report Wednesday, Fox News profiled North Korean defector Choi Kwanghyuk, who was arrested after founding an underground house church. Choi escaped a labor camp shortly before he believes the regime was ready to transfer him to a concentration camp to end his life.  Before he escaped, however, he asserted that he was tortured and witnessed the torture of many others.
“I decided to escape because I thought that once they sent me to the other camp, they could eventually send me to the concentration camp or kill me,” Choi told Fox News. “I was traveling back and forth between China and North Korea, but they kept searching for me, and I knew it could put my friends in danger too, so I left.”
According to Fox, Choi witnessed a wide variety of torture:

Daily Meditation

Behold . . . And Tremble

And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  Matthew 24:39

Charles H. Spurgeon

Universal was the doom, neither rich nor poor escaped: the learned and the illiterate, the admired and the abhorred, the religious and the profane, the old and the young, all sank in one common ruin. Some had doubtless ridiculed the patriarch, Noah--where now their merry jests? Others had threatened him for his zeal which they counted madness--where now their boastings and hard speeches? The critic who judged the old man's work is drowned in the same sea which covers his sneering companions. Those who spoke patronizingly of the good man's fidelity to his convictions, but shared not in them, have sunk to rise no more, and the workers who for pay helped to build the wondrous ark, are all lost also.

The flood swept them all away, and made no single exception. Even so, out of Christ, final destruction is sure to every man of woman born; no rank, possession, or character, shall suffice to save a single soul who has not believed in the Lord Jesus. My soul, behold this wide-spread judgment and tremble at it.

How marvellous the general apathy! they were all eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, till the awful morning dawned. There was not one wise man upon earth out of the ark. Folly duped the whole race, folly as to self-preservation--the most foolish of all follies. Folly in doubting the most true God--the most malignant of fooleries. Strange, my soul, is it not? All men are negligent of their souls till grace gives them reason, then they leave their madness and act like rational beings, but not till then.

All, blessed be God, were safe in the ark, no ruin entered there. From the huge elephant down to the tiny mouse all were safe. The timid hare was equally secure with the courageous lion, the helpless cony as safe as the laborious ox. All are safe in Jesus. My soul, art thou in him?

PTSD Conspicuous By Absence

Carry On . . . We're British

We have become much more conscious these days of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Occasionally we find ourselves wondering how previous generations of human beings, many suffering the depredations and privations of war, coped.  

It would appear that when a society as a whole suffers, the ability to cope through the immediate trauma, and survive the subsequent PTSD is enhanced considerably.

The impact upon people in England during the Blitz and subsequent war privation is instructive in this regard.  It would appear that very few suffered PTSD--yet by modern reckoning they should have.  Consider the account by Robert Tombs of the actual experience of the general populace in Britain during WWII.
. . . for most people the reality [of the Blitz] was less than the expectation: "One is relieved to find how little bombs can do as compared with the mental picture one had"; "If anyone had told me I could have felt so unconcerned when an alert--or guns--sounded, I would not have believed it."  Some people felt bravado, even exhilaration, at surviving and keeping their nerve: "Feeling indescribably happy and triumphant . . . 'I've been bombed--me!' "  A Southampton librarian "enjoyed the raid . . . I felt keyed up and kind of happy like when you're pretty drunk.  I met some pals after the raid . . . and made a party of it it."  . . . .

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Horror of Aborting Babies Because of Disabilities

Pope Francis Condemns ‘Eugenic’ Mindset 

Thomas D. Williams

Pope Francis has denounced what he called the “eugenic tendency” behind eliminating unborn babies with handicaps, which reveals a “narcissistic and utilitarian vision.”

This egotistic viewpoint leads many to consider people with disabilities as marginal, without perceiving their human and spiritual wealth, the Pope said Saturday, as he addressed participants in a conference titled “Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church.”

Too many people still reject this condition, Francis said, “as if it prevented them from being happy and fulfilled.  Proof of it is the eugenic tendency to suppress the unborn who have some form of imperfection,” he said.

Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken out against the “scourge of abortion,” comparing it to the brutal tactics of the Mafia.

Daily Meditation

Medicine for the Missionary

All things are possible with God.  (Mark 10:27)

John Piper

Sovereign grace is the spring of life for the Christian Hedonist. For what the Christian Hedonist loves best is the experience of the sovereign grace of God filling him and overflowing for the good of others.

Christian Hedonist missionaries love the experience of “not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). They bask in the truth that the fruit of their missionary labor is entirely of God (1 Corinthians 3:7; Romans 11:36).

They feel only gladness when the Master says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). They leap like lambs over the truth that God has taken the impossible weight of new creation off their shoulders and put it on his own. Without begrudging, they say, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

When they come home on furlough, nothing gives them more joy than to say to churches, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience” (Romans 15:18).

“All things are possible with God!” — in front the words give hope, and behind they give humility. They are the antidote to despair and pride — the perfect missionary medicine.

Western Society: The Institutionalisation of Envy

Dressed Up And Living Like A Peacock

Sociologist Daniel Bell has drawn a picture of Western society that is so telling and true that it bears reprinting in full.  Whilst this was written in 1976, it is even more true and faithful a representation of the Western man in our day.  In other words, what Bell describes has proved so accurate that 40 years later it is even more true.

Without wanting to reduce or distort Bell's description, as you read keep in the back of your mind the current fascination with gender diversity, gender change, and the sociology of identity (as the tip of the iceberg).  Bell's commentary will thus appear profoundly prophetic.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Cockroaches Scattering for Cover

Most Signatories Are ‘Ignoring’ or ‘Abandoning’ Paris Climate Commitments

Thomas D. Williams

Following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, a number of other nations have quietly begun ignoring the Paris energy goals, according to a new report out of Canada.
According to Lawrence Solomon of Energy Probe, a Toronto-based environmental organization, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one of the only signers of the Paris agreement who is actually abiding by the exacting demands of the accord.

Meanwhile, Solomon notes in an essay in Friday’s Financial Post, “most signatories are ignoring, if not altogether abandoning Paris commitments, undoubtedly because voters in large part put no stock in scary global warming scenarios.”

“Trudeau now stands almost alone in sincere support of Paris,” Solomon writes. “The populist backlash — a revulsion at top-down governments laden with jet-setting politicians landing in posh places to preach restraint to the masses — has swept America with Trump’s election, Great Britain with Brexit, much of Europe, and Australia.”

“In the process, global warming enthusiasts are being swept out,” he writes.

Last week, Australia rejected its Clean Energy Target (CET), a lengthy proposal that would have forced electricity utilities to rely on renewables and other low-emission sources for a substantial percentage of their production.

Daily Meditation

No Self-Awareness

C. S. Lewis

The Naturalists have been engaged in thinking about Nature. They have not attended to the fact that they were thinking. The moment one attends to this it is obvious that one’s own thinking cannot be merely a natural event, and that therefore something other than Nature exists. The Supernatural is not remote and abstruse: it is a matter of daily and hourly experience, as intimate as breathing.

From Miracles
Compiled in A Mind Awake Miracles: A Preliminary Study. Copyright 1947 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1947 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Revised 1960, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 1968 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.