Global Woodstock? No, Worse
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 3:17 PM

Yikes, but not surprising….From our beloved United Nations channel as reported by C-FAM:

“[Y]oung people require a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services, including . . . safe abortion care,” says the 2014 State of World Population, released Tuesday.

Well, Woodstock didn’t include abortion care, I don’t think, or paid prostitution (FREE love, right?) but:

UNFPA also criticizes laws against “same-sex behaviour, drug use, and selling sex or sex work,” on the grounds that they “fall particularly hard on young people realizing their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.”

The UN has come a long way.



Mere Links 11.20.14
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 10:00 AM

British Rabbi Tells Vatican Conference We Must Defend the Family of “Man, Woman and Child”
Aleteia

Rabbi Lord Sacks blames the breakdown of the traditional family for society’s ills.

Hello ladies, goodbye Communion?
The Economist

If this week is remembered as an important one by church historians, it may be for a different reason: it was the moment when the archbishop of Canterbury finally acknowledged that the Anglican Communion, the global family of churches numbering about 80m of which he is head, may be impossible to hold together.

The Wilberforce Test: Preaching and the Public Square
Owen Strachan, 9Marks

William Wilberforce was born with life laid out like a Persian carpet before him. He was from fantastic wealth, had access to high society whenever he pleased, and had the social graces to charm most anyone he encountered.

How a French Atheist Becomes a Theologian
Guillaume Bignon, Christianity Today

If French atheists rarely become evangelical Christians, how much rarer it is for one to become an evangelical Christian theologian. So what happened? One might argue that with 66 million French people, I’m just a fluke, an anomaly.



Pastor Saeed Abedini and Nuclear Negotiations With Iran
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 9:11 AM

This week, the eyes of Americans are focused on Mr. Obama’s forthcoming amnesty for the almost 30 million illegal aliens living in the United States, and on events in Ferguson, Missouri.  Many expect large-scale civil disturbances after the grand jury decides, according to most media reports, not to indict Officer Wilson.  However, history is likely to record that the gravest threat to world peace at this time arises from the negotiations among the United States, European Union, and the Islamic regime of Iran over Iran’s nuclear program.  The deadline for a “comprehensive” accord is set for this coming Monday, November 24, 2014.

The principal negotiators are Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, U.S. Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry and European Union envoy Catherine Ashton.  The United States and Europe seek to defuse a long confrontation with Iran that ultimately threatens nuclear war between Iran and Israel.  Iran’s top aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, has said that Iran would not abandon its nuclear “rights,” but still was committed to the negotiations.  This means that the Iranian mullahs, being shrewd negotiators, will develop nuclear weapons while the United States and Europe continue to negotiate.  Of course, Iran denies any secret nuclear weapons program, and says that it only wants peaceful nuclear energy, notwithstanding its immense reserves of petroleum and natural gas.  Iran refused to curb nuclear enrichment capacity, and as a result, has been hit by crippling sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, and United Nations Security Council.  The present negotiations seek to put verifiable limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment work that provide a path to nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.  According to media reports, Western and Iranian diplomats involved in the negotiations stress that the major unresolved issues are the size of Iran’s enrichment program, the length of any long-term agreement, and the pace at which international sanctions would be phased out.  The Obama Administration seeks verification and monitoring measures to ensure Iran is living up to its end of the bargain.  Good luck with that as there is much to negotiate in the coming few days.

Related to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, I have often written on these pages about the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini, the American pastor who is wrongly imprisoned in Iran.  After more than two years in captivity in Iran’s notorious prisons, his family reports that he is suffering great pain from internal injuries from frequent prison beatings by both guards and other prisoners.  And while the feckless Obama Administration is sitting across the table from Iran with the November 24th deadline that is likely to release billions of dollars and Euros to Iran, the plight of Pastor Abedini is ignored.  Can we naively trust the mullahs of Iran who are committed to the destruction of Israel as their regime wrongfully imprisons and torments an American pastor (and many other Christians)?  I don’t think so either.

When soldier Bowe Bergdahl, held by the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, was exchanged earlier this year for five Taliban members held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Mr. Obama promised that he would leave no American behind.  We must now hold Mr. Obama to his promise.  Please pray for Pastor Abedini, his wife, and their two beautiful children.  I encourage each of my readers to please call or write Mr. Obama regarding this matter.  The telephone number to the main White House switchboard is 1.202.456.1414, or you can email him here.  As you may have heard, Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that he is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history.  So I think he would enjoy hearing from regular folks about the plight of Pastor Abedini.  And as we move towards the Thanksgiving Day holiday, let us be mindful that we are admonished in Hebrews 13:3 to “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”



Mere Links 11.19.14
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 10:00 AM

Clerical Freedom and Academic Freedom
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine

It’s odd to think that all those boys died at Normandy and Iwo Jima so that men of God could have their sermons confiscated by the government, lest they dare to preach against ambiguous bathrooms.

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Evangelicals
Warren Cole Smith, OnFaith

A reporter offers his insights on a religious movement everyone talks about but few understand.

Same-Self Marriage
Timothy George, First Things

It’s only a trickle, not yet a trend, but it is out there, and it has a name: sologamy. Sologamy is the marriage of someone to one’s own self—the his- or herness of it is not relevant, although it seems to be mostly women who are doing it.

Man, Woman, and the Mystery of Christ: An Evangelical Protestant Perspective
Russell Moore, The Gospel Coalition

The sexual revolution cannot keep its promises. People are looking for a cosmic mystery, for a love that is stronger than death. They cannot articulate it, and perhaps would be horrified to know it, but they are looking for God.



Mere Links 11.18.14
Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 10:00 AM

Archbishop Justin’s presidential address to the General Synod
Archbishop of Canterbury

In his presidential address to the General Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward.

Down syndrome mom: the “death with dignity” debate insults my son’s life
Anne Penniston Grunsted, Quartz

Earlier this month, Brittany Maynard made the much publicized decision to end her life rather than wait for her Stage IV cancer to inevitably kill her instead. Like many people around the world, I felt great sadness and sympathy for the choice she made, a choice I believe she had the right to make.

Pope Francis stands firm on marriage at Humanum Colloquium
Phillip Bethancourt, ERLC

Pope Francis began the Humanum Colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman in marriage by stating that “this complementarity is at the root of marriage and family.” Throughout the message, he was clear about the necessity and value of marriage despite progressive “ideological notions” on the family in our day.

J.S. Mill and the Pro-Life Cause
Christopher O. Tollefsen, Public Discourse

In spite of its many problematic aspects, the political thought of J.S. Mill provides a low but solid foundation for the essential convictions of the pro-life movement: that the unborn, in virtue of their common humanity, deserve the full protection of the law.



Mere Links 11.17.14
Monday, November 17, 2014, 10:00 AM

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About the Black Church
Nicole Symmonds, OnFaith

There’s more to the story than soulful music and whooping preachers. Way more.

To Die is Gain, But Most of Us Aren’t in a Hurry to Go
Msgr. Charles Pope

A reflection on the Christian view of death.

Ebola patient Dr. Martin Salia dies in Omaha
Mike Dubose, CBS News

A surgeon who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone has passed away in a hospital in Nebraska, where he had been flown for treatment, officials announced Monday.

Fake Viral Videos and the Coarsening of the Soul
Dan McConchie, Canon and Culture

Despite the almost immediate rise of email hoaxes, fake content generally did not apply to regular web pages. In the early days of the internet, it was really hard to create a website.



Another Historic First at The National Cathedral
Monday, November 17, 2014, 9:36 AM

Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Another Historic First at The National CathedralLast June, on these pages, I wrote about an historic first at Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral when the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, became the first openly transgendered priest to preach from the Canterbury Pulpit at the cathedral.  The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, presided at that service, which 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.”  The National Cathedral, which is officially The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, boasts an important image both in the United States and around the world.

This past Friday, there was another historic first at the National Cathedral when several hundred Moslem worshipers gathered for the first recitation of weekly Moslem prayers to Allah at the cathedral.  The National Cathedral was, in effect, turned into a mosque, and the Moslem worshipers were called to worship by the Arabic call to prayer, and they bowed toward Mecca, while shielding their eyes from Christian crosses.  Prayer carpets were arranged diagonally so Islamic worshipers could face the direction of Mecca without seeing any of the crosses or other Christian symbols.  Apparently, this is because Moslems are not to pray in view of non-Islamic sacred symbols.  So now, the National Cathedral has become the first church in America to host a Moslem-led prayer service.  Among the sponsors of this event were the infamous Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and the Islamic Society of North America, also known as ISNA.  Both CAIR and ISNA are known front groups for the Moslem Brotherhood, which has long had strong ties to senior figures in the Obama Administration.  (The two groups were named as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2009 Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terrorism funding trial in U.S history.  CAIR and ISNA were directly involved in laundering money through fake charities to fund Hamas operations.)  Friday’s Islamic sermon was preached by His Excellency, Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, described as a Moslem “scholar,” who is the ambassador from South Africa to the United States.  In his remarks, Ambassador Rasool called on Moslems, Christians, and others to come together and make “common cause” in the fight against extremists who appropriate Islam.  In his remarks, Ambassador Rasool said:

We come to this cathedral with sensitivity and humility but keenly aware that it is not a time for platitudes, because mischief is threatening the world.  The challenge for us today is to reconstitute a middle ground of good people . . . whose very existence threatens extremism.

The Islamic prayer service was closed to the public, and media reports indicate that there was heavy security, with police checking every name and bag.  (I suppose the organizers feared that a Christian suicide bomber might set off a bomb, or send one or more Christian children wearing a bomb-vest.)  Organizers said there had been concerns about security and threats after the event was publicized, and the organizers and cathedral officials wanted to limit it to a small and select group.  However, as an imam was about to give the call to prayer, a Christian woman stood up, pointed to the cross, and proclaimed:

Jesus Christ died on that cross.  He is the reason we are to worship only Him.  Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.  We have built enough of your mosques in this country.  Why don’t you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone?  America was founded on Christian principles.  Leave our church alone!

Indeed.  She was immediately taken into custody and forcibly removed from the cathedral by two men whereupon she was beheaded.  (OK, that didn’t really happen, or at least not yet in the United States, but it could have happened that way in many other countries.)  Our unidentified Christian sister’s interruption of the travesty was captured on video and posted online at PamelaGeller.com.

Of course, in Islam, Jesus Christ is not the Son of God.  The Koran 4:171 declares in part:

O People of the Scripture!  Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth.  The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a soul from Him.  So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease!  [It is] better for you!  Indeed, Allah is only One Allah.  Exalted is He above having a son.

Moreover, as Christians who recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s Holy Son, Islam teaches we are accursed and worthy of destruction.  The Koran 9:30 declares in pertinent part:

[T]he Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah.”  That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved.  May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?

The leaders of the National Cathedral have now permitted a grave blasphemy in this church.  But now, I will look forward, in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect that was promised by this event, that this coming Christmas, we can celebrate the Feast of the Nativity at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and then, at Easter, celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Kaaba in Mecca.  In light of the Moslem persecution of Christians worldwide, it seems to me that it would be far more appropriate to promote love and respect by having Christian prayers in a mosque.  But don’t hold your breath.



Saint John Chrysostom
Sunday, November 16, 2014, 7:00 AM

In honor of his feast day, November 13, which I neglected last week.

A good documentary on St John Chrysostom–the Golden-Tongued–Doctor of the Church and author of the Orthodox liturgy, which has taken place every Sunday in every Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Catholic church—regardless of country, regardless of language—for the last 1500 years. It is a condensed version of the Liturgy of St Basil and is composed almost entirely of text directly from the Bible. The music varies depending on local tastes, but the text remains identical.

Here’s a shortened version of St John’s Liturgy by Tchaikovsky to give you a taste (the actual liturgy takes a couple of hours):

St John is also known for his tender and stirring Paschal Homily, read at every Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter) celebration.



Mere Links 11.14.14
Friday, November 14, 2014, 10:00 AM

Religion in Latin America
Pew Research

Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population – and the Roman Catholic Church now has a Latin American pope for the first time in its history. Yet identification with Catholicism has declined throughout the region, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey that examines religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Pope Francis to build showers for homeless in St. Peter’s Square
Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service

In his latest bid to ease the suffering of the poor — and upend the expectations of the papacy — Pope Francis plans to build showers for the homeless under the sweeping white colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.

Why Do Pastors Receive a Tax Exemption for Housing?
Joe Carter, Acton Institute

Aside from the question of constitutionality, the clergy exemption raises a question that many people — whether religious or not — are likely to be wondering: Why exactly do ministers receive a tax exemption for their housing allowance?

Not That Kind of Homosexuality?
Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition

The Bible has nothing good to say about homosexual practice. That may sound like a harsh conclusion, but it’s not all that controversial.



Mere Links 11.13.14
Thursday, November 13, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Pornographic Double-Bind
Mark Regnerus, First Things

Contrary to what is sometimes asserted, women have the right to be annoyed or upset by porn. It’s not a good thing. It’s spiritually draining. But we often overlook another casualty of pornography (and the human reaction to it): relationships that fail to launch

U.S. Bishops Struggle to Follow Lead of Francis
Laurie Goodstein, New York Times

It was a hail and farewell moment at a tumultuous time for the Roman Catholic Church. More than 200 bishops rose to their feet Monday and gave a protracted standing ovation to Cardinal Francis George, a former president of the bishops’ conference, who will step down next week as the archbishop of Chicago.

Are We Seeing Another Global Great Awakening?
Donald Devine, The Federalist

A series of books have explored varying reasons why belief in God is high across the globe. Except for a few holdouts.

The Case for Idolatry: Why Evangelical Christians Can Worship Idols
Andrew Wilson, Think Theology

For many years, I was taught that idolatry was sinful. As a good Christian, I fought the desire to commit idolatry, and repented when I got it wrong. But the desire to worship idols never went away.


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