The Islamic State Caliphate Establishes “Justice”
Monday, July 21, 2014, 10:28 AM

Islamic State, the radical Islamist militants and al Qaeda offshoot, seeks to establish an Islamic “caliphate” that straddles Syria and Iraq, at least for the time being.  As part of their governance, they impose a 7th century view of Islam in society.  In the northern Syrian town of Tabaqa in the province of Raqa, the jihadists accused and convicted a woman of adultery, and stoned her to death last Thursday.  The stoning took place in a public square in the town’s market area.  The unnamed woman was reportedly in her thirties, and was sentenced to death by a “religious” court.  The woman’s family did not know that the sentence was going to be carried out.  Many residents are terrified of the Islamic State jihadists, but fear the consequences of reacting to and criticizing their harsh methods.

In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, now also controlled by the jihadists, the Islamists have issued an ultimatum to the few remaining Christians to either convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, the infamous “jizya,” or be executed.  (Interestingly the status of Christians as dhimmis was abolished during the Ottoman reforms in the mid-19th century.)  The order went into effect this past Saturday.  The order said Christians who remain in the “caliphate” must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract.  Under the status of dhimmitude, non-Moslems who were either Christians or Jews were “protected” in Moslem lands in return for a special tax known as “jizya.”  (Think of it as a protection racket.)  The announcement by the jihadists said that Christians were offered “three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”  A resident of Mosul said that the statement, published in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh, was issued in the name of the Islamic State and distributed last Thursday, and read in mosques on Friday and broadcast through automobile loudspeakers.  A Saturday deadline was set for Christians who did not want to stay under those terms “to leave the borders of the Islamic Caliphate.”  The terms were announced by the jihadist group leader Caliph Ibrahim, or as he was formerly known, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  Fewer than ten years ago, the city of Mosul had more than 100,000 Christians living in the city, but today, estimates are that there are fewer than 200 Christians.

Some of my readers may be unaware that the Koran teaches Moslems not to make friends or allies with Jews and Christians (Koran 5:51), and that Moslems are to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission” (Koran 9:29), and to kill the disbelievers wherever Moslems find them (Koran 2:191).  The Koran further teaches that all those who disbelieve in Islam shall go to hell (Koran 5:10), even though Moslems are given no assurance of eternal life in Islam.  Further, all non-Moslems are najis (broadly defined as filthy and impure) (Koran 9:28), and Moslems are ordered to fight non-Moslems until no other religion except Islam is left (Koran 2:193).  Of course, much more could be said to show that Islam is not really a religion of peace notwithstanding the assertions of some in the United States and other Western nations.  Sadly, I don’t expect to hear President Obama or Secretary of State John F. Kerry say anything to oppose the horrors of jihadist rule in the pretend caliphate.  It is stunning to me that they don’t, but then again, perhaps they don’t see Islamist rule negatively.  The irony is that President Obama and his supporters say nice things about Islam and refuse to criticize Islamists other than in the most inane twitters (“Bring Back Our Girls”).  Yet they seem quite blind to the true desires of what some Moslems, including the jihadists, want: world domination and the destruction of everything you and I believe and hold dear.

Jihadists have no problem killing any of us (in the same gruesome way that they did with Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl), raping our wives and daughters, and then stoning them to death, and then taking our children from us for not raising them in their special way.  What will the leftists and secularists do when Islamists tell them to pay up, get out, or get killed?  I am not convinced that President Obama cares, as he might be focused on enjoying his holiday in Martha’s Vineyard in August.  It must be lovely though to be there to get away from the cares of a deeply fallen and dangerous world.  For our part, please continue to pray for the Christians throughout the Middle East, and for the repentance of the jihadists.



Professor Takes University of North Carolina to School
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 9:20 AM

Dr. Mike Adams is a professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington (the “University”).  In 1993, he was hired by the University as an assistant professor.  Over his career, he received numerous teaching awards and earned accolades from his faculty colleagues.  In 1998, he was promoted to Associate Professor.  However, in 2000, Dr. Adams, an atheist, became a Christian believer.  Unsurprisingly, his conversion impacted his political and social views, which became more conservative and reflected traditional values.  However, his conversion and his subsequent change of views did not sit well with his esteemed University colleagues.  After his conversion, he became the subject of baseless accusations that led to numerous investigations by the University.  Further, he was denied promotion to full professor despite an award-winning record of teaching, research, and service to the University and broader community.  In fact, his scholarly work surpassed most of his faculty colleagues.  Dr. Adams believed that he was denied promotion because his nationally syndicated opinion columns espoused religious and political views that were in conflict with opinions held by University officials.

As a result of harassment against him, Dr. Adams filed a lawsuit against the University to vindicate his rights.  He was represented by attorneys affiliated with the Alliance Defending Freedom (“ADF”).  ADF fought a protracted legal battle on Dr. Adams’ behalf that has lasted seven years and ended this past Tuesday.  Following trial, a jury found that Dr. Adams had been illegally targeted by University officials, and the federal court ordered the University to promote Dr. Adams and to award back pay.  The University decided that it would appeal the federal district court’s decision in Dr. Adams favor.  However, on Tuesday, the federal court entered an order based upon an agreed settlement between the parties in which the University agreed to drop its appeal.  In addition, the University agreed to adopt procedures to protect Professor Adams from renewed retaliation and harassment, and to pay $615,000 in Dr. Adams’ attorneys’ fees.  So now the taxpayers of North Carolina are stuck with a $615,000 bill for retaliating against a conservative Christian by University officials.

ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham said the following regarding the final agreement in this case:

Public universities must respect the free speech rights of their professors, regardless of the points of view they express.  Public universities should be a marketplace of ideas, not places where professors like Dr. Adams face years of retaliation and discrimination for expressing views university officials do not like.  The court’s order reminds universities that disagreeing with an accomplished professor’s religious and political views are not grounds for denying him a promotion.

In a very strange part of this case, Federal Senior Judge Malcolm J. Howard of the Eastern District of North Carolina, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a President Reagan appointee, ruled that the opinion columns written by Professor Adams were not protected by the First Amendment.  (Yes, I know; it makes no sense to me either.)  Fortunately for Dr. Adams and for those interested in academic freedom, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed the decision by the Honorable Judge Howard and determined that the First Amendment did protect his published opinions.  (It might be a very good time for the 75-year-old Senior Judge Howard to give up the federal bench and take up shuffleboard instead.)  The appellate court held that “no individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment.”  Opinion columns, such as those in Mere Comments, the New York Times, the Federalist Papers, or the Anti-Federalist Papers, are classic examples of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

I join in congratulating Professor Adams and the students at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington for learning a valuable lesson about the meaning of free speech.  Kudos also to the attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom for their persistence and success for this seven-year legal battle!  Please pray for Dr. Adams and his family as he moves onto a new phase of his professional career.



After Homosexual “Marriage”, Are Pedophilia and Incest Acceptance Next?
Monday, July 14, 2014, 9:33 AM

As a regular reader of Salvo magazine, I have seen the articles on efforts to “normalize” pedophilia.  But I have noticed that there have been some accelerating steps regarding the acceptance of pedophilia, and I wonder whether my readers have noticed.  First, there is the academic foundation for pedophilia acceptance.  Although efforts have been made to mainstream pedophilia since the early 1980s, last July, there was a conference on the subject held at the University of Cambridge in England.  Among the presentations at this conference were “Liberating The Paedophile: A Discursive Analysis,” and “Danger and Difference: The Stakes of Hebephilia.”  (I was unfamiliar with the term hebephilia, but it refers to the sexual preference for children in early puberty, typically 11 to 14-year-olds.)  Philip Tromovitch, a professor at Doshisha University in Japan, stated in his presentation about the “prevalence of pedophilia” and that the “majority of men are probably pedophiles and hebephiles” and that “paedophilic interest is normal and natural in human males.”  Among the conclusions of his presentation was the following:

Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males.  At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children.

Who knew?  So now we have his statement as a central claim of an academic presentation.  One of the attendees at this conference was Tom O’Carroll, a multiple child sex offender, long-time campaigner for the legalization of sex with children, and the former head of the “Paedophile Information Exchange.”  On his blog after the conference, he wrote, “Wonderful!  It was a rare few days when I could feel relatively popular!”  Indeed I am sure that he did!

Then there are the “contributions” by the psychiatric profession.  The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM-5”) was published by the American Psychiatric Association (“APA”), on May 18, 2013.  The DSM-5 offers a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders, and is widely used and relied upon by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, the legal system, and policy makers.  After a fierce battle at the APA, a proposal to include hebephilia as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 edition was defeated.  The proposal arose because many have observed that puberty in children has started earlier in recent years and, it was argued, the current definition of pedophilia missed out too many young people.  Ray Blanchard, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, who led the APA’s working group on the subject, said that unless some other way was found of encompassing hebephilia in the DSM-5, that was “tantamount to stating that the APA’s official position is that the sexual preference for early pubertal children is normal.”  Thus, hebephilia is not deemed to be a mental disorder.

Finally, we also have the beginning of the judiciary contributing their two cents to this issue.  A district court judge in Sydney, Australia, has said that incest is on a par with homosexuality.  (Wouldn’t homosexuals consider that creepy?)  The Honorable District Court Judge Garry Neilson espoused his view during a trial involving the trial of a man accused of raping his sister.  Judge Neilson said that sexual contact between siblings or between adults and children should perhaps no longer be viewed as “unnatural” or “taboo”, according to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald.  He drew parallels with changing attitudes towards homosexuals, and said that in the same way as homosexual sex, “a jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men, and was now ‘available’, not having [a] sexual partner.”  (Quoting Festus, we might say to this honorable judge that much learning has made thee mad!)  The honorable judge then added that incest is only criminalized in society because of the high chance that any resulting offspring will be born with serious birth defects, but added that fortunately in our modern world, “even that [risk] falls away to an extent [because] there is such ease of contraception and readily access to abortion.”  As a result of his comments, the Attorney General of New South Wales has referred the honorable judge to the Judicial Commission of New South Wales, and further requested that the judge be suspended from criminal trials until the probe is completed.  Don’t forget that it was just a few years ago in 2010 that the upper house of the Swiss parliament drafted a law decriminalizing incest.

So here we begin to see elements of more devolutionary societal change.  We may consider each of these views to be beyond reprehensible.  We are all also acutely aware of the dangers posed to victims of pedophilia by perpetrators, enablers, and supporters.  I found the honorable judge’s views on the use of abortion to be particularly despicable.  But we can begin to see more clearly what is coming.  I fear that once it begins, like homosexual “marriage,” it will move rather quickly.  Perhaps the next step might be a television comedy involving pedophiles or hebephiles?  Brothers and sisters in Christ, please watch your children and grandchildren carefully as the institutions of influence in our society will not protect them.



Coming Soon To A Bakery Near You
Thursday, July 10, 2014, 4:51 PM

The British media have reported that a Christian baker is facing legal action from a government agency for refusing to bake a cake carrying the picture of Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan “support gay marriage.”  (By the way, can Muppets really be homosexual?  Or are the homosexualists saying that those who have loving, platonic relationships are secretly gay?)  The Ashers Baking Company of Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, cancelled an order for the special love cake because it went against the religious beliefs of its owners.  The special love cake was also to include the logo of QueerSpace, a homosexual group supported by the customer, printed into the icing of the love cake.  The Christian bakers consider that baking this cake would endorse homosexual “marriage” in Northern Ireland, and would violate their religious convictions.  Of course, the bakery could have been targeted for a form of “entrapment” by the homosexualists.  (Do you ever wonder why Moslem bakers are never targeted?)

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (the “Commission”) has now written Ashers Bakery claiming that it is breaking the law and ordered the bakery to “remedy your illegal discrimination” within seven days, or be taken to court.  The Commission is claiming that the baker, in refusing to bake this special love cake, has discriminated against the customer based upon his sexual orientation.  The baker is supported by the Christian Institute, a British evangelical advocacy group.  The Christian Institute has responded that it is not discriminatory for a business to endorse a political campaign.  Importantly, Northern Ireland is the only province of the United Kingdom where homosexual “marriage” is not legal, though strenuous efforts are being made to establish homosexual ‘marriage” in Northern Ireland.

Colin Hart, chief executive of the Christian Institute, recently stated:

This is a sign of things to come exactly as we predicted.  The Government repeatedly failed to listen to members of the public, lawyers, constitutional experts, even its own MPs, when they called for safeguards to protect those who back traditional marriage, especially those who work in the public sector.  Now this nonsense, more usually associated with the public sector, is being applied to the private sector.  This means millions of ordinary people who do not agree with gay marriage face intimidation and the real threat of legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide goods or services to campaign groups they do not agree with or support.  It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual or business to force them to go against their deeply held beliefs.

Of course, the baker could simply have pointed out that baking the love cake would violate the intellectual property rights of Jim Henson Productions, Inc.  In addition, importantly to us, but perhaps less so to homosexualalists, the baker could have said that it is deeply offensive to sexualize characters from a television program for young children.  (This might have worked in that there have been a spate of British celebrities accused and convicted of pedophilia in recent years.)  British Prime Minister and Conservative Empty Suit David Cameron was asked about the baker’s situation during the Prime Minister’s question time in Parliament.  You can see his non-responsive answer here.  Perhaps the next step is for an abortion mill in the United Kingdom to find a devout Roman Catholic baker and ask him to make “We Love Abortion” cakes to give away as post-abortion novelties.  I have a sense that the Equality Commission would be writing letters to those bakers as well.  Please remember to pray for the owners and staff of the Ashers Baking Company.



A Young Arab Pastor Leads the Way
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 9:03 AM

The recent tragic events in Israel have led to new rounds of attacks and reprisals, with more than 230 missiles fired into southern Israel, leading to a forceful Israeli military response.  The current attacks started on June 12, 2014, with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli Jewish teens, one of whom was an American citizen. In retaliation, an Arab Moslem teen, Mohammed Abu Khder, 16, from the town of Shofat in East Jerusalem was also kidnapped and murdered by being burned alive.  Israeli police have arrested six Jewish Israelis for the murder, and three of them have now admitted their involvement with the teen’s torture and murder. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Mohammed’s father to offer his condolences to the family. It is unlikely that the Palestinian police will act with such dispatch as did the Israeli police.

Steven Khoury A Young Arab Pastor Leads the WayMy dear and deeply respected friend Steven Khoury is pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Shofat.  Pastor Khoury is an Arab-Israeli Christian who also serves as Vice President of Holy Land Missions, which supports six churches throughout Israel.  Over the past decades. Pastor Khoury has witnessed members of his churches attacked and persecuted.  His own father was shot by Moslem militants, and his uncle was martyred for the sake of Jesus Christ. Several young girls from his church were also martyred for their Christian faith. What was their crime? The girls invited other children to attend the church’s Vacation Bible School. Pastor Khoury is a published author, and he writes frequently for Al-Quds, the largest Arabic newspaper in the Holy Land.

Pastor Khoury and his congregations have endured numerous threats and attacks, and on June 30, 2014, after eight years of active ministry and evangelistic outreach in the Shofat area, the church closed at that location. Within hours, with the kidnapping and murder of the Moslem teen, riots, shootings, street fires, and great anger erupted in the neighborhood of the church. A Moslem, obviously sensing something was now different in his neighborhood, came to one of the leaders of the now closed Baptist church, and said, “Did you see what happened when you left the neighborhood? You took your covering of blessings and grace from our neighborhood with you?” Christians realize that the cover of God’s blessings is brought to a neighborhood and nation through a praying fellowship of Christian believers.

During the coming days and weeks, Pastor Khoury and his congregants plan to meet with the families of both of the murdered Moslem and Jewish teens. Among the Jews and Palestinians in Israel, the depth of hatred and animosity runs deep. It is expected that retaliation and revenge can lead to another intifada in short order. Here you can a short video of Rev. Khoury visiting Shofat this past weekend, and speaking with a Moslem teen. You can hear that the young man has no forgiveness in his heart. It is quite jarring to hear the youth speak.

It is only the true Love of Jesus Christ that brings real peace to the heart of man, and transforms our natural inclination for hatred, retribution, and revenge. It is through efforts of Pastor Khoury and members of his congregation, like the saints of the first century who choose to be salt and light in a hostile Jerusalem, bathed in the prayers of Christians around the world, who can make known the Love and Light of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who desperately need Him. As you watch events unfold in Israel, please remember to pray for the witness and ministry of this young and courageous Arab Christian pastor and his fellow Christian believers in Israel. Please also remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we are instructed in Psalm 122:6.



Happy Independence Day 2014
Thursday, July 3, 2014, 8:59 AM

It was 238 years ago, on July 4, 1776, that the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.  It marked the birth of this nation which, under God, was destined for world leadership.  Of course, the Declaration was only the first step: Great Britain was not going to give up its 13 colonies without a terrible and fierce fight that was to last for six years, and took the lives of 4,435 American patriots in battle at a then unimaginable cost of $104,000,000.  We often forget that, in declaring independence from an earthly power, our founders made a forthright declaration of dependence upon Almighty God.  The Declaration, written principally by Thomas Jefferson, acknowledges that “all men are created equal and are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights.”  The closing words of the Declaration solemnly declare, “With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”  What kind of men were our founders?  Twenty-two were lawyers and judges.  Eighteen were merchants and businessmen.  Fourteen were farmers and large plantation owners.  These were all men of means and education.  Seven were educated at Harvard, four at Yale, four at the College of William and Mary, and three at Princeton.  John Witherspoon, the only clergyman, was president of what is today Princeton University, and George Wythe was a professor at the College of William and Mary, whose former student was Thomas Jefferson.  Dr. Benjamin Rush, considered the father of American medicine, also started the Sunday School movement in the United States.  Dr. Rush graduated from Princeton at the age of 14, and then completed his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  Charles Carroll began his formal education at the age of 8, when he was sent to attend Jesuits’ College at St. Omer, France.  He graduated from the College of Louis the Grande in France at the age of 17.  Afterwards, he apprenticed as a lawyer in London.  Of the 56 signers, 21 were 40 years of age, or younger, with the youngest, Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, was 26 years old.  The British marked every signer for treason, and each became the object of vicious British manhunts.  Space does not permit me to tell the often tragic story of many of the Declaration’s signers, but a short biography of each of the signers is available here.

In addition to referring to the Creator and Divine Providence, the Declaration also appeals to “Nature’s God” and “the Supreme Judge of the World.”  A number of years later, when the Constitution was published, something new had been created: a system of self-government by the consent of the governed.  Our founders created a constitutional republic with individual liberty to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, elected representatives and limited government.  Our founders created a republic in which the power to govern was checked and balanced by procedures designed to stop tyranny in its tracks.  In contrast to what many believe, our founders did not create a democracy, but rather a republic.  They knew Plato’s warning that unrestricted democracy must logically result in a dictatorship.  They knew from the study of Greek history that a fanatical majority can deprive the individual of his rights, his life, and his property.  They had all studied Roman history, where after many centuries, the Roman republic gave way to the “bread and circuses” and the rise of the corrupt despotism of the Roman emperors that lasted until the collapse of the Roman Empire.  The founders firmly believed that the republican government they were creating could last only if it was rooted in biblical morality and religion.  John Adams said, “A republic can only be supported by pure religion or austere morals.”  George Washington said, “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.”  Indeed!  As early as 1811, the Supreme Court of New York, in a decision by Chief Justice Kent, for whom the Kent Law School in Chicago is named, stated, “The people of New York, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice” and then continues, “we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity.”  People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns. 290, 294-295.

Notwithstanding the assertions to the contrary of Mr. Obama, a former lecturer in constitutional law, in 1892, our Supreme Court, after giving example after example of the foundational importance of Christianity in public life from the discovery of the New World by Columbus throughout the history of United States, declared:

This is a religious people.  This is historically true.  From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation . . . we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity . . . . we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth . . . These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass or organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.

Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 465-71 (1892).  Emphasis added.

In 1931, the Supreme Court again reaffirmed its earlier view: “We are a Christian people . . . and acknowledge with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God.”  U.S. v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605, 625 (1931).  In 1952, the liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, writing for the Supreme Court in the decision of Zorach v. Clauson, wrote, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.  We guarantee the freedom to worship as one chooses . . . We cannot read into the Bill of Rights such a philosophy of hostility of religion.”  Zorach, 343 U. S. 306, 313-15.  Of course, over the past six decades, this view has perhaps now vanished.  To almost any observer, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, the official policy of both the federal government and its courts today is state-sponsored atheism that holds an anti-Christian animus.  Of course, the concept of a secular or atheistic state did not exist in 1776, when the Declaration was published, or in 1787, when the Constitution was adopted.  To read the Constitution as a charter for a secular or atheistic state is to misread our American history radically.  Our Constitution was designed to perpetuate an order based upon the Bible, biblical ethics, and a Judeo-Christian worldview.  At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “Dr. Franklin, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?”  Mr. Franklin famously and wisely responded, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Independence Day 2014 should not solely be about fireworks, parades, and a cold drink on a hot summer day.  Rather, it is a celebration of a system of self-government by the consent of the governed.  It is about a constitutional republic with individual liberty, elected representatives and limited government.  For this Independence Day celebration, I will read again the Declaration of Independence.  If I read it slowly, it might take 15 minutes.  If you haven’t read the Declaration in a while, you might be surprised at how many parallels exist with our day.  Happy Independence Day, Everyone!  Yes, Hobby Lobby won their case at the Supreme Court 5-4.  For this, we are thankful to God for His mercy.  But this case also reminds us that our religious liberty hangs on a very thin thread.



Fellowship of St. James Needs Your Support
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 1:44 PM

Last week, I had the privilege to attend for the fourth time Acton University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where more than 1,000 persons from 67 nations gathered to speak and learn about how our Christian faith informs our understanding of freedom and economics.  It was an exhilarating experience, and I would encourage my readers to begin to plan to attend the next session in June 2015.  One evening as I introduced myself to a young man at dinner, he said, “You write for Mere Comments, right?”  It was an affirming comment.  I certainly appreciate my many blog readers from around the world, and also deeply value the ministry of Touchstone and Salvo magazines, and the St. James Daily Devotional Guide.  On occasion, I have been asked why I don’t start my own blog instead of writing for Mere Comments.  However, my answer has always been the same: Writing for Mere Comments is a wonderful privilege to share my Christian faith with many, and the website serves as a strategic tool to encourage others to grow more deeply in their faith in Jesus Christ.

That is the ministry of the Fellowship of St. James, the publisher of Touchstone and Salvo magazines, and of Mere Comments.  The Fellowship, founded in 1976, seeks to promote fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, and encourages greater Christian unity based upon shared belief in the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith as revealed in Holy Scripture and taught in the ancient creeds of the Church.  As a recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization, subscriptions alone do not cover the costs of publishing the magazines.  As a result, the Fellowship relies upon generous gifts from its readers and supporters.  My wife and I have long been supporters of the Fellowship as we recognize the great value of a clear, consistent, ecumenical platform for thoughtful and learned Christians to share how our Christian faith informs an understanding of modern-day life in these spiritually dark times.  I would ask you to prayerfully consider a generous donation to the Fellowship as we approach the end of the Fellowship’s fiscal year on June 30, 2014.  As of today, the Fellowship needs $35,000 to balance its budget.

You can make an online donation here.

Thank you very much for your prayer consideration of this request.



Please Pray During Ramadan
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:33 AM

Beginning June 28, 2014, and running for thirty days until July 27, 2014, 1.6 billion Moslems will celebrate Ramadan.  During Ramadan, Moslems set aside time to seek their god by abstaining from earthly pleasures.  Moslems will pursue the cleansing of their souls through fasting from sunrise to sunset, and refrain from bad habits.  During this time, God will move in the lives of millions of Moslems to introduce His Son, Jesus, as their Lord and Savior.  Today, the Moslem world is in great chaos, and Christians are being martyred daily throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  Missiologists tell us that today four of every five Moslems, or 20 percent of the world’s population, have never heard a clear presentation of the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Further, it is estimated that no more than ten percent of Christian missionaries work among Moslems, and I have seen some estimates as low as 1 percent of missionaries work among Moslems.  This means that there is approximately one missionary for every 1 million Moslems.

The Lord Jesus is revealing Himself throughout the Middle East and North Africa through dreams, visions, and miracles, as well as through television.  As one prime example, Father Zakaria Botros, a Coptic priest from Egypt, has a ninety-minute, Arabic-language television program that combines preaching and teaching, along with answering questions from often irate callers from all over the world.  His daily television audience is estimated to be more than fifty million, and his program is viewed in every country of the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, as well as other parts of the world.  As a result, because of God’s great love for Moslems, more Moslems have become followers of Jesus Christ in the past several decades than in the previous 13 centuries.  I have been reading a fascinating book by Tom Doyle, entitled Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?  This book reads as a modern-day version of the Book of Acts of the Apostles, and I commend this book to you to understand more fully what God is doing in the Moslem world today.  There are credible reports that hundreds of former sheikhs and imams are now Christ followers, and are leading many out of Islam.  There are also cases of entire mosques coming to faith in the Lord Jesus.  Many of these imams and sheikhs are the new Christian leaders in the Middle East and North Africa with tens of thousands of Moslem-background Christian believers.  I have personally corresponded with and encouraged more than one dozen Moslem-background Christian believers in the past year from around the world.  Areas of the Moslem world that have never had one church before now have dozens that were started in the past several years.  As one can expect, the formerly-Moslem Christian believers are severely persecuted.  But despite great persecution, imprisonment, and martyrdom, with many others losing their homes and loved ones, these new Christians boldly serve our Lord Jesus.  They have truly counted the cost, and know the pearl of great price of their newfound faith.  I encourage all of us to pray during this month of Ramadan for God’s Holy Spirit to be poured out throughout Moslem lands.  A number of Christian organizations will offer guided prayers during this time.  As two examples, www.prayercast.com will offer a daily prayer journey through the Moslem world during this month.  Open Doors, the Christian organization involved in ministering to the persecuted church around the world, offers a 30-day Ramadan prayer guide, which you can find here.  God is doing great and miraculous things throughout the world today, and I encourage each of us to pray for our Moslem friends and neighbors, as well as those around the world, during Ramadan.  As we pray, let us ask God to shatter the deception of Islam with the presence and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.



An Historic Day in Washington, D.C.
Monday, June 23, 2014, 10:20 AM

When I lived in Washington, D.C., one of the first places that I would take visitors and family to visit was the National Cathedral.  Officially, the Episcopal National Cathedral is called The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington.  It is architecturally beautiful, and I consider the cathedral to be a sermon in stone to the glory of God.  The cathedral has long been a place of importance in American history.  I remember it best for the first part of former President Reagan’s funeral in June 2004, and for the worship service held on the Friday morning after the September 11, 2001, attacks when the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham comforted our nation.

In a curious way, the Cathedral made history again this past Sunday.  The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, was the first openly transgender priest to preach from the Canterbury Pulpit at the cathedral.  The Rev. Dr. Partridge is also lecturer and counselor to Episcopal/Anglican students at Harvard Divinity School.  The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, presided at this service.  The service was part of the cathedral’s celebration of LGBTQ pride month.  The service included readings and prayers from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.  The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the cathedral, said that he hoped that Rev. Dr. Partridge’s participation would “send a symbolic message in support of greater equality for the transgender community.”  And for that symbolism, I am sure that the Very Rev. Hall is correct.

Many of my readers know that the Bible is not supportive of transgender priests.  A number of Holy Scriptures find “an abomination” for those who attempt to transform their masculinity into femininity.  (See, e.g., Deuteronomy 23:18.)  St. Paul, in I Corinthians 6:9, includes a group called “malakoi” or “soft men” in his list of those who “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Of course, effeminate or soft men are not solely homosexual, and I have observed that some lesbians seek to appear overtly masculine.  But during Sunday’s services at the cathedral, those present prayed the following:

Gracious God, have mercy on us.  We confess that we have turned from you and given ourselves into the power of sin.  We are truly sorry and humbly repent.  In your compassion forgive us our sins, known and unknown, things we have done and things we have failed to do.  Turn us again to you, and uphold us by your Spirit, so that we may live and serve you in newness of life through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

That is a profound confession for all of us, including those in attendance on Sunday morning, and we continue to pray and work for our national repentance.  If you wish to watch Father Partridge’s sermon, you can watch here.



Could Common Core Fix the Scientific Ignorance of Americans?
Friday, June 13, 2014, 2:48 PM

As recently reported on Mere Comments, a new Gallup poll shows that many Americans still believe in God’s involvement in the creation of mankind.  The largest proportion of Americans, 42 percent, believe that God created human beings in their present form.  Additionally, 31 percent believe mankind evolved, but with God guiding the process.  Finally, 19 percent believe that man evolved without any involvement by God.  The Gallup survey results are available here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/170822/believe-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx.  Interestingly, despite many decades of “education” regarding evolutionary theory in government schools, the proportion of Americans subscribing to a creationist worldview that God made humans in their present form has never dropped below 40 percent since the question was first asked in 1982.

Non-theistic evolutionary theory has, of course, a myriad of problems.  There is the obvious irrationality that a pool of contaminated water struck by lightning is the source of all present life, after having replicated trillions and trillions of times successfully.  Fred Hoyle, the late English astronomer and atheist, famously observed regarding the likelihood of evolution of cellular life, “It would be easier for a tornado to go through a junkyard and create a 747.″  Moreover, if evolutionary theory were true, we would have expected to find by now millions of fossils of “transitional forms.”  For example, if birds evolved from reptiles or dinosaurs, as is often speculated, we could expect to find fossils showing various forms of stunted wings covered in scales.  But numerous evolutionary paleontologists have observed that no fossil has ever been found that can be identified as a transitional form.

What is to be done by this so-called scientific ignorance of so many Americans?  This is particularly important as the new Common Core educational standards have not issued their “science” standards, even though the Common Core standards will be first tested on the College Board Scholastic Aptitude Test in 2016.  (I suspect that issuance of new Common Core science standards may not be well received by the general public, and their release is awaiting a very slow news day.)  However, at the very least, we can reasonably anticipate that the new Common Core science standards will begin teaching evolutionary theory in the earliest school grades, as compared with the high school years now.  Alison Kopnik, writing recently in the Wall Street Journal, observed:

A new study in Psychological Science by Deborah Kelemen of Boston University and colleagues helps to explain why evolution is hard to grasp.  It also suggests that we should teach children the theory of natural selection while they are still in kindergarten instead of waiting, as we do now, until they are teenagers. . . Even babies understand that human actions are that preschoolers begin to apply this kind of design thinking more generally, an attitude she calls “promiscuous teleology.”  By elementary-school age, children start to invoke an ultimate God- like designer to explain the complexity of the world around them—even children brought up as atheists.  Kids aged 6 to 10 have developed their own coherent “folk biological” theories.  Dr. Kelemen and her colleagues thought that they might be able to get young children to understand the mechanism of natural selection before the alternative intentional-design theory had become too entrenched.  They gave 5- to 8-year-olds 10-page picture books that illustrated an example of natural selection. The “pilosas,” for example, are fictional mammals who eat insects.  Some of them had thick trunks, and some had thin ones.  A sudden change in the climate drove the insects into narrow underground tunnels.  The thin-trunked pilosas could still eat the insects, but the ones with thick trunks died.  So the next generation all had thin trunks. . . .  One picture book, of course, won’t solve all the problems of science education.  But these results do suggest that simple story books like these could be powerful intellectual tools.  The secret may be to reach children with the right theory before the wrong one is too firmly in place.

Emphasis added.

So we see that children intuitively perceive life as reflecting “intentional design.”  So the answer, according to the learned evolutionists, is to catch them very early and “train” them to understand things from a Darwinian perspective.  Of course, the example of the pilosas is fictional, which is, in and of itself, quite telling.  Moreover, the extrapolation from such a trivial example into the origin of all species and all biological complexity by unguided natural processes is dishonest, and particularly so, in a children’s book.  Personally, I am skeptical about the origin of all species through evolution.  In my thinking, it takes far more faith to believe in an ex nihilo creation that does not involve God than to believe in God’s direct involvement with Creation.  In fact, according to Professor Hoyle’s analysis, he estimated the probability of cellular life evolving to be one-in-1040,000.  He also observed, “Life as we know it, is, among other things, dependent on at least 2,000 different enzymes.  How could the blind forces of the primal sea manage to put together the correct chemical elements to build enzymes?”  An excellent question, I think.  In the Holy Gospels, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the reality of God’s direct involvement in Creation and the creation of mankind.  Well, He would know, wouldn’t He?


« Newer PostsOlder Posts »