Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal



Thursday, March 31, 2016

How to be Politically Correct


Too Small A Price

In my humble opinion, this is Don Fransisco's (web site is here) greatest work ... and the single best exposition of the gospel in song that I've ever heard. I remember when I first heard it almost 4 decades ago. This is the original and best rendition. It's still classic ...


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Professor Fired From Catholic University For Defending Traditional Marriage

Marquette University has moved to suspend and then fire Professor John McAdams for backing a student who tried to defend man-woman marriage when a leftist teaching assistant shut the student down.

In the fall of 2014, junior faculty member Cheryl Abbate told a student, who secretly recorded the exchange, that his defense of man-woman marriage was an unacceptable topic in her ethics class and compared his views to racism. She said, “You can have whatever opinions you want but I can tell you right now, in this class homophobic comments, racist comments, and sexist comments will not be tolerated.” And then she told the student he should drop the class.

On this very popular blog, Professor McAdams outed the incident and charged the teaching assistant with “using a tactic typical among liberals now. Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.”

.. It was announced this week that a “diverse” faculty committee recommended to the university president that McAdams be suspended without pay from April 1 through the fall of 2016 and that he lose his job unless he admits “guilt” and apologized “within the next two weeks.”

Story is here.

Tim Keller - Preaching Morality In An Amoral Age



Tim Keller has a free excellent resource available for download here. Entitled "Preaching Morality In An Amoral Age" this article first appeared in Jan 1996 in Christianity Today. Extracts are below to give you the thrust of his argument and hopefully inspire you to download it and read in entirety.

Preaching Morality in an Amoral Age

... The contemporary preacher of orthodox Christianity faces an unprecedented dilemma: ministering in an age in which absolute truth is not recognized.

The contemporary preacher of orthodox Christianity faces an unprecedented dilemma. Despite what you would think from a casual perusal of any video store, bookstore, or magazine rack, we do not live in an immoral society — one in which right and wrong are clearly understood and wrong behavior is chosen. We live in an amoral society—one in which right and wrong are categories with no universal meaning, and everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes (see Judges 17:6) ...

... Earlier in this century, skeptics rejected Christianity because they didn’t believe it was true — miracles cannot be. Today, skeptics reject Christianity just for claiming to be true — absolutes cannot be ...

... In this view, all “truths” and “facts” are now in quotation marks. Claims of objective truth are really just a cover-up for a power play. Those who claim to have a story true for all are really just trying to gain power for their group over other groups. In the past, Christian moral absolutes were seen as simply narrow or old-fashioned, but today they are seen as oppressive and even violent ...

... I have found we must guide our preaching between two dangers — pragmatism and moralism — if today’s listeners are to understand the radical and fresh Christian message ....

... But without the painstaking work of establishing a changed worldview, their commitment to Christ will be only as deep as their commitment to any other helpful product. Allegiance to something that makes their lives easier to manage should not be confused with genuine conversion, which has at its heart a surrender to the Creator-God of the universe ...

... To become a Christian is not to get help for your agenda, but to take on a whole new agenda — the will of God ...

... Every message and point must demonstrate relevance, or the listener will mentally channel surf. But once you have drawn in people with the amazing relevance and practical wisdom of the gospel, you must confront them with the most pragmatic issue of all—the claim of Christ to be absolute Lord of life ...

... In a sense, the gospel does not let you talk about anything else first. It says, ‘I won’t talk to you about sexuality or gender roles or suffering or anything else until you determine what you will do with Him (Christ). Who He is determines everything else.’ ...

... Blaise Pascal said, “We have an idea of truth which no amount of skepticism can overcome.” What is that? In postmodern people, the knowledge of God sleeps deeper than in previous generations, but it is still there (Romans 1:18–21).

In Duke Law Journal, Arthur Allen Leff, a nonbeliever, put the postmodern tension perfectly:“What we want, heaven help us, is simultaneously to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free.” Only by preaching truth as truth will we throw this inner tension into relief and show that there is a truth that liberates ...

... But when we ask, “Why be moral?” the other systems say, “To find God,” while the Christian faith says, “Because God has found you.” The Christian gospel is that we are not saved by moral living; we are saved for it. We are saved by grace alone, but that grace will inevitably issue in a moral life ...

... You must not use God by seeking his intimacy without making a total commitment ...

... Instead of obeying to make God indebted to them, Christians obey because they are indebted to him. The difference could not be greater. I want to preach that Christian morality is a response to grace, not a means to grace ...

... Only the gospel of grace shows how the truth can become a liberating power. Pascal said every human philosophy or religion will lead either to human pride or to human despair, but only the gospel of grace can deal with both ... the gospel shows us a law that must be fulfilled (destroying our pride) and a Savior who fulfills it completely for us (destroying our despair) ...

Copyright © 1996, 2009 by Timothy Keller.

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Outstanding and must-reading in entirety for the darkening age in which we live.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Another Step Forward To Marginalize Christians

Georgia’s governor vetoed legislation that would have protected preachers who refuse to perform LGBT marriages. “It’s open season on people of faith in our state,” said State Sen. Josh McKoon, the author of the 2014 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “It’s a slap in the face to conservatives, to evangelicals and to the broader faith community." Nathan Deal vetoed the bill under tremendous pressure from major corporations who threatened to take their business out of the state should he side with Georgia’s religious community.

The bill would have protected pastors from having to perform same-sex marriages. Faith-based organizations, like Christian schools, would also have been extended protection from renting its facilities to any organization that was contrary to its beliefs. Of course, gay rights groups alleged the legislation would have essentially legalized discrimination.

This is yet another step forward to marginalize Christians and ultimately remove them altogether from the public square in America.

"For America, the Fall of the Roman Empire Is the Best Case Scenario"



Kurt Schlichter looks to the future here by reminding us of the past ...

A lot of people, especially Millennials with degrees in Intersectional Climate Change Gender Studies, may not know it, but there is a way to anticipate what’s going to happen in the future. It’s not perfect, but it helps you make educated guesses about what’s next. It’s called “History,” and apparently no one in our ruling class has ever heard of it.

Roman history is especially applicable to America and all of Western civilization. The Romans had a good run, but then their moral, political, and cultural weaknesses grew insurmountable and the empire fell. Not all at once, mind you, but slowly – Rome fell long before the barbarians showed up at the city gates and started looting. Rome was powerful enough that its unworthy inheritors were able to live off the corpse for a few centuries before its enemies finished it off. In fact, Rome today still lives off the past. You go to Rome today primarily to see the ruins, and to shake your head over what the Romans just threw away.

The first phase of Roman civilization was the Republic, with something like a democracy (at least for some people) but with a definite rule of law, formal and especially informal. Noble Romans dedicated their lives to upholding these informal norms and values, the mos maiorum that formed the foundation of their society. The elite had its indulgences, but the expectation of a young noble Roman was that he would be highly educated, that he would serve Rome in its Army, and then move into politics and continue to serve in a series of governmental and diplomatic offices. And, if it came to it, he was expected to die for Rome.

But human nature asserted itself and the Republic became unstable, as factions developed and the mos maiorum was put aside for the sake of expediency. Populist politicians arose and agitated for the rights of regular Romans; the patricians were scandalized and fought back, sometimes killing the populist leaders. Eventually, some cunning Romans figured out that the armies they had been entrusted with were useful for more than crushing Rome’s foreign enemies. Sulla and then Caesar, frustrated by the checks and balances of the Republic – neither of them was a check and balance kind of guy – used their commands to take power. They were emperors in all but name; after the patricians tried one last time to reassert the Republic by getting stabby with Julius, the empire was born.

And thus began a period of glory that was in reality merely a blip in the long trend line downward. With the Republic gone, there was an imperial bureaucracy to take on many of the responsibilities citizens had once personally undertaken. The defense of Rome was outsourced to barbarians, who were allowed into Roman territory but never integrated. That, of course, went poorly. But Republican Rome’s inertia was strong enough to propel the Western empire on for another five centuries before it finally collapsed in exhaustion.

And now our civilization is likewise demonstrating its own shortness of breath, with Europe a few decades ahead of us on the downslope. Europe is utterly exhausted. It believes in nothing – its churches are empty and that hopelessness has translated into a demographic death spiral.

... it is all bland bureaucrats, terrified of losing power and using their regulatory cudgel to squelch the unrest by marginalizing the unsatisfied and outlawing the speech of the uncooperative.

But while the elite obsesses about stomping out “racism” and “sexism” and “cisnormativity,” the real enemy slaughters Europeans at will.

... Here at home, the left has tossed out our own American mos maiorum, with Obama leading the charge to disregard the norms and customs that he finds far too constricting. Obama is the poster child for the ruling class’s decline. He is poorly educated – internalizing your commie prof’s clichés and lies does not make you educated even if your degree says “Harvard” – and utterly without any personal investment through service to his country (Obama in the military? That’s a laugh. Do they make camo mom pants?). Of course he has no respect for our norms and customs – he does not know anything about them and he has no personal investment in them. He has no business running anything ....

.... Led by pedestrian street agitators like Obama and his equally undistinguished cohort of leftist allies, the left has gleefully chipped at the foundations of our American Republic, not understanding that our society is not static. They cannot disregard the rules and expect the rest of us to keep obeying them.

... Oh, we may get a good emperor or two along the way, but history tells us how this story ends.

Someday, after the gloom of the next Dark Age clears, some tourist from a society that has rediscovered liberty will look at the ruins of the Capitol and shake his head at the fools who did not realize what they were throwing away.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Temple of Baal Will Be Erected in Times Square Next Month



The Temple of Baal (also known as the Temple of Bel) was a landmark temple ruin located in Palmyra, Syria. In August 2015, this temple was destroyed by ISIS and most of the world mourned the loss of a "cultural heritage site." In an attempt to "preserve history," two exact replicas of the 50-foot arch that stood at the entrance to the temple will be erected in April 2016 in Times Square in New York City and in Trafalgar Square in London.

"Next month, the Temple of Baal will come to Times Square. Reproductions of the 50-foot arch that formed the temple’s entrance are to be installed in New York and in London, a tribute to the 2,000-year-old structure that the Islamic State destroyed last year in the Syrian town of Palmyra. The group’s rampage through Palmyra, a city that reached its peak in the second and third century A.D., enraged the world, spurring scholars and conservationists into action. Numerous nongovernmental organizations are now cataloging and mapping damaged cultural heritage sites in the region. It will be uncanny and thrilling to see this arch from an ancient desert civilization set against the bright lights of New York."

Story is here.

For the irreligious, this is probably inconsequential. But nothing this large gets billing in either Times Square or Trafalgar Square by accident.

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In ancient times, child sacrifice and bisexual orgies were common practices at the altars of Baal. Many of the elements of ancient Baal worship are now mirrored in our culture. As Matt Barber observed here in an article entitled "Today's Baal worshippers"

"Ritualistic Baal worship, in sum, looked a little like this: Adults would gather around the altar of Baal. Infants would then be burned alive as a sacrificial offering to the deity. Amid horrific screams and the stench of charred human flesh, congregants—men and women alike—would engage in bisexual orgies. The ritual of convenience was intended to produce economic prosperity by prompting Baal to bring rain for the fertility of "mother earth."

The natural consequences of such behavior—pregnancy and childbirth—and the associated financial burdens of "unplanned parenthood" were easily offset. One could either choose to engage in homosexual conduct or—with child sacrifice available on demand—could simply take part in another fertility ceremony to "terminate" the unwanted child.

Modern liberalism deviates little from its ancient predecessor. While its macabre rituals have been sanitized with flowery and euphemistic terms of art, its core tenets and practices remain eerily similar."

*******

Despite the 9/11 attacks and multiple warnings of impending judgment, the nation incredibly continues to shake its' fist in the face of God and test the limits of His patience. Divorce, abortion, gay marriage, gender confusion, greed, corruption, hypersexuality, pornography, drug/alcohol addiction, violence, lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, pride ...... all permeate our culture.

As Roosh pointed out in his 2104 post here entitled "7 Reasons Why American Culture Is The Most Degenerate In The World"

"Mirror mirror on the wall, tell me who is the most narcissistic of them all. Tell me who can’t stop themselves from taking a million selfies, from attention whoring all hours of the day, from talking about themselves as if the sun orbited around their center, who exaggerate all accomplishments and brag about the most minor of achievements, who think running a 5k is a noble duty, who eat at fancy new restaurants as a way to brag to their friends, who look down on those who don’t have the right job or the right clothes or the right gadgets, who believe that the laws of human nature can be defeated with Botox and that they are the most unique snowflake of them all. Please tell me who this person is!"

And now as the apparent pièce de résistance, a tribute to Baal - the very thing that ultimately brought the ancient nation of Israel under divine judgment - will be placed in the heart of what many regard as the greatest city in America.

One can play on the edge of a cliff only so long before plunging to death.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

Jerusalem Syndrome



An Irish schoolteacher who came to a Jerusalem hospital convinced she was about to give birth to the Baby Jesus when in fact she was not even pregnant. A Canadian tourist who believed he was the Biblical strongman Sampson and tried to tear stone blocks out of the Wailing Wall. An Austrian man who flew into a rage in his hotel kitchen when staff refused to prepare the the Last Supper for him.

These are just a few examples of what has come to be known as the Jerusalem Syndrome: a well-documented phenomenon where foreign visitors suffer psychotic delusions that they are figures from the Bible or harbingers of the End of Days.

... the most contentious point of debate among scholars of Jerusalem Syndrome is what one group of doctors has called Type III cases: people with no history of mental illness who become overwhelmed by the city’s religiosity and temporarily lose their minds.

“The third type of Jerusalem syndrome is perhaps the most fascinating,” wrote the psychiatrists from Kfar Shaul Mental Health Centre, the Jerusalem hospital where most sufferers are treated.

They record 42 cases of people who arrived in Jerusalem as regular tourists, suffered severe psychotic episodes while there, and then recovered completely after leaving the city. Of the 42 individuals, 40 were from what doctors described as “ultra-religious” Protestant families.

Among them was a Swiss lawyer who arrived in Jerusalem as part of a tour of the Mediterranean. He spent a perfectly happy week with friends in Greece before reaching Jerusalem, where he became obsessed with ritual purity and started wearing sheets as a gown and calling out verses from the Bible. Within days he recovered and went on with his group to Egypt, apparently never suffering any mental health problems again.

Story is here.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

How ISIS laid out its plans to export chaos to Europe



Nine days before the Paris attacks, Islamic State leaders gathered in the Syrian town of Tabqah to talk about what was coming next for the terror organisation. Senior officials from across the so-called caliphate had made difficult journeys under constant fear of airstrikes to the small town west of Raqqa.

In what marked a critical phase in the group’s evolution, there was to be a new focus on exporting chaos to Europe, the assembled men were told. And up to 200 militants were in place across the continent ready to receive orders.

Details of the meeting have been relayed to the Guardian by two Isis members who are familiar with what was discussed. Both said the mood in Tabqah that evening in early November was triumphant. Senior leaders said they were turning their focus to European capitals, and had dispatched foreign fighters back to their homelands to prepare attack plans. And wait.

... In essence, Isis had begun to prioritise controlling populations over geography. While it hadn’t given up its grip on the large swath of Iraq and Syria it had seized at the expense of each sovereign state, the original area it controlled was now less important than the faraway societies it could influence.

... The men were to form classic sleeper cells, and wait for orders. Isis leaders saw opportunity wherever it may arise, but this new wave would place emphasis on wreaking havoc in Italy, Belgium, France, Germany and the UK.

“They said the UK was the hardest to get to,” one Isis member said. “But Belgium was easy. Spain was also mentioned, but not as much as the rest.”

... While the group is clearly on the back foot militarily in some corners of its “caliphate”, its strategic goals are now perhaps more in reach than ever before.

“They think a lot about this. They think they know you better than you know yourselves.”

Story is here.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

He's Alive

Most of you probably never heard Don Fransisco, a Christian artist in the 70s from the Jesus People Movement. A gifted composer, his songs were enthralling stories that brought the gospel to vivid life. He composed this powerful and well-known song.


A Divine Warning That We Ignore At Our Own Peril?



On January 31, 2002, four months after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, a remarkable discovery was made in the rubble by the official 9/11 photographer for the New York Fire Department, Gary Marlon Suson. He was the only photographer allowed unlimited access to Ground Zero by the FDNY and spotted wet, charred pages in the rubble of the collapsed North Tower. Not really paying close attention to the contents of the pages, Suson photographed them. Upon receiving the developed photos, he was transfixed by one of them - a photo that he realized was of a page from the Bible that contained the verses from Genesis 11 concerning the destruction of the Tower of “Babel” (Babylon) and the scattering of the residents of Babylon.  Verse 7, “Come, let Us go down and there disrupt their [government], that they may not understand [their commander],” was highlighted in yellow. Suson states that the Genesis 11 photo is the “most memorable for me” of the thousands of photos he took at Ground Zero. Story is here.

Surely, this is no coincidence. Indeed if God is truly sovereign, then chance and coincidence are inevitably a figment of fallen man's imagination. One must consider then if this was a divine warning to the nation from an affronted God? But rather than repenting after the 9/11 attacks, the nation as a whole - led for the most part by corrupt and debauched leadership - has descended with freefall into immoral depravity.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Star Spangled Shariah or a Muslim Brotherhood Revolution?



*******

On a related note, John Guandolo (former Marine and instructor at the U.S. Army War College who provides training to law enforcement agencies on the jihadist network in the U.S.) enlightens us here on the inherent assumption of abrogation within Islam.

Islam teaches that Allah (the god of Islam) revealed Islam to mankind throughout history progressively. Allah revealed the Law to Moses which predicted the coming of Mohammad.  Those who did not accept the Law of Moses were lost.  When Allah revealed the Evangel to Jesus, which also foretold of the coming of Mohammad, it abrogated the Law of Moses, and those who did not accept it were lost (hellbound).  When the final seal of the prophets – Mohammad – came and revealed the Koran to all of mankind, it abrogated all that came before it, and those who did not accept it were lost.

According to Islam, the original Law of Moses and revelations given to Jesus were corrupted by the Jews and Christian Priests and, therefore, do not exist on the planet today in their “original” form.  In other words, Islam teaches that all Bibles in the world today are corrupt because the fore-tellings of Mohammad were all intentionally removed.
... Three times in the Koran (2:106, 16:101, 17:106) Allah says that whatever he reveals chronologically later abrogates (overrules or cancels) what he previously revealed.  Allah commands Mohammad to bring the community of people from their unbelief to full compliance with sharia progressively in stages.  This is exactly what we are seeing on the ground today across the world.  The Muslim community is slowly moving from living however they want to live to living in communities that are adhering to the sharia to a greater and greater degree.

... Bringing greater sharia adherence to the world via jihad is the Muslim Brotherhood’s entire focus of all they do, and the stated objective of all of the jihadi organizations on the planet.
Therefore, it is logical, when seen from the perspective of Islam, that if the Koran abrogated all that came before it Allah would say “Whoever accepts a religion other than Islam will never have it accepted of him and he will be of those who truly fail in the hereafter (go to hell).” (Koran 3:85)

This logically leads to the requirement of the Koran for Muslims to never take Jews and Christians as friends (Koran 5:51), for pagans to be given the option to convert or be killed (Koran 9:5), and for the “People of the Book” (Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians) to be given the option – if they choose not to convert to Islam and do not want to be killed – to submit to Islam under sharia, pay the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya), and “feel themselves subdued.” (Koran 9:29)

... Individuals who convert into Islam are also taught Islam progressively and not all at once.  The Muslim Brotherhood’s “How To” manual entitled Methodology of Dawah Ilallah in American Perspective has this to say about converting a non-Muslim to Islam:

“Some rituals of religion and traditions of the Muslim Community are explained.  A short account of the Prophet’s (PBUH) life is presented, without the revolutionary aspect.  When Islam is acceptable to the new entrants in this concocted or abbreviated form, the ceremony of Shahadah is performed with great reverence.  A non-Muslim thus becomes a Muslim, obedient to Allah (SWT) alone.  The revolutionary aspect of Islam is rarely brought before the new converts, as in most cases the Da’ee (the one bringing the non-Muslim to Islam) himself is not conversant with it.”

When individuals or communities come to Islam, it is done progressively and in stages.  Unlike when people join into other groups, Muslim do not tell new converts the whole story.  They bring it to them over time.  Mohammad had 23 years to bring people from where they were to full obedience to Allah.... Soon we will see, and are seeing, the HIJRA into non-Muslim lands – also known as the “refugee” surge into Europe and the United States.  Finally, we will see the call for all non-Muslims to convert to Islam, submit to Islam or be killed.  While some of this is beginning to happen, when the Global Islamic Movement assesses Muslim lands are sharia compliant, they will focus their attention on the West.

*******

Note that Islam shares two critical characteristics common to many cults (i.e., Mormonism):
  1. The teaching that the true gospel has been corrupted and the "fresh" revelation being presented is the genuine (and final) one.
  2. Initiates are never exposed to the full theology before induction - only after entrapment and bit-by-bit.

Photogrammetric Restitution on the Shroud of Turin

Fascinating implications ...
 


Jesus Alive Again: An Easter Meditation

Fascinating ...
 


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why Are We Celebrating Christ's Resurrection Before The Date Of His Crucifixion?



Passover for this year (2016) on the Jewish calendar falls on April 22 on the Gregorian calendar. Leviticus 23:5 decrees that Passover is on the 14th day of the first month. Of course this does not mean in January (Gregorian calendar), but Nisan which is the first month on the Jewish calendar. This year, Passover - Nisan 14 - occurs at sundown on April 22 on the Gregorian calendar.

Why-in-the-world then are we celebrating Easter (His resurrection) this year almost a month ahead of time on March 27?

Here's why ....

The Emperor Constantine took the early church's observance of Biblical feast days off the Jewish calendar, arguing it was a decision motivated by anti-Semitism and “Jew hatred.” Quoting the Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea in AD 325:

“When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; it was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of festivals, to follow the customs (the calculation) of the Jews who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded."

“In rejecting their custom we may transmit to our descendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter; We ought not therefore to have anything in common with the Jew, for the Savior has shown us another way; our worship following a more legitimate and more convenient course (the order of the days of the week). And consequently in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jew. For it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast.”

Christ died on Passover. He was buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He rose on the Feast of First Fruits. Not when the "Easter Bunny" supposedly rambles through the culture, making a mockery of His sacrifice.
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Unfortunately, the same is true with the traditional date celebrated for the birth of Christ (Dec 25). There is zero evidence that Christ was born on Dec 25 (Gregorian calendar.) On the other hand, there is compelling evidence as I argued here that Christ was actually born on the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (equates to Sep/Oct on the Gregorian calendar).

It's time for the church to realign with the Jewish (Biblical!) calendar. We miss so much of the powerful symbolism inherent in Christ's fulfillment of the Jewish (Biblical) feast days ... and instead focus on such cruel distractions as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

"Pseudo-Intellectualism - the most devastating enemy since Nazi Germany"



Shireen Qudosi (a Sufi Muslim of Afghan and South Asian ancestry) provides superb analysis here on the refusal of western political leaders to take the battle against terrorism to its' source and the center of its' dark heart.

... In this country, Obama’s foreign policy has excelled in pressing our government and media elites to deflect a real conversation about jihadist violence to emphasize a fictional narrative full of politically correct shibboleths, from non-existent “Islamophobic” backlashes to a context-less understanding of the Crusades.

... In a twenty-first-century world softened through pseudo-intellectualism, the most devastating enemy since Nazi Germany has left global leadership confused and overwhelmed.

... America knew what it stood for then (WWII); the same can’t be said in today’s muddled “War on Terror.”

... Securing that freedom requires every man, woman, child, and elected leader once again unite against a common enemy. To do this, we absolutely must be comfortable with naming the enemy: radical Islam.

... A crippling PC culture devastates a civilization’s ability to move forward. If we’re going to move forward in this war on terror, then we also need to fall into ranks and recognize we’re dealing with more than just terror.

... very few people today can engage in a conversation about the ideological motivations of jihadis, choosing instead to pin the blame on “extreme interpretations of scripture,” economic devastation, or retaliation against Western foreign policy. While any of these three are factors, the driver today is no different than it was over two generations ago.

... the only god most of us worship is at the other end of a selfie stick.

... So while we’re squabbling over who is the most unfair, radical Islam is looking to destroy us all equally ...

... The only real and permanent solution is rising to meet an ideology with an even more powerful ideology, within and outside of Islam.

... Leaders promise action, national monuments light up, Facebook default pictures change to flags and peace signs, and hashtags and drawings fill social media. And nothing changes beyond having pacified a momentary sense of duty. Nothing changes because we haven’t named the problem; we still deny an ideological war ...

... Wars in the last century were geographically recognizable. Today, no such clarity exists. Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam is a Belgian-born French citizen of Moroccan ancestry. At least one of the terrorists killed in the Paris attacks was suspected to be a refugee of unknown origin; it would be near-impossible and highly-resource intensive to verify passport documents. The San Bernardino shooters were self-radicalized Pakistanis. Last week, a New York pizzeria owner and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen was sentenced for recruiting for the Islamic State.

... Today’s enemies don’t wear a uniform. They don’t have distinguishable accents or a unified language. They don’t have the same country of origin. In fact, there is nothing that unifies them beyond radical Islamic ideology.

... The war is taking place multiple fronts and in several forms. It is ultimately a war of ideas and the battlefield is the mind.

"Our security services and our police, hamstrung by political correctness, are just as interested (or more?) in rounding up Twitter “hate speech” offenders than criminal, rapist, or terrorist migrants"



Raheem Kassam bluntly speaks the truth here in his editorial entitled "Enough With The Teddy Bears And Tears: It’s Time To Take Our Civilization Back" when he castigates Europe's tendency to "stand in solidarity" after terrorist attacks instead of doing something concrete.

Teddy bears, tears, candles, cartoons, murals, mosaics, flowers, flags, projections, hashtags, balloons, wreaths, lights, vigils, scarves, and more. These are the best solutions the Western world seems to come up with every few months when we are slammed by another Islamist terrorist attack. We are our own sickness.

Since the world learned of the dozens dead, hundreds injured, and hundreds of thousands affected by Monday’s attack on the NATO and European Union capital, we have seen an outpouring of what is commonly known as “solidarity”.

This word – most commonly associated with hard-left politics, trades union activism, socialism, and poseur indie rock bands – has come to mean very little in reality. In effect, “standing in solidarity” with someone now means that you have observed the situation, changed your Facebook profile picture accordingly, and patted yourself on the back.

... Our security services and our police, hamstrung by political correctness, are just as interested (or more?) in rounding up Twitter “hate speech” offenders than criminal, rapist, or terrorist migrants. Our borders are as porous as our brains. We refuse to realise that there are now literally millions of people amongst us who hate us. Who hate our way of life, and who will, one day, dominate our public life.

... Watching someone getting raped, and tweeting your solidarity with them is not enough. Human nature and goodness calls upon us to intervene. To assist. To free someone from their torture, and to save them from their demise.

... It is why arms sales to individuals has shot up since the migrant crisis in Europe. Many Germans are losing their faith in their elected leaders to protect them. The same applies in Sweden, and in Austria.

... what does the Western world look like in 20, 30, 50 years? What kind of societies do we leave to our children?

Do we leave cities with soldiers on patrol. With “peace” signs scrawled onto bomb-struck buildings? Or do we leave them safe places, with real promise for the future. Like our parents, or at least our parents’ parents, left us.

*******

He said it all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Easter Bunny’s War On Easter Is Going Too Far



Mollie Hemingway nails it here with her diatribe on the commercialization of Easter.

From Roth’s novel “Operation Shylock:”

I heard myself next praising the greatest Diasporist of all, the father of the new Diasporist movement, Irving Berlin. “People ask where I got the idea. Well, I got it listening to the radio. The radio was playing ‘Easter Parade’ and I thought, But this is Jewish genius on a par with the Ten Commandments. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and then He gave to Irving Berlin ‘Easter Parade’ and ‘White Christmas.’ The two holidays that celebrate the divinity of Christ — the divinity that’s the very heart of the Jewish rejection of Christianity — and what does Irving Berlin brilliantly do? He de-Christs them both! Easter he turns into a fashion show and Christmas into a holiday about snow. Gone is (sic) the gore and the murder of Christ — down with the crucifix and up with the bonnet! He turns their religion into schlock. But nicely! Nicely! So nicely the goyim don’t even know what hit ’em. They love it. Everybody loves it. The Jews especially … If supplanting Jesus Christ with snow can enable my people to cozy up to Christmas, then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Do you see my point?” I took more pride, I told them, in ‘Easter Parade’ than in the victory of the Six Day War.”

Berlin might be given too much credit (or blame) for the effort. The dress parade referenced in the movie was a tradition going back to the late 19th century and showed how Easter was marked then as a cultural rite of spring, even if it began as a way for Christians to show respect even in their dress on Easter.

No matter how it happened, it’s clear that our celebration of Easter could use some improvement. Here are a few ways to get things started.

.... People are always freaking about the commercialization of Christmas, but I only wish that we’d similarly commercialize Epiphany, Transfiguration, Annunciation, Ascension, and Pentecost, among other chief festivals of the Christian church year. The war on those holy days has been pretty effective, nearly wiping them out from public — and private — celebration.

Saudi Arabia Uncovered



Five bodies hang from a pole suspended between two cranes, a public display which serves as a reminder to those who might contemplate a life of crime. They belonged to a gang of five robbers, all of whom were publicly beheaded before their corpses were hoisted high in the air, where they remained for days. The gruesome sight is one scene in a shocking documentary to be aired this week which sheds light on life in Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s bloodiest and most secretive countries.

... The brutality aside, secret filming in a Saudi mosque shows a preacher spreading grotesque anti-Semitic messages. ‘The Jews have abused, dictated and contaminated the land,’ he says. ‘So, oh Allah, stop them and spill on them the whip of torture, don’t let their flag fly high, and make an example of them.’

The film reveals how hatred is directed at other religions in Saudi schools. One of the secret cameramen asks a 14-year-old Saudi boy what he is taught at school. Back comes the reply: ‘The Christians should be punished with death until there are none left. They should be beheaded.’

... The Saudi government has always denied that it has any connection either with Islamic State or with Al Qaeda. Nevertheless, both jihadist organisations endorse the state religion which Saudi Arabia has spent an estimated $70 billion (£48 billion) exporting around the world.

... this film examines evidence to suggest that there were links between the Saudis and Al Qaeda in the period before the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11.

It is well known that 15 of the 19 Al Qaeda-inspired 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. However, there have always been suggestions that the links ran much deeper, and the film offers compelling evidence that this might indeed be the case.

This is a documentary that exposes the deep hypocrisy of Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Britain and the West ...

Story is here.

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(Note:  Per Open Doors Watchlist here, the country most hostile to the gospel is North Korea. Saudi Arabia is currently listed 14th on the list.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Future After The Belgium Terror Attacks


Terror Attacks At Brussels Airport

Sorry, Mr. Obama - there really is Islamic terrorism ...
 
At least 28 people were killed and dozens more injured as coordinated terrorist attacks rocked the Brussels airport and subway system during rush hour Tuesday morning. Bombings at the American Airlines counter at Zaventem Airport and the metro station in the heavily Muslim section of Maelbeeks were almost immediately confirmed as terror attacks. The attack at the airport was reportedly accompanied by shouts in Arabic and gunfire.
 
 
Meanwhile, as the U.S. administration pretends the non-existence of Islamic terrorism, ISIS celebrates the attacks in Brussels (see here). "We are at war,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday. “We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war."


Testimony of an ISIS sex slave

A Yazidi sex slave who was raped three times a day for over 16 months by various Islamic State fighters detailed in a recent interview how she was bought and sold by eight different jihadis and how the group sold off over 800 Yazidi girls inside a Raqqa "meat market."

Life as an IS sex slave was so brutal that Khalida tried to kill herself multiple times. She even tattooed her father's name on her arm so that her body could be identified.

"I tried to kill myself many times. I covered myself in water and put my hand on electric cables but I always survived," she said. "I asked God to kill me. I thought it was better to die than to live as a sex slave with what they were doing to me, every day."

Story is here.

Unfortunately, Christians Seem To Be Some Of The Most Gullible


Christian Prayer Center founder Benjamin Rogovy will return millions of dollars to consumers who paid for prayers. According to the Washington Attorney General, the Seattle man duped thousands of people out of millions of dollars through its “pay for prayer” website.

For violations of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Rogovy will pay nearly $7.75 million to 165,000 customers who were swindled by various companies operated by the unscrupulous entrepreneur.
 
By using false testimonials on his website and creating fabricated religious leaders, Rogovy collected over $7 million from customers during a four-year period. From 2011 to 2015, the Seattle-based online church tricked customers into paying anywhere between $9 and $35 for prayers.

... On Wednesday, the Christian Prayer Center website posted a closed message with links to other unaffiliated prayer sites.

“We thank you for all the prayers, and we cherish the opportunity to have created a place where Christians could meet to support each other,” the message said.

Story is here and here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The American College of Pediatricians warns that gender ideology harms children



Alarmed by the maddening stampede from Hollywood, gender activists, misguided educators and politically-correct politicians to affirm "transgender rights", the American College of Pediatricians warns here that gender ideology harms children.

The American College of Pediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.

Their points:
  1. Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health – not genetic markers of a disorder.
  2. No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex.
  3. A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking.
  4. Puberty is not a disease and puberty-blocking hormones can be dangerous.
  5. According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.
  6. Children who use puberty blockers to impersonate the opposite sex will require cross-sex hormones in late adolescence. Cross-sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) are associated with dangerous health risks including but not limited to high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke and cancer.
  7. Rates of suicide are twenty times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBQT – affirming countries.
  8. Conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.
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I noted earlier here that is biologically impossible to change sex. John Hopkins, the first hospital in the U.S. to perform transgender surgery no longer offers it and now acknowledges transgender feelings to be a disorder requiring treatment - not surgery. Those that jumped on the transgender bandwagon will one day discover they unlocked the asylum and put the inmates in charge of the culture.

“My advice is to stop looking for specific targets. Hit everyone and everything."



There is a detailed report here on the Paris attacks by ISIS and the logistics/planning that went into the operation.

They have exploited weaknesses in Europe’s border controls to slip in and out undetected, and worked with a high-quality forger in Belgium to acquire false documents.

The scale of the network that supported the attacks, which took 130 lives and wounded 813 people, has also surprised officials, as President François Hollande of France acknowledged on Friday. There are now 20 people in detention in six countries on suspicion of assisting the attackers.

French officials have repeatedly warned citizens that more attacks are possible, saying security and intelligence officials cannot track all the Europeans travelling to and from Islamic State strongholds in Syria and Iraq. And western intelligence officials say their working assumption is that additional Islamic State terrorism networks are already in Europe, with more being formed.

... The documents and interviews with officials show the arc of the Islamic State’s growth from a group that was widely viewed as incapable of carrying out large-scale terror attacks. And they suggest that nearly two years of previous , failed attacks overseen by the leader of the Paris assault, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, served both as test runs and initial shots in a new wave of attacks the Islamic State leaders have called for in western Europe and Britain.

... All the previous attacks by Islamic State fighters dispatched from Syria had relied on a single mode of operation: a shooting, an explosion or an attempted hostage-taking. In Paris, the attackers set off to do all three, realising that this way they could overwhelm the country’s emergency response.

The attacks marked a subtle shift in the Islamic State’s external operations branch, which was first publicised in the group’s French-language online magazine, Daral-Islam, last March. In the previous small-scale attacks, the Islamic State, much like al-Qaeda before it, had taken aim at symbolic targets, including police and military installations and establishments with clear links to Israel or Jewish interests, like the Jewish Museum in Brussels. But in an interview published in the online magazine, a senior operative for the Islamic State, described as the godfather of French jihadis, advised his followers to abandon the symbolism.

“My advice is to stop looking for specific targets. Hit everyone and everything,” he said.

... In the end, it took four elite brigades to stop three gunmen, the report said.

... According to the friend’s account to the police, Abaaoud regaled them with stories about how he had made it to Europe by inserting himself in the stream of migrants fleeing across the Mediterranean. He explained that he was among 90 terrorists who had made it back and who had gone to ground in the French countryside, the friend told the police.



More Americans Abandoning Their Health Insurance Plans to Join Christian 'Sharing Ministries'



As a consequence of Obamacare’s disastrous rollout, more Americans are abandoning their Health Insurance Plans to join 'Sharing Ministries'. Story is here.

Will exploding demand for Samaritan's services lead other like-minded individuals to form their own health-care mutual aid societies? Unfortunately, no, because Obamacare won’t allow it. The Affordable Care Act includes language that exempts members of health-care sharing ministries from the individual mandate, but it’s written to insure that that exemption only applies if the organizations they belong to existed prior to the law’s passage.

As usual, the government does everything in its power to cut off options that free individuals from their draconian rule. The federal government is like the "blob" from the movie "The Blob" that just keeps getting bigger and bigger and sucks everyone and everything into its nefarious clutches ...



Friday, March 18, 2016

We are rapidly approaching the credibility of the North Korean government which lives in a delusional world of its own making



More than four months after a black-clad loner with an Islamist-themed manifesto and a printed ISIS flag in his backpack stabbed four people on a California college campus, the FBI wrapped up its investigation Thursday by saying “it may never be possible to definitively determine” what motivated the bloody rampage.

Story is here.
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Unquestionably, there is tremendous pressure from the top in the form of a President who cannot even bring himself to say the words "Islamic terrorism." But - shame on those within the FBI who capitulate to the pressure from above. They stand complicit with everyone that refuses to acknowledge the reality of the threat that inevitably results in more death and destruction. In so doing, the U.S. government is rapidly approaching the credibility of the North Korean government which lives in a delusional world of its own making.

Do You Believe?



"or else we give up and play along and tell ourselves that truth never mattered all that much anyway"



In Nov 2015, Matt Walsh laid out a powerfully strong argument here that American liberalism has descended into total madness with its all-in support for the "transgender" movement.

The Department of Education is very good at demonstrating why it shouldn’t exist. It put on its most convincing display this week when it ruled — you know, like a court, except it’s not a court — that Illinois’ largest school district violated the “civil rights” of a gender-confused boy by not letting him use the girl’s locker room. The school district now has 30 days to force underage females to change in front of the “transgender” student, or it will lose funding. Clearly, this is the role our Founders envisioned for the federal government.

I have a few points I’d like to make about this case.
  1. Barack Obama is facilitating the sexual abuse of underage children ...... make no mistake, allowing a boy to change in front of girls, and requiring that girls change in front of him, is sexual abuse .... allowing any man of any persuasion to watch girls use the bathroom or change their clothes is appalling and exploitative ... This is wrong. It’s demented. It’s evil. It’s dangerous. It’s abusive. Every argument in favor should be dismissed as the blathering nonsense it so clearly is.
  2. The homosexual/transgender lobby can never be appeased .... This is what the marriage fight was all about. Many states had already offered homosexuals an arrangement that would carry all of the same legal benefits as marriage, just without the title. But it wasn’t enough. Most homosexuals aren’t even interested in monogamous relationships, but they wanted access to marriage — marriage itself, not something close to it — because, well, just because. Because it’s never enough. This also explains the fights over weddings cakes and photography and floral shops. Homosexuals can go basically anywhere and get a cake, or hire a photographer, or buy flowers, but if they encounter one business — just one, in a sea of other businesses — that wishes to refrain from being involved in gay “wedding” ceremonies, they must force it to comply or see that it is destroyed. It’s not enough to simply go somewhere else. It’s never enough.
  3. The homosexual/transgender lobby dominates and controls liberalism .... Liberalism is the prominent ideology in America,  yet it is ultimately dominated by the most quantitatively insignificant group on the planet. Homosexuals are already a relatively rare breed, and “transgenders” are even more scarce. There are a handful of gender-confused people in this country, but their demands and desires trump everyone’s, including even the desires of the feminists who used to rule the liberal roost ..... If there is a war on women, this is where it’s being waged.
  4. With “transgenderism,” the left has finally jumped the shark .... The phrase “jump the shark” comes from the infamous “Happy Days” episode where the Fonze dons a leather jacket and a pair of water skis and literally jumps over a shark. Now it’s come to describe the moment where any TV show exhausts all of its plots and story arches and has to resort to ridiculous and desperate measures to keep its audience entertained ... This is the situation liberalism is in at the present moment ... Liberalism has no truth at its foundation, so it can only keep moving. Christians live in a house built on rock, but liberals have no house at all. They are ideological nomads, wandering ever further into the abyss. With ”transgenderism,” there is some evidence that liberalism has wandered a bridge too far .... It’s a total fantasy bearing no resemblance to reality whatsoever.
  5. Liberals are waging a war on reality .... if we relent and concede that science is relative and human beings are gods who can choose their own biological makeup; if the left jumps over the shark and into the dark waters of full fledged insanity, and many in our society take the plunge right along with it, then there will be no stopping liberalism .... If we willingly forfeit the definition of “man” and “woman,” right after forfeiting the definition of marriage, and long after forfeiting the definition of human life, then we will have no basis left to oppose anything else liberalism tries to do. We will have given it everything, ceded its every demand, compromised on every single imaginable point, and that will be the end of it. All we’ll be able to do, then, is sit and wait for our civilization to eat itself and collapse into dust .... We either draw a line here and make a final stand for objective truth — declaring without equivocation that some things, like our sex, are real and absolute — or else we give up and play along and tell ourselves that truth never mattered all that much anyway.
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In Jan 2015, Bob Ellis highlighted here the story of one man who had transgender surgery and subsequently realized the "experts" had no idea what they were talking about and came back into reality.

Walt Heyer, a man who had his body mutilated to look like a woman and has since switched back to looking like the man he is, is now warning others that happiness is not found in denying reality and mutilating your body.

.... But the Californian said these feelings of elation soon gave way to much darker feelings: ‘Immediately after the procedure, you’re in a state of euphoria because you battle it for so long.

‘You think this is wonderful and fabulous and you think your life’s going to be good and then as time goes on, there’s this funny little thing that happens in life. It’s called reality.’

Ellis warns us that,

"Not that many years ago, when our culture was still populated with mostly responsible, thinking people, we understood that mature people have to conform to reality, and that we do not attempt to manipulate reality to conform to our confusions and disorientations."

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As I warned earlier here, reality is a hammer that ultimately and inevitably smashes delusional worldviews. Unfortunately - the greater the delusion, the more catastrophic the hammer tends to be.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Children Of The Islamic State



Quilliam (a counter-extremism think tank based in London focusing on Islamist radicalisation,
extremism, and terrorism) has released an extensive report here documenting the use of child soldiers by ISIS. This report makes for difficult reading.

From the Executive Summary,

The report highlights the following exclusive findings which pertain to the recruitment and training of child soldiers in the Islamic State:
  • Direct coercion into joining Islamic State generally occurs through abductions. However, Islamic State also engages in more indirect, systemic coercion where people, specifically children, are pressured to join the group out of fear.
  • Children can not only assist in meeting the present needs of the ‘caliphate’, but can continue to propagate its existence and expansion once they grow up, thus securing the long-term survival of the ‘caliphate’.
  • The current generation of fighters sees children as better and more lethal fighters than themselves. Rather than being converted into radical ideologies, children have been indoctrinated into extreme values from birth or at a young age.
  • Schools and the education system are central to shaping the hearts and minds of the next generation. The indoctrination that begins in schools intensifies in training camps, where children between the ages of 10 and 15 are instructed in shari’a, desensitised to violence, and are taught specific skills to best serve the state and take up the banner of jihad.
  • Boys learn a rigid Islamic State curriculum, where drawing, philosophy and social studies, the ‘methodology of atheism’, have been removed. Instead, children churn out memorised verses of the Qur’an and attend ‘Jihadi Training’, which includes shooting, weaponry and martial arts. Girls, also known as the ‘pearls of the caliphate’, are veiled, hidden, confined to the home, and taught to look after husbands.
  • The prolonged exposure and desensitisation to violence that children experience affects their physical and psychological well-being, both in the short term and in the long term.
Looking to the future, it is inevitable that these children will suffer from severe physical and mental trauma, as well as systematic extremist indoctrination.

The United Nations received credible reports that ISIS has created a youth wing called Fityan al-Islam, meaning boys of Islam. Apparently after studying the Nazi regime which created the Hitler Youth, ISIS is now busy training and indoctrinating children en masse. But as with most things ISIS lays its hands on, the group has taken its brutality involving children far beyond anything Hitler or Saddam ever did.

To date, ISIS has abducted an estimated 800-900 children ranging between the ages of 9 and 15 from various regions of Mosul city and surrounding province. From last August to February, 254 instances of children being used in ISIS propaganda are found. Many are trained as spies, preachers, soldiers, executioners, and suicide bombers. In counting lessons children tally up guns or tanks instead of apples and oranges. Media outlets within the “caliphate” have issued statements warning that children who refuse to conform with ISIS orders will be flogged, tortured, or raped.

Some of the children have been forced to carry out beheadings or hold up decapitated heads to show they are ready to embrace the “jihad.” In the past six months alone ISIS propaganda has depicted no less than 12 child killers. One recent macabre video showed a 4-year-old British boy apparently detonating a car bomb, killing four alleged spies trapped in the vehicle.

The girls fair no better. While in captivity young women and girls have been taken and raped on a daily basis by ISIS fighters. Most girls are being processed to be molded as wives and mothers of future soldiers. As if shaping an unborn army, estimated 31,000 women living under ISIS rule are pregnant. 

Teachers, too, are forced to enlist in this totalitarian social experiment. Four teachers were abducted from a high school in Mosul last January for opposing ISIS, and last March a primary school teacher was executed for criticizing the group.

But it gets worse.

What characterizes ISIS’s use of children as more insidious than Hitler’s and Saddam’s, is the forced involvement of the families. Parents have no choice but to comply with ISIS instructions to play a part in brutalizing their children. Mothers are given books by ISIS instructing them on how to raise their offspring for “jihad.” This includes telling bedtime stories about martyrdom, exposing children to graphic content through jihadist websites, and encouraging them to improve their child’s military skills and fitness. Using parents in this way is guaranteed to weaken any emotional resistance a child may naturally have to committing atrocities.

The world is unprepared for the moral paradox that ISIS presents with its use of children. As Maajid Nawaz insightfully observes,

... In ISIS, medievalism is back. And as this group proactively fetishizes, and attempts to revive, the Middle Ages in all their gore and glory, the world is simply unprepared to deal with the moral paradoxes this raises. ISIS knows our weakness. There is a joker in the deck that refuses to abide by any of our modern rules. For as footage surfaced of an ISIS orphanage in Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, being used as a drill site for the next generation of terrorists—a jihadist child army—the question I leave you with is this: What world leader could possibly authorize an airstrike on a training camp full of children?

"An alarm bell ringing in the night"




In 2014, a study was released here by the Liberty Institute documenting the increasing hostility towards religion in America. As the authors note, "Ironically, elements of this religion-hostile contingent are the very ones who pretend to be pro-freedom and deny the reality of their own attacks."

From the Executive Summary ...

"The hostility is growing in the “Public Arena” of public places, government, and the workplace. It is growing in the “Schoolhouse” of education, from K-12 through higher academia. It is growing in the sector of “Churches and Ministries” where one might expect it to be safest. And it is growing in the areas of society that encompass the “Military,” which includes our veterans. The growth of hostility is undeniable and it is dangerous."

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Keep in mind that this was in 2014. With an administration in power alienated towards all things Christian, the situation has clearly worsened in 2016. The cost for faithful discipleship is growing in America, and this is unquestionably God's sovereign method of purifying the American church. Fence-sitters and false disciples will abandon the faith. As Jesus said, "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:2). The false prosperity gospel that is popular in some quarters of the American church is being stripped of its' façade and exposed for the lie that it is.

Peter warned us about persecution, stressing the need for faith, mental readiness and commitment (1 Pet 4:12-19). Persecution should not take Christians by surprise as though something strange were befalling us. In that passage, several things become clear:
  • We are to rejoice when we share in the sufferings of Christ (v. 13)
  • We are blessed when we are reviled for the name of Christ (v. 14-16)
  • God takes our sin seriously with the judgment of the church a precursor to a much more terrible one to come for a world in full-scale rebellion (v. 17-18)
  • Faith is the mechanism by which we endure tough times (v. 19)
There are no nominal, halfhearted, lukewarm Christians in North Korea or Saudi Arabia. The price Christians pay there is far too great. Persecution always produces a better Christian—a witnessing Christian and a soul-winning Christian. Pastor Samuel Lamb, one of the great men of China’s underground house church movement, said that “Persecution <is> good for <the> church.” He knew this from firsthand experience when during more than twenty years in Communist Chinese prisons, his church grew exponentially. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, founder of The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), saw the same thing in Communist Romania. He once wrote, “I have found truly jubilant Christians only in the Bible, in the Underground Church and in prison.”

John MacArthur astutely points out,

"There are at least two corporate benefits persecution brings to local churches and the church at large. First, persecution narrows the focus of the church. There’s no time to chase trends and cater to worldly “seekers” when you live under the threat of violent persecution. In fact, there’s no point in trying to make the church attractive to the world, since no amount of pomp and misdirection can entice a person to intentionally invite persecution. All pseudo-evangelistic trickery immediately goes out the window—it can’t hold up under the weight of fierce oppression and suffering.

Second, persecution purges the church of easy-believism, nominal Christianity, the prosperity gospel, and all sorts of other worldly influences and distractions. When it’s no longer convenient or lucrative to call yourself a Christian, many false believers will abandon the church. What’s left will be a purer body of believers, more useful and more effective for the sake of God’s life-transforming gospel.

... Whatever the degree of persecution you might face, how you respond is dictated by your perspective. If you can’t see beyond your own suffering and fear, persecution will be a hindrance to your spiritual growth and usefulness. But if you view persecution from heaven’s perspective, you’ll be able to endure, and even thrive in the midst of it.

So what is heaven’s perspective? Like any other hardship we encounter, persecution is a trial permitted by God for our growth. And as James writes, we need to

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

God is not caught off guard by our suffering. Persecution isn’t an indication that He lost control, or that we’ve fallen out of favor with Him. It’s a trial that serves a purpose in His divine plan. And if we react the right way, we can expect to benefit from it in the end."

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Of course we don't seek persecution. 1 Tim 2:2 exhorts us to pray for the authorities "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." But God is ultimately sovereign, guiding all things towards His inevitable consummation of history. In preparation, Christ is purifying His Bride throughout the world. More Christians died for their faith in the last 100 years than in the previous 19 centuries combined. In the American church we are experiencing the start of a much-needed cleansing of a rich Laodicean church that has become largely apathetic and impotent ... one that increasingly conforms to the world instead of seeking to conform the culture to Christ.

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Has The French Revolution Finally Dawned In America?



Paul Barlow theorizes here that the French Revolution has finally dawned in America.

Laborers, the lower middle class, and many rural communities have seen stagnant wages, jobs moving overseas, and failed government solutions to their problems. Many Americans such as gun owners, churchgoers, proponents of domestic energy, or opponents of government-run health care are feeling marginalized and told their viewpoints are bigoted or ignorant.

The fiscal incompetence of Washington DC closely parallels that of Louis XIV’s government, a regime on the verge of bankruptcy and seemingly incapable of halting its demise.
They have been treated with hostile rhetoric by the current president and an administration that seems to be more concerned with illegal immigrants, more at ease condemning police officers, and notably lackluster in fostering racial reconciliation. Major health-care changes have been rammed down their throats, and the GOP seems to lack either the stomach or the ability to curtail deficit spending.

The fiscal incompetence of Washington DC closely parallels that of Louis XIV’s government, a regime on the verge of bankruptcy and seemingly incapable of halting its demise. Then as now, years of fiscal irresponsibility resulted in a period of economic difficulty. The French monarch’s debts were an estimated 8 to 12 billion livres for a population of around 20 million people, inherited mostly from the heavy military expenditures of the Seven Years War and the American Revolution.

The current U.S. national debt is more than $19 trillion, with an average debt per citizen of more than $59,000. The GOP establishment and the French ruling class did little to prevent such rampant spending, resulting in bread riots in France and bitter resentment in a large portion of the Republican electorate today.

The French Revolution was undone by its loss of restraint. French revolutionaries vainly struggled to create equality, foster fraternity, and abolish all laws and customs that did not comport with their utopian vision. Heads quite literally rolled down the guillotine if enemies of the nation were detected. Around 17,000 enemies of the state were tried, convicted, and decapitated at the guillotines in a grisly public spectacle. It is unknown how many thousands died in miserable prison conditions and never made it to trial.

Furthermore, the French Revolution was marred by the radical de-Christianization and anti-clericism of France. The reform from an established state church to a completely atheistic state was violent and far too sudden. The French Revolutionary Calendar, used from 1793-1805, was symbolically designed to omit any religious or royalist references. The revolutionary state confiscated the land holdings of the Catholic Church, turned the clergy into employees of the state, and required that clergy take an oath of loyalty to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, effectively subordinating the church to the state.

The Cult of Reason, a belief system that replaced the Catholic Church, emphasized reason yet demonstrated violently against nonbelievers, ransacked churches and synagogues, and eventually gave way to Robespierre’s Cult of the Supreme Being. Both attempts to create a state religion focused only on utility, completely upended society’s institutional framework, and fostered unrest and depravity ...

Understanding What's Essential

Amidst a culture in moral meltdown, it's imperative that Christians have a firm grasp on what's truly essential to live out our faith. What can we compromise on (i.e., Rom 14:1)? What should we be willing to die for? If we have not carefully thought through the essentials of our faith, we can easily find ourselves needlessly falling on our swords - or worse yet, betraying the faith.

But with respect to Christian faith, is it possible there are different "types" of essential? In other words, are there “degrees” to what’s essential? While we need to distinguish between essentials and non-essentials, we also need to recognize that there are in fact different types of essentials. In other words, not all essentials are equal, as will become clear. Some things are essential to the very foundation of Christianity, some things are essential for orthodoxy and some are only essential to a particular denomination or expression.

Michael Patton uses the following helpful chart to portray the degrees of essentiality for the Christian ...

Essential for salvation:
 
These are the most essential doctrines of all essentials and includes what every Christian should always be willing to die for. In essence, if someone does not believe the doctrines that are “essential for salvation,” they are not saved. What must one believe in order to be saved? What we might  include:
  • Belief in God (there is no such thing as an atheistic Christian)
  • Issues pertaining to the person and work of Christ:
    • Belief in Christ’s deity and humanity (1 John 4:2-3; Rom. 10:9)
    • Belief that you are a sinner in need of God’s mercy (1 John 1:10)
    • Belief that Christ died on the cross and rose bodily from the grave (1 Cor 15:3-4)
    • Belief that faith in Christ is necessary (John 3:16)
    • Repentance (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30)
Without these most important essentials, one simply doesn't have any sense of what it means to be a Christian; to lose them is to lose the very essence and heart of Christianity. At heart, these beliefs should differentiate a believer from an unbeliever.

Essential for historic Christian orthodoxy:
 
These include beliefs “essential for salvation” but are also broader in that they also express what has been believed by the historic Christian church for the last two thousand years, no matter what tradition. They are best expressed by the Vincentian Canon (434 A.D.) which is the famous threefold test of orthodoxy expressed by Vincent of Lérins (400-50) - those beliefs "held everywhere [ubique], always [semper], and by all [ab omnibus]." This triple norm of diffusion, endurance, and universality helps a Christian distinguish religious truth from error.
 
To define these beliefs, we ask, “What have all Christians everywhere always believed?”. They differentiate an orthodox Christian from an unorthodox one (someone I would not want teaching in the church). Some of what we might include:
  • The doctrine of the Trinity as expressed at Nicea
  • The doctrine of the Hypostatic Union (Christ is fully man and fully God) as expressed at Chalcedon
  • The belief in the future second coming of Christ
  • A belief in the inspiration and authority of Scripture
  • A belief in eternal punishment for the wicked
  • A belief in God’s transcendence (his metaphysical distinction from the universe)
  • Belief that Christ is the only way to the Father
While some of these doctrines “developed,” in early church history, their development is only in relation to their seed form which preexisted their more mature expression, and was necessitated as a defense against unorthodox thinking (i.e., the articulation of Trinitarianism to combat the heresy of Arianism.)
 
Essential for traditional orthodoxy:
 
These will necessarily include all of those from the two previous categories, but now add more distinctives of their own. Essentials here include all of those that are foundational to one of the three main Christian “traditions”: Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, or Roman Catholicism. These are beliefs that distinguish one tradition from the next, but are not absolutely essential from the broader Christian worldview expressed above.
 
Some Protestant distinctives might include:
  • General belief in the major pronouncements of the first seven ecumenical councils (325-787 AD)
  • Belief in the necessity for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Belief that justification is through faith alone on the basis of Christ alone
  • Belief that Scripture alone has ultimate authority on all matters of faith and practice
  • The canon of Scripture made up of 66 books (excluding the Deuterocanonical books)
Some Roman Catholic distinctives might include:
  • Belief in transubstantiation (the bread and wine turn into the actual body and blood of Christ)
  • Belief that justification is through faith and works
  • Belief that both Scripture and unwritten tradition have ultimate authority as they are interpreted by the Magisterium
  • Belief in the authority of twenty-one ecumenical councils
  • Belief that the Pope is the infallible vicar of Christ
  • Belief in the Marian dogmas
  • Belief that the canon includes the Deuterocanonical books
Some Eastern Orthodox distinctives might include:
  • Belief in the infallibility of the first seven ecumenical councils (325-787 AD)
  • Belief that the liturgy of the Church is part of the Gospel
  • Rejection of substitutionary atonement and the imputation of Adam’s sin
  • Salvation by grace through faith as God works these out through our unification with Him (theosis)
Essential for denominational orthodoxy:
 
Again, these include the above categories, but are one step down in importance, dealing with the particular and peculiar denominational expressions of the various Protestant traditions. Some examples:
  • Credo-baptism, i.e., Baptism is only for believers (Baptists)
  • Infant baptism (Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans)
  • Unconditional election (Reformed and Presbyterians)
  • Arminian theology (Methodists, Nazarenes)
  • Belief in the continuation of the Charismatic gifts (Pentecostals, Church of God, Assemblies of God)
Important but not essential:
 
These are those beliefs that do not describe any particular tradition necessarily. They are important, but not that important in relation to the previous classifications. Some examples:
  • Beliefs about particulars in the creation debate
  • Belief whether the books of Jonah and Job are historical accounts
  • Beliefs about the inerrancy of Scripture
  • Beliefs about the authorship of 2 Peter
  • Belief about particular end-time schemes (i.e. premillennial, amillennial, post-millennial)
  • The order of books in the canon
  • Which translation of the Bible to use from the pulpit
  • Which Gospel was written first
  • How often one should celebrate the Lord’s supper
  • Whether or not Christ taught in Greek or Aramaic
Not Important:
 
These are beliefs that people have concerning Christian doctrine that are not important for any expression and do not affect Christian devotion or spirituality. Some examples:
  • The date of Christ’s birth (Christmas)
  • What kind of music to play at church
  • Whether to use real wine or grape juice at communion
  • Whether to hold Saturday night services
  • Whether or not John the Baptist was an Essene
Pure speculation:
 
These are simple speculation. We just don’t know one way or another, nor does it matter. Some examples:
  • Belief in the eternal destiny of pets?
  • What was God doing “before” creation?
  • Will there be meat to eat in heaven?
  • How long was it before Adam and Eve fell?