Mere Links 10.24.14
Friday, October 24, 2014, 10:00 AM

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Reformed Theology
Corrie Mitchell, On Faith

Is Calvinism the cold, rigid approach to Christianity it’s made out to be?

You’re Alive Today Because of this 19th Century Doctor
Brantly Millegan, Aleteia

Dr. Horatio Robinson Storer led the movement to enact pro-life legislation in the 19th century and in so doing saved millions, including your ancestors, explains Frederick Dyer in his interview with Aleteia.

Culture War, Spiritual War
Peter Leithart, First Things

So now we’re debating whether or not two men or two women can get married. How, over the course of less than two decades, did we become blind to something as obvious as the difference between friendship and marriage?

How Cars Created the Megachurch
Adam Graber, Leadership Journal

Of the 150 or so acres making up Willow Creek Community Church’s main campus, a full 8 acres are devoted to buildings. Parking lots cover more than 28. That ratio demonstrates just how important cars are to most churches today.

Puerto Rico Affirms Traditional Marriage
Thursday, October 23, 2014, 2:22 PM

Ada Conde Vidal and Ivonne Alvarez Velez, two women, were married in Massachusetts.  They then moved to Puerto Rico, where they became Puerto Ricocouple 300x177 Puerto Rico Affirms Traditional Marriage’s first married lesbian couple.  However, their “marriage” is not recognized in Puerto Rico.  That is because, since 1999, an amendment to Puerto Rico’s civil code declared that Puerto Rico does not recognize same sex “marriages.”  This includes those “marriages” performed in other jurisdictions.  Ms. Conde, a lawyer by training, filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth seeking to put an end to the same-sex “marriage” ban.  She said that she would be barred from making medical decisions regarding an ailing daughter.  (Of course, whether she is married to a man or woman, or not, has no bearing on medical decisions regarding her daughter, but I digress.)  Last March, Ms. Conde said in an interview with the Washington Blade, described on its website as “celebrating 45 years as America’s gay news source,” “If [my daughter] dies, I want my marriage legally recognized.  If I am not recognized, I will not have any rights to request her estate.”  (Sounds a bit crass, but you know how some lawyers can be.)

On October 21, 2014, Federal District Court Judge Juan M. Perez-Gimenez, a Carter appointee,  issued his ruling in which he upheld Puerto Rico’s ban on same-sex marriage and dismissed the legal challenge by Ms. Conde and Ms. Alvarez, and three other “couples.”  Lawyers for the plaintiffs immediately made plans to appeal the judge’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which has yet to rule on a challenge to a state’s power to prohibit same-sex “marriages.”  In his opinion, Judge Perez-Gimenez wrote the following in pertinent part:

The plaintiffs have brought this challenge alleging a violation of the federal constitution, so the first place to begin is with the text of the Constitution.  The text of the Constitution, however, does not directly guarantee a right to same-gender marriage, for “when the Constitution was adopted the common understanding was that the domestic relations of husband and wife and parent and child were matters reserved to the States.”  [Citations omitted.]  Without the direct guidance of the Constitution, the next source of authority is relevant Supreme Court precedent interpreting the Constitution.  On the question of same-gender marriage, the Supreme Court has issued a decision that directly binds this Court.  The petitioners in Baker v. Nelson were two men who had been denied a license to marry each other.  They argued that Minnesota’s statutory definition of marriage as an opposite-gender relationship violated due process and equal protection – just as the plaintiffs argue here.  The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected the petitioners’ claim, determining that the right to marry without regard to gender was not a fundamental right and that it was neither irrational nor invidious discrimination to define marriage as requiring an opposite-gender union.  [Citation omitted.]  . . . A clear majority of courts have struck down statutes that affirm opposite-gender marriage only.  In their ingenuity and imagination they have constructed a seemingly comprehensive legal structure for this new form of marriage.  And yet what is lacking and unaccounted for remains: are laws barring polygamy, or, say the marriage of fathers and daughters, now of doubtful validity?  Is “minimal marriage”, where “individuals can have legal marital relationships with more than one person, reciprocally or asymmetrically, themselves determining the sex and number of parties” the blueprint for their design?  [Citation omitted.]  It would seem so, if we follow the plaintiffs’ logic, that the fundamental right to marriage is based on “the constitutional liberty to select the partner of one’s choice.”  For now, one basic principle remains: the people, acting through their elected representatives, may legitimately regulate marriage by law.  This principle is impeded, not advanced, by court decrees based on the proposition that the public cannot have the requisite repose to discuss certain issues.  It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds . . . Freedom embraces the right, indeed the duty, to engage in a rational, civic discourse in order to determine how best to form a consensus to shape the destiny of the Nation and its people.  [Citation omitted.] . . . For the foregoing reasons, we hereby GRANT the defendants’ motion to dismiss.  The plaintiffs’ federal law claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

Emphasis added.  In response to Judge Perez-Giminez’ opinion, Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Counsel Caleb Dalton stated the following:

The people of Puerto Rico – and the people of every U.S. state and territory – should be free to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman.  The district court in this case was right to conclude, as the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in its Windsor decision last year and in its previous Baker decision, that marriage law is the business of the states.  Echoing last month’s decision from a Louisiana federal district court that affirmed the states’ authority over the definition of marriage, the court said that “[i]t takes inexplicable contortions of the mind or perhaps even willful interpret Windsor‘s endorsement of the state control of marriage as eliminating the state control of marriage.”

Indeed it does.  I am reminded of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who stated in a speech, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”  It seems to me that Judge Perez-Giminez, a wise Latino, could be even better suited for our nation’s Supreme Court.

Mere Links 10.23.14
Thursday, October 23, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Bishops’ Fateful Decision Respecting the Unborn
Mark Gallagher, Crisis Magazine

This required the election of presidents who would nominate Supreme Court justices not interested in creating constitutional rights to legal abortion, and the election of pro-life members of Congress to confirm the justices, and to propose a constitutional amendment. Elections were the key. How were the bishops to proceed?

Archbishop of York ‘wholehearted’ apology to abuse victims
Caroline Wyatt, BBC

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has apologised to victims of sexual abuse by a former cathedral dean.

70 Years Ago Today: The Conversion of J. I. Packer
Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition

He entered the doors of the church a dead man walking and was to leave later that night as a resurrected man, knowing himself to belong to Christ.

Unicef: Violence kills child every five minutes

A child is killed by violence every five minutes in the world, a leading charity says, calling for new targets to end all forms of abuse by 2030.

Mere Links 10.22.14
Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 10:00 AM

Francis Must Correct Synod Distortions
Dr. William Oddie, Crisis Magazine

The presentation of the so-called “mid-term report” of the extraordinary synod of bishops on the family (the Latin headline of which, relatio post disceptationem, may seem to the unenlightened to give it an authority it doesn’t in fact possess) aroused a predictable level of interest in both the Catholic and the non-Catholic media.

China’s One-Child Policy: Massive Crimes against Women, Supported by the Obama Administration
Chris Smith, Public Discourse

Under the Obama Administration, the United States is breaking its own law by giving taxpayer money to the United Nations Population Fund, which supports the One-Child Policy. It is also failing to implement immigration and visa bans for those who have been complicit in forced abortions and sterilizations.

Razed by Terror Attacks, a Church Will Rise Anew
Alex Vadukul, New York Times

Thirteen years ago, a small Greek Orthodox church with a ringing rooftop bell offered a reprieve from the city’s furious financial nerve center, until it was crushed when the World Trade Center’s south tower collapsed on Sept. 11. On Saturday, church officials blessed the ground where the new St. Nicholas church would rise.

Pope Francis Beatifies an Earlier Reformer, Paul VI
Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times

Pope Francis on Sunday beatified Pope Paul VI, who died in 1978 after shepherding the church through a period of internal reform amid an era of social and political change and growing challenges to the church’s traditional teachings.

Mere Links 10.21.14
Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Vatican Backpedals on Support for Gays and Divorcees
Allen McDuffee, The Atlantic

A much-discussed report from the Catholic Church’s synod on the family turned out to be very different in its final form.

When a Pastor Resigns Abruptly
John Ortberg, Leadership Journal

Yesterday a well-known pastor resigned from a high-profile church. I don’t know enough about that situation to comment on it one way or another. But I find myself—as many of us will today—reflecting on my own life, and on the state of our little evangelical world.

Transgenders and Theology
Judy Valente, PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly

We report from Chicago on how churches are responding to transgender people, especially as they become more and more visible in popular culture. At the Urban Village Church in Hyde Park, Rev. Emily McGinley’s ministry reaches out to transgender individuals.

Houston Narrows Subpoenas, But Pastors Say Not Enough
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

The city of Houston, Texas announced yesterday that it has filed narrowed subpoenas against five pastors in a lawsuit against it challenging rejection of referendum petition signatures. At issue is an attempt by opponents of the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance to obtain its repeal.

Govt tells Christian ministers: Perform same-sex weddings or face jail, fines
Monday, October 20, 2014, 10:24 AM

tank ma Govt tells Christian ministers: Perform same sex weddings or face jail, finesLately, the atheist Left is showing every sign of believing it has won the Culture Wars by ratcheting up the consequences of heresy to an increasingly painful degree.  Make no mistake: Secularism is a competing religion.  The only thing currently standing between the individual and the dehumanizing utilitarianism of the secular state is the Church. If the state of Idaho wins, it is another step in the rapid criminalization of our faith.

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Now would be a good time to donate to the Alliance Defending Freedom. The ADF is also taking point in the battle against the egregious subpoenas issued by the city of Houston to five clerics, asserting an imaginary and unconstitutional power to censor the content of their sermons. It is not a time to be passive; it is time to act.

Mere Links 10.20.14
Monday, October 20, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Army Hidden in the World
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

If the true identity of Christ our Lord, his inner Person begotten of the Father, remains a mystery concealed from the world (John 14:22Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)), something similar is also said rightly of those who put their hope in Christ, because they too are defined by their communion with the Father in Christ.

In Alabama, the religiously ‘unaffiliated’ now surpasses this major religious group
Carol McPhail,

The percentage of Alabamians not affiliated with a specific religion surpasses the percentage of white mainline Protestants, ranking it third among “religious” groups, according to new research.

Of Michael Landon and Brittany Maynard
Wesley J. Smith, First Things

The changing meaning of courage in the face of pending death.

What Christians Should Know About the Ebola Crisis
Dr. Miguel Núñez, The Gospel Coalition

Last Wednesday, the world awoke to the news that Erick Thomas Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, had died of the disease.

A Christian of Integrity Resigns His Office
Monday, October 20, 2014, 9:35 AM

John Kallam, Jr., is a Rockingham County, North Carolina, magistrate.  The county is referred to as “North Carolina’s North Star.”  In North Carolina, magistrates typically adjudicate smaller legal cases and conduct preliminary matters in criminal cases, such as setting bail.  Magistrates also conduct civil marriages.  One of the shining stars of this county is Magistrate Kallam, who is a devout Christian believer.  Late last week, Magistrate Kallam resigned his office because he did not wish to violate his oath, and “marry” homosexual and lesbian couples as such “marriages” are now permitted in North Carolina.  In his resignation letter to Chief District Judge Fred Wilkins, Magistrate Kallam wrote the following in pertinent part:

It is with deep regret that I must inform you of my intent to resign from my current position as Magistrate effective 31 October 2014.  It is my intent to use my remaining administrative days for the remainder of this month.  When I took my oath of office, I understood I would be required to perform weddings and have done so throughout my tenure.  I did not however take that oath with any understanding that I would be required to marry same sex couples.  It is my personal belief and a position of my Christian faith that doing so would desecrate a holy Institution established by God Himself.  Since performing marriages is an integral part of being a Magistrate and in light of recent changes in North Carolina law. I can no longer fulfill my oath of office in good faith.

Emphasis added.  The Honorable Judge Wilkins said that Magistrate Kallam is “a good honorable man and a good man who stuck by his convictions.”  Notwithstanding the gracious words of Judge Wilkins, he went on to say that if Magistrate Kallam refused to “marry” homosexual or lesbian couples, then he would be suspended.

Magistrate Kallam’s resignation merits deep respect and admiration.  It often seems that there are few Christians in modern-day America who are willing to take a principled, moral stand that affects their professional standing and livelihood.  Far too often, American Christians, particularly as compared to Christians in other countries who face daily persecution and violence against them, simply go along to get along, and avoid rocking the boat.  I don’t say that to impugn an improper motive; rather in our politically correct world, American Christians are often intimidated not to speak.  And as has been observed by many, such intimidation is accomplished because Christians are often not informed and are uncomfortable with these issues.  After all, no Christian wants to be seen as a “hater.”  In Magistrate Kallam’s resignation letter, he concludes powerfully:

I am reminded of the last words of David who said, “He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”  Where there is no “fear of God,” there can be no justice!”

Homosexualists and other evildoers have long sought to silence Christians who have stood courageously against what Jesus described as unbelieving and perverse generations.  Ancient sources tell us that the Roman Emperor Nero, who sent St. Peter and St. Paul, and many other now-unknown Christians, to their martyrdom, was “married” to two men, Sporus and Pythagoras.  Please pray for Magistrate Kallam and his family as he begins a new stage of his life on November 1, but let us thank God for his Christian witness, strength, and courage.  He is truly a shining, bright light in North Carolina’s North Star.  May God continue to bless you richly, Magistrate Kallam.

Feast of St Luke the Apostle
Sunday, October 19, 2014, 7:00 AM

The Passion According to St. Luke – Bach

The Catholic church celebrates St Luke the Apostle on October 18.

Sacred Music – Part Four
Saturday, October 18, 2014, 12:00 PM

Last of four episodes of the BBC’s series on Sacred Music.
Bach and the Lutheran Legacy

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