Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20: The Trial of Charles A. Briggs (1891-92)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What are the symbols of national unity?

I have a reasonable familiarity with thee countries. UK is the country of my birth, passport and identity, (though once upon a time I would have identified myself as British I would now say English. I will not say the reasons for the change here but will answer if you ask me why.) The symbol of British unity is Her Majesty, the Queen, of whom I am a loyal subject. I identify as a British subject, not a European citizen  (but that is another story). Most of my fellow Brits identify as supporters of our monarchy. Republicans are a small minority but over-represented in the media, especially the BBC and C4.

OTH, in the USA the flag is the symbol and the anthem. In the UK, with recent devolution, the Union flag is not honoured as it used to be, especially in Scotland. In England, St George is now flown from other places than parish churches but it is often maligned by the Left as a symbol of the  (far) Right. The far right may use it but we English own it. But flag flying outside one's home is rare in UK, common in America. Flag burning is pretty well unknown in UK except by a few extremist Islamists who do not really identify with UK at all - except perhaps for its benefits system Americans by and large take their anthem seriously. In the UK the national anthem used to be played in cinemas and theatres and audiences stood. No more. In sporting events with four different UK teams the Scots and Welsh now have their own anthems and may boo the national anthem as being English. The English have no other anthem than 'God Save The Queen', though others have been suggested.

I have some present concern at the political polarisation in USA so that the presidency seems to no longer unite the nation. Republicans have shown such distaste for Obama and now Democrats will show even mor contempt for Trump. The president no longer unites the nation by reason of his office. OTH in UK, even republicans usually have great respect for the Queen as a person, for her integrity and service.

Nigeria where we lived for 12 years definitely has a unity problem. We moved there 9 months after the end of a four year civil war and, by and large the victors were magnanimous and that was for the good of the country, though in the former Biafra, resentment and secessionism are not dead. More important is the history. Why Nigeria? It is the century old product of the British uniting former smaller colonies there into one. But apart from (colonial) history, the flag and one national(foreign) language, English, what unites Nigeria? Go from south to north and there are different dominant religions and languages, different major and minor ethnicities, different climate, flora and fauna What can be the future uniting factor and something more than the symbolic national flag? The major rift is between Islam and Christianity, both imported religions but zealously followed. Both claiming to be universal and exclusively true faiths. And one having extremists who want to remove all Western influences, religious and secular, and are not it seems concerned if they kill more of their
co-religionists than followers the other major faith which they hate.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What side to take? January 17: The Battle of Cowpens

Being a loyal subject of the Crown today I ponder the history of loyalty.  I would not always have been so had I lived in other years. In the 1640s I would have been for Parliament, Puritans and Cromwell and I still do not condemn the execution of the Man of Blood.  But what about our American colonies? Would my loyalties have been with King George? Presbyterians in Scotland had a noble but unsuccessful history of rebellion against the Stuarts. I think that in 1745 Scotland's Presbyterians were with the Hanoverian crown against the Stuart pretender whose army was in the main Irish and Roman Catholic highlanders. Suppressing the Jacobites was a just war.  The American colonists? Opinion in Britain was divided. Most Anglicans were with the king but some like John Newton wavered. Most non-conformists in England may have been with the colonists. On which side would I have been?  It is my consistent habit to refuse to answer hypothetical questions, but here is a clue. I am first a Christian, then a Presbyterian and then English.

Almost Entirely a Presbyterian Army
by Rev. David T. Myers
When Lord Cornwallis brought his British army into the southern colonies, it was the Presbyterian colonists of that part of the infant nation which met him and his forces in every county and town with their Bibles, their Psalm books, and their rifles. Sending a fierce cavalry officer in Colonel Banastre Tarleton, who rarely gave quarter, into western South Carolina, with a picked force of 1100 men, they came up against the smaller American forces at a grazing ground on the Broad River called the Cowpens.
Commanding the American militia and Continentals was Brig. General Daniel Morgan, a Presbyterian elder. In charge of the second of three lines of American soldiers was Presbyterian elder Andrew Pickens. The majority of the militia were from the Presbyterian congregations of South Carolina and Virginia.    It was almost entirely a Presbyterian army.  All through the night, the elders prayed with the men to ask God to give them the victory.
At sunrise on January 17, 1781, the charge of the British forces began. Moving with fifty yards, the American forces, as they were commanded to do by Morgan, fired two volleys, and retired to the second line. The second line of American riflemen fired three volleys, taking down all the British officers, and retired to the third line of American troops. This was composed of battle hardened Continental troops of the American army. As they, along with the retiring militia, charged the British troops, American cavalry attacked both flanks of the British forces. The latter retreated with a tremendous loss of men killed, wounded, and captured. A full one third of Cornwallis’s soldiers were out of action, and the battle of Cowpens was over. An American victory was given in answer to the prayers and courage of Presbyterian riflemen from the southern states.
Words to Live By: “The Lord is a Man of War; the Lord is His name.” Exodus 15:3 (Amplified)  It has been a much discussed topic down through the years since our American Revolution as to where Christian Presbyterians should have been as involved as they were in it.  But the issue really which should be discussed is whether it was a just war. If it was, then Christians must support it.  If it was not, then Christians have no place in it.  That is the question then.  Was the American Revolution a just war?  Our American Presbyterian ancestors thought it was, and so supported it and indeed fought in its battles.   We need to do the same examination with conflicts today.
archivist | January 17, 2017 at 12:05 am | Categories: January 2017 | URL:

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 16, 2017

Edict of Torda

Based on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ferenc Dávid at the Diet of Torda. Detail of the painting by Aladár Körösfői-Kriesch, 1896
The Edict of Torda (Hungariantordai ediktumRomanianEdictul de la Turda) in 1568, also known as the Patent of Toleration,[1] was, that was born due the special political, social and religiou an early attempt to guarantee religious freedom in Christian Europes situation in the Kingdom of Hungary in the 16th century.

The original edict

King János Zsigmond Zápolya of Hungary, encouraged by his Unitarian Minister Ferenc Dávid, during the Diet of 1568[2] issued the following proclamation (roughly translated into English):

His majesty, our Lord, in what manner he – together with his realm – legislated in the matter of religion at the previous Diets, in the same matter now, in this Diet, reaffirms that in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well. If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve. Therefore none of the superintendents or others shall abuse the preachers, no one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, according to the previous statutes, and it is not permitted that anyone should threaten anyone else by imprisonment or by removal from his post for his teaching. For faith is the gift of God and this comes from hearing, which hearing is by the word of God.[3]
This edict was given at the Transylvanian city of Torda. Torda (now Turda, a city in Cluj County, Romania) was in 1568 at the center of a maelstrom of power struggles between cultures, religions, and thrones. The edict, appearing during the counter-Reformation and during a time when national churches were being established,[4] represented a move toward religious toleration and a direct renunciation of national establishment of a single religion.
This edict was not the first attempt to legislate religious freedoms in Hungary. Owing to the near collapse of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary in this era (accelerated by the Battle of Mohács in 1526, in which most of the Roman Catholic leadership of Hungary perished), the Reformation made great inroads in Hungary. The edict was only one of a series in which various religious groups seized the opportunity to secure legal tolerance for their own adherents. The edict of 1568 legally applied to Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, and Unitarians. Other groups, such as Eastern Orthodox Romanians (significant part the population), Jews, and Muslims, were "tolerated" but not granted legal guarantees. Moreover, the edict speaks of preachers and congregations, not of individuals. It does not guarantee the free exercise of personal religious conscience.[5]
Nevertheless, what is striking about this edict is the universality of its language, which owes much to the influence of Ferenc Dávid, and goes beyond any previous edict. It helped foster toleration as a notion beyond mere political expedience, and helped pave the way for the remarkably tolerant regime of the Calvinist Prince Bethlen Gábor of Transylvania, when (for example) Jews were relieved of the requirement of wearing the Star of David.[6]
In the near term, however, the Edict of Torda sparked a backlash from opposing political forces: Zápolya was replaced, and subsequent edicts revoked the Edict of Torda. Dávid, who went on to teach that praying to Christ is an error (nonadorantism), split the Unitarians and jeopardized their legal protection.[7] He was convicted of heresy and died in prison under the ascendancy of the Roman Catholic Church and the rule of Prince Kristóf Báthory.

Modern influence[edit]

Despite the change and turmoil in Central Europe since 1568, the notion of religious tolerance remains a key influence in the Unitarian tradition. Many churches calling themselves Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist point to the Unitarians of Transylvania and the Edict of Torda as an important point in their history.[8]
Aladár Körösfői-Kriesch painted a Romantic recreation of the debate at the Diet of 1568, with Francis David standing at the center dramatically promoting the declaration of tolerance. The painting, completed in 1896, currently hangs in The City Museum of Budapest. Reprints hang in many Unitarian households throughout Transylvania today, though prints in the United States are rare. One such print was donated to The Boniuk Center for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance at Rice University.[9][10]
In 1993 Unitarians in Transylvania met at Turda (Romanian name of Torda) to celebrate the anniversary of the original 1568 edict. They issued a new statement of religious tolerance, which said in part: "In this solemn moment of remembrance we reaffirm that faith is the gift of God; we promote religious freedom and strive for the respect and implementation of basic human rights ...." [11]

It is interesting that this seems largely to be a Unitarian initiative. Presumably they were most in need of it for those denying the Trinity were in danger everywhere in Europe. Only 15 years before this, Servetus was put to death in protestant Geneva for denial of the Trinity. 


  1. Jump up ^ Louis Elteto (Éltető Lajos) (March 2000). "Unitarianism in Transylvania". Page 7.
  2. Jump up ^ de Marcos, Jaume "Servetus at the European Congress of Religious Studies 2004". Retrieved on 2008-01-23.
  3. Jump up ^ Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council. "Edict of Torda" (DOC). Retrieved on 2008-01-23.
  4. Jump up ^ Williams, George M. "History as Treason". Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  5. Jump up ^ Miklós Molnár, A Concise History of Hungary, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 110.
  6. Jump up ^ Paul Lendvai, The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat, Princeton University Press, 2003, p. 110.
  7. Jump up ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th. edition, vol. 3, p. 909.
  8. Jump up ^ Szekely, Janos. "Janos Szekely’s sermon for Sunday, January 30, 2005" (PDF). Retrieved on 2008-01-23.
  9. Jump up ^ The presentation of the print is shown at (retrieved on 2008-01-23), though the print itself does not show up well in this (very large) image.
  10. Jump up ^ A clearer but low-resolution image of the print can be seen at "UU Prints and Watercolor Paintings", retrieved on 2008-01-23.
  11. Jump up ^ Erdo, Janos (Translated by Gellerd, Judit). "Major dates from the History of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church". Retrieved 2008-01-23.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Great preaching

A blessed day yesterday, a real treat to hear Iain D Campbell from the Free Church of Scotland on Lewis preach morning and evening for us. But I suspect some of the congregation will have been surprised by sermons of over 40 minutes. Not me. I was brought up listening to Lloyd-Jones, 1964-67 when a student. Dr Campbell is not a preacher in such an oratorical style as The Doctor, but the theological depth of his sermons is certainly no less than that of the last century's greatest preacher.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The village where I started public speaking

The place where I first spoke in public. It would have been 1949 or 50, aged 3 or 4 at the Sunday School anniversary. Topcliffe Methodist Chapel. My parents moved to Topcliffe in 1946 when I was a babe in arms. My maternal grandfather, George Graham had been pastor there. My parents married there. Grandad died of cancer in 1953, suffering much at the hands of a physician who wa s too mean with the morphine. He was in the valley of the shadow for several months with no sense of comfort from his shepherd except the memory of his faith and of God's blessing on his ministry since his conversion in 1912 and preaching from 1913  aged 23.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, January 07, 2017

KADUNA KILLINGS: Onaiyekan faults CAN over call for prayers

January 7, 2017 by Friday Olokor and Chidiebube Okeoma
The Catholic ArchBishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has faulted the one-day national prayer directed by the Christian Association of Nigeria in honour of victims of the massacre in Southern Kaduna, saying Catholics do not take orders and instructions from CAN.

He questioned the rationale behind such orders by CAN and how they arrived at the decision, “because I don’t believe in praying on a particular day. I will say, pray that God will deliver us from this, not particularly on January 8, 2017.”
The General Secretary of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake, had declared Sunday, January 8, 2017, as “national day of mourning” for all Christians at home and in the Diaspora, and that Christians should dress in mourning attire; black clothes or dresses, on the said date to pray fervently for victims of the killings in Southern Kaduna.
But speaking with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja, Onaiyekan said whoever gave that instruction should have known that there is a limit to how they could issue orders to Christians using the name of CAN.
He said, “I do not know what to say about the present leadership of CAN because our (Catholic) church is not fully involved now in CAN. We were not even party to the election that brought in the new leadership of CAN. So, the only position that I can take now is to sit down and watch.
“I cannot tell all my members to come to church next Sunday in black dresses. We don’t get instructions from CAN; every church has its own rules.”
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Owerri Catholic archdiocese in Imo State, Anthony Obinna, has alleged that the continued killings in Southern Kaduna were to intimidate Christians and wipe out Christianity from the country.
Speaking at a thanksgiving service in Okwu community recently, Obinna urged the Federal Government not to allow the crisis to degenerate into a full scale national crisis, which he said could lead to a collapse of the country.
He also advised Christians to be vigilant and pray for their counterparts in the crisis-ridden Southern Kaduna, while calling on former governors of Imo and Abia States, Ikedi Ohakim and Oji Uzor Kalu respectively, who were present at the service and other Igbo leaders to work closely for the growth and development of the South East zone.
Copyright PUNCH.
A house divided. What do Roman Catholics an Muslims have in common? They both mistakenly think they have a divine right to be in charge. - GJW

Labels: , ,

Books read in January

It has ben too many moths since I last posted book review. I have been through yet another prolonged bipolar down phase. It reduced my reading and destroyed my desire to review. I read quite a number of books but cannot now review them. But new year, new reviewing zeal so here we go

1.  Veterans: The Last Survivors of the Great War by Richard Van Emden 

Over the past three years I have read quite a number of books on WWI. None has managed to so well narrate the lives of ordinary people of the period. It is not just combatants but civilians too.  Published in 1998, the authors saught out the last survivors with WWI memories, people aged 90 to 100+.The chapter headings give a good summary. Joining up. Leaving for the front. Trench life. Dreams of home. The Battle of the Somme. Saving the wounded. Death, bereavement and loss. Log-term recovery. Women and the home front. Prisoners of war. Road to victory. Armistice and aftermath. I think my only minor criticism is the absence of memories from sailors and airmen, The people who lived through the conflict are now gone. One may personally regret not having asked them more. Like the old lady, a customer in my pharmacy who told me about the Zeppelin raids and an ex-policeman who at the outbreak of war had the family holiday ruined by his police sergeant father being recalled from leave. I also remember an old Methodist who had suffered as a conscientious objector.  This book has harrowing tales from those who experienced horrors we shall never know.

2. Logic On Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Paul D. Washer, Sinclair B. Ferguson, Ian Hamilton, Geoff Thomas, R.C. Sproul & John Macarthur. Amongs't the contributors are R.C. Sproul ....

Three DVDs, three photograph cards and a short book in this pack to commemorate the man generally regarded as the outstanding preacher in English in the last century. And English was his second language. A brilliant physician,assistant to the king’s doctor, a Harley Street practice, wealth and fame at his feet. The Doctor as he became known gave it all up, still in his twenties, to pastor a backwater mission church in South Wales. There he experienced such growth in response to plain preaching without gimmicks, that when his own Presbyterian denomination rejected him as principal of its theological college, he was invited by Campbell Morgan pastor of the prestigious West End Congregational church at Westminster Chapel, a short walk away from Buckingham Palace. When Campbell Morgan passed on, The Doctor was pastor until he retired. I heard him many times in my own London student years 1964 to 67. That was a formative part of my theological education. All his sermons were of the highest order and some, like the Sunday after the 1966 Aberfan disaster were unforgettable.

Most to the contributors here are family and friends, the latter mainly pastors influenced by the doctor. Hearing his voice again and these memories warms the heart and move one to desire to be a more spirit filled, prayerful preacher.

I have  four criticisms. The parts on the 1966 Evangelical Alliance meeting and the Doctor’s views the sealing and filling of the Spirit are not well handled. John Stott was at fault as chairman in the way he contradicted the Doctor at the meeting though I now believe there are reasons to perhaps show more sympathy for Stott’s views than the Doctor’s. On the filling of the Spirit I believe that Stott is right and the Doctor errs in calling the a sealing of the Spirit, a proper experience to be taught, which it is, but calling it the Baptism of the Spirit which it is not. The Doctor confuses terms which may end other, though not him, to confused theology. Thirdly,  nowhere are the Doctor's views on baptism stated. He seems to have moved away from a Presbyterian position on covenant children. My last criticism I have stated before. I am not happy hearing how wonderful the fellowship was on Sundays between services at the chapel. This lonely student was there three years and never offed so much as a cup tea. Nor did the Doctor encourage people to join in the body life of the church. He was happy to be the consultant physician of souls who did not do house visits.
"Defects through nature's best productions run, 
Our friend had spots, and spots are in the sun." - William Jay

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

We’ve paid some Fulani to stop killings in Southern Kaduna – El-Rufai

© 2017 Vanguard Media Limited, Nigeria By Taboola December 3, 2016
'Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has said his government has traced some violent, aggrieved Fulani to their countries and paid them to stop the killings of Southern Kaduna natives and the destruction of their communities saying that the renewed violence is carried out by bandits.
El-Rufai made this known while fielding questions from some select Journalists in his office in Kaduna.
Mallam El- Rufai
He said: “For southern Kaduna, we didn’t understand what was going on and we decided to set up a committee under Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (rtd) to find out what was going on there. What was established was that the root of the problem has a history starting from the 2011 post election violence.
“Fulani herdsmen from across Africa bring their cattle down towards Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria. The moment the rains starts around March, April, they start moving them up to go back to their various communities and countries.
“Unfortunately, it was when they were moving up with their cattle across Southern Kaduna that the elections of 2011 took place and the crisis trapped some of them.
“Some of them were from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal. Fulanis are in 14 African countries and they traverse this country with the cattle.
“So many of these people were killed, cattle lost and they organised themselves and came back to revenge.
“So a lot of what was happening in Southern Kaduna was actually from outside Nigeria. We got a hint that the late Governor Patrick Yakowa got this information and he sent someone to go round some of these Fulani communities, but of course after he died, the whole thing stopped. That is what we inherited. But the Agwai committee established that.
“We took certain steps. We got a group of people that were going round trying to trace some of these people in Cameroon, Niger republic and so on to tell them that there is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations for lives lost and he is begging them to stop killing.
“In most of the communities, once that appeal was made to them, they said they have forgiven. There are one or two that asked for monetary compensation. They said they have forgiven the death of human beings, but want compensation for cattle. We said no problem, and we paid some. As recently as two weeks ago, the team went to Niger republic to attend one Fulani gathering that they hold every year with a message from me.'

My friend says, 'The Governor albeit his forked tongue spokespeople have since issued lying rejoinders refuting the above...'Wanting compensation for cattle lost not people killed rings true. Fulani are known to stop their migration for a cow to calve but not for a child to be born. This seems to me a very one-sided report. Where is the report of Fulani cattle destroying Christian's crops?' Fulani governor takes action. Enough said.

Labels: ,