Oregon moves to seize property from couple who refused to bake cake for lesbian ‘wedding’


Lisa BourneAaron_and_Melissa_Klein_810_500_55_s_c1

GRESHAM, OR, October 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) –  The State agency that ordered an Oregon Christian couple to pay two lesbians $135,000 for refusing to take part in their homosexual “wedding” has begun legal proceedings to seize the couple’s assets.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, were fined by an administrative judge this past spring after declining in January 2013 to bake a cake for the same-sex event based on their religious beliefs.

The fine had been ordered by The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which had accused them of violating the Oregon Equality Act of 2007.

“Our agency has docketed the judgment and is exploring collection options,” said Charlie Burr, communications director for the Bureau, The Daily Signal reports.

Docketing the judgment means putting it on the formal records of the court, and is the first step the Bureau must take in the course of seizing the Kleins’ house, property, or other assets in place of their payment of the fine.

The Bureau had also placed a gag order on the Kleins’ when ordering the fine, commanding them to “not to speak “publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.”

“The goal is to rehabilitate,” Bureau Commissioner Brad Avakian said at the time. “For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon.”

The Kleins’ filed a petition for review with the Washington Court of Appeals in July, after the Bureau’s final order upholding the $135,000 fine.

Their attorneys had also asked the Bureau for a stay, which would have put payment of the fine on hold until after their appeals ruling, but the Bureau denied the request.

In the process of attempting to collect the fine, Bureau attorneys told the Kleins’ to obtain a bond or an irrevocable line of credit.

The Kleins’ object to both things, as the former would equate to them handing the full fine amount over to the state, and the latter would mean a permanent loss of roughly $7000 for them even if the Kleins’ prevail in the end.

The Bureau remains unsympathetic to the Kleins,’ more recently in the wake of fundraising campaigns executed in support of them.

“It’s difficult to understand the Kleins’ unwillingness to pay the debt when they have, very publicly, raised nearly a half million dollars,” Burr stated. “They are entitled to a full and fair review of the case, but do not have the right to disregard a legally binding order.”

Aaron Klein has said that the dollar figure attributed to the fundraising has been exaggerated.

“The number they’ve given out is bloated,” he said. “It is not what we have available, it is not what we have on hand, and there are so many variables to where that money has to go, what has to happen with that money, that we’re not touching that money for any purpose because I don’t know what the future holds.”

Abuse, Exclusion, and Physical Attacks for Christian Syrian Refugee in Germany

Christians fleeing Muslim persecution are finding just as much oppression in the refugee camps and shelters of Germany as they suffered in their home states. As the vast majority of asylum seekers are Muslims, many of whom have imported an adherence to sharia law with them, the few Christian co-travellers find themselves ostracised, abused, and even physically attacked.

The German state of Thuringia has been forced to implement a policy of segregating migrants from different backgrounds as soon as they reach the state, thanks to the persistent persecution of Christians by Muslim migrants.

Other states may be forced to follow, despite the protests of leftist politicians who wish to promote multiculturalism, as further evidence is emerging of widespread abuse of Christian refugees.

Joshua, a Pakistani Christian fleeing threats of violence in his home country has told the German state broadcaster Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) that life “in the refugee camp is not really different from that in my home country. 98 per cent of asylum seekers there are Muslims and they threaten me, call me a Kufr, an unbeliever. I’m afraid there, very afraid. Mostly I stay in my room.”

His fellow refugee Elias, who, along with Joshua now worships at The Trinity Church, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Berlin, tells a similar story. Elias fled Iran after joining an underground church before he was even able to be baptized into the faith.

He escaped Iran via Turkey and made his way to Germany alone, fearful for his life. “But in the refugee camp, as it emerged that I am a Christian, [the persecution] continued. One woman called me unclean and said that I should not use the kitchen. During Ramadan, they woke me up and told me to eat before sunrise.

“I escaped and came here to live and practice my faith in peace. I know many of [the migrants] have gone through terrible times, but we should all be tolerant,” he said.

In August Germany announced that all Syrian refugees who came to the country would not be deported before being assessed. In doing so it effectively encouraged migrants to circumvent the Dublin Regulation, which identifies the Member State responsible for the examination of an asylum claim in the European Union.

The regulation is intended to avoid asylum seekers being sent from one country to another or being able to abuse the system by the submission of several applications. The country in which the migrant first applies for asylum is responsible for either accepting or rejecting the claim, and the seeker may not restart the process in another jurisdiction.

Germany’s actions encouraged migrants to cross Europe before initiating asylum applications.

Elias faces deportation back to Hungary as he first crossed into the EU there. He is fearful that, thanks to Hungary’s hard line approach to the recent migration crisis in Europe, his asylum claim will fail and he will be sent back to Iran. He now feels like a second-class refugee.

“Of course I’m happy for everyone who is allowed to stay in Germany,” he said. “But why should Muslims insult me in our home, calling me an infidel, and then those refugees are allowed to stay when I am not? I do not understand.”

Pastor Gottfried Martens, leader of Trinity Church hears stories like these every day. “Our Christian refugees are experiencing much oppression in the homes. They are abused, ostracized and even physically attacked. Many of the asylum centres, in my opinion, are not run in accordance with Christian values, with Sharia Islamic law.”

On his desk lie contact addresses for the directors of the migrant centres, social services and the Berlin State Office for Health and Social affairs, which oversees the distribution of migrants to the various centres, all of whom he has contacted seeking help for the Christian refugees who come through his door.

Occasionally he receives an answer, he says, but more often his pleas are ignored. “I think the shelter staff are simply overwhelmed by the situation. In order to integrate the newcomers, we really need many more social workers, psychologists and so on.”

With around 600 refugees in his community, many of whom are fleeing the asylum centres just as they fled their countries, Pastor Martens has now opened up his church to those seeking alternative accommodation. The majority of those through his door are from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, where persecution of Christians is rife.

Elias is one of many sleeping on a mattress on the church floor. Pastor Martens believes Hungary would deport him back to Iran, which would mean death.

However, the community spaces he provides are rapidly filling up, with more people coming in daily. “Our members are afraid. Afraid in the homes of experiencing the same violence they suffered before they fled.”


GlobalView from Bishop Bill AtwoodPrimates-Meeting-Fantasy-770x303 (1)

The Law of Unintended Consequences articulates the principle that there are usually unanticipated consequences that rise from actions. It may be that the intended consequences are helpful, but there will almost always be unintended consequences that were not planned that also come—those can be very problematic. Here is an example of a decision that has unintended consequences. You may have heard of the “Stranger Danger” campaign which teaches kids that strangers are not safe.

FBI statistics indicate that there are approximately 800,000 abductions of children in the US. Of those, only about 115 each year are carried out by strangers.[1] The other 799,885 were carried out by people that the abducted child knew; most are family members, but some family acquaintances who are known.

The campaign’s focus on strangers was intended to protect, but in fact, danger from strangers is more in the “you’re gonna get struck by lightning” category rather than the “you better watch out” category. Having the skills to identify other forms of danger would be more valuable. Tragically, simply focusing on strangers may cause people to overlook warning signals from people who are closer to the victim but still dangerous. The unintended consequences of a huge campaign may actually include a diminishment of safety.

Right now there is a huge problem with refugees from Syria and Kurdistan, northern Iraq. As the well-armed butchers of the Islamic State have occupied territory, sensible people have fled the area. Knowing that they are fleeing in droves, however, the innovative (though horrifically violent) ISIS leaders have salted terrorist operatives into the fleeing hoards of people. Those operatives have the objective of waiting until a later time and then inflicting as much pain and suffering as possible on unarmed civilian targets. Simple or superficial solutions to deal with the refugees will have terrible unintended consequences. We need to care for people who need care, but we also need to stop those who design mass murder.

In another vein, tender-hearted and probably well-meaning liberals in thought it would be kind and just to pursue blessing same-sex intimacy. Their perspective was that a simple blessing was something the church could and should provide. I remember the Rev., now Bishop, Ian Douglas saying at the General Convention in 2003 that “No one in another Province would notice or care if the Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson.” That has proven to be wrong, wrong, wrong.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has invited the Primates to come for a “gathering” to discuss, among other things, the crisis and the latest actions by TEC to completely change the theology and practice of marriage. It is extremely significant that he has also invited Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to come. This shouldn’t surprise us, however. The vast majority of active Anglicans in the world have recognized the ACNA and are in full Communion with it.

For the last twenty years, the liberal wing in the church relied on deception. They claimed orthodoxy while they were practicing something all together different (see Andrew Symes’ article from Anglican Mainstream in the UK http://anglicanmainstream.org/warning-to-synod-voters-some-evangelicals-are-not-as-they-seem/). Then, things shifted and they became more open about what they were actually doing, but they relied on manipulating the institutional structures of the Communion to keep the real issue from being discussed. They were aided by decisions that Archbishop Rowan Williams made that were utterly supportive of the liberal agenda. The only time there was actually open conversation about the issue was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2007. There, the Episcopal Church was called to repentance and given a deadline of September 30th to drop the lawsuits that they were pursuing and return to the teaching, faith, and practice of historic Anglicanism. The deadline was re-interpreted by Archbishop Williams to not be a deadline and the discipline was eviscerated by his sending out invitations to the Lambeth Conference before the Episcopal Church had addressed what the Primates insisted upon.

I suppose that Archbishop Williams assumed that because the issues at stake were not a big deal to him that they wouldn’t be a big deal to others. He was wrong. There was enough institutional loyalty to keep people from open rebellion or blowing the Communion up, but the consequences were actually devastating. Many Provinces simply stopped going to Communion gatherings. Others would have minimal participation. Overall, the attitude to the central structures have become so broken that they are utterly ineffective.

There was a report that the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion office was offering “facilitators” for the January gathering of Primates. He may be planning that, but I would suggest that the facilitators get refundable tickets. There is absolutely no chance that the GAFCON and Global South Primates will stand for another meeting where they are “handled” and manipulated by “facilitators” who have a pre-cooked agenda. This upcoming meeting will either be utterly genuine in all the gritty reality that brings, or it will not happen at all. I think it is truly an important gathering and I pray that it will be effective.

When innovations are introduced, it is done with the expectation that there will be unicorns and skittle rainbows. When they are done thoughtlessly, the result can be catastrophic, as it has been with some Provinces who have discarded the historic Biblical teaching on sexuality. I’m sure that they think all will be well because they want it to be; that there will be rain showers of gumdrops and the pot at the end of the skittle rainbow will be found, but in truth, consequences that they did not anticipate or intend are actually driving the train. Superficial solutions never work more than superficially. This is a time in which we need to actually deal with the departures from Biblical faith, with issues of Christology that are being erroneously embraced, and a disastrous sexual ethic that is not bearing godly fruit.

Here is the bottom line. If the January gathering of Primates does not fully address the real issues, the Communion will not survive—nor should it.

atwood-new-photobwThe Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood is Bishop of the Anglican Church in North America’s International Diocese and an American Anglican Council contributing author.

Say Goodbye to Bride and Groom in Florida

In keeping with this social madness, the state of Florida recently changed its marriage   certificates, removing the terms "bride" and "groom" and replacing them with "spouse."
In keeping with this social madness, the state of Florida recently changed its marriage certificates, removing the terms “bride” and “groom” and replacing them with “spouse.” (Flickr)

N.T. Wright is one of the most world’s foremost New Testament scholars, a sober-minded man not given to extreme rhetoric. Yet when it came to the question of redefining marriage, Wright did not hold back, explaining how dangerous it is to change the fundamental meaning of words:

“When anybody—pressure groups, governments, civilizations—suddenly change the meaning of key words, you really should watch out. If you go to a German dictionary and just open at random, you may well see several German words which have a little square bracket saying ‘N.S.,’ meaning National Socialist or Nazi. The Nazis gave those words a certain meaning. In post-1917 Russia, there were whole categories of people who were called ‘former persons,’ because by the Communist diktat they had ceased to be relevant for the state, and once you call them former persons it was extremely easy to ship them off somewhere and have them killed.”

He continued, “It’s like a government voting that black should be white. Sorry, you can vote that if you like, you can pass it by a total majority, but it isn’t actually going to change the reality.”

That’s why I have often said that once you redefine marriage, you render it meaningless.

It would be like saying a couple can now consist of five people, or a pair can refer to one item, or a tricycle can have two wheels.

Redefining those terms doesn’t change reality, and when it comes to marriage, if you don’t have the two essential components, namely a husband and a wife, you don’t have marriage.

Consequently, if you change the fundamental meaning of marriage, you change the meaning of husband and wife as well.

As I pointed out last year in an article titled “I Now Pronounce You Spouse and Spouse,” as England began to move toward redefining marriage, the Daily Telegraph reported, “The word ‘husband’ will in future be applied to women and the word ‘wife’ will refer to men, the Government has decided.”

According to John Bingham, “Civil servants have overruled the Oxford English Dictionary and hundreds years of common usage effectively abolishing the traditional meaning of the words for spouses.”

In the government’s proposed guidelines, “‘husband’ here will include a man or a woman in a same-sex marriage, as well as a man married to a woman. In a similar way, ‘wife’ will include a woman married to another woman or a man married to a man.”

So, a man could be a wife if married to another man (or not), while a woman could be a husband if married to another woman (or not), all of which begs the question: Why use words at all if they have utterly lost their meaning? It’s like saying that up is down (or up) and down is up (or down), while north is south (or north) and south is north (or south).

In the same article, I cited the Huffington Post, which reported that “California’s same-sex couples may now be pronounced spouse and spouse after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill (last) Monday eliminating outdated ‘husband and wife’ references from state laws.”

Not surprisingly, according to California bill AB 1951, birth certificates will have three options: “mother,” “father” or simply “parent,” meaning that, in the case of two lesbians, one could be designated “father,” while in the case of two gay men, one could be designated “mother.” (The bill would also allow for three parents to be listed on the birth certificate, since there’s obviously a missing third party in the event of two men or two women “having” a baby.)

This means that we’ve come to a place of semantic insanity, a place where you can have male wives, female husbands, male mothers, and female fathers.

Do people really think you can just turn the world upside down without having any adverse effects?

In keeping with this social madness, the state of Florida recently changed its marriage certificates, removing the terms “bride” and “groom” and replacing them with “spouse.”

This goes hand in hand with other international trends. As I pointed out in 2011, “In Ontario, Canada, as a result of the legalization of same-sex marriage, all references to terms like husband, wife and widow were removed from the law books in 2005. In Spain, birth certificates were changed from ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ to ‘Progenitor A’ and ‘Progenitor B.'”

But of course!

That’s why principle No. 4 in my new book is: Refuse to Redefine Marriage, since, to repeat, once you redefine marriage, you render it meaningless.

The Supreme Court can give its ruling; laws can be passed; public opinion can shift and turn, but that doesn’t mean we have to affirm it, participate in it or, God forbid, celebrate it.

But all is not lost. True marriage—natural marriage, marriage the way God intended it from the beginning (see Jesus’ words in Matt. 19:4-6)—will endure, while radically redefined marriage will undo itself.

I was reminded of this as I watched some baby dedications at a church service on Sunday, with the proud moms and dads holding their precious little ones in their arms: There’s no substitute for marriage and family the way God set it up, regardless of what Florida, California, England, Spain or Canada might say.

Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown.

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NIGERIA: Anglican Province Issues Communique — No change on Same-Sex Marriage

NIGERIA: Anglican Province Issues Communique — No change on Same-Sex Marriage
Archbishop Okoh calls on Anglican Communion leaders to repent of revisionist theologies
Nigerian Primate will consult with GAFCON archbishops before deciding on ABC’s call to Canterbury next year

By David W. Virtue DD
September 28, 2015

The Archbishop and Bishops of the Anglican Church of Nigeria have issued a communique saying that they will not depart from the orthodox biblical stand on same-sex marriage and called on its members to defend the orthodox biblical teaching on marriage and family. They also urged the Federal Government to continue to resist “foreign pressure” to make it rescind its stand on same-sex marriage.

The bishops and archbishops condemned the “revisionist theologies” of some Anglican provinces and called on the leadership of the Anglican Communion to repentance and renewed faith in Christ as expressed in the Bible, the Articles of Religion, and the Jerusalem Declaration. They also reaffirmed their commitment to those Anglicans throughout the Communion who abide by these truths.

The Communique urged “all Christians to exercise simple faith and obedience to God for victory by living lives characterized by honesty, truth and integrity and called the Church to faithfulness in her message to uphold the holiness and righteousness of the living God.”

The bishops also touched on issues regarding national security and called on the Federal Government to redouble its efforts to putting an end to Boko Haram and obtaining the return of Chibok girls. They said the kidnapping of prominent religious and national leaders is “an embarrassment” and that power failures, unemployment, and poverty are urgent priorities for the nation.

The bishops praised the government for revamping the economy and welcomed the renewed zeal to fight corruption and indiscipline, but noted with concern climate change and flooding where there is an abundance of water.

The Communique came at the end of the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria, held at the Cathedral Church of St. David, Ijomu, Akure in Ondo State. ) The Rt. Rev. Julian Dobbs, Bishop of Virginian-based CANA East, a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), was in attendance.


Bishop of Niassa to resign

The Bishop of Niassa, the Rt. Rev. Mark Van Koevering, has announced that he will be resigning with effect from 31 October 2015.

Bishop Mark Van Koevering
Bishop Mark Van Koevering
on the occasion of his 10th anniversary as Bishop of Niassa

In a letter to partners, he and his wife Helen write:

Dearest Friends,

We send you greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

After much prayer and reflection, we wish to inform you that Mark has accepted a nomination to become the Assistant Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia with a special mandate for mission. Helen plans to complete her doctoral studies and continue to write. Mark’s resignation as the Diocesan Bishop of Niassa was accepted by the Synod of Bishops last week and he will relinquish his See on the 31st of October 2015.

We made this decision for both family reasons and a deep sense that the Diocese of Niassa is in a safe and healthy place where, by God’s grace, she will continue to grow with new leaders who are deeply rooted in her fertile soil. It seems timely now for us to step aside and create space for others to lead.

After 28 years of lay and ordained ministry in Mozambique, there are no words to express the great joy and privilege it has been for us to serve God in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. The friendships we have developed with our partners worldwide have played an important and integral part in the development of the Diocese and of the wider community. We wish to thank you for your trust, support and friendship.

We ask that you will continue to pray for and support the work of the Diocese, especially at this time of transition.

In Christ Jesus,

+Mark and Helen Van Koevering

Ashley Madison and the Problem of Liberal Sexual Ethics

Liberal attempts to defend adultery demonstrate the internal inconsistency and shallowness of contemporary sexual ethics.

Is cheating wrong? At one point, there was a moral consensus on this question across political and cultural lines. But now, many on the left seem to have reconsidered the immorality of adultery.

The Ashley Madison hack has spurred a national debate on data privacy as well as the state of marriage in society. Pundits like Fredrik deBoer, Dan Savage, and Glenn Greenwald wasted no time commenting on the controversy by pushing several familiar narratives:

1. Adultery is a victimless and harmless act and therefore within the bounds of morality. If two (or more) people consent to sexual activity, that is their prerogative, and society must be accepting of that choice or at the very least respectful and understanding.

2. The fact that many conservative people do not accept adultery is a function of their religious prudery. That is the only reason anyone could possibly have for opposing consensual sex, which, in the final analysis, is a private matter that ought to remain beyond the scrutiny of others.

3. By insisting that adultery is immoral, religious groups are imposing their puritanical beliefs on others, stigmatizing the innocent lifestyles of certain people, and dehumanizing those who engage in otherwise harmless intimate relationships in pursuit of love and happiness.

We know these arguments so well because they are endlessly rehashed to defend the morality of homosexual acts and the push to redefine marriage. Simply replace every instance of the word “adultery” in the above with “homosexual act” or “same-sex relationships” and the parallels become undeniable.

What is interesting is that, unlike homosexuality, infidelity has not been embraced by our culture. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 91 percent of respondents believed that married men and women having an affair is morally wrong. According to another study, even a large proportion of married individuals who cheated believed that their actions were immoral. Apparently, while the stigma associated with other sexual behaviors—like premarital, gay, and lesbian sex—has waned over the past decades, the social taboo against extramarital sex is alive and well.

Clearly, the liberal argument for the morality of adultery has not convinced the majority of Americans. This is instructive because liberalism often attributes society’s changing attitudes toward sexual morality as the public increasingly seeing “the light of reason” and the triumph of secular rationality over traditional religious closed-mindedness. Against this narrative, however, the public’s reluctance to embrace adultery despite liberalism’s standard set of arguments demonstrates how much of the liberal argumentation against traditional sexual mores hinge on cultural sympathy as opposed to sound reasoning.

Sympathy and the Harm Principle

We can see exactly how cultural bias factors into liberal argumentation by considering the core concepts upon which many of the arguments rely. Chief among these is the notion of harm. Most liberal ethical formulations draw heavily on John Stuart Mill’s philosophical elaboration of the “Harm Principle” in On Liberty. Many contemporary Americans believe that only acts that hurt other people should be the object of moral opprobrium. But as legal scholar Stephen D. Smith explains in The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse, from a purely secular perspective, harm is a subjective and context-dependent concept. Without the moorings of a normative doctrine like religion, the liberal secular treatment of harm can vary greatly.

The fact that some commentators are questioning whether adultery is harmful is a glaring example of how malleable and culturally dependent the liberal conception of harm truly is. In his piece, deBoer asks defiantly, “Suppose  . . .  all of the exposed Ashley Madison users were just cheating. So what? Why should that be the concern of progressive people?” He further muses, “We’ve collapsed the distinction between behaviors that are truly destructive and must be illegal, like sexual assault or sexual coercion, and those that we merely find untoward, like cheating.” From this perspective, infidelity is—at most—rude and unseemly, akin to picking one’s nose in public or not washing one’s hands after using the restroom.

What this means is that a spouse who is cheated on is not really a victim and has no legitimate grievance against the cheater and his lover. After all, why should something as silly as marriage vows hinder a person’s sexual autonomy? Whoever is foolish enough to take the bonds of matrimony seriously almost deserves to be cheated on. It’s “just cheating,” after all! Let’s try to be mature about it and learn to “mind our own business,” as deBoer casually puts it. The implication is that the 91 percent of the public that believes infidelity is a serious moral violation is nothing more than a bunch of prudes infected with a puritanical or Victorian self-righteousness.

We might wonder, why couldn’t the pain and suffering that the betrayed spouse feels—which some psychologists speak about in terms of post-traumatic stress disorder—be considered harmful in the logic of secular liberalism? One would think that, given how much stock liberal ethical theory puts into sexual autonomy and the negative emotional and psychological impact of curtailing sexual freedom, liberal pundits would express at least some passing consideration for the negative emotional and psychological impact of adultery upon the betrayed spouse.

The difference, we are told, is that the emotional distress of the betrayed spouse is due to a misplaced sense of marital commitment, which is ultimately based on provincial religious attitudes, whereas emotional distress caused by curtailed sexual freedom is based on immutable human needs at the core of personhood. In other words, if a married man has sexual needs that can only be satisfied by someone not his wife, those needs take priority over marriage vows. To put the point succinctly: sexual needs are real, but marriage vows are based on religion, which is not real as far as rational secularism is concerned. If betrayed spouses feel bad, it is their own fault for naively buying into this whole idea of marital commitment. This is similar to the way in which parents and family members who are distressed when a loved one adopts a “gay lifestyle” or chooses to have sex-change surgery are told that their distress is not legitimate. Rather, any negative emotions or harm are their own fault—the result of buying into naive and prudish views on sexuality and gender.

Other Victims

Arguments in this vein conveniently render adultery a harmless, victimless act. But what about other factors that could be seen as harmful? For example, there are empirical data to suggest that parents’ unfaithfulness often negatively affects children. Family instability, often the result of adultery, correlates with numerous social ills, such as drug use and depression among adolescents, dropping out of school, and future unemployment. Do these harms outweigh the purported benefits of cheating? Even under a purely utilitarian conception of sexual morality, it would seem the harm from such social problems is more significant than the harm that may come to a person who has to withhold himself from cheating.

In other contexts, liberal commentators are eager to highlight these same social ills. Consider the bestselling book Freakonomics. The authors present research that correlates the legalization of abortion with subsequent drops in crime rates. They hypothesize that legalizing abortion made it easier for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies, which caused a decrease in unwanted births and meant that fewer children grew up in detrimental environments and unstable households that would make them prone to criminality.

Pro-abortion advocates often use these sociological data on crime rates to argue that abortion greatly benefits society as a whole. The obvious conclusion that goes unnoticed is that these same benefits of abortion could be equally achieved by preventing premarital and extramarital sex. The exact same logic applies—if fewer people have sex outside of marriage, fewer children will be born to mothers who are not in a position to provide an upbringing that will prevent those children from eventually falling into illegal and destructive behavior. Research shows that crime rates, education levels, unemployment, drug use, and future income all can be significantly influenced by controlling reproduction via access to abortion and contraception. Obviously, those same benefits would, mutatis mutandis, be obtained by a decrease in the amount of premarital and extramarital activity.

What would liberalism say about all of this? As we saw, liberal ethics can explain away the pain of a betrayed spouse by arguing that that pain is based on religious beliefs. Since religion cannot be taken seriously in secular moral considerations, those beliefs are just “hang-ups” that the betrayed spouse should dispense with. Similarly, the liberal ethical perspective could maintain that if children are distressed by their parents’ infidelity and the subsequent instability in their home life, that distress is also the result of misbegotten expectations. Children ought to be taught that it’s okay for Daddy and Mommy to have affairs. In other words, if everyone’s expectations are properly set in accordance with postmodern liberal conceptions of family and sexuality, then no harm will arise.

The Hypocrisy of Liberal Sexual Ethics

There are several problems with this reasoning. First, it is question-begging. Obviously, if everyone believed that this highly individualistic liberal model for society were correct, these harms would go away. But if everyone believed that the traditional religious attitude about sexual freedom and propriety were correct, then no married person would ever feel frustrated or sexually deprived by not being able to cheat on his spouse.

The second problem is that there are still plenty of other grave harms associated with adultery that have nothing to do with expectation-setting. For example, what about the right of a husband to know that the children his wife gives birth to are his children and not the children of other men? Given the significant amount of financial resources needed to raise children, this is not a trivial concern. Or how about the right of a wife to know that her husband does not have illegitimate children that he is supporting behind her back, in essence secretly siphoning off funds from their family to support children from another woman? How about a child’s right to know who his biological parents are, and the right not to feel like one’s birth was the result of a mistake or a sleazy affair?

These are all rights that other cultures consider to be basic human rights. In Islam, for example, these rights are enumerated in great detail in traditional manuals of Islamic law and are considered to be among the cardinal reasons for God’s prohibition of adultery. Christianity and other religious traditions also recognize these rights and concomitant harms. Up until the nineteenth century, American courts noted that, “The harm of adultery lay not in the alienation of the wife’s affections and loss of comfort in her company but in its tendency to adulterate the issue of an innocent husband and to turn the inheritance away from his own blood, to that of a stranger.”

Given these harms, wouldn’t proper application of the “Harm Principle” lead us to conclude that infidelity is indubitably immoral? The fact that these considerations are so often overshadowed by an obsessive, dogmatic concern for “sexual freedom” is proof of the one-dimensionality and inherent hypocrisy of liberal sexual ethics. If liberalism can be so clumsy, out of touch, and misguided when it comes to a moral issue as clear-cut as adultery, what does that say about liberalism’s treatment of other points of sexual morality?

Daniel Haqiqatjou was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He attended Harvard University where he majored in physics and minored in philosophy. He then completed a master’s degree in philosophy at Tufts University. Haqiqatjou writes on contemporary issues surrounding Muslims and Modernity. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

GAFCON calls for ‘truth on the table’

Sep 18, 2015

Media Statement

Bishops at GAFCON 2008

Bishops at GAFCON 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for a meeting of Primates in January 2016 shows that he has recognised the deep concerns of faithful church leaders around the world, including those belonging to the GAFCON movement who represent the majority of the global Communion’s membership.

GAFCON began with the first Global Anglican Future Conference in 2008 as an initiative to restore the integrity of Anglican faith and order as the Communion descended into deepening crisis.

We are now a global family standing together to restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion with a strength and unity that comes from our common confession of the Lord Jesus Christ, not merely from historic institutional structures.

It is on this basis that the GAFCON Primates will prayerfully consider their response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter. They recognize that the crisis in the Communion is not primarily a problem of relationships and cultural context, but of false teaching which continues without repentance or discipline.

Consistent with this position, they have previously advised the Archbishop of Canterbury that they would not attend any meeting at which The Episcopal Church of the United States or the Anglican Church of Canada were represented, nor would they attend any meeting from which the Anglican Church in North America was excluded.

It is therefore of some encouragement that the Archbishop of Canterbury has opened the door of this meeting to the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Foley Beach. He has already been recognized as a fellow primate of the Anglican Communion by Primates representing GAFCON and the Anglican Global South at his installation in Atlanta last October and he is a full member of the GAFCON Primates Council.

In the end, our confidence is not in any structural reorganisation, useful though it may be, but in the saving grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and in the abiding truth of the Bible. That is what empowers us and this is the assurance we bring to our broken world.

September 17, 2015 AD

Contact the GAFCON media team media@gafcon.org


by Carl R. TruemanA bible
August 2014
We live in a time of exile. At least those of us do who hold to traditional Christian beliefs. The strident rhetoric of scientism has made belief in the supernatural look ridiculous. The Pill, no-fault divorce, and now gay marriage have made traditional sexual ethics look outmoded at best and hateful at worst. The Western public square is no longer a place where Christians feel they belong with any degree of comfort.

For Christians in the United States, this is particularly disorienting. In Europe, Christianity was pushed to the margins over a couple of centuries—the tide of faith retreated “with tremulous cadence slow.” In America, the process seems to be happening much more rapidly.

It is also being driven by issues that few predicted would have such cultural force. It is surely an irony as unexpected as it is unwelcome that sex—that most private and intimate act—has become the most pressing public policy issue today. (Who could have imagined that policies concerning contraception and laws allowing same-sex marriage would present the most serious challenges to religious freedom?) We are indeed set for exile, though not an exile which pushes us to the geographical margins. It’s an exile to cultural irrelevance.

American Evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism start this exile with heavy baggage. Evangelicalism has largely wedded itself to the vision of America as at heart a Christian nation, a conception that goes back to the earliest New England settlers. An advertisement for The American Patriot’s Bible (2009) proudly boasts that it “connects the teachings of the Bible, the history of the United States and the life of every American” while “beautiful full-color insert pages spotlight the people and events that demonstrate the godly qualities that have made America great.” Yet a nation where the language of “choice” and “freedom” has been hijacked for infanticide, the deconstruction of marriage, and a seemingly limitless license to publish pornography is rather obviously not godly. That’s a hard truth for those who believe America belongs to them by right.

For Roman Catholics, the challenges of our cultural exile are different. Rome has somehow managed to maintain a level of social credibility in America, despite holding to positions regarded as intolerable by the wider secular world when held by Protestants. Her refusals to ordain women or sanction the use of contraception do not seem to have destroyed her public reputation. But if, for example, tax-exempt status is revoked for educational and social-service nonprofits opposed to the increasingly mandatory sexual revolution, the Church will face a stark choice: capitulate to the spirit of the age or step out into the cold wasteland of cultural and social marginality. When opposition to gay marriage comes to be seen as the moral equivalent to white supremacism, it is doubtful that the Roman Catholic Church will be able to maintain both her current position on the issue and her status in society. She too will likely be shunted to the margins.

Elsewhere—in France and in Poland, for example—Rome has, of course, proved resilient in much worse circumstances. Yet in America, in recent history, she has no real experience of the ignominy of marginalization from which to draw strength. The Know-Nothing era was long ago. It seems to me most Catholics today are very comfortable in, even jealous of, their place in mainstream America. They may not buy patriot Bibles, but Catholicism’s institutional footprint is so large—and Catholic theological (and emotional) investment in it so significant—that the temptation to preserve the Church’s place in society will be very great. This preservation will require compromise, even complicity, and it will very likely blur the clarity and undermine the integrity of Christian witness.

Perhaps I am mistaken and have portrayed my Christian brothers in a way that over-emphasizes weaknesses and downplays strengths. But of this I am convinced: Reformed Christianity is best equipped to help us in our exile. That faith was forged on the European continent in the lives and writings of such men as Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Bucer, and John Calvin. It found its finest expression in the Anglophone world in the great Scottish Presbyterians and English Puritans of the seventeenth century. It possesses the intellectual rigor necessary for teaching and defending the faith in a hostile environment. It has a strong tradition of reflecting in depth upon the difference between that which is essential and that which, though good, is inessential and thus dispensable. It has a historical identity rooted in the wider theological teachings of the Church. It has deep resources for thinking clearly about the relationship of Church and state.

It’s not surprising that Reformed Christianity equips us well for exile, because it was itself forged in a time of exile, often by men who were literal exiles. Indeed, the most famous Reformed theologian of them all, John Calvin, was a Frenchman who found fame and influence as a pastor outside his homeland, in the city of Geneva. The Pilgrim fathers of New England knew the realities of exile, and the conditions that it imposed upon the people, only too well. Winthrop’s famous comment about being a city on a hill was not a statement of messianic destiny but a reminder to the colonists of the fact that their lives as exiles were to be lived out in the glare of hostile scrutiny. Exile demanded they have a clear and godly identity.

The Reformed Church has its own baggage, but given the nature of its origins and our own moment, it is the right baggage: light when it needs to be light and heavy with the Gospel when it needs to be heavy. A marginal, minority interest in America for well over a century, she does not face the loss of social influence and political aspirations that now confront Evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism. We do not expect to be at the center of worldly affairs. We do not imagine ourselves to be running indispensable institutions. Lack of a major role in the public square will cause no crisis in self-understanding.

This does not arise from indifference or a lack of substance, but instead from clarity and focus. Doctrinally, the Reformed Church affirms the great truths that were defined in the early Church, to which she adds the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone. She cultivates a practical simplicity: Church life centers on the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, prayer, and corporate praise. We do not draw our strength primarily from an institution, but instead from a simple, practical pedagogy of worship: the Bible, expounded week by week in the proclamation of the Word and taught from generation to generation by way of catechisms and devotions around the family dinner table.

What, one may ask, about liturgy? Is the naked Word preached by itself, without the force of an institution to support it, sufficient for nourishing a vibrant Christian faith, particularly in times of difficulty? Is there not an element of corporate performance beyond simply listening to the Word that is vital in shaping our understanding of who we are and of the world in which we live? Every time we switch on the television or go on the Internet, we are bombarded with a myriad of liturgies that exert an arcane power to shape our identities in ways of which we are often unaware. Can a thirty-minute sermon once or twice a week possibly counteract such insidious subversion? Don’t we need ballast to prevent us from being pushed this way and that by every wind of secular doctrine?

Reformed theologians understand this point. James K. A. Smith highlights the liturgical nature of all of life and the need for the Reformed Church to be self-conscious in its own liturgical performance. David F. Wells underscores the need for an intelligent and well-constructed liturgy that reflects our theological convictions. Reformed worship has always involved more than preaching, even though the sermon is central. Its liturgical form flows directly from our commitment to the Word and to the catholic foundations of our faith. The Gospel according to the Reformed faith is straightforward: We are dead in sin and need to be united to Christ, the God-man, who lived and died and rose again for us and for our salvation. United with him, we look beyond the ephemera of this world to the eternity beyond.

Reformed worship places the Word at the center because the declaration of the truth of the Gospel is central. Ideally, this truth shapes the liturgical actions of the Reformed community. For example, in the church service, the minister reads the Decalogue and brings words of judgment down on God’s people, reminding them of their death in Adam. He leads them in a corporate confession of sin and then reads words from Scripture, pointing toward the promise in Christ of comfort, forgiveness, and the final ­resurrection to come. Fall, death, forgiveness, resurrection: The basic elements of the Christian message find concise and precise expression in Reformed liturgical practice.

The congregation responds with a hymn of praise to God for his goodness. Here, the beauty and the distinctiveness of the Reformed faith become evident. The congregation, reminded of who they are—sinners who stand before God condemned for their ­unrighteousness and uncleanness—receive the promise in Christ that, grasped by faith, seals forgiveness upon their hearts and moves them to praise and thanksgiving.

This singular focus—the drama of sin and redemption inwardly known—is a great boon in times of exile. To retain an identity in the face of a hostile culture, one must belong to a vibrant community of people who know who they are. This is the New Testament pattern of Christianity. When we hear, in clear and unequivocal words, who we are declared to us in the sermon each week and when we participate in liturgical action embodying that identity, we are well prepared for the hostile liturgies and gospels of the world we encounter from Monday to Saturday.

We must also have practical confidence in our own identity and destiny as a Christian people. Paul grounds the imperatives of the Christian life, from domestic duties to social and political engagement, in the reality of our life in Christ. There is a robust confidence at the heart of the New Testament’s description of what it means to be a Christian, and it was vital to Christian flourishing in the world of the first century.

It is important to understand that the medieval Church’s failure to produce a theology that instilled this New Testament confidence contributed in significant ways to the Reformation. Luther’s notion of Christian freedom depends upon our clear knowledge of our identity in Christ. The bonds of sin are broken by faith’s secure hold on the truth of the Gospel. The way in which faith gives us a place to stand over and against worldliness was picked up and elaborated by Calvin and other Reformed theologians. The New Testament note of confidence—we really can know and give ourselves to the saving power of Christ—was cultivated by preaching and liturgy. This enabled Protestants to survive and then to thrive in the hostile world of sixteenth-century Europe. Our identity was not mediated by priest or sacrament. Then and today it is grasped by faith in the Word.

Indeed, robust confidence of our life in Christ lies at the heart of what it means to be a Reformed Protestant. The first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism, one of the great statements of Reformation faith, express it succinctly:

What is your only comfort in life and death? That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour ­Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yes, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.
This robust confidence will serve us well at a time when the indifference or hostility of the world presses upon us and encourages crises of self-confidence. We know who we are. We belong to Christ.

Closely connected to assurance is one of the key theological emphases of the Reformed faith: providence. Many see the Reformed doctrines of predestination and providence as harsh and cold preoccupations of pathologically unhinged people. In fact, they have both a deeply catholic pedigree and a profoundly pastoral purpose.

The doctrines of predestination and providence were not innovations of the Reformation, but have a history through the Middle Ages back to the early Church. Love him or hate him, Augustine provided the West with its basic interpretation of Paul on grace and salvation, and his influence on both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism remains powerful. One could argue that the Reformation was itself a debate over the interpretation and application of Augustine’s theology of grace to reflections on the nature of the Church. Yet even as they drew on Augustine and his medieval followers, Reformed preachers and teachers found the doctrines of predestination and providence helpful for strengthening believers in times of ­difficulty.

For those in physical exile, for those suffering for their faith, for those despised and marginalized by the world around them, the knowledge that history is under God’s control provides encouragement. However weak the Church appears to be, however many setbacks it faces, the end of history is already determined in Christ. This knowledge allows believers to taste here and now something of the delights of the end of time. Indeed, combined with the rich New Testament teaching on resurrection and on the fact that death is not the final word for those who live in Christ by faith, a strong doctrine of providence is not only a means of construing the metaphysical connection between God and his creation, but is also a source of personal strength, comfort, assurance, and hope for Reformed Christians.

Once again, there is a liturgical aspect to this. Providence often leads Christians to dark places, personally and corporately, and yet even as we know that these temporal trials will ultimately culminate in death, we know that in the resurrection light triumphs over darkness, life over death. This is why the Psalter has been so central to Reformed worship. The Psalms’ many notes of lament, of longing for future rest, and of present discomfort and disillusion with the status quo reinforce in the minds of the Reformed that our citizenship is not ultimately in this world. It provides realistic horizons of expectation for this world—and for the next. It gives us a vocabulary with which to praise God in the midst of the contradictions of life lived out under the burdens of the Fall. It reminds us that, whatever good things this world has to offer, they can only be of passing value. And when suffering comes, we acknowledge and sorrow over its reality but regard it as nothing compared to the weight of eternal glory that is to follow. Every time we gather for worship in church or around the family Bible, the very songs of David we sing speak of exile—and of hope for the better country we seek.

This recognition of exile and the hope we find in the Psalms permeate historical Reformed worship and theology in a way that is not so obvious in other Christian traditions, even Protestant ones. For example, the worship of the American Evangelical Church of the last few decades has been marked by what one might call an aesthetic of power and triumph. Praise bands perform in churches often built to look more like concert venues than traditional places of worship. Rock riffs and power chords set the musical tone. Songs speak of tearing down enemy ­strongholds. Christianity does, of course, point to triumph, but it is the triumph of resurrection, and resurrection presupposes prior suffering and death. An emphasis on triumph, often to the exclusion of lament, will not prepare people for life this side of resurrection glory. It will not prepare us for a life of exile. I fear we are laying the foundations for disillusionment and despair.

Christianity needs to be realistic both in its theo­logy and in its liturgy. With the central place it gives to the singing of the Psalter, the Reformed tradition ministers to the hearts and minds of Christians set for cultural exile. The transitions through which we are living are confusing and at times painful. The Psalms offer us a means of expressing that confusion and pain in our praise to God, and no tradition has so placed their corporate use at the heart of its worship as much as the Reformed.

The argument so far has been that Reformed worship can sustain the believer in a time of trial. Yet in the past the Reformed faith has been a dynamic force in the public square. Reformed theology contributed to the rise of the theory of just rebellion, played a role in the English Civil War, inspired the Scottish Covenanters, and gave John Winthrop a vision for building a city on a hill in the New World. The Reformed faith resists being reduced to a type of private pietism. On the contrary, it has often proved a potent social force, even in situations of marginality and exile.

Take John Calvin as an example. His popular image is that of a ruthless Reformed ayatollah who ruled Geneva with a firm, icy hand as he imposed a reign of terror on an unwitting populace. He seems an almost revolutionary figure, a kind of Robespierre in the Reformation. It is true that he spent much of his adult life in Geneva and was very influential in the city. But he was a foreigner, a Frenchman abroad, not even a citizen of Geneva for much of his time. He was never even powerful enough to persuade the magistrates to allow him to celebrate communion on a weekly basis. In short, Calvin was an exile, and he wrote his theology from the perspective of an exile. But this did not prevent him from speaking powerfully into the world where he found himself. Indeed, the condensed concentration of Reformed piety gave him not only an enduring identity in exile, but also firmness of purpose, allowing him to stand with confidence contra mundum, against the world.

Today’s world is becoming a colder, harder place. Even so, we have ongoing civic responsibilities. Shaped by our faith, we too can speak to those in power. We must remind them of their responsibilities to protect the innocent and to punish the wicked. We must remind them of the fact that they, the magistrates, will ultimately answer to a higher authority. It is this consciousness of civic responsibility—and of a firm place to stand in Christ—that frames Calvin’s Institutes and has served to make Reformed Christianity such a powerful force for change in history, from the Puritans to Abraham Kuyper. There have certainly been excesses in the history of the Reformed Church’s engagement with the civic sphere, but Reformed theology at its best is no clarion call for a religious war or a theocratic state. It is rather a call for responsible, godly citizenship.

Here, the Reformed share a great deal of common ground with Roman Catholics. As David VanDrunen has shown, both affirm natural law, a better basis for social thought than the mythological constructions of the American Patriot’s Bible or the belligerent sense of national identity of the old-style religious right. Yet there are differences between the Reformed and Rome. Calvin is no Thomas, and the Reformed faith is not Roman Catholicism. Where Thomas saw sin as exacerbating the limitations of nature in a fallen world, Calvin saw sin as bringing a decisive ethical darkness into the world.

This difference is important and gives Reformed theology a more realistic understanding of Christian life in the public square and thus of the limits to what we might expect to achieve. People do not call evil good and good evil primarily because they are confused or not thinking clearly. They do so because they are in basic rebellion against God. It sounds a tad paradoxical: The Reformed use natural law for public engagement but expect little or no success. We believe that the world was created with a particular moral structure. Yet we also believe that fallen humanity has a fundamental antipathy toward acknowledging any form of external authority that threatens our own ultimate autonomy. This injects a basic irrationality and emotional passion into moral debates. This distortion of conscience and reason explains the apparent impotence of otherwise compelling arguments. And it surely reflects our actual experience as Christians in exile in twenty-first-century America.

Today people describe what was once quite ordinary moral reflection about sex and marriage as a “hate crime.” Do we need firmer evidence that debates about same-sex marriage, as well as abortion and the like, are not reducible to rational discussion? And Reformed theology knows why. Human beings in this fallen world consistently refuse to acknowledge the obvious: that they are creatures of God and thus accountable to him. And thus our moral convictions challenge that most basic belief of the modern world, namely, that the individual is the autonomous measure of all things and accountable to no one. Reformed theology understands this dark fact about our fallen humanity. We do not underestimate the ruthlessness of the opposition. We expect cultural exile. It actually confirms our deepest convictions about the way the world is.

When I first came to America in 1996, I remember sitting in a service in a church where the preacher declared that the tragedy of the town in which he lived was that only one person in two would be in a place of worship that morning. What was a tragedy then would look like a third Great Awakening today. Christianity is moving to the margins of American life, and Christians are heading into cultural exile. The question is: How will we survive? The answer is: as Paul did in the first century. First and foremost, we need the simple proclamation of God’s Word in church week by week, reminding us of our identity in Christ. We need liturgies and worship saturated with that Word. We need engagement with the world consistent with the identity formed in us by a clear and confident faith in that Word. In short, we will survive—indeed, we will thrive—through a vibrant commitment to exactly what the historic Reformed faith has emphasized.

Carl R. Trueman is Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary.

ISIS destroys the the ancient Monastery of Mar Elian

“The Monastery of St. Elian was a Christian monastery near the town of Al-Qaryatayn in the Homs Governorate,” says Wikipedia. “Was”? Yes, the tense is accurate. It had stood there since the fifth century as a place of worship and spiritual inspiration, faithfully curating the bones of Mar Elian el-Sheikh – St Julian the Old – a Christian martyr from Emesa (modern Homs) who was murdered by his own father for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. The monastery is no more: “It was destroyed on 21 August 2015 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the Syrian Civil War,” we read.

It had long been a place of interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims. A 15th-century inscription just inside the entrance to the shrine read: “This is a holy place and everybody here is protected.” No more, of course. The entrance is now a pile of rubble, and any protection for Muslims or Christians who revered St Elian (or Sheikh Ahmed, as local Muslims called him) has also gone – dust to dust.

But it isn’t only the bricks and mortar – ancient, blessed and venerated as they were. ISIS / Islamic State / Daesh militia have kidnapped two priests: Fr Jacques Mourad, who was abducted in May 2015, and Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio has been missing since 2013. Funny how we hear more about the stones of the temple than the temples of the Holy Spirit.

Amidst the violence, brutality and annihilation of the apocalypse are the ravings of hordes of brown-eyed devils. They drive JCBs, cleansing the land of idolatry, and they carry swords, dripping with the blood of martyrs. They have not come for interfaith dialogue, but to judge the wicked. There is no pardon for those who are not chosen: just perpetual revenge and unbearable suffering in the murderous consummation decreed by Mohammed – so they say.

When the Disciples sat on the Mount of Olives and asked about the signs of his Second Coming and the end of the world, Jesus talked of wars and rumours of wars; of nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom; of famines, pestilences, earthquakes, deceivers, false prophets, betrayals, hate and iniquity.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power (2Tim 3:1-5).

Having a form of godliness but denying its power? Denying justice? Denying mercy? Denying peace? Denying love? We don’t have to look very far for that, do we?


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