Friday, 31 May 2019

Homosexual "Marriage" Is an Oxymoron

There Is No Such Thing as "Gay Marriage"

Lindsay Elizabeth

In a recent podcast, a well-known theologian and reform-baptist John Piper answered a question regarding the biblical stance on homosexuality.  “Should a gay couple, once converted, stay married?” Cameron asked.  “No, I would not recommend that two men or two women living together, practicing homosexuality, remain in that relationship,” Piper began. “The reasons are several.”

Piper explained that while heterosexual couples can enter into a marriage in a way that goes against the Bible, they can make decisions to change that. When it comes to homosexual couples, they can’t change anything about their relationship to move it in a Biblical direction because at the basis, it is wrong.

“I conclude that while it was an adulterous act to marry under the conditions that Jesus disapproves of in Luke 16, nevertheless, it’s called a marriage,” he explained.

Daily Meditation

Building on a Sure Foundation

René Descartes intentionally doubted everything he could possibly doubt until he reached the point where he realized there was one thing he couldn’t doubt. He could not doubt that he was doubting. To doubt that he was doubting was to prove that he was doubting. No doubt about it.
From that premise of indubitable doubt, Descartes appealed to the formal certainty yielded by the laws of immediate inference. Using impeccable deduction, he concluded that to be doubting required that he be thinking, since thought is a necessary condition for doubting. From there it was a short step to his famous axiom, “I think; therefore I am.” At last Descartes arrived at certainty, the assurance of his own personal existence.
The lesson we learn from Descartes is this: When assailed by doubt, it is time to search diligently for first principles that are certain. We build upon the foundation of what is sure. This affects the whole structure of apologetics. It is a matter of order.

Coram Deo

Reflect on what Paul calls the foundational principles of Hebrews 6:1–3. Do you have a good basic understanding of these principles?

The Only Sensible Thing Left to Do

UK Politicians Afraid of the People

For those of our readers who find themselves perpetually interested and curious about our respective histories, Peter Hitchens has written a stimulating piece on the history of Britain and its impact upon national politics--and vice versa.

For some reason that is hard to explain we are drawn back to the history of Great Britain--from Roman times down to the present.  For us, we suspect the sense of connection is spiritual, by which we mean that it is from and through the UK that the Gospel first came to New Zealand.

Empty Green Seats That Show We Are Careering Towards a Catastrophe

Peter Hitchens
The Mail on Sunday

We are told we should relax about the fate of Britain because new ravens have hatched at the Tower of London. I am more worried by another very frightening omen last week.

There were empty seats on the green benches of the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions. What is supposed to be the central ritual of our ancient, adversarial Parliament has now become so dull and pointless that quite a few MPs can no longer be bothered to turn up.  This is a clear sign that something is seriously wrong at the very heart of our constitution.

I still remember the thrill of the long-ago day in the 1980s when I watched my first PMQs from the Press Gallery. The previous day I had crawled through the thin seam of a coal mine for the first time, and I am still not sure which of the two experiences went deeper into my mind and memory.

Those were the times before Parliament was televised, when PMQs were a twice-weekly 15-minute joust in which Neil Kinnock confronted Margaret Thatcher across the dispatch box. There was nothing phoney in their hostility, and nothing staged in the passions which were released once the combat got going. The two parties at that time were still truly divided, utterly separate tribes which spoke for the two halves of the country.

I don’t exactly know what the division was, or where it started. I suspect a lot of it went back to the Norman Conquest and the deep and lasting divide between Norman and Saxon. Some of it went back to the Civil War, and to the General Strike, and to the Great Betrayal of 1931, when the Labour premier, Ramsay MacDonald, entered a ‘National Government’ whose actions made today’s alleged austerity look like a spending spree. Beyond that lay the Cold War, in which the Left still couldn’t quite bring itself to loathe the Soviet Union as much as it should have done.

The great thing was, these were the divisions in the country, and they were faithfully reflected in our Parliament.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Signalling Virtue Is All That's Left

The Left's Echo Chamber Contains Its Own Ossuary

Mike Hosking
NZ Herald

You can almost feel the angst emanating from Ganesh Nana.

Ganesh is a fairly well known economist of a left-leaning persuasion. He tells us the government has one last chance next week to throw the dice on meaningful reform, and time is running out for them to be a genuine reformist government.

Of course, what he means by genuinely reformist is open to interpretation. But Nana is claiming the economic slowdown we are experiencing will be used as an excuse not to carry out the agenda he is so excited about.  I don' think he was watching Australia on Saturday night. Reformist governments don't last. Reformist oppositions don't win elections.

This government, through the workings of the centrist element of the Labour Party and the common sense approach of New Zealand First, might well turn out to be a fairly middle of the road government.

Now, Nana is right to the extent they didn't sell themselves that way.  Jacinda Ardern came up with lots of phrases and buzzwords that would lead you to believe change, reform and upheaval was coming.  But one of a couple of things has happened.

Daily Meditation

Rejecting False Assurances

If we think the Bible teaches universal salvation, we may arrive at a false sense of assurance by reasoning as follows: Everybody is saved. I am a body. Therefore, I am saved.
Or, if we think salvation is gained by our own good works and we are further deluded into believing that we possess good works, we will have a false assurance of salvation.
To have sound assurance, we must understand that our salvation rests on the merit of Christ alone, which is appropriated to us when we embrace Him by genuine faith. If we understand that, the remaining question is, “Do I have the genuine faith necessary for salvation?”
Again, two more things must be understood and analyzed properly. The first is doctrinal. We need a clear understanding of what constitutes genuine saving faith. If we conceive of saving faith as existing in a vacuum, never yielding the fruit of works of obedience, we have confused saving faith with dead faith, which cannot save anyone.
The second requirement involves a sober analysis of our own lives. We must examine ourselves to see whether the fruit of regeneration is apparent in our lives. Do we have a real affection for the biblical Christ? Only the regenerate person possesses real love for the real Jesus. Next we must ask the tough question, “Does my life manifest the fruit of sanctification?” I test my faith by my works. 

Coram Deo

What is your response to the questions posed in this reading: Do you have the genuine faith necessary for salvation? Do you have a real affection for the biblical Christ? Does your life manifest the fruit of salvation?

Passages for Further Study

David Seymour Stands Up For Free Speech

On This Matter, We Stand With Him

David Seymour's Defence and Worthy Justification

“Let it be known, the public beating has not gone out of fashion.” So goes the quote from the movie Thank You for Smoking, as politicians attack the wildly unpopular protagonist, a tobacco lobbyist. 
I’ve found those words to be true over the past week and it has strengthened my belief in the importance of freedom of expression.

To recap, I was asked about Green MP Golriz Ghahraman’s stance on free speech. In her own words “it is vital that the public is involved in a conversation about what speech meets the threshold for being regulated, and what mix of enforcement tools should be used.”

I believe that such an idea, and by extension politicians who promote it, is a danger to our free society. When asked about Ghahraman’s position, in the middle of a 15-minute radio interview, I responded that I thought she was a ‘menace to freedom.’

What has followed has been extraordinary.

Oppression Worse Than North Korea Will Destroy China

New ‘Social Credit System’ is a Dystopian Nightmare

By Steven W. Moshe

May 18, 2019
New York Post

Imagine calling a friend. Only instead of hearing a ring tone you hear a police siren, and then a voice intoning, “Be careful in your dealings with this person.”  Would that put a damper on your relationship? It’s supposed to.  Welcome to life in China’s “Social Credit System,” where a low score can ruin your life in more ways than one.

Say you arrive at the Beijing airport, intending to catch a flight to Canton 1,200 miles south. The clerk at the ticket counter turns you away because — you guessed it — your social credit score is too low.  Not only are you publicly humiliated in the ticket line, you are then forced to travel by slow train. What should have been a three-hour flight becomes a 30-hour, stop-and-go nightmare.

All because the government has declared you untrustworthy. Perhaps you defaulted on a loan, made the mistake of criticizing some government policy online or just spent too much time playing video games on the internet. All of these actions, and many more, can cause your score to plummet, forcing citizens onto the most dreaded rung on China’s deadbeat caste system, the laolai.

And the punishments are shocking. The government algorithm will go as far as to install an “embarrassing” ring tone on the phones of laolai, shaming them every time they get a call in public.  But an embarrassing ring tone, flight bans and slow trains are just the beginning of the dystopian nightmare that is now daily life in China for tens of millions of people.

A low social credit score will exclude you from well-paid jobs, make it impossible for you to get a house or a car loan or even book a hotel room. The government will slow down your internet connection, ban your children from attending private schools and even post your profile on a public blacklist for all to see.

According to Australia’s ABC News, the government has produced a “Deadbeat Map” via an app on WeChat, which shows a radar-style graphic identifying every laolai in the vicinity of the user.  “Tapping on a person marked on the map reveals their personal information, including their full name, court-case number and the reason they have been labeled untrustworthy. Identity-card numbers and home addresses are also partially shown,” ABC reported.

There are reports that those whose social credit score falls too low are preemptively arrested and sent to re-education camps. Not because they have actually committed a crime, but because they are likely to.  Elements of the system are in place throughout China, as the government refines its algorithm, and the final rollout is scheduled to be in place nationwide by 2020.

The government claims that its purpose is to enhance trust and social stability by creating a “culture of sincerity” that will “restore social trust.”  What it will actually create, of course, is a culture of fear and a nation of informants.  This is because one of the ways that people can improve their own social credit score is to report on the supposed misdeeds of others.

Individuals can earn points, for example, for reporting those who violate the new restrictions on religious practice, such as Christians who illegally meet to pray in private homes, or the Muslim Uyghurs and Kazakhs in China’s far west whom they spot praying in public, fasting during Ramadan or just growing a beard.

Of course, as the state progresses ever closer toward its goal of monitoring all of the activities of its citizens 24 hours a day, seven days a week, society itself becomes a virtual prison.  Western criticism of the new system has been intense, with Human Rights Watch describing it as “chilling.”

In response, Chinese Communist Party publications scoff that Westerners are simply too unsophisticated to understand the wonders of the new system.  In the words of China’s Global Times, “The hypothetical theories of the West are based on their ignorance.” The massive social credit system, it goes on to say, is simply “beyond the understanding of Western countries.”

But I think we understand what is going on all too well.  It is China’s ancient totalitarian impulse — the absolute rule of the god-emperor over his subjects — brought into the modern age. It is George Orwell’s prophetic “1984” come alive.

China’s already formidable police state has been upgraded using big data, machine learning, face recognition technology and artificial intelligence into a fearsome cyborg of state control. The Chinese Communist Party has given birth to the world’s first high-tech digital dictatorship.

Not content to incarcerate its own population in a virtual prison, China is busily hawking its creation to like-minded socialist dictatorships. Maduro’s Venezuela was China’s first customer.

Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute and the author of “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order,” out now.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Double Standards

Abuse of Power and Speaker Trevor Mallard

'I'm in a very dark place': Man stood down from Parliament after Speaker Trevor Mallard's rape claims

Barry Soper
Newstalk ZB

The man stood down from Parliament after Speaker Trevor Mallard's claims about rape has spoken out.  Newstalk ZB and the Herald have decided not to publish the parliamentary staff member's name to protect his family.  He was stood down by the closed shop Parliamentary Service last week, which is exempt from the Official Information Act and will not have to release documents over the alleged incident.

Referring last week to the alleged assaults, Mallard said: "We're talking about serious sexual assault. Well that, for me, that's rape."

In a two-hour sit-down discussion in his home, the devastated man said: "The accusation of rape has put me in a very dark place.  "I was driving to Parliament the day after the bullying and harassment report on the place was delivered and heard on the radio that a 'rapist' could be stalking the corridors and it disturbed me greatly," he said.

However early that afternoon he realised he was the so-called "rapist" when he was summoned into the office of the Parliamentary Service boss Rafael Gonzalez-Montero to be stood down.  A colleague at the centre of an unsubstantiated complaint against him three years earlier had come forward again after complainants were urged to do so by the Speaker.

Daily Meditation

Receiving Assurance of Salvation

How, then, do we receive assurance? The Scripture declares that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. This inner testimony of the Holy Spirit is as vital as it is complex. It can be subjected to severe distortions, being confused with subjectivism and self-delusion. The Spirit gives His testimony with the Word and through the Word, never against the Word or without the Word.
Since it is possible to have false assurance of salvation, it is all the more urgent that we seek the Spirit’s testimony in and through the Word. False assurance usually proceeds from a faulty understanding of salvation. If one fails to understand the necessary conditions for salvation, assurance would be at best a lucky guess.
Therefore, we insist that right doctrine is a crucial element in acquiring a sound basis for assurance. It may even be a necessary condition, though by no means a sufficient condition. Without sound doctrine we will have an inadequate understanding of salvation. However, having a sound understanding of salvation is no guarantee we have the salvation we so soundly understand.

Coram Deo

Thank God for the testimony of His Spirit and His Word, which provide assurance of your salvation.

Passages for Further Study

The Xenophobia of Two Radical MP's

"Sit Down, and Shut Up"

The radical Left wants free speech for itself to be maintained at all costs.  It also wants free speech to be denied every other occupant of the public square.  

Karl Du Fresne, a serious journalist, has written a piece which hoists upon the proverbial petard some of our worst agitators against free speech.  He is reflecting upon the behaviour of the  "sit down, and shut up" brigade in the aftermath of the Christchurch shootings.

PERHAPS all . . . can be forgiven as a collective rush of blood to the head, brought about by the shock of the appalling events of March 15. But far less excusable is the manner in which prominent people, many of them on the public payroll, exploited the deaths of 50 innocent people to further an ideological agenda.

By this I mean people like the Green MPs Golruz Ghahraman and Marama Davidson. In Parliament, Ghahraman blamed unnamed fellow MPs and breakfast radio “shock jocks” – presumably meaning NewstalkZB’s Mike Hosking – for the “hate speech” that she claims led to the killings. (Hosking, incidentally, is another bête-noire of the Left, and for the same reason as Jordan Peterson: his daily commentaries connect with a large number of New Zealanders who are not racist or xenophobic and reject extremist ideology of both the Right and Left.)

Ghahraman, a highly accomplished self-publicist, was in such a rush to apportion blame that she wasn’t prepared to wait before making a considered response based on facts and evidence rather than supposition, assumption and prejudice. And why should she, when it was so much easier to make sweeping, unsubstantiated and emotive assertions about the killings being caused by “hate speech” (undefined), “white supremacy” and “gratuitous racism”?

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Cover Up?

A Horror Chamber

This country is slowly being choked to death by the ‘rights’ of wrongdoers and the refusal of authority to protect the innocent

Dr Barry Hounsome, 54, was violently killed in his own home on October 29 last year
Dr Barry Hounsome, 54, was violently killed in his own home on October 29 last year 
Don’t the authorities want to prevent crime? See what you think about this case. Once, the terrible, lonely death of college lecturer Barry Hounsome, like something out of an obscene horror film, would have been so shocking and unusual that it would have occupied national newspaper front pages for days.
But you probably have not heard of it, since such things are far too common in civilised modern Britain.
Dr Hounsome, then 54, was at his modest home in the Hampshire town of Gosport (where I once lived, in another, gentler age) on October 29 last year. He had worked for Southampton and Bangor universities and carried out research into dementia and Parkinson’s disease. He was the sort of person who might have expected to be safe, in the sort of place where he might have expected to be secure.
As far as can be told from the published evidence, he was disturbed by an intruder breaking in through his patio door. But this was no ordinary burglar. The 16-year-old who entered his home was wearing a stab vest and goggles.
His assailant had also equipped himself with electric drills, hammers and knives. An account of the trial describes what happened:

Daily Meditation

Asking the Most Important Question

Many believe that assurance of eternal salvation is neither possible nor even to be sought. To claim such assurance is considered a mask of supreme arrogance, the nadir of self-conceit.
Yet if God declares that it is possible to have full assurance of salvation and even commands that we seek after it, it would be supremely arrogant for one to deny or neglect it.
In fact, God does command us to seek certainty about our salvation: “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10NIV).
This command admits of no justifiable neglect. It addresses a crucial matter. The question “Am I saved?” is one of the most important questions I can ever ask myself. I need to know the answer. I must know the answer. This is not a trifle.
Without the assurance of salvation, the Christian life is unstable. It is vulnerable to the debilitating rigors of mood changes and allows the wolf of heresy to camp on the doorstep.
Progress in sanctification requires a firm foundation in faith. Without it, the foundation crumbles.

Coram Deo

Ask God to cement the foundation of your faith with divine assurance of your salvation.

Passages for Further Study

What Tangled Webs Are Being Woven

Precious Petals and "Hate Speech"

On the matter of free speech, we stand with MP David Seymour. The current thermo-nuclear missile deployed and used by his opponents is to allege that his words represent  "hate speech".

Hate speech is a wax nose: it can be twisted into multitudinous shapes.  For example, the statement "I think you are ignorant on the matter" can be classified as hate speech if some take offence.  "I am deeply offended that you call me ignorant, and feel that by saying what you did, you hate me and mine."  The next step is, shut down the offensive remarks and punish the offensive speaker.

Here is Seymour's response to those who want to trammel his rights to free speech.

Monday, 27 May 2019

US Presidential Politics

What if Trump Has Driven Democrats Sane?

By Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is editor of National Review and a contributing editor with Politico Magazine.

The Joe Biden polling surge has raised the frightful specter of Democratic rationality.  What if Donald Trump hasn’t driven Democrats insane, sending them into a spiral of self-defeating radicalism, but instead made them shockingly pragmatic?

Biden’s early strength suggests it may be the latter, that the reaction to Trump is so intense that it has crossed some sort of event horizon from fevered fantasy of his leaving office early via resignation or impeachment to a cold-eyed, win-at-any-cost practicality.

If this is true, one of the exogenous factors that could appreciably increase Trump’s odds of reelection — a zany Democratic nomination contest leading to a nominee much too far left for the American electorate — may not materialize.

The commonsense play for Democrats has always been to nominate a nonsocialist with appeal to Obama-to-Trump voters in former blue wall states — if not necessarily Biden, then someone with a similar relatively moderate profile.

If hardly dispositive, Biden’s robust numbers at least suggest that this play is more likely than it seemed in the very early going, when candidates were stumbling over one another apologizing for sundry alleged offenses in the Woke Olympics.

If that’s not going to be the true dynamic of the race, I’m as surprised as anyone, having written often about the leftward lurch of the party.  What’s extraordinary, though, is that almost every Democratic candidate might have been misreading it as well and chasing the wrong rabbit down the track.

Daily Meditation

Facing Our Fears

We are fragile mortals, given to fears of every sort. We have a built-in insecurity that no amount of whistling in the dark can mollify. We seek assurance concerning the things that frighten us the most.
The prohibition uttered more frequently than any other by our Lord is the command “Fear not.” He said this so often to His disciples and others He encountered that it almost came to sound like a greeting. Where most people greet others by saying “Hi” or “Hello,” the first words of Jesus very often were “Fear not.”
Why? Perhaps Jesus’ predilection for those words grew out of His acute sense of the fear that grips all who approach the living God. We fear His power; we fear His wrath; and most of all we fear His ultimate rejection.
The assurance we need the most is the assurance of salvation. Though we are loath to think much about it or contemplate it deeply, we know—if only intuitively—that the worst catastrophe that could befall us is to be visited by God’s final punitive wrath. Our insecurity is worsened by the certainty that we deserve it.

Coram Deo

Listen to God’s Word to you today: Fear not!

Passages for Further Study

The End of the Conservative Party Beckons

Where To From Here?

Finally, Theresa May is resigning.  She has been marked down as the worst Prime Minister in UK history.  No doubt commentators and, eventually, historians will put forward their analysis and views of May and her tenure.

From an outsider's perspective, a comparison with Neville Chamberlain seems apt.  Columnist Madeleine Kearns obliges:
Compromise is indeed the stuff of life. But it is not the same as weakness. In April 1938, Neville Chamberlain, in responding to the threat of fascism on the continent, sought out a number of “compromises” that, if enacted, would have proven disastrous. In an attempt at “peace with honour,” he conceded to almost all of Hitler’s demands. Of course, the EU isn’t quite Hitler. And, thankfully, Brexit is hardly a world war. But it is the greatest peacetime issue of the last century. Westminster knows this only too well, as I wrote in October last year in a profile on the former foreign secretary and Brexiteer Boris Johnson:  
'In the Palace of Westminster, next to the bomb-damaged Churchill’s arch in Members’ Lobby, are four bronze statues that tower over some smaller busts of lesser-known prime ministers. The looming figures are David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, and Margaret Thatcher. Pointing to the latter two, a trusted Johnson aide told me, “We are living in as decisive times as these. And we need a prime minister of such stature.” Not Boris, surely! some will protest, knowing full well that Britain could do much worse. And already has.'
 It remains to be seen what will happen.  Will Brexiteer Boris become the new leader of the Conservative Party?  If so, how will he chart a course going forward with the Brexit Party?  Again from the outsider's perspective, it seems to us that the Conservative Party may well end up being a remnant of what it once was.  Like the UK Liberal Party of today.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

China Doomed To Collapse Under the "Totalitarian Chief"

China: Social Credit System Has ‘Restored Morality’ 

Blacklists over 13 Million People

Commuters walk by surveillance cameras installed at a walkway in between two subway stations in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Chinese government has using the facial recognition to monitor people for it "social credit" system. Millions of people in China has blocked from buying plane tickets last year under a …

Commuters walk by surveillance cameras installed at a walkway in between two subway stations in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Chinese government has using the facial recognition to monitor people for it "social credit" system.

Frances Martel
Breitbart News

China’s state-run newspaper Global Times revealed in a column defending the nation’s authoritarian “social credit system” Monday that the communist regime had blacklisted 13.49 million Chinese citizens for being “untrustworthy.”

The article did not specify what these individuals did to find themselves on the list, though the regime has revealed the system assigns a numerical score to every Chinese citizen based on how much the Communist Party approves of his or her behavior. Anything from jaywalking and walking a dog without a leash to criticizing the government on the internet to more serious, violent, and corrupt crimes can hurt a person’s score. The consequences of a low credit score vary, but most commonly appear to be travel restrictions at the moment.

China is set to complete the implementation of the system in the country in 2020. As the date approaches, the government’s propaganda arms have escalated its promotion as necessary to live in a civilized society. Last week, the Chinese Communist Youth League released a music video titled “Live Up to Your Word” featuring well-known Chinese actors and musicians who cater to a teenage audience. The song in the video urged listeners to “be a trustworthy youth” and “give thumbs up to integrity” by abiding by the rules of the Communist Party. While it did not explicitly say the words “social credit system,” observers considered it a way to promote the behavior rewarded in social credit points.

Monday’s Global Times piece claimed it will “restore morality” by holding bad citizens accountable, with “bad” solely defined in the parameters set by Communist Party totalitarian chief Xi Jinping.

Daily Meditation

Confronting the Darkness

Charles Colson speaks of a modern “return to the Dark Ages.” When I think of the original Dark Ages, I think of a period when culture was in decline and the progress of knowledge was static.
But today we read of the problem of the explosion of knowledge. It is a time when information and communications are big business. We hear the cry from the universities that knowledge in every field of investigation is increasing so rapidly that no one can assimilate it, even in the most narrow of specialties. The age of the “expert” is over. The word expert must now be defined in relative terms.
If knowledge is light and the light is exploding in magnitude, how can we speak of a new Dark Ages? The darkness is in the heart. It is a darkness produced by a shroud covering the face of God.
Thirty years ago, I read a book written by the Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber. Buber’s book had an ominous title: The Eclipse of God. That is the eclipse of our age. A shadow has passed over the glory of God. We are a people who will not have God in our thinking. We have returned to Plato’s cave, in which we prefer the dancing shadows on the wall of ungrounded opinion over the light of truth.

Coram Deo

Ask God to dispel the darkness in your own mind, soul, and spirit through His marvelous light.

Passages for Further Study