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.



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.



Mere Links 07.02.14
Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 10:00 AM

Florida Moves to Protect Unborn Children
Philip Wegmann, The Daily Signal

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed H.B. 59, the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” into law last week. With the bill’s passage, Florida joins twenty-nine other states with laws that criminalize the deliberate harm or murder of an unborn child.

Survey: Domestic violence rarely addressed
Bob Smietana, Baptist Press

A new survey from LifeWay Research found most Protestant senior pastors say they know victims of domestic violence and believe stopping abuse is a pro-life issue. But, according to the study, those pastors seldom address domestic violence from the pulpit — and less than half have been trained in how to help victims.

Where Have all the Cultists Gone?
Philip Jenkins , The Anxious Bench

One of the most enjoyable academic conferences on religious studies is CESNUR, the Center for the Study of New Religions, and this past month we hosted the group’s annual meeting at Baylor. I spoke on a topic that I have addressed before, namely the sharp decline in public concern (or panic) about dangerous religious cults in the United States. As I will suggest, I believe this might mark a significant social trend, and perhaps even a bellwether for secularization.

Beauty is for the Poor, Too
Duncan G. Stroik, Crisis Magazine

What is the architectural corollary of Saint Francis of Assisi’s “holy poverty”? Is it the shantytowns of the third world or the stylish minimalism of first-world condominiums? When we build churches, schools, and soup kitchens, should they be cheap or at least look cheap?



Mere Links 07.01.14
Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 10:00 AM

Why Hobby Lobby Matters
Russell D. Moore, Moore to the Point

The ruling isn’t just a win for evangelicals, like the Southern Baptist Greens. It’s a win for everyone. Here’s why. A government that can pave over the consciences of the Greens can steamroll over any dissent anywhere. Whether you agree or disagree with us about abortion, every American should want to see a government that is not powerful enough to set itself up as a god over the conscience.

The Brave New World of Three-Parent I.V.F.
Kim Tingley, New York Times

Ott, who is Catholic, remembers weighing whether altering the makeup of her descendants in this way was O.K. “Being a person who’s been involved in science my whole life, the way I looked at it is: God gives us doctors to help us, and they help us with things like infertility,” she told me recently.

The Wobbly Exegetical Basis of Penal Substitutionary Satisfaction
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

By way of clearing the field, I should probably speak first of a widely held soteriological theory, called “Penal Substitutionary Satisfaction,” which represents a line of interpretation in the Reformed Tradition of Protestantism.

Skepticism About International Religious Freedom
Mark Movsesian, First Things

the concept of international religious freedom also provokes some skepticism, and did so at the conference. It seems to me this skepticism takes one of two forms, what we might call “Type 1” and “Type 2” skepticism.



Mere Links 06.30.14
Monday, June 30, 2014, 10:00 AM

How Churches Can Bridge the Marriage Divide
Interview with W. Bradford Wilcox , First Things

What accounts for the growing marriage divide in America? Liberals like William Julius Wilson at Harvard tend to finger economic causes, whereas conservatives like Kay Hymowitz at the Manhattan Institute tend to finger cultural changes and poorly conceived public policies. They are both right.

The Intuitive Guide to Religious Liberty Law
Jordan Lorence, Public Discourse

Common sense can tell us whether particular citizens should be exempt from certain government policies for religious reasons. Codifying such instinctive judgments into formal statutes is more difficult.

How Scalia’s prophecy became a moral crises
R. Albert Mohler Jr., CNN

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, this much is clear: Justice Antonin Scalia is a prophet.

Exchanging Sex for Survival
Mike Mariani, The Atlantic

So-called “safe harbor” laws may help, but they overlook the vast number of teen runaways who use their bodies as their only form of currency.


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