Saturday, July 30, 2005

Christians vs. commies

More on the Gospel in China ... there may be more Christians in China than communists ... Christian vs. communist


Friday, July 29, 2005

Lest We Forget, Part V

Christianity is China's new social revolution

Napoleon said China was a sleeping giant. He said when it awoke, the world would tremble. It is awakening ... to the Gospel of Christ. Christianity is China's new social revolution

A sampling ...

The beauty salon near Beijing Zoo gives its customers more than they bargain for: not just facials and manicures, but the Word of the Lord.

Its owner, Xun Jinzhen, sees beauty salons as a good place to transform souls as well as bodies.

"I introduced 40 people to the church last year," he said.

Mr Xun, and millions of other Chinese Christian converts like him, may well be living proof that God moves in a mysterious way.

... and ...

Zhang Rongliang, the head of the China for Christ Church, said to be the biggest with 10 million members, was arrested last December and remains in prison. Scores of pastors and followers have been held, along with Roman Catholics, including underground bishops.

Overseas groups such as the London-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide say Christians are regularly beaten and one was killed in police custody.

Lawyers say the authorities try not to charge Christians with religious offences, for fear of criticism from abroad.

Mr Xun, the beauty salon evangelist, has never been in trouble. But perhaps by coincidence, a week after he fired an anti-Christian employee, there was a police raid.

It turned out the salon's acupuncture service lacked a proper licence.

Mr Xun received a heavy fine, which he could not pay, and he was forced to hand over the running of the business to others.

He wonders whether it was acupuncture that upset the authorities, or the Gospel.


Taking Dominion

'Solidarity' over church attacks ... quote!

There has been a gesture of solidarity by members of a Ballymena Presbyterian church following loyalist attacks on two Catholic churches in the town.

On Friday, people from High Kirk church handed out roses to Massgoers at All Saints church which was smeared with paint earlier this week.

They also scrubbed sectarian graffiti off the door and walls of the Church of Our Lady in Harryville on Thursday.

The church has suffered graffiti and paint attacks in recent weeks.

.. and ...

"The graffiti was obviously done as an attack, as an expression of evil, and this cleanup is very much the opposite," Fr Symonds said.

Jeremy Gardiner, youth pastor at High Kirk, said his church is in the middle of a community service week where they carry out "random acts of kindness".

"Because of the attacks on the Catholic churches we wanted to show our kindness to the Catholic community. This is a show of solidarity," Mr Gardiner said.


Infinite Jest: Physics and Math Grapple with Infinity

This article in today's Wall Street Journal works for me on so many levels, I think I'm going to smile about it all day.

Definition of Infinity Expands for Scientists and Mathematicians

Basically, infinity throws science for a loop. A sampling ...

If thinking of infinities makes your head spin, you're in good company. Georg Cantor, the early-20th-century mathematician who did more than anyone to explore infinities, suffered a nervous breakdown and repeated bouts of depression. In the 1930s, some fed-up mathematicians even argued that infinities should be banned from mathematics. Today, however, infinities aren't just a central part of mathematics. More surprising, says cosmologist John Barrow of the University of Cambridge, England, in his charming new tome, "The Infinite Book," scientists who study the real world are having to take infinities seriously, too.

.. and ...

To mathematicians, "equal" means you can match the elements in one set to the elements in another, one to one, with nothing left over. For instance, there is an infinite number of integers: 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . . There is also an infinite number of squares: 1, 4, 9, 16 . . . . You can match every integer with a square (1 with 1, 2 with 4, and so on), so the two sets are equal, as long as you never stop matching. But wait: Every square also belongs to the set of integers. That suggests that the set of integers is larger, since it contains all the squares and then some. Surely there are more integers than squares, right?

Actually, no. Before his breakdown, Cantor asserted that if the elements in one infinite set match up one to one with the counting numbers, then those infinities are of equal size. The infinity of squares and the infinity of integers (and the infinity of even numbers) are therefore equal, even though the infinity of integers is denser.

... and, my favorite ...

Decimals, however, are different, mathematicians say. There is an infinite number of them, too, but this infinity is larger than the infinity of integers or squares. Even in the tiny space between zero and 1, there's an infinite number of decimals with no certainty as to what comes next. What comes after .1, for example? Is it .11 or .2?

The fact that the Almighty (who is infinite Himself, by the way, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth) placed us in an infinite universe to noodle on an infinite numbers system (there are an infinite number of decimals between the number 1 and 2!!!!) should shake any atheist to the core.


Frist, Stem Cells and Bioethics

Today it hit most papers that Bill Frist -- in a break from President Bush -- has backed the most recent stem cell bill ... sayest Frist ...

"I am pro-life," Frist plans to say in the speech, arguing that he can reconcile his support for the science with his Christian faith. "I believe human life begins at conception."

But at the same time, he says, "I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported."

Interesting take at ACE's blog, Reformation 21, by Christian bioethics expert Nigel Cameron ... Bill Frist, Nigel Cameron and Bioethics ... sayest Cameron ...

Remember the anguished hand-wringing in the 50s over Who lost China? Well, the biggest question facing Americans today is: Who lost bioethics?

Because lost it we have. "Bioethics," a made-up word from the early 70s, covers everything from abortion to euthanasia to stem cells and cloning. It's the debate about medicine and ethics and biology and public policy.

... and ...

In the wide-ranging book on The Secular Revolution (edited by Christian Smith, 2003), one chapter lets John H. Evans explain the bioethics story - how something so close to the hearts of religious Americans on such vital issues ended up almost entirely in the hands of the secular elite.

One central problem, of course, is that we walked out. There is no question that a chief agent of secularization in American culture has been "conservative" Christians. They have withdrawn from the fray faster than anyone has pushed them out. And there is no better example than in the field of bioethics. If here, where human life is most immediately at stake - and where we have deployed such energetic political and caring resources to the question of abortion - we have failed to develop expertise and leadership, is it a surprise that in other areas of the culture we keep sensing that we are losing it?


Killing in the Name of ... Part III

185,000 abortions last year in England and Wales ...

Abortions soar as careers come first


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Christian inroads worry top Indonesia Muslim body

The Kingdom is advancing in Indonesia ... awesome article ... Christian inroads worry top Indonesia Muslim body Quote!

The state is officially secular and recognises Christianity and several other religions in addition to Islam, although some complain policy and practice tend to favour the latter.

The Jakarta Post said the delegation from Jambi province reported Christian preachers were active in the province on central Sumatra island and converting Muslims at an alarming rate, despite a ban on proselytisation in the country.

"The phenomenon of the construction of churches in the province is most disturbing," the newspaper quoted a Jambi delegation report as saying.


Is the Reformation Over?

Is the Reformation Over? certainly got my attention, but this article is really about evangelicals and Catholics working together in the "Culture Wars." My feeling is that the more sound, intelligent protestants speak to and engage Catholics the quicker the Catholic Church will turn from the portions of its theology that are unbiblical. This article also stirred a profound question in my mind ... is God using our apostate culture to reunite His Church?

A sampling ...

Even Michael S. Horton of Westminster Seminary California, an evangelical who remains sharply critical of Catholic theology, says that "the perceived cultural collapse of the West has become such an overwhelming preoccupation of conservative Catholics and Protestants that just about anything and everything else is on the back burner."

.. and ...

Evangelicals famously champion the Reformation principle of "Scripture alone" as the source of religious authority, whereas Catholicism enshrines both Scripture and tradition as interpreted through the church. Other examples include the authority of the papacy and its dogmas about Mary.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The roots of Islamic terrorism

Perhaps it's not polygamy after all ... The roots of Islamic terrorism

The nature of the terrorist threat is unambiguously Islamic and is not so much a deviation from Muslim tradition as an appeal to it. Al Qaeda's ideology draws on two traditions to legitimize itself: one classical, the other modern.

Regarding classical Islam, the oft-quoted remark that Islam is a religion of peace is false. It is historically illiterate to claim that war is foreign to Islam and it is theologically uninformed to argue that jihad is merely a personal inner struggle with no external military correlate.

On the contrary, Islam is linked from the beginning with the practice of divinely sanctioned warfare and lethal injunctions against apostates and unbelievers. Islam experienced no period of wandering and exclusion; from its inception, Islam formed a unitary state bent on military conquest.

... more ...

While the Koran enjoins that there shall be "no compulsion in religion," Islam still regards it as a holy duty to extend militarily the borders of the House of Islam against the demonic world of unbelievers: "He who dies without having taken part in a campaign dies in a kind of unbelief."

... and ...

When extremists say they are killing in the name of Islam, they are in part appealing to Islamic traditions of long standing. Al Qaeda's modern origins go back to Wahhabism, named after the revivalist movement founded by Muhammad Ibn'Abd al-Wahhab in 1744. Wahhab called for a return to a pure and unadulterated form of Islam closer to the ideals of the Prophet.

Faced with a decadent society, Wahhabism (not unlike some radical Protestant sects) reduced Islam to a scriptural literalism, an absolutism utterly hostile to other more medieval traditions. In this sense of direct rule by God, Wahhabism is a truly modern theology. Not unlike Descartes and Kant, it argues for the unmediated and total knowledge of its object.


Bible printing press thrives in China

Have I mentioned recently that China will fall to the Gospel? ...
Bible printing press thrives in China Quote!

Decades ago, only a few brave souls dared to own a Bible in Communist China. Owning one - whether smuggled from overseas or copied by hand from dog-eared Bibles that managed to survive the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) when Red Guards ransacked homes and burned anything perceived to be "bourgeois" - often guaranteed a sentence to hard labour, torture, or worse, death.

These days, however, Bibles are ubiquitous in China, and ownership is a source of pride; the younger generation (even non-Christians), use the Scriptures to learn English.


Polygamy fuels Jihad?

File this one under interesting theories ... not sure what to make of it ... How polygamy fuels terrorism A sampling ...

We have never fought an enemy so utterly "in love with death," as the terrorists themselves put it, so willing to commit suicide and take the whole earth with them in pursuit of their cause. All this demands that we take a look at Muslim society to find out what makes it so different.

..and ...

Today polygamy is not practiced widely in Islamic countries, but there is a firm residue of about 10 percent of all marriages. The country where the distribution of wives is most unequal - Saudi Arabia - seems to be the best at producing roving jihadists who roam the world in search of conflict.

The absence of a norm of a "man for every woman, a woman for every man" also creates an entirely different male psychology. At one extreme, men consider their own lives to be worthless and expendable because they will not have the chance to reproduce. At the other extreme, they are promised "72 virgins in heaven." Sometimes the extremes converge.

Polygamy creates dysfunctional societies. "Jihad" and its perpetual social unrest are unlikely to disappear until it is eliminated.


Japanese develop 'female' android

Haven't these people seen Blade Runner? ... Japanese develop 'female' android Quote!

Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet devised - a "female" android called Repliee Q1.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.


Lest We Forget, Part IV

China arrests 100 young Christians

Chinese authorities arrested 100 Christian young people as part of the government's continuing crackdown on churches outside state control.

The Christians had been meeting for a Bible study in Langfang City, Hebei province, when police abruptly arrived and arrested everyone present, according to the U.S.-based monitor Voice of the Martyrs, or VOM.

The young people, in the sixth through twelfth grade, were taken into custody, interrogated and released.

The students were told to stop meeting together with other Christians and not attend unregistered religious activities, VOM said.

All Protestant and Catholic churches in China are required to be under control of the government, and groups that do not register – the vast majority – are included in the list of "illegal cults."

China will fall to the Gospel, it is just a matter of time.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Questions ... questions that need answering

Potent Quotables, Part VIII

"I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels." John Calvin


Dr. Frankenstein, Call your Office

Just when I start getting all optimistic and postmillenial about the future, I read this article about how far human cloning has already gone. Cloning plan poses new ethical dilemma

Of course, they're doing all this for the "common good" ... which frightens me even more. To paraphrase Einstein (again), God doesn't play dice with the universe. It seems that modern science, on the other hand, views unborn humanity as their own personal craps table. A sampling ...

In 2004, a team of scientists from Seoul University lead by Professor Woo Suk Hwang became the first in the world to create a cloned human embryo. The team was able to extract fresh eggs from women who agreed to give their eggs purely for the project. In May this year, the team asserted their world-leading status by announcing that they had used the cloning process to create embryonic stem cells specially tailored to patients with a variety of different medical conditions, a vital step towards new therapies. The team gathered 185 eggs from 18 women. They are now believed to have created more than 60 clones from eggs taken from donors who give up between 15 to 20 eggs at a time.


Although Chinese scientists have yet to announce the creation of any cloned human embryos, the science has been given the government's full backing. A recent British delegation to visit Chinese labs was staggered by the level of commitment and noted that the country was well placed to exploit US links.


Monday, July 25, 2005

He Shall Have Dominion, Part I

This item on Faithmouse ...

Bring me the head of Faithmouse

Led me to this site ...

End The Christian Right!

If you're keeping score at home, Faithmouse is an interesting and thought provoking Christian political cartoon ... I've used the cartoonist's work before on this blog ... link

End the Christian Right!,(note the exclamation point) from what I can gather after a cursory look, is a rumination on the Christianization of American culture ... as if there is any such thing. A sampling ...

Let's have some fun! We're all getting ready for the New American Taliban. Even now they're marching America towards theocracy based on a shrunken-head vision of the bible.

The gentleman at End the Christian Right!, and folks like him, are really afraid of the wrong thing here. They seem to be concerned that Christians are going to set up some kind of "American Taliban" and force atheists, wiccans, pagans, satanists, et. al., to live in repression and under anti-pagan discrimination. That does sound scary, huh? Actually, I believe what Christians really want should terrify them all the more. When it comes to the unbelieving world, we don't want their politics, or their institutions, or their art ... we want their very minds and souls. And the weapons we will use are invincible and indestructible ... love, compassion, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness. And we will implement these weapons through repentance and prayer. Lord, may it be.


"Democracy, whiskey and sexy:" The Evil Empire

The New York Times has a take on North Korea ... even the liberal Times recognizes that the government of that nation is wicked. (Note to North Korea: If the Times is on to you ... you must be really bad.) The walls of this brutal and hateful regime are cracking ... they cannot keep out the West and with the West comes the invincible Gospel .. Where the Right Is Right

See Democracy, Whiskey and Sexy ...

Having just returned from North Korea, I see a glimmer of hope, for in Pyongyang you can feel North Korea changing. Free markets are popping up. Two tightly controlled Internet cafes have opened. Special economic zones seek foreign investment. Casinos lure Chinese gamblers. Cellphones have been introduced, with restrictions. The economy has been rebounding since 2001. Plans are under way for a new Orthodox church.


The "Hatchet Man" -- Redeemed

The NY Times take on one of my favorite people -- Charles Colson ... Charles Colson and the Mission That Began With Watergate Quote!

Mr. Colson advocates "restorative justice," an approach based not on punishing criminals, but on transforming them. It is partly conservative: the Prison Fellowship sees religious conversion as key, and seeks to erode the church-state wall in prisons. But much of the rest of its agenda is nearly indistinguishable from that of the American Civil Liberties Union. The Justice Fellowship opposes mandatory minimum sentences, and it supports expanded training and job opportunities behind bars, as well as more government spending to help newly released inmates.

... and ...

It is tempting to attribute Mr. Colson's interest in prison reform to his own stint behind bars. If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a prison reformer may just be a law-and-order conservative who has spent time in jail. Mr. Colson doesn't entirely disagree. "What I experienced in seven months in prison," he said, "was the total futility of that system." But he insists that his views about criminal justice are firmly rooted in his faith: "The biblical model says the way you deal with offenders is to redeem them."


Saturday, July 23, 2005

More about North Carolina and the Scots

An interesting read about how Reformed Scots impacted North Carolina, America and beyond ... More about North Carolina and the Scots (Chatham Journal Weekly)

A sampling ...
Ironically, Scotland’s transformation began in 1559 when John Knox led a reformation that overthrew the established church and replaced it with a strict brand of Calvinism. Knox taught that the people must read the Bible and come to know God personally through their own thoughtful study and prayer. And they, not a distant king or church official, were to be responsible for the orderly governance of their churches.

... more ...

Because Knox believed that every person should come to know God personally through reading the Bible, the new church tried to teach every child in Scotland to read. Having been taught to read, many Scots began to read lots of books—and not just the Bible. Once this habit of reading independently took root, no one, not even John Knox and his successors, could control what they read, and what they learned, and what they thought.

Having been taught the responsibility to develop their own relationship with God, they developed a self-confident pride in their ability to solve every kind of problem and find ways to improve the world in which they lived.

By the end of the 1600’s, Scotland was the most literate nation on earth.

In the 1700’s, it became the center of philosophic and economic thinking, led by such familiar names as Adam Smith and David Hume, and a host of others. Its universities were the envy of every country in Europe.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Are Your Hymns Too Spiritual?

Michael Horton's take on modern worship ... Are Your Hymns Too Spiritual, by Michael Horton

A sampling ...

"This is not written in order to provoke reaction, but to help us recognize the extent to which popular forms of worship have come to be dominated by Gnostic influences."


Support Doug Wilson's Credenda Agenda

From Doug Wilson's sublimely named Blog and Mablog ... a request for support for the Credenda Agenda magazine ... Blood on the Envelope

If you haven't run across this pub you are missing something. It will make you laugh ... it will make you think ... it will inspire/infuriate/vex you (sometimes all at the same time). I've been freeloading -- like a tick -- reading articles online or picking up the occassional copy from my church library ... but now have offically subscribed.

You can click here to subscribe. Or check out the pub here.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

London Hit Again

This Wall Street Journal piece was interesting in and of itself ... but it also held a good reminder ... in the first sentence of the second paragraph. We must never forget that bin Laden's ultimate goal is a full scale war between Islam and Christianity. (emphasis mine) OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today:

Based on scanty headlines, today's disruptions in London suggest somebody may be trying to demonstrate just how little it takes to shut down a modern city's public transport network. Early reports indicate smoke bombs and the like, with few serious casualties. Who knows, but let's riff anyway: Sooner or later, it was bound to develop that the target of Britain's homegrown Muslim radicals isn't British foreign policy or U.S. 'imperialism.' The targets are British Muslims themselves and their peaceful relations with the rest of British society. The goal is to make all Muslims suspect in the eyes of their fellow Britons, to punish those Muslims who favor quiet assimilation, to make their lives impossible.

We're talking about something quite different than the Osama bin Laden dream of mega attacks that unite the Muslim world in a showdown with Christendom. Today's attacks seem more attuned to the Zarqawi playbook in Iraq -- and, for that matter, Tamil tactics in Sri Lanka, IRA tactics in Northern Ireland, etc. Domestic terrorists are usually trying to drive a wedge of fear between one ethnic community and the larger society. Whatever the facts behind today's incidents, British Muslims may have to get used to the idea that they are being deliberately placed in the line of fire by their radical fellow Muslims, with the hope of defeating their intent to live happily, successfully and peacefully amidst a larger, polyglot world. This is their fight too, and perhaps most of all.


Sheep and Goats

The San Diego Reader runs an interesting weekly column called the Sheep and Goats: Places of Worship Reviewed ... this week's review is not a church but rather a Pro Life group called Bound4Life ... Sheep and Goats: Bound4Life


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Gay Marriage, Redux

World Magazine offers a take on gay marriage and mentions Doug Wilson and Andrew Sullivan ... Blessings and Cursings

Wilson is interesting because he is Wilson. He has a beef with World in that he believes the mag misrepresented his views. I think he's right. Read his rebuttal here.

Sullivan is a horse of a completely different color. He is a homosexual ... and a Catholic ... and a conservative (moderate?). I'm not sure if it is necessarily in that order. He is a thoughtful person with a very interesting blog of his own. Let's start with his take on the institution of marriage ... from the World article.

Andrew Sullivan, a homosexual Catholic, has offered a more serious case for gay marriage. He recognizes that the homosexual subculture is promiscuous and, in many ways, pathological. Marriage is a civilizing institution, he argues, which channels sex in a positive and socially constructive way, the establishment of the family. If some people are, as Mr. Sullivan believes, naturally attracted to members of the same sex, they should be encouraged to form monogamous and permanent relationships. Religiously, bringing homosexuals into the institution of marriage preserves a moral order. The church can thus continue to teach that sex outside of marriage is immoral.

Sounds reasonable enough, but it doesn't quite get there, does it? Sullivan's own faith should answer this question. First, God ordained marriage between a man and a woman and set forth a very specific relationship between the two. Second, a Christian marriage is a mysterious image of the relationship between Christ and His church. It is much more that a social arrangement designed for the common good, it is a real-world picture of an eternal truth. God doesn't give us permission to redefine it as it suits us. Third, homosexuality is sin. Perhaps World misrepresented Sullivan as well ... I don't know.

Wilson sets things right thusly ...

Arguing that the abomination of legalized homosexual marriage is a curse from the hand of God, and arguing that it is something that we should legalize are two completely different arguments, representing two completely different worldviews. This is not a difficult distinction. As a prophet of God Jeremiah argued that the Babylonian invasion was a judgment of God, and that the Israelites should simply take it as being from His hand, and use the time as an occasion for repentance. And in that repentance they were to look for deliverance. This hardly made Jeremiah a colonel in the Babylonian Tank Corps.

Inability to grasp this kind of simple distinction is a demonstration of the kind of thing that happens when evangelical Christians allow themselves to be suckered into big tent Republican politics, which I believe began happening to World some time ago. You cannot do that kind of thing -- adopting the kind of political strategy that World has, and accepting the kind of puff-political advertisements that World accepts -- and keep your prophetic voice.


Are Our Churches Preaching the Gospel?

A challenging question, to be sure. At the fine site, John Hendryx gives an overview of the modern American pulpit and Christian book publishing ... well worth a read ... Are Our Churches Preaching the Gospel?

A sampling ...

Well, what was preached to us that Sunday I concluded, was really just ended up being a spiritual pep-talk. While there may have been very encouraging content, but was it the gospel? Is the pulpit meant to rally the troops or be a place to preach Christ crucified? The message to us, if you think about it, really was, “We all just need to be more like Zonzendorf and then Christians would have a greater impact on society.” But if you think about this closely, when we just give examples about how to live, we are setting people up for a fall because it is the preaching of the law without gospel. There was no redemptive element to the sermon. It was just a message about how we should behave. While I admit that it was of great interest, the fact is that many who heard it will simply go out of church and on Monday be deflated after hearing the inspirational story. Unfortunately this is what the vast majority of evangelical preachers are teaching.

... and ...

What seems to matters to many publishers these days is the new and the best-sellers, whether or not they are Christ-centered or truly edifying. You can see this when you walk into most of the bookstores that look like Christian boutiques half filled with junk. Many of our churches are trending in the same direction. The pastor wants to find out what the congregation wants and then preach on that rather than be Christ-driven from a sound exegesis of the word. When our ears are tickled the numbers may grow, but how meaningful is that? But a recent Business Week magazine article on the church growth movement and how it had become a business had a revealing comment. It said that overall the church in the United States is not growing at all. It is flat. But what of all the mega-churches that appear to be growing, we ask? The reality is that the mega-churches are not unlike when Walmart or Home Depot moves into a small town. The mom and pop shops close down to make room for the big boys.

... more ...

Both our pulpits and the publishing industry are trending in a similar direction: to give the people what they want, rather than give us the law, which breaks us, and the gospel which redeems us. Pray that the Lord grant his people the ability to destroy all speculations that set themselves up against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive and make them obedient to Christ.

Also visit the Monergism bookstore ...


Spank a Child, Save a Life

From Vincent Cheung's blog ... Spank a Child, Save a Life

Proverbs 13:24
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Proverbs 22:15
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

Proverbs 29:15
The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.


Raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth ... on the Koran?

I can hear it now ... "do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you (fill in the blank)" ...

Raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth ... on the Koran? Quote!

The recent refusal by a Guilford County, N.C., judge to allow a Muslim woman to swear upon Islam's holy text before testifying is, in part, a new First Amendment challenge. And here in the Tar Heel state, the idea of swearing on books other than the Bible has reinvigorated a debate on the relationship between faith and truth that goes back to the founding documents of both the Carolinas and the country.

... more ...

Already, witnesses in American courts do not have to take a religious oath and can instead simply testify on pain of perjury. It's up to judges to decide what passes for an oath.

Most have apparently given other oaths wide latitude. In a federal terrorism case in 1997 in Washington D.C., for instance, the judge allowed Muslim witnesses to swear to Allah. And the practice isn't new: Mochitura Hashimoto, the Japanese submarine commander who testified in the court martial of a US Navy captain in 1945, was allowed by a military tribunal to swear on his beliefs of Shinto, the ancient religion of Japan.

..and ..

Since Judge Albright's decision, there's been a growing number of requests by other religious groups to have their holy texts allowable under law.

"It's gotten way out there: They've got everything from the Book of Mormon to the Book of Wicca on the list," says Judge Albright. "Our position is that the statute governs not only the type of oath, but the manner and administration of the oath, and that it's now a legislative matter to straighten out."

... still more ...

But the Carolinas have their own unique role in the history of oaths. British philosopher John Locke, who helped forge the Fundamental Constitutions in the Carolinas in the 1660s, believed that atheists could not hold office or testify. After all, Locke wondered, how could anyone believe what they said if they carried no fear of God?


Mister Roberts

An examination of Judge John Glover Roberts, Jr ...
Bush Taps Roberts For Supreme Court Quote!

On abortion, his views are ambiguous. As a judge, Mr. Roberts has never written a legal opinion on the issue, but as an official in the first Bush administration, he wrote a legal brief stating, "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

In 2003, however, during his Senate confirmation hearing to his current post, he said, "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ...There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."


Calvinism, Arminianism and the Word of God

Chuck Smith's take on Calvinism v. Arminianism, with a "Calvary Chapel Perspective" at the end ... Calvinism, Arminianism and the Word of God

Someone once said that everyone who honors the bible as the word of God is a closet Calvinist ...


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Evangelicals in Israel

From Slate, an article by Newsweek reporter Rebecca Sinderbrand about Christians in Jerusalem ... Among the Believers - American Christians gather in Jerusalem to "seek the face of God on Gaza."

Regardless of your eschatological bent, this is interesting. Quote!

Christians, particularly evangelicals, kept the ailing Israeli economy afloat during the first rocky months (of the intifada), providing millions of dollars by way of tourism and charitable donations. Now, after decades of mostly unrequited love, evangelicals have finally managed to get the Israeli government to the altar. Over the past year, more than a dozen Christian outreach initiatives have been launched by the Knesset, and the legislature holds monthly meetings to solicit their input and explore their needs. A few months ago, members of Israel's parliament actually spent a day studying Christianity. Legislators even decided that the country's public-school students should start getting a similar education next year, along with lessons on the history and contributions of "Christian Zionism."


Potent Quotables, Part VII

"Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will." Jonathan Edwards


Lest We Forget, Part III

The latest from the Voice of the Martyrs ... Christian Survives Horror of North Korean Prison


Abortion rate at lowest point since 1976

Only 1.29 million abortions in the U.S. ... Abortion rate at lowest point since 1976

Cartoon courtesy of


Bush May Name Supreme Today

Today's Washington Post speculates that the new Supreme Court Justice will be Judge Edith Clement of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Speculation Centers on Clement for Court

The article contains this disappointing bit of information ...

Known as a conservative and a strict constructionist in legal circles, Clement has eased fears among some abortion-rights advocates. She has stated that the Supreme Court "has clearly held that the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution includes the right to have an abortion" and that "the law is settled in that regard."


Monday, July 18, 2005

The Reformed Churches Need A Joel Osteen

Technorati is like a box of chocolates ... you never know what you're going to get.

I have it set to find "postmillenialism" and this interesting post appeared ...

The Reformed Churches Need A Joel Osteen


The Passion of the Marketers - New York Times

As Deep Throat said in All the President's Men: "Follow the money." It seems Hollywood -- after years of abusive portrayals of Christians and Christ -- is doing just that and Christianizing much of their fare.

The Passion of the Marketers (Free registration required).

One interesting tidbit ...

The researchers found that "when it comes to popular movies and popular shows, tastes don't differ at all" between religious and nonreligious, said Joseph Helfgot, president of MarketCast. "What you find is that people with conservative religious doctrine are the most likely to see movies rated R for violence. If you compared it to liberals, it's a third more."

Mr. Helfgot concluded that catering to the religious audience was trickier than it might at first appear, and that Hollywood would do well to explore those complications.

"There's a wind going through the production community about responding to religion," he said. "But when it comes to movies, people distinguish between moral issues and entertainment issues. And most people, even the very religious, are very happy with their movies."


Friday, July 15, 2005

All for One?

The Wall Street Journal might be the best newspaper in the world (I'm sure they're doing handstands now that they've received the coveted recommendation from the 522).

Here is a very interesting piece about unity between the Catholic and Orthodox faiths (free reg. required) All for One?

A sampling ...

It is my own Orthodox brethren who appear to be the cranky partners. Catholics have been making friendly overtures for more than a decade now. Pope John Paul II even said that the extent of papal power -- over which the two churches split in the 11th century -- could be "open to a new situation." Both churches hold as ideal a united body with Rome as "first among equals." Yet the Orthodox drag their feet, sometimes seeming downright rude. A Catholic friend tells me that the attitude seems to be: "Take this olive branch and shove it."

... more ...

When Roman Catholics look at Orthodoxy, they don't see a centralized, global institution. Instead, the church appears to be a jumble of national and ethnic bodies (a situation even more confused in the U.S. as a result of immigration). To Catholics, the Orthodox Church looks like chaos.

But from an Orthodox perspective, unity is created by believing the same things. It's like the unity among vegetarians or Red Sox fans. You don't need a big bureaucracy to keep them faithful. Across wildly diverse cultures, Orthodox Christians show remarkable unity in their faith. (Of course there are plenty of power struggles and plain old sin, but the essential faith isn't challenged.) What's the source of this common faith? The consensus of the early church, which the Orthodox stubbornly keep following. That consensus was forged with many a bang and dent, but for the past millennium major questions of faith and morals have been pretty much at rest in the Eastern hemisphere.

This has not been the case in the West. An expanded role for the pope was followed by other theological developments, even regarding how salvation is achieved. In the American church, there is widespread upheaval. From the Orthodox perspective, the Catholic Church looks like chaos.

This is hard for Catholics to understand; for them, the institution of the church is the main thing. If the church would enforce its teachings, some adherents say, there would be unity. The Orthodox respond: But faith must be organic. If you have to force people to it, you've already lost the battle; that wouldn't be unity at all.


Lest We Forget, Part II

More from Voice of the Martyrs ... dateline: Indonesia Sunday School Teachers Persecuted


Host a Chinese Blog

From Voice of the Martyrs ... one way to get around China's attempt to stifle free expression ... Host a Chinese Blog


God, H.G. Wells, and The War of the Worlds

Two interesting War of the Worlds articles ...

First up, Gary DeMar's take on Wells' sci-fi classic and how the socialist, humanist Wells couldn't and didn't completely remove God from his story ... God, H.G. Wells, and The War of the Worlds

Next up, Brian Godawa's review of Spielberg's War of the Worlds ... a sampling ...

"Another humanistic epic that destroys transcendence and in so doing, destroys the goodness that makes a movie a fulfilling story."

... more ...

"I must say though that Spielberg is a brilliant mythologist. He knows how to create mythos like nobody else. One one level, this story reminds me of his rendition of Kubrick’s A.I. It is very boring and impersonal, but it is very mythologically deep. Like A.I. this is a quest of someone who discovers his humanity through the existential experience of seeking a goal (bringing the children back to their mom and “home” – in A.I. it was finding his maker) and staying alive. Existentialism. On the other hand, also like A.I. it’s a quest in a meaningless universe. Do you see the pattern here in Spielberg?"


Killing in the Name of ... Part III

Hard to call this good news, but I'll take what we can get. There were "only" 14,000 or so abortions in Minnesota last year after the state implemented a 24-hour waiting period ... Abortions reach 30-year low

Hat tip ... American Vision


Revelation 20 -- The "Thousand Years"

Ken Gentry gives a postmillenial take on Revelation 20 and the 1,000-year reign ... The Meaning of the “Millennium”


Terroritsts' Act Gets Old, Part II

More on terrorist murderers losing support among their Muslim brethren ... Lessons from London a week after bombings

Perhaps most telling ...

"The Middle East's best known radical groups - Hamas, Hezbollah and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - denounced the bombings, signaling their opposition to spreading terrorist tactics to Europe. Meanwhile, in the Palestinian territories, cultural figures are speaking out against efforts to impose "Taliban-style" rule and deny cultural "beauty" in people's lives."


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hearts of Darkness

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I often see parallels in seemingly divergent events and/or ideas of the day and this seemed as good a place as any to unload them.

Sure, an opinion piece in the ultraliberal New York Times by a progressive family researcher who once said "Jesus was very anti-family" and an article by Reformed firebrand Douglas Wilson might seem odd companions ... but what can I say? I just work here.

First up, our friend the progressive. Her name is Stephanie Coontz and she wrote a op-ed piece in the Times called The Heterosexual Revolution. A sampling ...

Traditional marriage, with its 5,000-year history, has already been upended. Gays and lesbians, however, didn't spearhead that revolution: heterosexuals did. Heterosexuals were the upstarts who turned marriage into a voluntary love relationship rather than a mandatory economic and political institution. Heterosexuals were the ones who made procreation voluntary, so that some couples could choose childlessness, and who adopted assisted reproduction so that even couples who could not conceive could become parents. And heterosexuals subverted the long-standing rule that every marriage had to have a husband who played one role in the family and a wife who played a completely different one. Gays and lesbians simply looked at the revolution heterosexuals had wrought and noticed that with its new norms, marriage could work for them, too.
Challenging? Sure. True? You bet.

When I pulled this article I wrote the following: When we are confronted with sin in a society, the first place we, as the church, should look is in the mirror. After all, is the "salt and light" to blame a dark world for its heart of darkness? Leave it to Wilson to say it a thousand times better. He did so in his piece Owning the Curse. This piece hits like a ton of bricks. Quote!

"Something seems fundamentally awry in the way the Christian Church interacts with the homosexual movement around the nation. Christians so easily fall into default assumptions, usually of a secular, conservative brand. Our most immediate response is almost always in terms of "Here is evil; let us condemn it," without a thought to, "Here is evil; let us confess it." We tend to view the struggle in a morally mechanistic manner rather than in covenantal terms."

... more ... Quote!

"Homosexuality is not a typical sin that cultures face like theft, lying, or murder, but it is apparently a very symbolic sin through which God reveals His anger. The Apostle Paul described homosexuality as what happens when God gives up on a nation's normal idolatries: "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful" (Rom. 1:26,27). Widespread homosexuality is a sign that the society in question is not living under normal chastisements; it is the sign of God's abandonment of us—Ichabod."

... and ... Quote!

"Our nation's chastisement is the Church's responsibility; we Christians are the cause, not the secularists. And as our problem, we must seek to remove the curse by ecclesiastical means, namely, confession and right worship. Our focus in this situation is not preaching the law to secularists. It should be searching out the cause of the curse in our own hearts, and in our own tradition."


Potent Quotables, Part VI

"There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God or counter-claimed by Satan." C.S. Lewis


More on Osama's Decline

This one from the Washington Post ... Poll Finds Drop in Muslim Support for Terrorism:


"'Most Muslim publics are expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries, and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam,' concluded the Pew Global Attitudes Project."


"For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." Psalm 1:6


Monkeying Around

Didn't these guys see the Planet of the Apes? Moral Debate: Procedure Risks Making Monkeys More Humanlike

A couple of interesting things in this article. First, we're entering weird territory here with mutating humans and animals (See Chimera? Chalupa? Let's call the whole thing off!)

Second, it is interesting that these cats quoted the Word of God in their report. Quote!

"The panel's report cites Kant, Mills and the Bible: "Humans are set apart by God as morally speical and are given stewardship over other forms of life" (Genesis I: 26-28)."


Bin Laden's Act Getting Old?

Bin Laden may be losing support in coutnries dominated by Islam ... Support for bin Laden falls in Muslim countries


"The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup." Psalm 11: 5-6


The Christian Response to Terror?

Reading about the motivations and fanaticisms of radical Muslim terrorists reveals much about this war we find ourselves in.

Traditional warfare seems ineffective, and negotiation -- as Monty Python used to say -- is right out. Islam needs to be blown up from within. Not in a violent, military way; we should not rely on carnal weapons (though sometimes those are necessary, sadly). Only the Holy Spirit can accomplish this work. Christendom should go on a prayer Crusade, vigorously and continuously praying that these "devoted" accolytes of Mohammed are miraculously transformed into followers of the only true God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, we should overcome evil with good, healing the sick and ailing in Muslim countries, feeding their hungry and so on ... and doing it all in the all-powerful name of Jesus Christ. The Enemy has no defense against these kinds of attacks. The Crescent must fall to the Cross.
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:15-16

Let that sink in ... "Bless those who persecute you ..." That's one of those truths you could meditate on for your whole life and never really understand, much less fulfill.


The Mind of a Terrorist, Part I

Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh made a movie deemed blasphemous by some Muslims. He was murdered by confessed killer Mohammed Bouyeri. I'd do it all again, says film-maker's killer

Taranto again ...

Why do they hate us? That's the question we've all grown sick and tired of hearing since Sept. 11, 2001. It's not that the query is inherently objectionable; understanding what motivates the enemy is obviously helpful in wartime. But the people who ask this question almost never genuinely seek to understand; rather, they have their own axes to grind against the U.S. or the West, and seek to use the prospect of terror attacks to scare the rest of us into supporting their views. This we have dubbed vicarious terrorism.

Now and then a terrorist actually takes the trouble to explain his motives. London's Daily Telegraph reports on the trial of the man who allegedly (and now confessedly) murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh:

Mohammed Bouyeri, a baby-faced 27-year-old with dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality, broke his vow not to co-operate with the Amsterdam court by admitting shooting and stabbing his victim last November.

"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," he told its three-strong panel of judges.

"I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do the same, exactly the same." . . .

Bouyeri then turned to the victim's mother, Anneke, in the public gallery, and told her he felt nothing for her. Mrs van Gogh watched as he read out from what appeared to be a statement: "I don't feel your pain. I have to admit that I don't have any sympathy for you. I can't feel for you because you're a non-believer."

This had nothing to do with Israeli "occupation" of "Palestinian lands," America's "unilateral invasion" of Iraq, "torture" of prisoners at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, the widening "income gap," or any of the other litany of complaints that the terror apologists trot out. Islamist terrorism arises from religious fanaticism and hatred, plain and simple.


Home Grown Terrorists

It's becoming increasingly evident that the murderers in London were British citizens, not foreign nationals. Suicide Bomber Was A Teacher

James Taranto (Wall Street Journal) has an interesting take on this ...

This is potentially a huge problem not just for Britain but for Continental European countries that also have large populations of unassimilated Muslim citizens. It does not appear to be a major problem for America, which has a proportionately smaller Muslim population and a long history of assimilating immigrants. If Islamist terrorism is potentially a domestic problem for Europe, then the stakes in the global war on terror are in a way much higher there than in America.

He then discusses what would happen if the anti-American countries in Europe got their wish, a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq ...

If the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan and Iraq, the Europeans would as well; they simply do not have the military wherewithal to win without America. These countries would then become terrorist bases, as Afghanistan was pre-9/11. With "fortress America" a daunting target, terrorists would likely turn their attention to Europe, which would have a much harder time isolating itself than America.

Lacking America's geographic isolation, European countries would be hard-pressed to seal their borders (though Britain would be at an advantage in this regard). And the large population of alienated Muslim citizens would necessitate far more draconian curtailments of civil liberties than America would need.

This is all speculative, of course, but it is meant to suggest that peace in Europe depends on a continuing vigorous American response to the threat of Islamist terrorism. It wouldn't hurt if the Europeans figured that out and acknowledged it.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Definition of Atrocity

This is, quite possibly, the saddest article I have ever read ... Suicide Car Bomber Kills 18 Iraqi Kids

A suicide car bomb exploded next to U.S. troops handing out candy and toys, killing 18 children and teenagers Wednesday. Parents heard the shattering explosion and raced out to the discover the worst — children's mangled, bloodied bodies strewn on the street.

"The car bomber made a deliberate decision to attack one of our vehicles as the soldiers were engaged in a peaceful operation with Iraqi citizens," said Maj. Russ Goemaere, a Task Force Baghdad spokesman.

"The terrorist undoubtedly saw the children," Goemaere said, calling the attack "absolutely abhorrent."


Potent Quotables, Part VI

"Every one of us is, even from his mother's womb, a master craftsman of idols." John Calvin


Flame On!

This is from Brian Godawa's movie blog, which is far and away the most thoughtful and interesting source for movie reviews from a Christian world view. He reviews the Fantastic Four.

More interesting, though, are his thoughts on the role of superheroes in our community consciousness. Quote!

"It is interesting that in FF, Johnny Storm muses that their powers are “a higher calling,” that “fate turned us into gods.” So there is an explicit metaphoric likening to deities that is recognized in the film itself. I am not making this up in my mad little mind. Just a cursory comparison of superheros with pagan deities will give you a taste of the likenesses.

Human torch – Vulcan, Roman god of fire
Be Grimm, The Hulk – Mars, Roman god of war
Superman – Hercules
The Flash – Mercury, Roman messenger god of speed
Aquaman, The SubMariner – Neptune, god of the sea

Of course, I am not suggesting a one to one correspondence, but merely a common paradigm of exalted humanity that replaces the One true God with many gods, a common impulse since the Fall. My point: Superheros have a tendency to operate as secular god substitutes in a postmodern pluralistic culture. They give us hope, they save us from evil, they provide an example of virtue and illustrate for us what we could be. Every system has an ultimate reference point and that ultimate reference point or standard is the deity of the system. The deity of pluralism is polytheism. Pluralism means “many truths,” which means, “many gods.” Having said all this, I am not condemning all superhero stories. I may be missing what separates the two mythologies. I am simply wrestling with thoughts that are creeping up in my mind as I interact with these myths and think them through. One fine example is The Incredibles, where I see superpowers, not as a secular god substitute, but as an obvious metaphor of the potential for extraordinariness and uniqueness of each individual. Maybe that’s not all that different from Fantastic Four. I’m not sure. Still thinking it through."

Which reminds me of a quote for Potent Quotables (see above).


Lest We Forget, Part II

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Speaking of Playing Dice

Whenever you wonder about whether creating and destroying embryos should give us pause, consider ... Full article: Couple gives birth to 13-year-old embryo


On Earth as it is in Heaven, Part I

Good overview of postmillenial thought by Greg L. Bahnsen ... The Prima Facie Acceptability of Postmillenialism


Killing in the Name of ... Part II

'IVF requires killing,' said Bill Beckman, executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. 'They choose which [embryos] to implant, and they create spares that will die.'

This has been an open secret in reproductive health for a long time, somewhat mitigated by the fact that those who desire it can choose to only implant one so no fertilized embryos are not discarded.

Einstein once said that God does not play dice with the universe. So much of what we do in the name of medicine feels like playing dice.

Full article: In-vitro new front in embryo war


Potent Quotables, Part V

"To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect." John Owen


Duh Vinci, Part I

Read Gary DeMar's well-written and laughter inducing article about the Da Vinci Code -- soon to be a major motion picture (the book, not Gary's article) ... The Da Vinci Code and the Death of Paul McCartney


By Any Other Name

The BBC has edited out the word terrorist in its coverage of the recent London bombings. Reuters has been doing this for quite some time. PC nonsense. Though, come to think of it, I don't like the word 'terrorist' either ... I prefer mass murderers.

BBC edits out the word terrorist


Monday, July 11, 2005

Potent Quotables, Part IV

"None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves." Charles H. Spurgeon


American Idols, Part II

P. Andrew Sandlin presents a well-thought out defense of Christian patriotism ... full article.


Lest We Forget, Part I

London's Blitz Spirit

I'll admit, I was worried at first. For a moment, after what happened in Spain, I was very worried ... Perhaps things were different now, I thought ... Perhaps the hatred of America was so deep ... Perhaps the hatred and boldness of the terrorists was so scary ... Would the proud and stoic British spirit stand up to this hateful mass murder in the streets?

Spain -- as you may or may not recall -- folded to the terrorists after the Madrid bombing. They gave the killers exactly what they wanted by voting out the conservative government and withdrawing their troops from Iraq. I was concerned Great Britian might take a similar path and abandon the fight.

Turns out, I worried needlessly, as this quote so vividly shows. Quote!

"As Brits, we'll carry on -- it doesn't scare us at all," said 37-year-old tour guide Michael Cahill. "Look, loads of people are walking down the streets. It's Great Britain -- not called 'Great' for nothing."

Full Article


Sunday, July 10, 2005

For London ...

From a prayer in our church this morning …

Psalm 64
Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the throng of evildoers,
who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
shooting from ambush at the blameless,
shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, who can see them?
They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep!

But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
all who see them will wag their heads.
Then all mankind fears;
they tell what God has brought about
and ponder what he has done.

Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Potent Quotables, Part III

"Do you mortify (sin)? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you." John Owen


American Idols?

"The reticence (to spread democracy) extends even to those nations that owe their democracy to American force of arms. Freedom in Germany was an American imperial imposition, from the cashiering of ex-Nazi officials and the expunging of anti-Semitic nonsense from school textbooks to the drafting of a new federal constitution. Yet Chancellor Gerhard Schroder can still intone that democracy cannot be ''forced upon these societies from the outside.'' This is not the only oddity. As Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff of the German weekly Die Zeit points out, the '68-ers now in power in Germany all spent their radical youth denouncing American support for tyrannies around the world: ''Across the Atlantic they shouted: Pinochet! Somoza! Mubarak! Shah Pahlevi! King Faisal! Now it seems as though an American president has finally heard their complaints. . . . But what is coming out of Germany? . . . Nothing but deafening silence!''

"Who Are Americans to Think That Freedom Is Theirs to Spread?" is a provocatively titled article recently published in the New York Times by Michael Ignatieff. (Free registration required.)

Great headline. This is a profound question. It's easy to have a knee-jerk answer, but we should be careful here. The Gospel is ours to spread. We are commanded to do so in Matthew 28.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

We're never commanded to spread democracy, yet this is what our tax dollars have been doing for many generations.

It's only fitting. After all, what could be more noble than freeing the oppressed? But freedom from what? Certainly not from the cost of sin. Certainly not from the judgement of God.

To put it bluntly, is spreading democracy Godly?

One could argue -- quite convincingly, I deem -- that modern democracies sprang from the cradle of Christianity and that the notion of individual liberty would have been impossible without Christ in the world. Indeed, left to ourselves -- without the common grace that atheists can somehow never perceive -- we would devour each other and power would be the rule of the land.

But the notion of representational government is not strictly biblical. Many of the men who created democracy, moreover, seemed quite content to make human reason (and sometimes themselves) gods. That said, is "freedom" an idol? Is liberty a Baal whom we worship in place of the one, true Lord? I tend to think not, but what do I know? Perhaps it's not even appropriate to ask these questions so close to the 4th of July -- one might even say it's blasphemous. :-)


The Big Lie

God vs. Nothing, part I

It must irk postmoderns to no end that they can’t stamp out creationism. Just guessing, but I’d bet a beer that belief in creation by the Almighty Hand of God is every bit as high as it was during the Scopes Trial, the media circus that occurred in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and twenty-five. Read more.

What’s more, I think postmoderns are genuinely afraid. The hubbub in Kansas has brought to light an interesting trend. Creationist Christians have argued that evolution and creation should be taught side by side. Evolutionists have argued that creationism has no place in a state-funded classroom. They'd don't even want a debate.

You’d think they’d be chomping at the bit to get at creationism, huh? To take it apart piece by piece in the marketplace of ideas and, in the process, inculcate tons of impressionable Kansan youngsters? After all, they’re the intellectuals and we’re the superstitious rubes. Right? Then it hits you. They can’t. Scientists, atheists, agnostics, et. al. have never been able to extinguish faith in God. Not during their vaunted “Enlightenment” and not now. Quote!

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.Romans 1:18-22