Archive for May, 2014

Christians Taking a Stand – Finally

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

 

By Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch:

It seems every day we find more cowardly, compromised and carnal Christians caving in to various worldly agendas. Instead of taking a stand for biblical truth, many are simply capitulating to the other side – partly in order to be liked, to be popular, and to be trendy.

These folks will one day stand before their Lord and give an account of their cowardice and betrayal. And far too many Christian leaders are in this boat as well. There are sadly plenty of compromised and spineless wonders found in so many pulpits today.

cross 6That is why it is so refreshing, if not even shocking, to find some Christian leaders who actually stand up and be counted, even if it means getting plenty of hate and abuse. Two recent cases have just surfaced of some brave Christian leaders who would rather be true to Christ and biblical principles than to be accepted by the masses.

They deserve our praise and our prayers. The first leader worth singling out is pastor Charlie Hughes from New Zealand. This courageous Christian and his wife would rather face the wrath of the militants and the forces of political correctness than to trample on the truth of Almighty God. Their story has just appeared in the press, so let me pass some of it along to you:

Read here

Double-speak from the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

 

GagnonBy Robert A J Gagnon:

Double-speak from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Britain. On the one hand, they acknowledge: “It is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent in a person’s life” and that “sexual orientation is determined by a combination of [not only] biological [factors but also] postnatal environmental factors.” On the other hand they adamantly reject any right of patient self-determination in seeking therapeutic help to facilitate sexual orientation change, referring euphemistically to “a right to protection from therapies that … that purport to change sexual orientation.” The “right to protection” from such therapies already exists: simply don’t go to them. No one is putting a gun to the person’s head. But this Orwellian formulation by the RCP really means: We seek to prohibit anyone from seeking help in facilitating the very sexual orientation change that we have already acknowledged exists when we say that “it is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable.”
They also claim that “it is eminently reasonable that the experiences of discrimination in society and possible rejection by friends, families and others (such as employers), means that some lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience a greater than expected prevalence of mental health and substance misuse problems.” But societal discrimination doesn’t explain why active homosexual males experience significantly higher rates of STIs and numbers of sex partners lifetime even relative to homosexual females. Nor does it explain why homosexual females experience on average lower longevity in relationships and higher rates of mental health problems even in relation to homosexual males (all of whom experience the same levels of societal disapproval). The RCP statement is an exercise in ideological propaganda, pure and simple, yet even through this seemingly impenetrable grid some rays of truth manage to shine.
Note that they add: “Nevertheless, sexual orientation for most people seems to be set around a point that is largely heterosexual or homosexual. Bisexual people may have a degree of choice in terms of sexual expression in which they can focus on their heterosexual or homosexual side.” Note that they add the qualifying adverb “largely,” which fudges much of their argument. Then they bracket off this group off from “bisexual people” as if one can never move along a spectrum from, say, a category 6 homosexual to a category 4 bisexual, as if there were some impenetrable “Berlin wall” between the two groups. And doesn’t it beg the question as to who is homosexual and who is bisexual? How does a homosexual person know that he or she can never develop some heterosexual attractions before he or she has lived out a full life of experiences?
They conclude: “The College would not support a therapy for converting people from homosexuality any more than we would do so from heterosexuality.” Yet they conveniently overlook the point that heterosexual relations conform naturally to the complementary structures of male and female: anatomically, physiologically, and even psychologically. The true sexual complement to a man is a woman and to a woman a man. It takes many years of ideological indoctrination to obscure that obvious fact.

CDP backs Mogoeng on religion

Saturday, May 31st, 2014


Copy of SI Chief Justice MogoengINDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Bloemfontein – Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is correct on religious elements in law, the Christian Democratic Party said on Friday.

“The CDP offers its full support to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for his statement made in defence of incorporating religious principles into the law-making process,” CDP leader Theunis Botha said.

Mogoeng was giving recognition to the positive influence Christianity had had in forming civilisations.

“This influence has over the last number of decades come under attack by liberal secular humanists who have sought to replace the Christian value system with their own secular value system,” he said in a statement.

“Little good has come out of the decline of religion and the increase in secularism.”

He was referring to recent comments by Mogoeng this week which caused a stir. The chief justice said he believed South Africans could only become a better people if religion was allowed to influence the laws that governed their daily lives, starting with the Constitution.

He was delivering a speech titled “Law and Religion in Africa Ä The Quest for the Common Good in Pluralistic Societies”.

He said South Africans had chosen to use law as an instrument of peace and stability and used it commendably, bringing about, for example, recognition of previously unrecognised marriages.

“A great deal of benefit stands to be derived from a realisation of the profound similarity of purpose sought to be achieved by religion and the law,” he said.

Sapa

Skeptics Dehumanizing Christianity

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

By Tom Gilson, Breakpoint:

too_stupid_to_understand_science_try_religion_flAre you a Christian? Then there’s something dreadfully wrong with you. You’re unthinking; you’re unscientific; you can’t see how badly Christianity botches morality. You represent a deeply defective culture that’s been getting all the most important things wrong for a hundred generations.

Did you know that?

You should; or at least, that’s the message many skeptics and atheists want to convey about you and me.

Some are saying so in plain language. Peter Boghossian wrote in his Manual for Creating Atheists that because we believe things without evidence, we have no place at the “Adult Table,” where important adult decisions are made. We should be firmly escorted to the “Kids Table,” quarantined away from all significant conversation.

I can at least appreciate his forthrightness. Others, not quite so straightforward, are coding the message into slogans and imagery. Even there, however, it’s hardly subtle.

Dehumanizing Messages

The wording on a flask says, “Too stupid to understand science? Try religion.” A billboard previously displayed in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania pictures an African-American with a cruel collar around his neck, featuring a quote from Col. 3:22: “Slaves, obey your masters.” A t-shirt for sale online reads, “Don’t pray in my school and I won’t think in your church.” A commenter on my Thinking Christian blog writes, “Jesus’s short-term self-sacrifice … is only laudable in the sense that a mob boss or an abuser ‘sacrifices’ something in order to convince himself not to blow up a business or hit his wife.”

Read here

NEW ZEALAND: Same-Gender Blessings: Synod Sees a Way Forward

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

General Synod passes a resolution that will create a pathway towards the blessing of same-gender relationships, while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage.

TAONGA NEWS
http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/News/General-Synod/forward

General Synod today passed a resolution that will create a pathway towards the blessing of same-gender relationships – while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage.

It will appoint a working group to report to the 2016 General Synod on “a process and structure” that would allow those clergy who wish to bless same-gender relationships – using a yet-to-be developed liturgy – to do so.

The working group will also be charged to develop “a process and structure” to ensure that clergy who believe that same sex blessings are contrary to “scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law” to remain fully free to dissent.

The “process and structure” in their case would mean these clergy would not only be exempt from performing these same-sex blessings – but that their “integrity within the church” would be assured, and they would have full protection for their dissent in any relevant human rights legislation.

Synod has therefore upheld the traditional doctrine of marriage – but also moved to find ways to respond to committed relationships between two people, regardless of gender.

In effect, it has also established a four-year timeline for change to take effect: the working group will present its recommendations to the 2016 General Synod, and any constitutional and canonical changes would then have to be reported back to episcopal units before confirmation at the 2018 General Synod.

New liturgy to be developed…

The working group has been asked to propose a liturgy to “bless right-ordered same-gender relationships” – and to develop a process and legislation (whether church or parliamentary) by which such a new liturgy might be adopted.

Synod has also asked the group (which is yet to be formed) to report to the next synod on the impact of its work on the church’s theology of marriage, and of ordination.

The preamble to the resolution adopted by the General Synod also includes an unreserved apology to the LGBT community:

“Over many years,” this reads, “our church has become increasingly aware of the pain of the LGBT community. All too often our church has been complicit in homophobic thinking and actions of society, and has failed to speak out against hatred and violence against those with same-gender attraction.

“We apologise unreservedly and commit ourselves to reconciliation and prophetic witness.”

“Recognition” now for couples…

In the last part of the resolution, synod says it is “acutely aware of the desire of some clergy to make further response pastorally and prayerfully to LGBT people in their faith communities.”

It therefore says such clergy should be permitted “to recognise in public worship” a same-gender civil union or state marriage of members of their faith community – provided the permission of the licensing bishop is gained, as well as the permission of their vestry.

Such “recognition,” however, “cannot be marriage or a rite of blessing of a same-gender relationship.”

“We recognise that this may cause even further distress,” the resolution says. But noting the commitment of the church to move forward, “we ask the LGBT community to recognise that any process of change within our church takes time.”

Archbishops commend spirit of debate

The Archbishops say that by adopting the resolution, synod has shown its commitment to protecting diversity in the church.

And they have expressed their gratitude for the way synod has debated the issues and come to its resolution.

Archbishop Winston Halapua says synod has shown “it is committed to ongoing talanoa as it considers change” and is following “the mandate of Christ to love one another at all times.”

Archbishop Philip Richardson was equally moved by the way debate flowed:

“We have witnessed across the church,” he says, “a depth of extraordinary trust and respect. There is a unity in Christ in conversations that have enabled us to get to this point.

“There is a hope that this trust we have seen with faith, hope, and love will continue as change is considered.”

• The full, unedited text of the General Synod resolution is available here: http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/Features/Extra/Anga

The Religion of Peace and Love

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

 

By Peter Mullen:

 

A pregnant woman in Sudan has been sentenced to be hanged for converting to Christianity. Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, who is being held in detention with her 20-month-old son, had been ordered to abandon her Christian faith and return to Islam. She has also been charged with adultery for marrying a Christian man. The death sentence was given despite appeals by Western embassies for compassion and respect for religious freedom. At a court in Khartoum, Judge Abbas al Khalifa said: “We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged.”

 

(Courage, Mariam: remember what Jesus managed to achieve in three days)

 

The judge also sentenced her to a hundred lashes for “adultery.”

 

I am puzzled by this and I should like to know whether this barbarism is being perpetrated in the name of Islam, or is it only “Islamist”? Actually, I can answer that question myself: the Koran prescribes the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their religion. That is quite definite: the Muslim scriptures are the basis for all Islamic doctrine and legality. Thus this is not a question of “extremism.” It’s in the book, as they say. So any Muslim who does not believe that the death penalty should be prescribed for those who convert from that ideology to the Christian religion is simply not a faithful Muslim. But I do have a further question: If I criticise the judgment of the Sudanese court, am I guilty of “Islamophobia”? But the word “phobia” means an irrational and neurotic fear. And there is nothing irrational or neurotic about fearing a religion which institutes barbarism.

 

Read here

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Let the separation come

Dr. Michael L. Brown   – Guest Columnist
http://www.askdrbrown.org/
Author

Michael BrownThe question of “gay Christianity” is not a minor issue. That’s why I welcome the coming separation over this issue. And as painful as the division will be within churches, denominations, ministries, and even families, it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable.


As much I as I am constantly tackling controversial subjects, I am also working for the unity of the Body, trying to major on the majors on my radio show (which reaches quite a diverse audience) and often interacting privately with those with whom I differ. Yet I recognize that sometimes, division for the sake of truth can be healthy. Now is one of those times.

This past Wednesday, May 14, I gave a lecture at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC, from noon-1:00 p.m. It was also aired via live webcast and the talk focused on issues related to my latest book Can You Be Gay and Christian?

Shortly before the lecture, I was informed that, at the exact same time and also live online, there would be a panel discussing Matthew Vines’ new book God and the Gay Christian, with participation from Rachel Held Evans, Tony Jones, and Jay Bakker, all of whom highly praised the book.

What excellent timing, and what an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast these two very different views. (For the record, my book is not a response to Matthew’s book, and the fact they came out at roughly the same time is providential rather than planned.)

What’s the most common mistake professing Christians make when they argue God’s Word doesn’t condemn homosexuality?

One view says that while God deeply loves all people and offers them redemption in Jesus, under no circumstances would He ever bless or approve of two men (or two women) having sex together.

The other views says that under the right circumstances, God would bless and approve of two men (or two women) having sex. (For those who think that sex is not the issue, bear in mind that one of the major arguments made by same-sex “marriage” advocates like Matthew Vines is that it’s better for gays to be able to “marry” than to burn with lust, based on a serious misapplication of 1 Corinthians 7.)

Without a doubt, this issue will become a great dividing line in the Church, and I for one welcome it, since it points to a much deeper divide in our approach to God, His Word, and the people He wants to redeem. Ultimately, it will separate those who put God first and ask, “How can I fulfill His desires?” from those who put themselves first and ask, “How can He fulfill my desires?” (Although some will take extreme offense to this statement, if you analyze the major “gay Christian” arguments, they often boil down to this perspective.)

I do believe that many professing Christians who advocate same-sex relationships do so because they know homosexual couples who care deeply about each other, who are fine people in many respects, and who have wrestled mightily with reconciling their faith with their sexuality. And so, these Christians go back to the Scriptures and ask themselves if, perhaps, the Bible does allow for committed, same-sex relationships. “How,” they wonder aloud, “does the law of love, which does no harm to its neighbor, address this question?”

But that is the problem in a nutshell, and it is reminiscent of what happened with Balaam, whom Balak sought to hire to curse Israel.

When Balaam asked Yahweh if he should go and curse Israel, the Lord answered him emphatically: “You are not to go with them. You are not to curse this people, for they are blessed” (Num 22:12, CSB).

There was no ambiguity there, just as there is no ambiguity in what the Bible says about homosexual practice: Every reference to it in the Scriptures is decidedly negative; there is not a single positive example of a homosexual relationship in the Word; and marriage, by its God-ordained definition from the beginning, is the union of one man and woman for life.

As for Balaam, he made the mistake of asking God a second time if He should curse Israel after being offered more money, and this time the Lord told him to go, ultimately to his lasting shame. Obviously, God doesn’t change His Word.

Of course, I’m not comparing gay theologians (or their straight allies) to Balaam in terms of being motivated by money – honestly, such a thought doesn’t enter my mind, no more than it enters my mind to write articles or books or take theological stands for the sake of financial gain – but I am saying that they are making a similar mistake of starting with a clear word from God and then questioning the Scriptures based on their own experiences (or the experience of their friends).

Some might argue that this is similar to a cessationist being miraculously healed, as a result of which he goes back to the Scriptures to reevaluate his beliefs and then changes his position. But the two situations hardly compare.

In the case of cessationism, the early Church embraced and operated in the gifts of the Spirit, there have been healings and miracles through the centuries, and there are scores of verses that point directly to the ongoing supernatural ministry of the Spirit.

In the case of same-sex “marriage,” such a concept was unknown throughout Church history until recent years (despite John Boswell’s weak attempts at historical revisionism) and there is not a single verse supporting the position while, in reality, the testimony of the entire Bible is against it.

That’s why most of the pro-homosex interpretations of Scripture are completely new innovations, meaning that not a single biblical scholar or theologian came up with these interpretations before the sexual revolution. That alone should tell you something.

Earlier this year, I interviewed Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer, who had been defrocked by his denomination for performing the wedding of his son to another young man. He explained to me that he had already been questioning what the Bible said about homosexuality when his son came out to him, after which he became convinced that God wanted to bless committed same-sex couples.

I asked him what would happen if his son came to him one day and said, “Dad, I’ve made a terrible mistake. God is not pleased with my relationship and the Spirit is convicting me that I’m in sin.” Would he feel the need to reevaluate his beliefs again? He responded, “Oh my goodness, would it ever. Absolutely, it would definitely challenge me.”

Need I say more?

The question of “gay Christianity” is not a minor issue, affecting our views of the authority of Scripture, the meaning of marriage and sexuality, and the importance of gender distinctions, not to mention massive implications for the society at large.

That’s why I welcome the coming separation over this issue. And as painful as the division will be within churches, denominations, ministries, and even families, it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable.

That doesn’t mean that we attack each other or speak and act in ways that would dishonor the Lord. But it does mean that we hold firmly to our convictions before Him, regardless of cost or consequences, knowing that God’s ways will be vindicated in the end.


Dr. Michael Brown, a Jewish believer in Jesus, is a biblical scholar, apologist, worldwide speaker, and activist. He is the host of the nationally syndicated, talk radio program “Line of Fire,” and he serves as president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, NC, as well as adjunct professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 21 books, most recently “The Real Kosher Jesus.”

This column is printed with permission. Opinions expressed in ‘Perspectives’ columns published by OneNewsNow.com are the sole responsibility of the article’s author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network, OneNewsNow.com, our parent organization or its other affiliates.

– See more at: http://onenewsnow.com/perspectives/michael-brown/2014/05/16/let-the-separation-come#sthash.Fr8pnwPY.63rYvgTk.dpuf

Let the separation come

Dr. Michael L. Brown   – Guest Columnist
http://www.askdrbrown.org/

Friday, May 16, 2014

Author

Michael BrownThe question of “gay Christianity” is not a minor issue. That’s why I welcome the coming separation over this issue. And as painful as the division will be within churches, denominations, ministries, and even families, it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable.


As much I as I am constantly tackling controversial subjects, I am also working for the unity of the Body, trying to major on the majors on my radio show (which reaches quite a diverse audience) and often interacting privately with those with whom I differ. Yet I recognize that sometimes, division for the sake of truth can be healthy. Now is one of those times.

This past Wednesday, May 14, I gave a lecture at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC, from noon-1:00 p.m. It was also aired via live webcast and the talk focused on issues related to my latest book Can You Be Gay and Christian?

Shortly before the lecture, I was informed that, at the exact same time and also live online, there would be a panel discussing Matthew Vines’ new book God and the Gay Christian, with participation from Rachel Held Evans, Tony Jones, and Jay Bakker, all of whom highly praised the book.

What excellent timing, and what an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast these two very different views. (For the record, my book is not a response to Matthew’s book, and the fact they came out at roughly the same time is providential rather than planned.)

What’s the most common mistake professing Christians make when they argue God’s Word doesn’t condemn homosexuality?

One view says that while God deeply loves all people and offers them redemption in Jesus, under no circumstances would He ever bless or approve of two men (or two women) having sex together.

The other views says that under the right circumstances, God would bless and approve of two men (or two women) having sex. (For those who think that sex is not the issue, bear in mind that one of the major arguments made by same-sex “marriage” advocates like Matthew Vines is that it’s better for gays to be able to “marry” than to burn with lust, based on a serious misapplication of 1 Corinthians 7.)

Without a doubt, this issue will become a great dividing line in the Church, and I for one welcome it, since it points to a much deeper divide in our approach to God, His Word, and the people He wants to redeem. Ultimately, it will separate those who put God first and ask, “How can I fulfill His desires?” from those who put themselves first and ask, “How can He fulfill my desires?” (Although some will take extreme offense to this statement, if you analyze the major “gay Christian” arguments, they often boil down to this perspective.)

I do believe that many professing Christians who advocate same-sex relationships do so because they know homosexual couples who care deeply about each other, who are fine people in many respects, and who have wrestled mightily with reconciling their faith with their sexuality. And so, these Christians go back to the Scriptures and ask themselves if, perhaps, the Bible does allow for committed, same-sex relationships. “How,” they wonder aloud, “does the law of love, which does no harm to its neighbor, address this question?”

But that is the problem in a nutshell, and it is reminiscent of what happened with Balaam, whom Balak sought to hire to curse Israel.

When Balaam asked Yahweh if he should go and curse Israel, the Lord answered him emphatically: “You are not to go with them. You are not to curse this people, for they are blessed” (Num 22:12, CSB).

There was no ambiguity there, just as there is no ambiguity in what the Bible says about homosexual practice: Every reference to it in the Scriptures is decidedly negative; there is not a single positive example of a homosexual relationship in the Word; and marriage, by its God-ordained definition from the beginning, is the union of one man and woman for life.

As for Balaam, he made the mistake of asking God a second time if He should curse Israel after being offered more money, and this time the Lord told him to go, ultimately to his lasting shame. Obviously, God doesn’t change His Word.

Of course, I’m not comparing gay theologians (or their straight allies) to Balaam in terms of being motivated by money – honestly, such a thought doesn’t enter my mind, no more than it enters my mind to write articles or books or take theological stands for the sake of financial gain – but I am saying that they are making a similar mistake of starting with a clear word from God and then questioning the Scriptures based on their own experiences (or the experience of their friends).

Some might argue that this is similar to a cessationist being miraculously healed, as a result of which he goes back to the Scriptures to reevaluate his beliefs and then changes his position. But the two situations hardly compare.

In the case of cessationism, the early Church embraced and operated in the gifts of the Spirit, there have been healings and miracles through the centuries, and there are scores of verses that point directly to the ongoing supernatural ministry of the Spirit.

In the case of same-sex “marriage,” such a concept was unknown throughout Church history until recent years (despite John Boswell’s weak attempts at historical revisionism) and there is not a single verse supporting the position while, in reality, the testimony of the entire Bible is against it.

That’s why most of the pro-homosex interpretations of Scripture are completely new innovations, meaning that not a single biblical scholar or theologian came up with these interpretations before the sexual revolution. That alone should tell you something.

Earlier this year, I interviewed Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer, who had been defrocked by his denomination for performing the wedding of his son to another young man. He explained to me that he had already been questioning what the Bible said about homosexuality when his son came out to him, after which he became convinced that God wanted to bless committed same-sex couples.

I asked him what would happen if his son came to him one day and said, “Dad, I’ve made a terrible mistake. God is not pleased with my relationship and the Spirit is convicting me that I’m in sin.” Would he feel the need to reevaluate his beliefs again? He responded, “Oh my goodness, would it ever. Absolutely, it would definitely challenge me.”

Need I say more?

The question of “gay Christianity” is not a minor issue, affecting our views of the authority of Scripture, the meaning of marriage and sexuality, and the importance of gender distinctions, not to mention massive implications for the society at large.

That’s why I welcome the coming separation over this issue. And as painful as the division will be within churches, denominations, ministries, and even families, it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable.

That doesn’t mean that we attack each other or speak and act in ways that would dishonor the Lord. But it does mean that we hold firmly to our convictions before Him, regardless of cost or consequences, knowing that God’s ways will be vindicated in the end.


Dr. Michael Brown, a Jewish believer in Jesus, is a biblical scholar, apologist, worldwide speaker, and activist. He is the host of the nationally syndicated, talk radio program “Line of Fire,” and he serves as president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, NC, as well as adjunct professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 21 books, most recently “The Real Kosher Jesus.”

This column is printed with permission. Opinions expressed in ‘Perspectives’ columns published by OneNewsNow.com are the sole responsibility of the article’s author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network, OneNewsNow.com, our parent organization or its other affiliates.

– See more at: http://onenewsnow.com/perspectives/michael-brown/2014/05/16/let-the-separation-come#sthash.Fr8pnwPY.63rYvgTk.dpuf