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Last Christians ponder leaving a hometown in Iraq “What gives me courage is that my Muslim brothers say, ‘Don’t leave'”

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on January 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

By JOHN LELAND and DURAID ADNAN

HABBANIYA CECE, Iraq  — The last Christian man in town goes to church each morning to clean the building and to remember the past. Romel Hawal, 48, was born in this town in Anbar Province back when most of the population was Christian. Now, he said, his 11-year-old son knows no other Christians and has no memory of attending a church service.

“When my son swears, it is on the Koran, not the Bible,” Mr. Hawal lamented.

His wife wants to leave town or leave the country, joining what is becoming an exodus of Christians from Iraq and throughout the Middle East. But Mr. Hawal said he felt an obligation to stay. And he found support from an unlikely source.

“What gives me courage,” he said, “is that my Muslim brothers say, ‘Don’t leave.’ ”

Here in Habbaniya Cece, residents talk about their town as an oasis of ethnic and religious harmony, where Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites all lived together for decades without friction.

On one short stretch of rutted road near Mr. Hawal’s church, Mary Queen of Peace, are an Assyrian church, a Sunni mosque, a Shiite mosque and another, older, Sunni mosque.

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“This is the best place you will find in Iraq, because we have Christians and Muslims together,” said the mayor, Sabah Fawzi, a Muslim, who stopped by the church to look in on Mr. Hawal. “When my wife and daughters want something, sometimes they come to the church to ask God for it.”

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But even on this street the buildings tell a more complicated story. The Assyrian church, St. George the Martyr, lies empty and hollowed out after an explosion in 2005. The Shiite mosque, Husseiniya Habbaniya, is a brand-new building but has no imam, or cleric, because of attacks against Shiites in the region, including a 2006 bombing that damaged the previous building.

These and other attacks shattered the mutual interdependence that had flourished for much of the past century, residents say.

As Anbar Province became a stronghold for Al Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni extremist groups, Christians and Shiites, feeling singled out, fled the area, until this town of 10,150 had only one Christian family, down from about 70 families before the American-led invasion of 2003. There were not enough Shiites to fill the big new mosque.

Jehad Nga for The New York Times

Romel Hawal, a Christian, sits in the garden of the Mary Queen of Peace church in Habbaniya Cece, Iraq, on Jan. 17, 2011.

Khadem Owaid, the caretaker of the Shiite mosque, said people from the town had no part in the sectarian violence that swept through the province after 2003. “The occupation destroyed everything,” Mr. Owaid said. “It was strangers who came and made trouble, trying to plant something between us. But we’re living together now, there’s no problem.”

At Mary Queen of Peace, Mr. Hawal is now caretaker not just to an old church but to a history. For most of the last century Habbaniya was an important hub for Assyrian Christians from around Iraq, with an educated elite and a unique dialect. Assyrian regiments fought alongside the British against Arab nationalists and the Axis powers, and the name Habbaniya Cece comes from the Habbaniya civil cantonment established by the British air force after World War I.

From their British counterparts, Assyrians here brought soccer to Iraq, said Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East in Beirut, who was born in Habbaniya.

The Christian population began to drop in the 1970s and 1980s for economic reasons, the archdeacon and current residents said.

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Mr. Hawal, who is Assyrian, switched to Mary Queen of Peace, which is Roman Catholic, after his brother became the caretaker, and remained after his brother moved to Baghdad and then to the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq. About half of Iraq’s Christians have left the country since the invasion.

‘I can’t leave’

Mr. Hawal remembered Christmas celebrations in the garden at Mary Queen of Peace, staying up all night with his Muslim neighbors, both Arabs and Kurds.

“This is history for us,” he said. “I can still smell my friends here and my family here. Many friends now say I should leave, that they have work for me where they are, but I can’t leave the church.”

Mr. Fawzi, the mayor, mourns the loss of his former neighbors. “I would give my life for the life that used to be here to come back.”

The church building now is a monument to their absence, with its heavy wooden pews moved to the edges of a barren concrete floor. It has no heat or electricity. Next to it is a large field of garbage. “When I come here I feel pain,” Mr. Hawal said. “I don’t think it will ever be back again like it was, when we had a beautiful garden.”

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Gone, too, are the sounds that once defined the town. “The bell used to ring here, and the azzan from the mosque,” said Nofah Ramah al-Dulaimi, 72, who runs a small clothing shop next to the church, referring to the Islamic call to prayer, which sounds five times a day.

Ms. Dulaimi said she used to keep a notebook of the names of all the families in town, Christian and Muslim, but she burned it two or three years ago, “because I didn’t want to remember.”

Like Mr. Hawal, she especially recalled celebrating Christmas together. Christian friends would remind her that the holiday was approaching, and she would bake cakes and pies for the occasion. But this year, she said, “I didn’t know when it was Christmas.”

Mr. Hawal said that his life had become culturally identical to those of his neighbors. At his construction materials shop he hangs a sign that says Allahu Akbar, or God is great, and the customers know him as Abu Yousif (father of Yousif) the Christian. The family prays at home, he said, but the rituals are incomplete without a priest.

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The hardest part, he said, is raising his son here.

“Whenever I look at him my heart breaks,” Mr. Hawal said. “He is my closest friend. I just want him to live a normal life where he can practice the Christian traditions.” If another Christian family would take care of the church, he said, he would leave town.

Even with security improving, he still worried about Yousif. Sometimes his wife calls him to say Yousif is missing, and Mr. Hawal has to track the boy down to the soccer field, where he is playing with Muslim friends — enjoying the game that Assyrian Christians brought to Iraq, momentarily free of sectarian strife. But the sanctuary is fragile, Mr. Hawal knows.

“I am afraid to lose him,” he said. “I always tell him not to go to far places, and not to talk to any stranger. He is everything I have left.”

This story, ” Last Christians Ponder Leaving a Hometown in Iraq,” originally appeared in The New York Times.

 

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Know your Heretics

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on January 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Historical Background

Arius (256-336 A.D.) is the most famous heretic of Christian theology. He was born in Libya and died in Constantinople. Arius held a prominent position as a priest in the Church of Alexandria when he started a theological controversy in 318. Arius denied the eternal deity of Christ and his equality with the Father. He argued that Christ was created by the Father. Since the age of the Apostles, Jesus had always been considered divine by his followers, but his precise relation to the Godhead had not yet been defined. Thanks to Arius, the Trinitarian controversy regarding the status of Jesus Christ erupted.

 

Arius’ View of Jesus

Arius did not believe that the Father and the Son were of the same substance. Instead, he believed in the eternal functional and ontological subordination of the Son to the Father—that the Son was a lower being than the Father. According to Arius, the Son was created before time. In other words, he was not co-eternal with the Father. As he put it, “Before he was begotten or created or appointed or established, he did not exist; for he was not unbegotten” (Letter to Eusebius). Furthermore, the Son was not of one divine substance with the Father. He was rather of a similar substance with the Father (homoiousios). On this view, the divine qualities of the Son are given to him by the Father. Arius claimed that when the Scriptures speak of Jesus as the “Son” of God, it is merely a title of honor—a title given to Jesus as the one on whom the Father had lavished a special grace. Thus, Arius says, “He is not God truly, but by participation in grace…He too is called God in name only” (Early Christian Doctrines).

 

Orthodox Response

The theology of Arius became so controversial that Constantine intervened in 325, calling the Council of Nicaea. Athanasius, the leading defender of Nicene orthodoxy and the most prolific writer of orthodox Trinitarian doctrine in the fourth century, saw a major flaw in the writings of Arius and called his heresy the “forerunner of the Antichrist” (Athanasius, Or. Ar. 1:1). According to Athanasius, the Son was eternally begotten from the Father such that he can be said to be of the same essence (homoousios) with the Father: “The Son is other in kind and nature than the creatures, or rather belongs to the Father’s substance and is of the same nature as He.” (Athanasius, Contra Arianos, III).

 

Why Does All This Matter?

There are some today who repeat Arius’ views. However, Jesus claimed to be God and the Christian tradition has held that there is an intimate connection between salvation and the deity of Christ. We are saved from God by God. Only a divine Savior can bear the weight of God’s wrath in atonement. Only Jesus as the God-man can satisfy the enormous debt and penalty caused by human sin against God. No mere human could bridge that gap. Only a divine Savior can pay the costly price of redeeming us from our bondage to sin and death. Only the God-man can conquer all his people’s enemies. Our salvation rests on the infinite capacities of our savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Historical Background

In the early 5th century a debate arose between Pelagius, a British monk, and Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. They disagreed over the relationship between human nature after the Fall and saving, divine grace in Jesus Christ. When Pelagius arrived in Rome and saw the city’s dim view of morality, he developed a reputation for being a spiritual director who urged people to reform their behavior and live lives as upstanding, moral citizens.

 

Pelagius’ View of Sin

Pelagius rejected the doctrines of original sin, substitutionary atonement, and justification by faith. Pelagius emphasized unconditional free will and the ability to better oneself spiritually without grace. This was in direct contrast to Augustine, who believed that humanity was completely helpless in Adam’s sin and in desperate need of grace. Specifically, Pelagius took issue with Augustine’s prayer in his Confessions, which asked God to grant humans grace to act in accordance with his divine commands: “Grant what you command and command what you will.” (Confessions, X. 40). Pelagius rejected the teaching of “original sin,” the results of the Fall upon humanity. According to him, Adam’s sin in no way made humans corrupt, but instead “over the years our sin gradually corrupts us, building an addiction and then holding us bound with what seems like the force of nature itself.” (Letter to Demetrias, VIII). Humans by nature have a clean slate, and it is only through voluntary sin that humans are made wicked. Potentially, then, one could live a sinless life and merit heaven. Pelagius thought that God commanding a person to do something that he lacked the ability to do would be useless: “To call a person to something he considers impossible does him no good.” (Letter to Demetrias, I). If God called humans to live moral lives, Pelagius thought, it should be within their power to carry out such commands.

 

Orthodox Response

Pelagius’ error was deemed heretical in 416 by the Council of Carthage. Originally Adam, Augustine said, possessed freedom—the ability not to sin. After the Fall, all human beings participate in Adam’s sin, which renders them not able not to sin. After the mediation of divine grace in Jesus Christ humans are once again given the ability not to sin. Augustine replied to Pelagius’ views in two treatises: On the Grace of Christ and On Original Sin. Augustine writes: “We must realize that Pelagius believes that neither our will nor our action is helped by divine aid…he believes that God does not help us to will, that he does not help us to act, that he helps us only to be able to will and to act.”(On the Grace of Christ, V.6). Augustine saw Pelagius’ teaching to be a clear denial of Philippians 2:12-13, because Pelagius located the capacity “to will and to do” what pleases God in human nature rather than in God’s grace.”(On the Grace of Christ, V.6 and VI.7).

 

Why Does All This Matter?

Ignoring the consequences the Fall has on everyone leads to a diminishment of the multifaceted work of Christ. In his ministry Jesus not only bore our sins on the cross, but lived a perfect life in obedience to the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit—the life that Adam failed to live—in order to restore fallen humans to their original state of grace. It is not only through the grace of God that humans are initially saved but also through this grace that they are sustained. As Augustine put it, God “guards the weak so that by his gift the saints unfailingly choose the good and unfailingly refuse to abandon it.”(On Rebuke and Grace, 38). Without understanding the magnitude of sin and the plight of humanity, the gracious work of Jesus for us and our salvation seems superfluous. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” Because of sin, humans are not naturally good—that’s why we need Jesus.

The Rise of the Judaizers

A problem arose in the early church when the apostles took the gospel of Jesus to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. When Gentiles responded to the gospel, a conflict arose that threatened to divide the church. A group called the Judaizers opposed Paul and Barnabas at the Council of Jerusalem (AD 50) in Acts 15. They were uncertain that the benefits of the covenant people of God were to be extended to the Gentiles, thus doubting their conversion by the gospel. Paul’s response assures them that the Gentiles had indeed been made partakers in the blessings of the covenant, namely, the Holy Spirit: “And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9).

 

The Judaizers’ View of Salvation

The Judaizers were teaching that God still required everyone to observe certain rituals and statutes in order to be accepted by him as Father. Paul, in recounting his confrontation of Peter before the Judaizers, gives us an insight into the teaching of this group (Gal. 2:14). Apparently, the Judaizers were attempting to force Gentile Christians to live under the regulations of the Mosaic Law. They are also called the “circumcision party” (Gal. 2:12), because one of the specific elements of the Law that the Judaizers were forcing the Gentile Christians to live by was the practice of circumcision. Peter had withdrawn himself from eating with Gentile Christians, fearing the opposition that would come from the Judaizers. Eating with Gentiles would have rendered Peter ceremonially unclean under the Old Covenant, by breaking an important element of the Mosaic Law. However, Paul said Peter’s conduct was “not in step with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14).

 

The Orthodox Response

Paul’s response is given in Galatians 2:16: “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” Paul’s other response is found in Galatians 5:12: “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” He suggests self-castration for those who require circumcision for others. Paul made his point clearly. According to Paul and the response drafted at the Council of Jerusalem, the Gentiles were not obligated to follow the restrictions of the Law. They were free in Christ, who had fulfilled the demands of the Law. Paul exhorted the Gentiles to abstain from practices associated with pagan idol worship, not to earn their salvation, but as a response to the life-changing message of the gospel and in gratitude for God’s gift of salvation.

 

Why Does All This Matter?

While the heresy of the Judaizers was put to rest by the Apostle Paul, the idea behind their erroneous belief still permeates the church today. The issues are no longer circumcision or ceremonial uncleanness, but the question of how the law relates to salvation—or how works relate to righteousness—is still something that many Christians remain confused about today. Paul’s exhortation to the Judaizers remains as important as ever. It is not by works that we are saved, but solely by the grace of Christ. In fact, to add anything to the work of Christ for salvation actually negates God’s grace. Paul says, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Gal. 2:21).

 

The Historical Background

Sabellius, a third-century theologian and priest, was a proponent of modalism. Modalism is a non-Trinitarian heresy claiming that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are simply different modes of God and not distinct persons within the Godhead. Little is known about Sabellius, who was excommunicated in 220 AD, but the teaching attached to his name became infamous and is still with us today.

 

Sabellius’ View of God

The modalists were rightly concerned with maintaining the oneness of God as well as the full deity of Christ. However, this led them to the error of seeing any suggestion that the Son was a distinct person from the Father as creating a duality within the Godhead. Early historian Hippolytus summarized the modalist position as one in which the names “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” did not stand for real distinctions in the Godhead, but rather mere names that described the actions of the one God at different times in history. In other words, “Father,” “Son,” and “Spirit” are merely adjectives describing how the one divine Being acts and is perceived. Sabellius used the analogy of the sun to explain his position. In the same way that the sun gives off both light and heat, so also the single divine being radiates in history in different fashions. In creation, the divine Being acts as Father; in redemption, as Son; in the lives of believers, as the Holy Spirit.

 

The Orthodox Response

The orthodox response to the heresy of Sabellius (and other modalists) came from Tertullian, the African theologian. In Against Praxeas, Tertullian argued that Scripture reveals that the Godhead is three who are at the same time one. He rightly considered this an essential doctrine of Christianity. In the Sabellian modalist view, the three are not anything real, but rather just different manifestations of the one. Therefore, Tertullian proposed that we speak of the Godhead as “one substance (substantia) consisting in three persons (persona).” This terminology would serve as the basis for future Latin theology, and it is from Tertullian’s pen that the important Christian word “Trinity” (trinitas) was first inked.

 

Why Does All This Matter?

Sabellianism is one of the heresies in Christendom that keeps appearing again and again in different forms. Anyone who has sat in a Sunday School class and heard that God’s Tri-unity is like water in that it appears to us in three forms (liquid, steam, and ice) has been exposed to a contemporary variation of modalism. God is not one person that exists in three different forms at three different times, but three distinct persons concurrently sharing one common essence. Modalism also reared its ugly head in the classic liberal theology of Friedrich Schleiermacher, and it is even seen today in the “Oneness” sect of Pentecostalism, which clearly denies the doctrine of the Trinity. What is at stake in the debate is not merely fancy theological terminology, but our understanding of God himself. For example, if Sabellian modalism were true, the intimate relationship that existed between the Father and the Son from all eternity (John 17) would be irrational. Modalism undercuts the atoning work of Jesus Christ, as well. If there is only one God who works in different modes of being throughout history, one must question whether Jesus Christ was truly a man, or if he only appeared to be such, as the heresy of Docetism declares. If Jesus Christ is not fully God and fully man, then he cannot be the one mediator between God and man. It is for this reason that the heresy of Sabellian modalism must be rejected, and the biblical doctrine of the Trinity must be affirmed.

Historical Background

In the years following the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., the church was wrestling with many questions about the person and work of Christ. At Nicaea, the deity of Christ was established as orthodox Christian teaching, but many questions concerning the person of Christ remained. Apollinarius, named the Bishop of Laodicea in 362 A.D., is responsible for Apollinarianism. This view compromises the full humanity of Jesus by suggesting that the eternal logos (Word) replaced the human soul of Jesus and served as the life-giving principle in the body of Christ.

 

Apollinarius’ View of Jesus

Apollinarius says, “The flesh, being dependent for its motions on some other principle of movement and action…is not of itself a complete living entity, but in order to become one enters into fusion with something else. So it united itself with the heavenly governing principle [the Logos] and was fused with it…Thus out of the moved and the mover was compounded a single living entity—not two, nor one compound of two complete, self-moving principles” (Apollinarius, “Fragment 107”). J.N.D. Kelly, a prominent scholar of doctrinal history, writes, “The presupposition of this argument is that the divine Word was substituted for the normal human psychology in Christ.” Put differently, the humanity that was assumed in the incarnation was not a complete humanity but lacked a significant component of personhood. Apollinarius believed, then, that Jesus was only partially human.

 

The Orthodox Response

The teaching of Apollinarius was condemned at Antioch in 378 and 379 and by the Council of Constantinople in 381. The primary defender of theological orthodoxy was Gregory of Nazianzus, a 4th century Eastern theologian and the Archbishop of Constantinople. He saw Apollinarius as compromising the saving work of Jesus: “If anyone has put his trust in him as a man without a human mind, he is really bereft of mind, and quite unworthy of salvation. For that which he has not assumed he has not healed; but that which is united to his Godhead is also saved. If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole” (“To Cledonius Against Apollinarius”). In other words, if all of Adam was lost and ruined by the Fall, then Christ, the second Adam, must put on all that Adam possessed in order to restore human nature and live the life that Adam failed to live. These issues regarding salvation motivated Gregory to articulate a Christology faithful to the Bible.

 

Why Does All This Matter?

If Apollinarius is right and the “Word” replaced the human soul of Jesus, we are left wondering how Christ can be fully human. Far from lacking a normal human psychology, the Gospels depict Jesus as being completely human in the way he experienced sorrow, pain, and other genuinely human experiences. Certainly Jesus Christ was fully God, as the council of Nicaea maintained, but he was also fully man. And it was his deity—as well as his humanity—that allowed him to be our perfect substitute, the mediator between God and humanity for us and for our salvation.


 

Score One for Judeo-Christian Culture

In Apologetics, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Sin, Trinity on December 12, 2010 at 5:49 pm

By John Bennett

12/12/2010

 

Multiculturalism creates a neurotic and dishonest society. This is seen very plainly during the Christmas season. Those of us who celebrate Christmas are told that we must rip the very core of this season out, and replace it with a phony, soulless thing called “Holiday” or “Winter.” This is dishonest because nobody celebrates winter. “Holiday” is a shallow term to describe Christmas; the term abuses language to impose a false meaning on a reality that most of us cherish.

 

“Holiday” and “Winter” are weasel words used by cultural appeasers who are too ashamed of their own culture to say what everybody knows to be true. That is, that most of us are celebrating Christmas. Maintaining Christmas is part of preserving the culture that gave us almost everything that we have worth keeping. The whole name-changing charade is neurotic because it forces people to pretend that our majority culture is not what it actually is.

 

Now, the madness of the Christmas season is upon us- not the madness of shopping centers, but the madness of toxic tolerance. It’s happening already in Philadelphia, where a shopping plaza was transformed from “Christmas Village” to “Holiday Village.”

 

Sensitive people will respond that concerns about church-state separation could come in to play. But there is not the remotest trace of such a concern to be found in the initial Philadelphia decision. The reported rationale offered by the city manager was that “This is not about taking Christmas out of the holiday. It’s about being more inclusive.” He also said that the decision was not based on political correctness, but on “common sense.”

 

Just follow the logic of his statement. We want to be inclusive, which means embrace diversity. Therefore we are going to express disapproval for the majority culture that made this nation great, which is what attracted those diverse people in the first instance. Yes, it was largely immigrants of Christian denominations who built this country, and if one does not like that fact then they are free to find another place whose history doesn’t offend them. Next, as the city manager’s logic goes, in place of the majority culture we will substitute a contrived, nebulous thing called “Holiday” or “Winter” which means nothing to anybody.

 

Ultimately, the Philadelphia Mayor urged “Christmas” to be placed back on the sign. But consider the conflict that played out there, as it does in many cities, every year: For fear of mildly offending a few unreasonable people who don’t like to see or hear the word Christmas, we have chosen instead to completely outrage many people who celebrate Christmas as part of our nation’s majority culture.

 

Some people call it the “war on Christmas” but this phenomenon is best described as part of something larger that harms us year round: toxic tolerance. Toxic tolerance has been described as “the imperative never to offend anyone, no matter how evil, duplicitous, or exploitative they might be.” Tolerance is supposed to be something that makes society better off by placing consideration of others before one’s own narrow views. Liberals treat tolerance as an absolute value. Along with “embracing diversity,” tolerance is one of the only values liberals will allow- or should I say tolerate.

 

Make no mistake about it, those who rip Christmas out of public life are duplicitous and exploitative, no matter what they claim their victim status to be, and no matter how noble their motives. It is duplicitous to attack the majority culture under the pretense of tolerance, when the outcome of the ostensible tolerance is to be intolerant of the majority culture. It is exploitative to use privileged victim status to enforce personal preferences at the expense of a profoundly important cultural and, yes, religious observance. There are few things more self-centered than using privileged victim status to erase part of the culture one finds themselves in. If Westerners went to non-western nations and tried this ungrateful, petty behavior, they would be rightly condemned or worse, depending on the locale.

 

We invite hypocrisy as well- not just garden variety hypocrisy, but the type of fundamental hypocrisy that makes a sham of our self-respect and attacks our national identity. In particular, we can’t have any mention of Christ at Christmastime in public, government places, but your tax money will be used to degrade and insult Christ.

 

Witness the Smithsonian’s display, this close to Christmas, of ant-covered Jesus art. The federally funded Smithsonian featured an art film showing a bloody plastic crucifix with ants crawling on the face and body. That’s what they think of our majority culture. Ant-covered Jesus went along with Ellen DeGeneres man-handling her own breasts, and naked brothers kissing- neither part of a Christmas display, as far as one can tell. The people who despise the majority culture are forcing taxpayers to fund their contempt for our society. This is sheer dishonesty and exploitation.

 

At root, this toxic tolerance and holiday madness is produced by blending multicultural appeasement with a thoughtless liberal notion of equality- not equality brought about by merit or based on majority norms, but equality brought about by government coercion, leveling, and betraying the majority culture. We are told, particularly in educational settings, that all cultures are equal- without any proof or justification. On top of the absurd premise of equality, liberals add legal or social coercion.

 

If a fraction of the public doesn’t celebrate Christmas, we’ll offend the majority by eliminating references to their cultural observance. Thus stores and communities take “Christ” and “Christmas” out of the season, as in Philadelphia.

 

Likewise, if certain groups can’t perform academically at a high standard, we’ll destroy the high standard. Thus a high school in affluent Evanston, Illinois is considering eliminating an honors course because the class had too many whites and not enough minorities.

 

And if certain groups are more likely to commit terrorism, we’ll avoid offending those groups, pretend that everyone is an equal risk, and obscenely offend all groups. Thus, TSA searches a wheelchair-bound nun.

 

Every place where multiculturalists make the rules, the people who work hard are having their interests undermined, and the majority culture has to let itself be muzzled. Make things worse for successful people in order to compensate for those who aren’t. That will make everyone strive to do better. Erode the majority culture to make minorities feel more welcome. That will increase social harmony.

 

We in America, and in the West as a whole, need to stop apologizing for our culture. We –or more accurately those who came before us- have created something great, and that is why people leave their non-Christian nations to come here and to other Western nations. How dare anyone say they have a right to the benefits of our society while at the same time attacking the root of our culture?

 

The norm needs to be reinforced: At Christmas time, we are celebrating the birth of the historical figure who gave rise to our culture, Jesus Christ. We who celebrate Christmas should be vocal in saying that we are offended when Christmas is ripped out of public life. Those who do not celebrate can bloody well not celebrate. It is selfish and insulting to demand that the majority alter something sacred, simply for the convenience or comfort of an unreasonable minority.

 

If the liberal mayor of Philadelphia can be pressured to change course, just about anyone can. The first battle in the War on Christmas has been won by Judeo-Christian culture. No one has an excuse for sitting out. We need to take our culture back and take our country back. That is one resolution that we can achieve before the New Year.

 

John Bennett

John Bennett is a former Army officer and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. His writing has appeared in the American Thinker and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

 

Merry Christmas is it against the Law?

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on December 6, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Seems every Christmas season we hear about those who want to eliminate Christ from Christmas. Hiding behind the disguise of offense and tolerance we are told that Christmas and the Christian celebration is offensive and intolerable. We are being told to wish everyone “Happy Holidays” for the benefit of those who do not celebrate Christmas. Religious displays of the Nativity are being outlawed from public view and this is done under the disguise of governmental approval of religion. I would suspect most of us sit back and marvel at the stupidity and ridiculous behavior of those opposed to something as very basic to our culture as Americans, founded upon the inalienable rights afforded by our Creator. The language of the founding fathers was very explicit in naming the Judeo Christian God as our Creator. The same language of our founding fathers prevented government from appointing state religions and also intended the freedom and free exercise of religion. The language of today’s modern court system in denying such basic rights guaranteed by our Constitution as the free exercise of religion seems in total contradiction of the Constitution.

What kind of response should churches and Christians offer to those who consistently oppose the Christian message and most especially Christmas itself?

How can we oppose those who oppose us and maintain our command “to love our neighbor as ourselves” and “to love our enemies” in the tradition of Christianity?

The founding of our country and the very concept of religious freedom were taken from Holy Scripture and weaved into the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. How do we separate being responsible followers of Christ and proud patriotic Americans?

Far too often we have allowed the joining of Christianity and patriotism to the detriment of Christianity. As a follower of Christ I am responsible for my citizenship in his kingdom. As an American I am taught to be patriotic and law-abiding following the Constitution and its directives. If we make the mistake most often seen in our society we confuse being a good American qualifying us as a good Christian. In being a Christian my citizenship in the kingdom of God is obtained by surrendering my life to Jesus Christ. Being born in America automatically makes me a citizen though not necessarily patriotic. I learned patriotism from those who love our country and the freedoms we enjoy. I become a Christian because I had failed to follow God’s law and repented allowing Jesus to be my sovereign God. In a society like America we have determined to allow other beliefs and even non believers to enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship. As Christians in America we have been careful to make sure through the Constitution to allow those who have different beliefs to coexist together. It seems those who have benefited from the freedoms designated by the founding fathers are the very ones who are opposed to those same freedoms when they disagree with the message. Speaking as an American citizen I support and defend the rights of those to express their disagreement with my point of view. I support the concept of free speech even speech that I am opposed to! The real question comes into view where is their support of my free speech when it is offensive to them? Typically in our society we form a consensus of accepted and unaccepted behavior and it is enforced to our system of laws. Since the founding of our country the accepted behavior for Christmas celebration until recently has been displaying religious symbols in the public square for viewing purposes. For those who did not celebrate this religious occasion or believed in it they typically tolerated it because of the freedoms that were guaranteed in the Constitution. Also those who disagree typically with the celebration did not participate but would find it offensive to stop those who do from celebrating. The thinking was if I tolerate this behavior they will tolerate my behavior. The truly sad part of this commentary is the loss of true tolerance. Until recently tolerance was seen as putting up with something I personally disagree with. The mitigating factor that moved tolerance to intolerance was violation of our basic constitutional principles. At some point some behaviors become as heinous as to be intolerable that would typically included racism, fascism, communism, and socialism. These behaviors circumvent the basic constitutional rights we as a self-governing people have established to protect our culture and our society. As a Christian I have made the decision before it becomes illegal in the public square to be public about my faith! I’m making a statement about my faith not to be reactionary or inflammatory but obedient to the faith as I understand it. Those who claim Christ in the public square must also understand that if it becomes illegal we will become lawbreakers and suffer the consequence for that behavior. Jesus never promised to keep us from the consequence of the expression of our faith and more importantly warned us of the impending persecution that awaits us. God has prescribed through his word that we follow the laws of the land, those laws prescribe punishment for social disobedience. As an American citizen I will oppose those who limit my freedom of religion and expression thereof. As a Christian I will temper my arguments to be obedient to Christ yet I will disagree with those who oppose my Christian faith. We’re told the gospel is an offense to those who don’t believe we are also not to add offense to it. There is a fine line in defending our freedom and protecting our faith. Our faith and obedience to Jesus the Christ should always supersede, overrule and determine our response. Remember we are promised in Scripture if we live according to the principles Christ demanded from us, when we are accused there should be a lack of evidence to condemn us in regards to the faith.

Being an American in today’s society is truly a difficult task, being loyal, being patriotic, and being a productive law-abiding citizen is passé. Compounding the difficulty is the issue of Christianity; remember if America fails Christianity didn’t! If this experiment in self governance fails I believe it is because we compromised the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Our founding fathers asked for God’s blessing on our nation and rightly so. As a Christian I know that God will not bless disobedience. Once again God does not fail if America does, but America failed God if it falls.

As the close of 2010 nears, Merry Christmas may God bless and keep you!

 

World View Matters what’s yours?

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on December 3, 2010 at 9:31 am

FIRST-PERSON: The glory of God & the life of the mind

By R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Dec 2, 2010

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–To be human is to think, and to think is to operate within a worldview. Every individual operates out of a basic set of convictions about reality, truth, meaning and how the world works. As thinking creatures, we create, perceive, absorb and base our thinking upon certain intellectual assumptions that, in essence, allow the world to make sense to us.

 

There is nothing distinctively Christian about having a worldview. The very process of intellectual activity requires some framework, and no idea is independent of prior assumptions. As human beings, we can hardly begin each moment of intellectual activity without dependence upon assumptions that are, in essence, pre-philosophical. This is true for all human beings, regardless of the actual content and shape of their worldviews.

 

The great challenge for the Christian is to craft a worldview that is distinctively Christian in its shape, substance and structure. This is no easy task, especially in an intellectually complex world that is marked by an incredible diversity of worldviews and ideologies.

 

In this generation, a growing number of Christians understand the responsibility for developing a Christian worldview. Nevertheless, for many of these Christians, the development of a Christian worldview is reduced to certain principles of conviction that are assumed to lead to certain pragmatic conclusions and practical applications. There is no shortage of seminars, books, courses and curricula directed toward the development of the Christian worldview. There is good reason to be thankful for this recovery of interest in developing a Christian worldview, but there is an even greater need to advance toward a more comprehensive understanding of the Christian worldview that finds its beginning and end in the glory of God.

 

Christianity recognizes and affirms the importance of the intellect. The life of the mind is understood to be a central issue of Christian discipleship. The Christian is not only to live in obedience to Christ, but is also to serve Christ through the development of a distinctively Christian mind.

 

All too many Christians ignore the intellectual component of discipleship. This tragic reality betrays a misunderstanding of the Gospel, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ requires cognitive understanding. In other words, there is a knowledge that is central to the Christian faith. As the Apostle Paul makes clear in Romans 10, faith comes by hearing, and that faith is established upon truth claims that are nonnegotiable and necessary for salvation.

 

Christian faithfulness requires the development of the believer’s intellectual capacities in order that we may understand the Christian faith, develop habits of Christian thought, form intuitions that are based upon biblical truth, and live in faithfulness to all that Christ teaches. This is no easy task, to be sure. Just as Christian discipleship requires growth and development, intellectual faithfulness requires a lifetime of devoted study, consecrated thinking, and analytical reflection.

 

As Anselm of Canterbury, a leading Christian theologian of the 11th century, classically affirmed, the Christian task is well defined as “faith seeking understanding.” In other words, the Christian faith honors intellectual responsibility and the life of the mind. The faith that justifies sinners is a faith that requires a certain knowledge and then leads to a responsibility to advance in knowledge and understanding in order to move “from milk to meat” in terms of intellectual substance.

 

All this is necessary in order that the disciple would grow in grace and in understanding, but it is also necessary in order that Christians will grow in intellectual discernment. This intellectual discernment is a necessary component of the Christian’s responsibility to know the truth, to love what is true, to discern the difference between truth and error, and to defend the faith “once for all delivered to the saints.”

 

The Christian affirmation of the life of the mind has produced schools, colleges, universities, seminaries and a host of other centers of intellectual activity. The rise of the university can be traced directly to the intellectual vigor of medieval Christianity. Christianity honors the life of the mind and has made literacy a central issue of the church’s concern. Christianity is a religion of the Book — the Bible — and it is a faith that takes the tasks of reading and writing with profound seriousness.

 

In the end, Christianity honors the life of the mind, not because it celebrates the power of human intellect, but because Christ himself instructed Christians to love God with heart, soul and mind.

 

The fact that God would command that we love Him with our minds indicates in a most profound and unmistakable sense that our Creator has made us to know Him in order that we would love Him and to seek His glory above all else. Understood in this light, our intellectual capacity and the discipleship of the mind are to culminate in the development of a Christian worldview that begins and ends in the glory of the self-revealing God of the Bible.

–30–

R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This column first appeared at AlbertMohler.com.

 

 

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Alleged Errors of Paschasius Quesnel from Turrentin Fan Bolg

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on November 21, 2010 at 8:45 am

Alleged Errors of Paschasius Quesnel.

The following document contains excerpts from Denzinger’s Sources of Catholic Dogma (first part)(second part). The first number is the number from Denzinger’s English translation, the second number is the number of the identified “error” in the document.

Errors of Paschasius Quesnel [Condemned in the dogmatic Constitution, “Unigenitus,”Sept. 8, 1713]

1351 (Sec. 3) 1. What else remains for the soul that has lost God and His grace except sin and the consequences of sin, a proud poverty and a slothful indigence, that is, a general impotence for labor, for prayer, and for every good work?

1352 2. The grace of Jesus Christ, which is the efficacious principle of every kind of good, is necessary for every good work; without it, not only is nothing done, but nothing can be done.

1353 3. In vain, O Lord, do You command, if You do not give what you command.

1354 4. Thus, O Lord, all things are possible to him for whom You make all things possible by effecting those same things in him.

1355 5. When God does not soften a heart by the interior unction of His grace, exterior exhortations and graces are of no service except to harden it the more.

1356 6. The difference between the Judaic dispensation and the Christian is this, that in the former God demanded flight from sin and a fulfillment of the Law by the sinner, leaving him in his own weakness; but in the latter, God gives the sinner what He commands, by purifying him with His grace.

1357 7. What advantage was there for a man in the old covenant, in which God left him to his own weakness, by imposing on him His law? But what happiness is it not to be admitted to a convenant in which God gives us what He asks of us?

1358 8. But we do not belong to the new covenant, except in so far as we are participators in that new grace which works in us that which God commands us.

1359 9. The grace of Christ is a supreme grace, without which we can never confess Christ, and with which we never deny Him.

1360 10. Grace is the working of the omnipotent hand of God, which nothing can hinder or retard.

1361 11. Grace is nothing else than the omnipotent Will of God, ordering and doing what He orders.

1362 12. When God wishes to save a soul, at whatever time and at whatever place, the undoubted effect follows the Will of God.

1363 13. When God wishes to save a soul and touches it with the interior hand of His grace, no human will resists Him.

1364 14. Howsoever remote from salvation an obstinate sinner is, when Jesus presents Himself to be seen by him in the salutary light of His grace, the sinner is forced to surrender himself, to have recourse to Him, and to humble himself, and to adore his Savior.

1365 15. When God accompanies His commandment and His eternal exhortation by the unction of His Spirit and by the interior force of His grace, He works that obedience in the heart that He is seeking.

1366 16. There are no attractions which do not yield to the attractions of grace, because nothing resists the Almighty.

1367 17. Grace is that voice of the Father which teaches men interiorly and makes them come to Jesus Christ; whoever does not come to Him, after he has heard the exterior voice of the Son, is in no wise taught by the Father.

1368 18. The seed of the word, which the hand of God nourishes, always brings forth its fruit.

1369 19. The grace of God is nothing else than His omnipotent Will; this is the idea which God Himself gives us in all His Scriptures.

1370 20. The true idea of grace is that God wishes Himself to be obeyed by us and He is obeyed; He commands, and all things are done; He speaks as the Lord, and all things are obedient to Him.

1371 21. The grace of Jesus Christ is a strong, powerful, supreme, invincible grace, that is, the operation of the omnipotent Will, the consequence and imitation of the operation of God causing the incarnation and the resurrection of His Son.

1372 22. The harmony of the all powerful operation of God in the heart of man with the free consent of man’s will is demonstrated, therefore, to us in the Incarnation, as in the fount and archetype of all other operations of mercy and grace, all of which are as gratuitous and as dependent on God as the original operation itself.

1373 23. God Himself has taught us the idea of the omnipotent working of His grace, signifying it by that operation which produces creatures from nothing and which restores life to the dead.

1374 24. The right idea which the centurion had about the omnipotence of God and of Jesus Christ in healing bodies by a single act of His will, [Matt. 8:8] is an image of the idea we should have about the omnipotence of His grace in healing souls from cupidity.

1375 25. God illumines the soul, and heals it, as well as the body, by His will only; He gives orders and He is obeyed.

1376 26. No graces are granted except through faith.

1377 27. Faith is the first grace and the source of all others.

1378 28. The first grace which God grants to the sinner Is the remission of sin.

1379 29. Outside of the Church, no grace is granted.

1380 30. All whom God wishes to save through Christ, are infallibly saved.

1381 31. The desires of Christ always have their effect; He brings peace to the depth of hearts when He desires it for them.

1382 32. Jesus Christ surrendered Himself to death to free forever from the hand of the exterminating angel, by His blood, the first born, that is, the elect.

1383 33. Ah, how much one ought to renounce earthly goods and himself for this, that he may have the confidence of appropriating, so to speak, Christ Jesus to himself, His love, death, and mysteries, as St. Paul does, when he says: “He who loved me, and delivered Himself for me” [Gal.2:20].

1384 34. The grace of Adam produced nothing except human merit.

1385 35. The grace of Adam is a consequence of creation and was due to his whole and sound nature.

1386 36. The essential difference between the grace of Adam and of his state of innocence and Christian grace, is that each one would have received the first in his own person, but the second is not received except in the person of the risen Jesus Christ to whom we are united.

1387 37. The grace of Adam by sanctifying him in himself was proportionate to him; Christian grace, by sanctifying us in Jesus Christ, is omnipotent, and worthy of the Son of God.

1388 38. Without the grace of the Liberator, the sinner is not free except to do evil.

1389 39. The will, which grace does not anticipate, has no light except for straying, no eagerness except to put itself in danger, no strength except to wound itself, and is capable of all evil and incapable of all good.

1390 40. Without grace we can love nothing except to our own condemnation.

1391 41. All knowledge of God, even natural knowledge, even in the pagan philosophers, cannot come except from God; and without grace knowledge produces nothing but presumption, vanity, and opposition to God Himself, instead of the affections of adoration, gratitude, and love.

1392 42. The grace of Christ alone renders a man fit for the sacrifice of faith; without this there is nothing but impurity, nothing but unworthiness.

1393 43. The first effect of baptismal grace is to make us die to sin so that our spirit, heart, and senses have no more life for sin than a dead man has for the things of the world.

1394 44. There are but two loves, from which all our volitions and actions arise: love of God, which does all things because of God and which God rewards; and the love with which we love ourselves and the world, which does not refer to God what ought to be referred to Him, and therefore becomes evil.

1395 45. When love of God no longer reigns in the heart of sinners, it needs must be that carnal desire reign in it and corrupt all of its actions.

1396 46. Cupidity or charity makes the use of the senses good or evil.

1397 47. Obedience to the law ought to flow from the source, and this source is charity. When the love of God is the interior principle of obedience and the glory of God is its end, then that is pure which appears externally; otherwise, it is but hypocrisy and false justice.

1398 48. What else can we be except darkness, except aberration, and except sin, without the light of faith, without Christ, and without charity?

1399 49. As there is no sin without love of ourselves, so there is no good work without love of God.

1400 50. In vain we cry out to God: MyFather,if it is not the spirit of charity which cries out.

1401 51. Faith justifies when it operates, but it does not operate except through charity.

1402 52. All other means of salvation are contained in faith as in their own germ and seed; but this faith does not exist apart from love and confidence.

1403 53. Only charity in the Christian way makes (Christian actions) through a relation to God and to Jesus Christ.

1404 54. It is charity alone that speaks to God; it alone that God hears.

1405 55. God crowns nothing except charity; he who runs through any other incentive or any other motive, runs in vain.

1406 56. God rewards nothing but charity; for charity alone honors God.

1407 57. All fails a sinner, when hope fails him; and there is no hope in God, when there is no love of God.

1408 58. Neither God nor religion exists where there is no charity.

1409 59. The prayer of the impious is a new sin; and what God grants to them is a new judgment against them.

1410 60. If fear of punishment alone animates penance, the more intense this is, the more it leads to despair.

1411 61. Fear restrains nothing but the hand, but the heart is addicted to the sin as long as it is not guided by a love of justice.

1412 62. He who does not refrain from evil except through fear of punishment, commits that evil in his heart, and is already guilty before God.

1413 63. A baptized person is still under the law as a Jew, if he does not fulfill the law, or if he fulfills it from fear alone.

1414 64. Good is never done under the condemnation of the law, because one sins either by doing evil or by avoiding it only through fear.

1415 65. Moses, the prophets, priests, and doctors of the Law died without having given any son to God, since they produced only slaves through fear.

1416 66. He who wishes to approach to God, should not come to Him with brutal passions, nor be led to Him by natural instinct, or through fear as animals, but through faith and love, as sons.

1417 67. Servile fear does not represent God to itself except as a stern imperious, unjust, unyielding master.

1418 68. The goodness of God has shortened the road to salvation, by enclosing all in faith and in prayers.

1419 69. Faith, practice of it, increase, and reward of faith, all are a gift of the pure liberality of God.

1420 70. Never does God afflict the innocent; and afflictions always serve either to punish the sin or to purify the sinner.

1421 71. For the preservation of himself man can dispense himself from that law which God established for his use.

1422 72. A mark of the Christian Church is that it is catholic, embracing all the angels of heaven, all the elect and the just on earth, and of all times.

1423 73. What is the Church except an assembly of the sons of God abiding in His bosom, adopted in Christ, subsisting in His person, redeemed by His blood, living in His spirit, acting through His grace, and awaiting the grace of the future life?

1424 74. The Church or the whole Christ has the Incarnate Word as head, but all the saints as members.

1425 75. The Church is one single man composed of many members, of which Christ is the head, the life, the subsistence and the person; it is one single Christ composed of many saints, of whom He is the sanctifier

1426 76. There is nothing more spacious than the Church of God; because all the elect and the just of all ages comprise it.

1427 77. He who does not lead a life worthy of a son of God and a member of Christ, ceases interiorly to have God as a Father and Christ as a head.

1428 78. One is separated from the chosen people, whose figure was the Jewish people, and whose head is Jesus Christ, both by not living according to the Gospel and by not believing in the Gospel.

1429 79. It is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for every kind of person, to study and to know the spirit, the piety, and the mysteries of Sacred Scripture.

1430 80. The reading of Sacred Scripture is for all.

1431 81. The sacred obscurity of the Word of God is no reason for the laity to dispense themselves from reading it.

1432 82. The Lord’s Day ought to be sanctified by Christians with readings of pious works and above all of the Holy Scriptures. It is harmful for a Christian to wish to withdraw from this reading.

1433 83. It is an illusion to persuade oneself that knowledge of the mysteries of religion should not be communicated to women by the reading of Sacred Scriptures. Not from the simplicity of women, but from the proud knowledge of men has arisen the abuse of the Scriptures, and have heresies been born.

1434 84. To snatch away from the hands of Christians the New Testament, or to hold it closed against them by taking away from them the means of understanding it, is to close for them the mouth of Christ.

1435 85. To forbid Christians to read Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, is to forbid the use of light to the sons of light, and to cause them to suffer a kind of excommunication.

1436 86. To snatch from the simple people this consolation of joining their voice to the voice of the whole Church is a custom contrary to the apostolic practice and to the intention of God.

1437 87. A method full of wisdom, light, and charity is to give souls time for bearing with humility, and for experiencing their state of sin, for seeking the spirit of penance and contrition, and for beginning at least to satisfy the justice of God, before they are reconciled.

1438 88. We are ignorant of what sin is and of what true penance is, when we wish to be restored at once to the possession of the goods of which sin has despoiled us, and when we refuse to endure the confusion of that separation.

1439 89. The fourteenth step in the conversion of a sinner is that, after he has already been reconciled, he has the right of assisting at the Sacrifice of the Church.

1440 90. The Church has the authority to excommunicate, so that it may exercise it through the first pastors with the consent, at least presumed, of the whole body.

1441 91. The fear of an unjust excommunication should never hinder us from fulfilling our duty; never are we separated from the Church, even when by the wickedness of men we seem to be expelled from it, as long as we are attached to God, to Jesus Christ, and to the Church herself by charity.

1442 92. To suffer in peace an excommunication and an unjust anathema rather than betray truth, is to imitate St. Paul; far be it from rebelling against authority or of destroying unity.

1443 93. Jesus sometimes heals the wounds which the precipitous haste of the first pastors inflicted without His command. Jesus restored what they, with inconsidered zeal, cut off.

1444 94. Nothing engenders a worse opinion of the Church among her enemies than to see exercised there an absolute rule over the faith of the faithful, and to see divisions fostered because of matters which do not violate faith or morals.

1445 95. Truths have descended to this, that they are, as it were, a foreign tongue to most Christians, and the manner of preaching them is, as it were, an unknown idiom, so remote is the manner of preaching from the simplicity of the apostles, and so much above the common grasp of the faithful; nor is there sufficient advertence to the fact that this defect is one of the greatest visible signs of the weakening of the Church and of the wrath of God on His sons.

1446 96. God permits that all powers be opposed to the preachers of truth, so that its victory cannot be attributed to anyone except to divine grace.

1447 97. Too often it happens that those members, who are united to the Church more holily and more strictly, are looked down upon, and treated as if they were unworthy of being in the Church, or as if they were separated from Her; but, “the just man liveth by faith” [Rom. 1:17], and not by the opinion of men.

1448 98. The state of persecution and of punishment which anyone endures as a disgraceful and impious heretic, is generally the final trial and is especially meritorious, inasmuch as it makes a man more conformable to Jesus Christ.

1449 99. Stubbornness, investigation, and obstinacy in being unwilling either to examine something or to acknowledge that one has been deceived, daily changes into an odor, as it were, of death, for many people, that which God has placed in His Church to be an odor of life within it, for instance, good books, instructions, holy examples, etc.

1450 100 Deplorable is the time in which God is believed to be honored by persecution of the truth and its disciples! This time has come. . . . To be considered and treated by the ministers of religion as impious and unworthy of all commerce with God, as a putrid member capable of corrupting everything in the society of saints, is to pious men a more terrible death than the death of the body. In vain does anyone flatter himself on the purity of his intentions and on a certain zeal for religion, when he persecutes honest men with fire and sword, if he is blinded by his own passion or carried away by that of another on account of which he does not want to examine anything. We frequently believe that we are sacrificing an impious man to God, when we are sacrificing a servant of God to the devil.

1451 101. Nothing is more opposed to the spirit of God and to the doctrine of Jesus Christ than to swear common oaths in Church, because this is to multiply occasions of perjury, to lay snares for the weak and inexperienced, and to cause the name and truth of God to serve sometimes the plan of the wicked.

Declared and condemnedas false, captious, evil-sounding, offensive to pious ears, scandalous, pernicious, rash, injurious to the Church and her practice, insulting not only to the Church but also the secular powers, seditious, impious, blasphemous, suspected of heresy, and smacking of heresy itself, and, besides, favoring heretics and heresies, and also schisms, erroneous, close to heresy, many times condemned, and finally heretical, clearly renewing many heresies respectively and most especially those which are contained in the infamous propositions of Jansen, and indeed accepted in that sense in which these have been condemned.

 

Have we considered Jesus is the smartest man who ever lived?

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on November 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm

“How did this wisdom and these miracles come to Him?

Matthew 13:54 b

Recently I listened to Dallas Willard professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California lecturing on this issue and I had to admit I hadn’t really given this much thought. This really exposes our need to see Jesus as relevant to our intellect. This particular way of thinking makes Jesus the foundation of discipleship and promotes a profound respect outside of the more usual understandings the modern church seems to focus on. Thinking of Jesus as the one who forgives, heals the sick, and challenges the local religious establishment and their proud pious attitude is more common. Thinking of Jesus in this way is not wrong per se but without establishing His superior and eternal intellect the consequences are disastrous to the faith.

Why is the issue so neglected and over looked? We tend to think of the time He existed in the flesh as backward and barbarian. We spend a great deal of time thinking about His holiness but what about His competence? Unfortunately it seems He is the great “lifeguard in the sky” that rescues us when we are in trouble but not relevant to the intellect. This lack of relevance to our intellect and careers has drastic negative effects on taking the Great Commission seriously. The scripture is pretty clear when it comes to His wisdom.  “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people” (Luke 2:52 HCSB). Jesus engaged the most influential, wealthy, educated and powerful people of that day and confounded them with His logic. There seems to be a modern arrogance based on technological advances but the fallen nature of man is still the same.  If anything the modern man shares all the same moral shortcomings with the ancient man. Because of that similarity this makes Jesus intellect all the more relevant to modernity.

If the premise “Jesus is the smartest man who ever lived” is true how does that relate to our careers?

Looking at those who walked with Jesus and benefited from His contact in their lives they saw Him as the Master and the smartest man. He had so much influence in their lives it affected their work as servant, slave or master. Much is made of relationships at work, being honest, honorable, trustworthy, compassionate, dependable, and missionaries at their occupations. We are able to use the wisdom and Spirit given to us at redemption in our daily jobs as a blessing to those we are around and work for.

History shows those who followed Jesus saw his power over creation,  when He walked on the water, made wine from water, made bread and fish, most importantly He died and was resurrected. As Dallas Willard (the lecturer) stated Jesus was “the master of the molecule” he has the power over creation and life.

Finally Jesus is revealed as the “Mater of the moral life” for all to contend with. People were changed from wicked to good. His message is challenged but reality there is no other body of recognized moral knowledge that people can use to guide their lives. Jesus presents two pictures of moral understanding:

a. It can make life beautiful

b. It can enable us to become like Him (Christ in us) so that we can do the proper thing for our enemies pray for them or bless them. (Taken from Dallas Willard lecture)

This does not conflict with the idea that Jesus didn’t die to make bad people good but dead men live. This is the result of new life and certainty of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and his changing our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. The new life we have in Christ penetrates and permeates every area of our life including our intellect. I know my thinking has been challenged and I am committed to seeing Jesus as the smartest man who ever lived. Ideally it will affect all facets of my life including my career and pursuit of future endeavors. Living our lives in view of the intellect that Jesus has and is willing to teach us should give us cause to become better disciples and make more disciples. True belief moves us from mental assent to real mental and physical changes in our lives. No matter how our lives play out we have a clear understanding this is the worst it’s ever going to be for those who have been born again and the best it’s ever going to be for everyone else. Living with the view of Jesus as the smartest man who ever lived as our foundational understanding, allows us to trust His guidance in our lives no matter the current circumstance. This cannot be said any better than it was written!

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! (Rom 11:33 HCSB)

 

Score Card

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on November 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Michel Foucault (French pronunciation: [miʃɛl fuˈko]), born Paul-Michel Foucault (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984), was a French philosopher, sociologist, and historian. He held a chair at the prestigious Collège de France with the title “History of Systems of Thought,” and also taught at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley.

Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences, and the prison system, as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality. His writings on power, knowledge, and discourse have been widely discussed and taken up by others. In the 1960s Foucault was associated with structuralism, a movement from which he distanced himself. Foucault also rejected the poststructuralist and postmodernist labels later attributed to him, preferring to classify his thought as a critical history of modernity rooted in Kant. Foucault’s project was particularly influenced by Nietzsche, his “genealogy of knowledge” a direct allusion to Nietzsche’s “genealogy of morality”. In a late interview he definitively stated: “I am a Nietzschean.”[1]

In 2007 Foucault was listed as the most cited scholar in the humanities by The Times Higher Education Guide.[2]

Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (French pronunciation: [saʁtʁ], English: /ˈsɑrtrə/; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, literary critic, and atheist. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy, existentialism, and Marxism, and his work continues to influence fields such as Marxist philosophy, sociology, critical theory and literary studies. Sartre was also noted for his long polyamorous relationship with the author and social theorist, Simone de Beauvoir. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused the honour.

The defining characteristic of polyamory is belief in the possibility of, and value of, multiple romantic loving relationships carried out “with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned.”[3] What distinguishes polyamory from traditional forms of non-monogamy (i.e. “cheating”) is an ideology that openness, goodwill, intense communication, and ethical behavior should prevail among all the parties involved. Powerful intimate bonding among three or more persons may occur. Some consider polyamory to be, at its root, the generalization of romantic couple-love beyond two people into something larger and more fundamental.[citation needed]

Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach (July 28, 1804, Landshut, Lower Bavaria – September 13, 1872) was a German philosopher and anthropologist. He was the fourth son of the eminent jurist Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach. His thought was influential in the development of Marxist dialectic.[1]

Feuerbach talks of how man is equally a conscious being, more so than God because man has placed upon God the ability of understanding. Man contemplates many things and in doing so he becomes acquainted with himself. Feuerbach shows that in every aspect God corresponds to some feature or need of human nature. “If man is to find contentment in God,” he claims, “he must find himself in God.”

Thus God is nothing else than man: he is, so to speak, the outward projection of man’s inward nature. This projection is dubbed as a chimaera by Feuerbach, that God and the idea of a higher being is dependent upon the aspect of benevolence. Feuerbach states that, “a God who is not benevolent, not just, not wise, is no God,” and continues to say that qualities are not suddenly denoted as divine because of their godly association. The qualities themselves are divine therefore making God divine, indicating that man is capable of understanding and applying meanings of divinity to religion and not that religion makes a man divine.

Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 – March 14, 1883) was a German[2] philosopher, political economist, historian, political theorist, sociologist, and communist revolutionary, whose ideas played a significant role in the development of modern communism and socialism. Marx summarized his approach in the first line of chapter one of The Communist Manifesto, published in 1848: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”

Friedrich Engels (German pronunciation: [ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈɛŋəls]; 28 November 1820 – 5 August 1895) was a German social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of communist theory, alongside Karl Marx. Together they produced The Communist Manifesto in 1848. Engels also edited the second and third volumes of Das Kapital after Marx’s death.

From 1845 to 1848, Engels and Marx lived in Brussels, spending much of their time organizing the city’s German workers. Shortly after their arrival, they contacted and joined the underground German Communist League and were commissioned by the League to write a pamphlet explaining the principles of communism. This became The Manifesto of the Communist Party, better known as the Communist Manifesto. It was first published on 21 February 1848.[2]

Dialectical materialism-asserts the primacy of the material world: in short, matter precedes thought. Materialism is a realist philosophy of science,[5] which holds that the world is material; that all phenomena in the universe consist of “matter in motion,” wherein all things are interdependent and interconnected and develop according to natural law; that the world exists outside us and independently of our perception of it; that thought is a reflection of the material world in the brain, and that the world is in principle knowable.

Os Guinness-A great-great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer and founder of the Guinness family, Guinness was born in Hsiang Cheng, China, where his parents were medical missionaries. In 1943, he survived the Henan famine in which five million died, including his two brothers. He returned to England in 1951 when most foreigners left China after the climax of the Chinese Revolution in 1949.

 

What if this happened in your church?

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on October 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Imagine for a moment with me the following events occurred some Sunday morning in your church. The family is all dressed up ready to celebrate their faith and hopefully learn more about God. In order for this scenario to make sense I need to set up a series of fictitious events based on true events currently in the news.

Item 1: The ninth circuit court of appeals in California is reviewing proposition 8 on “gay marriage” and could possibly overturn the decision people voted on and approved. After overturning the people’s votes the issue is moved to the Supreme Court for consideration. With the recent appointment of a new justice on the court and the approval of the progressives (liberals) the court is not balanced or conservative. In view of a more progressive (liberal) concept of marriage, the court recognizes same-sex marriage and makes it the law of the land.

Item 2: The gay-rights activists (GLAD) are able based on the Supreme Court’s ruling to advance the gay-rights agenda. The first item up for revision is the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell policy.” A court over turned this Clinton era policy just recently. The agenda includes the concept that gay-rights deserve the same recognition as civil rights thereby changing laws that oppose their agenda. Within this agenda an exemption for churches and faith-based organizations that oppose homosexuality is removed. Hiring standards are now revised to include churches and other faith-based organizations such as: Christian universities, Christian seminaries, Christian orphanages, and Christian mission agencies. These organizations will be required to hire to prescribed quotas that include Gay lesbian, transgender, and homosexuals.

Item 3: Hate crimes legislation is expanded to include “hate speech” that allows for prosecution on both a misdemeanor and a felony level. Hate speech is given a new definition that spells out what is correct and acceptable language in regards to homosexual issues. Any speech that does not meet this level of political correctness (cultural Marxism) will be defined as hate speech. Churches, pastors, professors, deacons, Sunday school teachers and ultimately church members will by definition be in violation of hate speech standards based on current conservative Biblical doctrine.

 

Back to Sunday morning with our families in our houses of worship preparing to glorify God, imagine for a moment your peace and serenity is suddenly halted. Invading your sanctuary and houses of worship are government officials followed by local police authorities and local GLAD activists. The service is stopped by a representative probably from The Department of Justice, The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, The Local Prosecutor’s Office, and finally local law enforcement. They move to the front of the auditorium step behind the pulpit and began based on legal precedent to accuse everyone there of being in violation of local hate crime laws. The first order of business is to arrest the Pastor and the staff; they are accused of a felony violation of hate speech. Next they ask for either Elders or Deacons to come forward, placed under arrest they are accused of misdemeanor hate crimes. Finally Sunday school teachers and the congregation are given tickets indicating misdemeanor violation of hate speech. An attorney that has accompanied the activists now moves to the microphone, in a solemn act all of the members and staff are now served by the Sheriff with legal writs indicating their inclusion in a lawsuit accusing them of libel and defamation. The lawsuit has a dollar value of four times the total value of the church property as a potential settlement. Now the Sheriff and his deputies serve the rest of the congregation with legal writs including them in the same lawsuit and asking for potential damages. The attorney solemnly speaks to the crowd, “if the Pastor, staff and members will agree in principle and sign a proclamation declaring their support of homosexual marriage, gay rights and hire within 90 days a Gay lesbian, transgender, or homosexual all charges and lawsuits will be dismissed. And as a further condition the church will attend and support sensitivity training that includes gay lesbian, transgender, and homosexual issues from a gay perspective. Imagine if you will all of your current Bible translations being confiscated and replaced with a more sensitive and gender-neutral translation. Of course any reference to homosexuality must be removed in regards to its violation of hate speech. Any church literature that states its objection to homosexuality will be banned and confiscated. As long as the church maintains the standards of political correctness (cultural Marxism) and refrains from speaking against homosexual issues it is free to worship privately without fear of prosecution.”

I’m sure as an American we see this as is a far-fetched scenario that could never happen in our country. Unfortunately recent activities in several states point to this very behavior happening in localities and directed at people of faith who are specifically Christians. Recently in Canada several pastors were arrested for hate speech based on their preaching from the Bible in regards to homosexuality. They were released but the idea was to intimidate pastors from speaking Biblical truth. In New Mexico a photographer was arrested for refusing to photograph a ceremony for two homosexuals reciting their pledge based on her objection by reason of faith. Recently a young lady finishing her master’s degree in counseling was threatened with her degree if she refused to attend certain gay related events and sensitivity training because of her faith-based disagreement with same-sex marriage and counseling homosexuals for their behavior and lifestyle. There are numerous cases of individuals being arrested or threatened with lawsuits because of their objection to same-sex marriage and disagreement with the homosexual lifestyle. It is important to conservative Christians to maintain our orthodoxy regarding those who are not believers.  We have a greater purpose in our lives loving and caring about people regardless of the sin and reconciling them to Jesus Christ, while balancing our disagreement with sinful behavior. Condoning sinful behavior in pursuit of building relationships under the guise of witnessing about Jesus should not come into view. We are to be separate in our behavior, tell the truth in love, and provide examples of what true love looks like.

 

1. Are our churches ready to deal with social issues in a loving responsible Christian manner?

2. Most of the time churches are reactive instead of proactive, what kind of proactive strategy are our churches planning for a scenario like that listed above?

3. Churches have spent a great deal of money and effort on capital acquisition, buildings, property, if threatened with the loss of all buildings and property based on doctrine, how will churches respond?

4. If our pastors are arrested or threatened with major libelous lawsuits, what is the church’s position on support and protection?

5. Are we as members of a local congregation prepared to defend ourselves against the same actions directed toward us?

6. At the very least if churches are threatened with the loss of their tax-exempt status because of their support or disapproval of certain social issues how will they respond?

Hopefully this make-believe scenario never plays out in our churches. How prepared are we as Christians, Churches, Seminaries, and other Christian institutions to deal with this type of possible invasion of our faith. Unfortunately recent history reveals the church more willing to protect its assets than its doctrine. One of the best examples is Germany prior to the invasion of Poland. The fascists threatened the churches with retribution if they opposed Hitler and his Nazi party. According to the majority of historians over 80% of the guards at the concentration camps went to church on Sunday and killed Jews on Monday. The Catholic Church and its lack of support concerning European Jews and their persecution by the Nazi’s are well-documented. This happened less than 90 years ago and the church played a much larger role in daily life. Hopefully this exercise in fiction based on current events will cause some to be pro active in the arena of social issues and prepare for possible reactions from the government, the press, and the population at large.

 

Three ideas for every Believer

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on October 10, 2010 at 7:23 am

As Christians we are to go about everyday looking for where God is working. Through the empowering of the Holy Spirit ideally we join in and help. How does this come about and what do we do? Recently I was enjoying coffee at a local establishment with 2 friends both ministers of the Gospel.  We were having your average over the top discussion of theology (I thoroughly enjoy) and a young man was very intently listening in behind us (I noticed). I invited him to join us and proceeded to engage Him in what I call the five questions to see His spiritual understanding and background.

Do you believe in God?

What are your proofs?

Why are you are Christian?

How did we get the Bible?

What do you understand about the Trinity?

The young man was gracious enough to go along and we made sure He understood this wasn’t an interrogation just Christians who are interested in others and their beliefs. There it was God was at work and we joined in, this young man was trying to read the scriptures and understand them better. He was attending a church and being faithful to it. Now to the substance to the story, as Christians I believe the scriptures would have us do at a minimum one of three things. Encourage the brethren, challenge the believers, witnesses to the lost. Everyone we meet falls into one of the three areas.

Encourage:

 

(Deu 1:38 ESV)  Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.

 

Joshua needed encouragement to lead the people after Moses is gone.

(Eph 6:21-23 ESV)  So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.

Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The people in Ephesus whom Paul loved needed encouragement because of the trials they were facing. Paul was in prison and he wants to encourage others and sends someone to do so.

(Col 4:7 ESV)  Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts,

 

Paul is always concerned about encouraging the brothers, knowing the trials he faced were grave and desperate and the end of His life in view.

 

(1Th 4:14-18 ESV)  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

 

The Father sends, the Son accomplishes, the Spirit applies!

 

Challenge:

(Deu 1:43-44 ESV)  So I spoke to you, and you would not listen; but you rebelled against the command of the LORD and presumptuously went up into the hill country. Then the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do and beat you down in Seir as far as Hormah.

 

This same people acted out on their emotions and brought about a calamity, before they went they were challenged.

 

(Deu 3:28 ESV)  But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’

 

The word spoken here clearly states charge and encourage, charge being understood as challenge.

 

(Col 4:5-6 ESV)  Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

 

The challenge issued by Paul for believers, how to act, speak and use our time.

 

(1Th 4:1-8 ESV)  Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

 

As a true God follower can anything be added to this challenge?

 

Witnesses:

 

(Eph 6:18-20 ESV)  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

 

Paul was very aware of His mission to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, our Triune God revealed through His Son who gave us His Spirit for the reconciling of lost sinners to the family of God.

 

(Col 4:2-4 ESV)  Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

 

True believers have a mission to declare the mystery of the Personal God who is there. How He gave His Son to accomplish the payment of sin both eternal and temporal as satisfaction of a sin debt we owe. Then He provided His Spirit to live (dwell) in us to apply the mission in us and through us. The Triune God at work the Father wills, the Son accomplishes, the Spirit applies.

 

 

(Mat 28:18-20 AMP)  Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).

 

Our commission, challenge, encouragement and purpose!

 

(1Ti 4:-3 ESV)  Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

 

The Father declares, the Son accomplishes, the Spirit applies!

 

 

 

 

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