Mere Links 07.11.14
Friday, July 11, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Festival Where ‘Christianity’ Is Just Earth Worship
Alexander Griswold, The Federalist

Every year, Hot Springs, North Carolina hosts the Wild Goose Festival, a four-day musical and spiritual festival marketed towards Progressive Christians. This year, I made the trip to catalogue the more outrageous presentations, speeches, and goings-on.

When Christians killed & why Muslim violence continues
David Roach, Baptist Press

How the principle of religious liberty ended executions over doctrine.

How Evangelical Christians Do Money: On Tithing
Interview with Tara Leigh, The Billfold

I like nice things. I like new things. Tithing helps refocus me on things that matter, instead of those fleeting joys that will end up in a yard sale someday. In short, it demonstrates my faith while refocusing my desires around things that deepen my relationship with God.

Don’t Fall For These Six Myths About Monogamy
Amy Otto, The Federalist

Marriage and its necessary component, monogamy, are still the best game in town.



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.



Mere Links 07.10.14
Thursday, July 10, 2014, 10:00 AM

A Sexual Revolution for Young Evangelicals? No.
Russell D. Moore & Andrew Walker, National Review

Defying the secular culture, churchgoing Christians are sticking to Biblical teaching.

Is there a Rational Legal Basis for Traditional Marriage?
Robert Kraynak, Crisis Magazine

The average person is naturally intimidated by the judges and feels pressured to agree. If only the public knew how these judicial decisions were made. The district-court rulings involve the “equal protection” and “due process” clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution as they are applied to state marriage laws.

Justice Sotomayor Misses the Mark: Religious Non-Profits Should Prevail
Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Public Discourse

The contradictory reasoning of Justice Sotomayor’s Wheaton dissent exposes a glaring weakness in the legal argument requiring religious non-profits to comply with HHS’s regulatory scheme.

A Bit Of Religion Can Be Bad For Marriage
Charles E. Stokes, Amber Lapp, and David Lapp, The Federalist

Attending church regularly during young adulthood appears to significantly decrease the risk of divorce, even for early marriages.



Mere Links 07.09.14
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 12:01 AM

9 Things You Should Know About Islam
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Throughout the world, Muslims are observing their annual observance of Ramadan. Christians need to become more aware of Ramadan as well as the other practices and tenets of this fast-growing global religion. As an aid in that effort, here are nine things you should know about Islam.

The Right to Be Wrong
Ryan T. Anderson, Public Discourse

The right to religious freedom is for everyone, not just those with the “right” beliefs.

Nonprofits’ contraceptive cases next for justices
Associated Press

How much distance from an immoral act is enough? That’s the difficult question behind the next legal dispute over religion, birth control and the health law that is likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court.

European Court Decides Church Autonomy Case
Mark Movsesian, First Things

Russian judge calls clerical celibacy a human rights violation.



Mere Links 07.08.14
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 10:00 AM

Church, State, and Human Trafficking
John Goerke, Public Discourse

For the common good, we must remember the ways in which church and state can mutually benefit each other—and watch for the ways in which the state threatens that relationship.

The Hobby Lobby Case Is a Small Victory, But a Real One
Andrew Quinn, The Federalist

Some pessimists say the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling is not a significant victory. They’re too gloomy.

Praying with Incense and the Wrath of God
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

Having determined that repentant prayer alone turns away the divine wrath, we should also consider two ritual gestures in which such prayer may be expressed: the offering of incense and the devout raising of the hands. Since Holy Scripture regards both these elevations as symbols of the soul’s ascent to God. It is no wonder we sometime find them joined in a unified ritual.

Free Contraception v. the Constitution
Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary

The decision that granted Wheaton College the right to avoid even the appearance of complicity in the use of such drugs provoked a particularly angry response from the court’s three female members.



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.



Job Opportunity at The Fellowship of St. James
Monday, July 7, 2014, 12:30 PM

The Fellowship of St. James, a non-for-profit Christian publishing ministry, is seeking a full-time Business Manager. The Fellowship currently has four full-time employees (Executive Director/Executive Editor of publications; Managing Editor of publications; Graphic Design and Web Editor for publications; and the Business Manager) and two part-time employees. The position entails oversight, management, and execution of all business aspects of the ministry, from oversight of the facility, bookkeeping, data entry, budgeting, reporting, personnel records, payroll, purchasing office supplies, computers, vendor contracts, and mailings.

This is an ideal position for a business-oriented person with experience who seeks to utilize business skills to manage the efficiency and growth of the ministry of the Fellowship.

The Fellowship publishes Touchstone (www.touchstonemag.com), Salvo (www.salvomag.com), plus the Daily Devotional Guide and Calendar of the Christian Year. Its main website is www.fsj.org. The Fellowship also holds occasional lectures, seminars, and conferences.

The annual salary for the position will be determined based on skills and previous experience. Health insurance is provided.

Inquiries and resumés should be sent to James Kushiner, jmk@fsj.org. A detailed job description is available upon request.

 



A Generation’s Broken Arrows
Monday, July 7, 2014, 11:43 AM

Daniel Payne writes over at The Federalist of “The New Sins Of ‘Nonjudgmental’ Millennials.”

If you speak to the average 20-something or Millennial about the concept of sin, you may be treated to a kind of quasi-Unitarian dismissal of the concept, a sort of uncomfortable rejection of the notion of ecclesiastical proscription in any sense: “I’m very spiritual,” you’ll hear a lot, “but not religious.” What this looks like in practice is generally a dismissal of accountability towards any higher power, or at least towards any rules He might impose upon His people: It is, after all, 2014.

Yet the Millennials, having sloughed off the religious notions of their parents and grandparents—at least one-third of Generation Yers are more or less without religion—have taken it upon themselves to adopt a new set of mandates and dictates to guide their lives. Call them the “new sins,” a number of commandments by which one might stay on the narrow way. The old interdictions now cast aside, a new series of injunctions must be obeyed: and like most religions and denominations, adherence to these commandments is held sacrosanct, any deviation from them fairly blasphemous. Religion may be out for a large number of Millennials, but its vacuum has been more or less filled.

Payne goes on to list some of these “new sins,” including answering wrong with respect to climate change, homosexuality, and a politicized rendering of social justice. Payne’s identification of the “dismissal of accountability towards any higher power” reminds me of the Kacey Musgraves song, “Follow Your Arrow,” which embodies the tension of legalistically rejecting legalisms.

Musgraves’ song tries to walk the middle path between various forms of hypocrisy and judgmentalism. But the new law set up in place of inherited fundamentalism is the call, not to put off the old self and to follow Jesus, but rather to “follow your arrow wherever it points.”

There is little sense that our arrows might be bent, much less broken. And in this, “Follow Your Arrow” captures the spirit of a broken and bent generation.



Mere Links 07.07.14
Monday, July 7, 2014, 10:00 AM

A Perpetual Haven: Why the Religious Freedom Restoration Act Matters
Kim Colby, Public Discourse

Respect for religious conscience is not an afterthought or luxury, but the very essence of the American political and social compact. Adapted from testimony presented before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

Anglicans Set to Remove Satan from Baptismal Rite
Anne Hendershott, Crisis Magazine

Declaring that the devil has departed from the Church of England’s baptism service, the Guardian reported on June 20 that “a simplified baptism which omits mention of the devil” is now favored by the clergy who have test-marketed it throughout the United Kingdom.

Let Religious Freedom Ring
Timothy George, First Things

Why it’s one of the most pressing issues today.

This is Iraq’s darkest hour
Louis Raphaël I Sako and Oliver Maksan, Mercatornet

A bishop in Kurdish Iraq criticizes Western indifference to the future of Middle East Christianity.



Mere Links 07.03.14
Thursday, July 3, 2014, 10:00 AM

9 Things You Should Know About Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

July 4, 2013 will be America’s 238th Independence Day, the day Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Here are nine things you should know about America’s founding document and the day set aside for its commemoration.

Faith Communities Are on the Front Line of Refugee Aid
Dale Hanson Bourke, OnFaith

The Abrahamic faiths share a command to welcome and care for the 45 million refugees around the world.

Church Bells Fall Silent in Mosul as Iraq’s Christians Flee
Andrew Doran and Drew Bowling, The Daily Beast

The advance of ISIS has ended over a thousand years of Christian worship in Mosul—the latest chapter in the long decline of Christianity in the Middle East.

The New Sins Of ‘Nonjudgmental’ Millennials
Daniel Payne, The Federalist

Millenials are like the Moral Majority, except genderqueer.


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