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, AL.com

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



From the New Issue of Touchstone–Nov/Dec 2014
Friday, October 17, 2014, 12:33 PM

The next issue of Touchstone is back from the printer and will be mailing out soon. One of the editorials from this issue is a follow-up to a piece from last year. This–as well as some other articles from the new issue–is now available to read online.

Screen Shot 2014 10 17 at 12.29.29 PM 222x300 From the New Issue of Touchstone  Nov/Dec 2014Identity Thievery

In Christ All Sinners Are Truly Made New
by S. M. Hutchens & Anthony Esolen

In the July/August 2013 issue of Touchstone, the editors rejected the idea that one could be both “gay” and Christian. The basis of that belief, we said, is exemplified in St. Paul’s assurance to the Corinthian church that what some of its believers used to be—and here he recited a catalog of sins that included arsenokoitai (“sexual perverts”)—they no longer were, because they had been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God. (There is no creditable reason to believe that St. Paul’s reference here was so narrow that it only applied to those who frequented cult prostitutes in pagan temples, as if homosexual relations occurring in any other venue (cf. Rom. 1) were in his mind categorically different.)

Continue reading. . . .

 



Mere Links 10.17.14
Friday, October 17, 2014, 10:00 AM

Cardinal is “Appalled,” Denies Africa Comments Caught on Tape
Matthew Schmitz, First Things

In an interview published yesterday, Cardinal Walter Kasper—the leading voice calling for liberalizing Catholic practice at the Church’s current synod—described African attitudes toward homosexuality as a “taboo” and said that Africans “should not tell us too much what we have to do.”

Why Are Young Blacks Leaving the Church?
Anthony Carter, 9Marks Blog

Are “black millennials” leaving the church? Is this something about which we should be alarmed? In recent times much has been written on this subject seeking to interpret and analyze what some are saying is a disturbing trend.

Damnatio Memoria? The Council of Trent and Catholic Teaching on Divorce
E. Christian Brugger, Public Discourse

Some theologians claim that the Council of Trent lends support to the idea that the Catholic Church could accept divorce and remarriage. Careful scholarship reveals that this is not true.

How Boko Haram’s Murders and Kidnappings Are Changing Nigeria’s Churches
Interview by Timothy C. Morgan, Christianity Today

Leading Nigerian evangelical says Christians won’t abandon the North.



High Court Affirms Death Sentence for Asia Bibi
Thursday, October 16, 2014, 4:05 PM

On these pages, I have written a series of blogs regarding the plight of Asia Bibi.  My regular readers will recall that Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death under Pakistan’s notorious criminal code section 295(c), which prescribes the death penalty for “insulting” Mohammed and Islam.  She is a 47-year-old Roman Catholic rural farm worker and a married mother of five.  In June 2009, while working in the fields, she was sent to bring water for the other farm workers.  Some of the Moslem workers refused to drink the water she brought as they considered water touched by Christians to be “unclean.”  Her co-workers then complained to the authorities that she made derogatory comments about Mohammed.  What was the derogatory comment she purportedly made against Mohammed?  The Moslem women claimed Asia Bibi said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind.  What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?”  Asia Bibi is illiterate, and is considered an uneducated woman, but she asked a deeply profound question.  One of the great differences between the Holy Bible and Islamic teaching is that the Holy Bible teaches in Ephesians 2: 8 and 9 that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and our salvation does not depend upon our good works or any personal merit.  In contrast, the Qur’an teaches that salvation is by sincerity and good works (see, e.g., Qur’an 3:135; 7:8-9, 21:47, 66:8-9).  Thus, Islam teaches that one cannot know and experience God’s assurance of eternal salvation unless one dies in jihad.

Six days after the water incident, a violent mob came to Asia Bibi’s home, damaged it, and assaulted and beat her and members of her family.  In response, Pakistani police arrested her, and she spent more than one year in jail awaiting trial.  Finally, in November 2010, The Honorable Judge Muhammed Naveed Iqbal sentenced her to death by hanging, and he fined her the equivalent of $1,100, a princely sum in rural Pakistan.  Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari refused to pardon her after large demonstrations were held against her.  My readers may remember that several Pakistani government officials who publicly called for Asia Bibi’s release and the abolition of the Pakistan’s blasphemy law have been assassinated, including the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, who was murdered by his bodyguard.  Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet, was assassinated for speaking out on her behalf as well.

In my blog from last July regarding Asia Bibi, I wrote the following:

Asia Bibi’s case is now up for further appeal by the High Court of Lahore, Pakistan.  In fact, for the fifth time over a number of years, the hearing for her appeal didn’t happen.  No reasons are ever given for the delay, and no new hearing dates are set.  The excuses given for the delays have been varied; there have been sick judges and sick lawyers who couldn’t make it at the appointed day and hour.  As you can well imagine, the government fears the people if she is released, and the government further fears that financial donors from the international community will cut off or curtail foreign aid if she is executed.  Pakistan, an erstwhile ally of the United States in what used to be the war against terrorism, has received tens of billions of our tax dollars in foreign and military aid over just the past decade, and continues to receive large sums.  Thus, with the moral courage of Pontius Pilate, the High Court judges find every excuse not to give Asia Bibi her day in court.  And justice delayed is justice denied.

However, in recent days, the High Court in Lahore rejected her appeal and upheld her death sentence.  Over the past four years, Christian lawyers in Pakistan have been working on the appeal of her case, along with numerous others who sit on Pakistan’s “blasphemy death row.”  Although Asia Bibi was represented in court by her legal team and had support from the Provincial Minister for Minorities Affairs, as well as support from human rights activists from other NGOs, the courtroom at her appeal was packed with lawyers from the Islamic Organization, Khatam-e Nabowat, and an estimated twenty mullahs who were there to support the complainant.  The New York Times reported:

The Lahore courtroom was packed with clerics and members of extremist groups who supported the prosecution, and they erupted in celebration upon hearing the two-judge panel’s decision to dismiss Ms. Bibi’s appeal.  “Let us celebrate by distributing sweets!” said one cleric who was reciting verses from the Quran throughout the almost two-and-a-half-hour court proceeding.  “I am very happy,” said Qari Salaam, a co-worker of Ms. Bibi’s and the main complainant in the case.  “The judges have given a verdict on merit, and Asia deserved it.”

Ms. Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, expressed disappointment after the verdict.  As he left court, he poignantly said, “We were hoping for some relief, but alas.”  Asia Bibi now has 30 days to appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.  The New York Times, quoting unnamed analysts, noted that given the huge backlog of cases at the Supreme Court, it could take at least three years before her appeal will be heard.

Last Christmas, Asia Bibi wrote a letter to Pope Francis, in which she thanked him and all the churches praying for her.  She credited the prayers of God’s people for her survival after years in prison.  In her letter to Pope Francis, she expressed her desire to be in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to pray with Pope Francis for Christmas 2014.  Lord Jesus, may it be so.  Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family, and her legal team, and let us work together so that she can worship or Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Rome later this year.



Mere Links 10.16.14
Thursday, October 16, 2014, 10:00 AM

Has the Catholic Church Changed Its Teaching on Sex and Marriage?
Robert P. George, Public Discourse

Amid reports of “earthquakes” and “seismic” shifts, we ought to remember the Catholic Church’s moral teachings in their wholeness, which have not shifted at all.

What Should Evangelicals Make of the Rome Synod on the Family?
Russell Moore, Moore to the Point

Should all of this even matter to those of us who are Protestants? We do not, as Martin Luther put it, accept the authority of popes and councils “since these have often contradicted one another.” And yet, there are some important questions posed here, that we should consider.

Christian group to turn former abortion clinic into memorial garden
David Yonke, Religion News Service

A Christian ministry plans to turn an abandoned abortion clinic into a memorial garden for the unborn.

The Vindication of Christian Sexual Ethics
David French, National Review Online

This is exactly the time when Christians should step forward with a different ideal, the holistic, healthy, and proven model of sobriety always, chastity before marriage, and fidelity afterwards — all because marriage is sacred, our bodies are a temple to God, and we love our spouses more than we love our own lives.



Mere Links 10.15.14
Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 10:00 AM

Can Christians Still Go to Harvard?
Kirsten Powers, The Daily Beast

America’s colleges are increasingly hostile to religion, but Veritas, a Christian organization, has found a way to thrive.

The Solemnization of Marriage
Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition

If gay marriage is right, then there is almost nothing in the old Book of Common Prayer that is right.

Surrogacy: The Twenty-First Century’s New Baby-Making
Christopher White, The Federalist

Pro-surrogacy groups argue it’s time the law recognizes some women as breeders.

A Pastoral Failure
Matthew Schmitz, First Things

Instead of addressing sin, the document calls for “dialogue and cooperation . . . with the social structures.” The clunkiness of the phrasing makes me very much doubt the prospects of the dialogue (clarity being a prerequisite of conversation), though it is indeed important to address the economic conditions that make married life difficult.


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