Thursday, January 28, 2016

NIGERIA – Raiders kill 60 villagers as homes destroyed

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria who have been killed and driven from their homes in attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen.
 
Release partners in Nigeria report a series of attacks in Gire and Riyom local government areas.
 
Fulani herdsmen reportedly attacked and destroyed four villages in Gire, near the border with Cameroon, killing 60 people.
 
They struck in Riyom, Plateau state, while villagers were at church. The Christians, who belong to the Berom tribe, returned from their service to find the roofs had been torn from their houses.
 
Our brothers and sisters in Nigeria have faced attacks on two fronts: Islamist extremists Boko Haram have been driving Christians from the north and targeting churches, while Fulani herdsmen have been staging widespread, continuing attacks to try to take over their land. Raids by the Fulani go largely unreported by the Nigerian Government.
 

  • Please pray for Christian villagers who are vulnerable to attack, that they may know God’s protection.
  • Pray the Nigerian Government will respond adequately to prevent these continuing attacks by the Fulani.
  • Pray for those in Gire who are mourning their dead today.
 
(Source: Release partner)
 

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Monday, January 18, 2016

H. L. MENCKEN'S OBITUARY OF MACHEN 1937

A great tribute from a non-christian.
The Rev. J. Gresham Machen, D. D., who died out in North Dakota on New Year's Day, got, on the whole, a bad press while he lived, and even his obituaries did much less than justice to him. To newspaper reporters, as to other antinomians, a combat between Christians over a matter of dogma is essentially a comic affair, and in consequence Dr. Machen's heroic struggles to save Calvinism in the Republic were usually depicted in ribald, or, at all events, in somewhat skeptical terms. The generality of readers, I suppose, gathered thereby the notion that he was simply another Fundamentalist on the order of William Jennings Bryan and the simian faithful of Appalachia. But he was actually a man of great learning, and, what is more, of sharp intelligence.
What caused him to quit the Princeton Theological Seminary and found a seminary of his own was his complete inability, as a theologian, to square the disingenuous evasions of Modernism with the fundamentals of Christian doctrine. He saw clearly that the only effects that could follow diluting and polluting Christianity in the Modernist manner would be its complete abandonment and ruin. Either it was true or it was not true. If, as he believed, it was true, then there could be no compromise with persons who sought to whittle away its essential postulates, however respectable their motives.
Thus he fell out with the reformers who have been trying, in late years, to convert the Presbyterian Church into a kind of literary and social club, devoted vaguely to good works. Most of the other Protestant churches have gone the same way, but Dr. Machen's attention, as a Presbyterian, was naturally concentrated upon his own connection. His one and only purpose was to hold it [the Church] resolutely to what he conceived to be the true faith. When that enterprise met with opposition he fought vigorously, and though he lost in the end and was forced out of Princeton it must be manifest that he marched off to Philadelphia with all the honors of war.
My interest in Dr. Machen while he lived, though it was large, was not personal, for I never had the honor of meeting him. Moreover, the doctrine that he preached seemed to me, and still seems to me, to be excessively dubious. I stand much more chance of being converted to spiritualism, to Christian Science or even to the New Deal than to Calvinism, which occupies a place, in my cabinet of private horrors, but little removed from that of cannibalism. But Dr. Machen had the same clear right to believe in it that I have to disbelieve in it, and though I could not yield to his reasoning I could at least admire, and did greatly admire, his remarkable clarity and cogency as an apologist, allowing him his primary assumptions.
These assumptions were also made, at least in theory, by his opponents, and thereby he had them by the ear. Claiming to be Christians as he was, and of the Calvinish persuasion, they endeavored fatuously to get rid of all the inescapable implications of their position. On the one hand they sought to retain membership in the fellowship of the faithful, but on the other hand they presumed to repeal and reenact with amendments the body of doctrine on which that fellowship rested. In particular, they essayed to overhaul the scriptural authority which lay at the bottom of the whole matter, retaining what coincided with their private notions and rejecting whatever upset them.
Upon this contumacy Dr. Machen fell with loud shouts of alarm. He denied absolutely that anyone had a right to revise and sophisticate Holy Writ. Either it was the Word of God or it was not the Word of God, and if it was, then it was equally authoritative in all its details, and had to be accepted or rejected as a whole. Anyone was free to reject it, but no one was free to mutilate it or to read things into it that were not there. Thus the issue with the Modernists was clearly joined, and Dr. Machen argued them quite out of court, and sent them scurrying back to their literary and sociological Kaffeeklatsche. His operations, to be sure, did not prove that Holy Writ was infallible either as history or as theology, but they at least disposed of those who proposed to read it as they might read a newspaper, believing what they chose and rejecting what they chose.
In his own position there was never the least shadow of inconsistency. When the Prohibition imbecility fell upon the country, and a multitude of theological quacks, including not a few eminent Presbyterians, sought to read support for it into the New Testament, he attacked them with great vigor, and routed them easily. He not only proved that there was nothing in the teachings of Jesus to support so monstrous a folly; he proved abundantly that the known teachings of Jesus were unalterably against it. And having set forth that proof, he refused, as a convinced and honest Christian, to have anything to do with the dry jehad.
This rebellion against a craze that now seems so incredible and so far away was not the chief cause of his break with his ecclesiastical superiors, but it was probably responsible for a large part of their extraordinary dudgeon against him. The Presbyterian Church, like the other evangelical churches, was taken for a dizzy ride by Prohibition. Led into the heresy by fanatics of low mental visibility, it presently found itself cheek by jowl with all sorts of criminals, and fast losing the respect of sensible people. Its bigwigs thus became extremely jumpy on the subject, and resented bitterly every exposure of their lamentable folly.
The fantastic William Jennings Bryan, in his day the country's most distinguished Presbyterian layman, was against Dr. Machen on the issue of Prohibition but with him on the issue of Modernism. But Bryan's support, of course, was of little value or consolation to so intelligent a man. Bryan was a Fundamentalist of the Tennessee or barnyard school. His theological ideas were those of a somewhat backward child of 8, and his defense of Holy Writ at Dayton during the Scopes trial was so ignorant and stupid that it must have given Dr. Machen a great deal of pain. Dr. Machen himself was to Bryan as the Matterhorn is to a wart. His Biblical studies had been wide and deep, and he was familiar with the almost interminable literature of the subject. Moreover, he was an adept theologian, and had a wealth of professional knowledge to support his ideas. Bryan could only bawl.
It is my belief, as a friendly neutral in all such high and ghostly matters, that the body of doctrine known as Modernism is completely incompatible, not only with anything rationally describable as Christianity, but also with anything deserving to pass as religion in general. Religion, if it is to retain any genuine significance, can never be reduced to a series of sweet attitudes, possible to anyone not actually in jail for felony. It is, on the contrary, a corpus of powerful and profound convictions, many of them not open to logical analysis. Its inherent improbabilities are not sources of weakness to it, but of strength. It is potent in a man in proportion as he is willing to reject all overt evidences, and accept its fundamental postulates, however unprovable they may be by secular means, as massive and incontrovertible facts.
These postulates, at least in the Western world, have been challenged in recent years on many grounds, and in consequence there has been a considerable decline in religious belief. There was a time, two or three centuries ago, when the overwhelming majority of educated men were believers, but that is apparently true no longer. Indeed, it is my impression that at least two-thirds of them are now frank skeptics. But it is one thing to reject religion altogether, and quite another thing to try to save it by pumping out of it all its essential substance, leaving it in the equivocal position of a sort of pseudo-science, comparable to graphology, "education," or osteopathy.
That, it seems to me, is what the Modernists have done, no doubt with the best intentions in the world. They have tried to get rid of all the logical difficulties of religion, and yet preserve a generally pious cast of mind. It is a vain enterprise. What they have left, once they have achieved their imprudent scavenging, is hardly more than a row of hollow platitudes, as empty as [of] psychological force and effect as so many nursery rhymes. They may be good people and they may even be contented and happy, but they are no more religious than Dr. Einstein. Religion is something else again--in Henrik Ibsen's phrase, something far more deep-down-diving and mudupbringing, Dr. Machen tried to impress that obvious fact upon his fellow adherents of the Geneva Mohammed. He failed--but he was undoubtedly right.
[H.L. Mencken's eulogy for Dr. J. Gresham Machen originally appeared in The Baltimore Evening Sun on January 18, 1937, second section, page 15.]

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Saturday, January 09, 2016

Do Christians, Muslims and Jews Worship the Same God?

(Writer’s Opinion) By John Edmiston, Special to ASSIST News Service

CARSON, CA (ANS – January 9, 2016) -- In the past few weeks there has been intense controversy about a professor at Wheaton college who was disciplined for saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political science professor at the private evangelical Christian college that once had Billy Graham as a student, proclaimed on social media that Christians and Muslims share the same God and was suspended by the college.
Do Christians and Muslims worship the same GodThis raises the important question of: Do Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same God?
Notice there are two parts to this question: a) worship and b) same God.
The Devil knows God is One but does not worship Him. On the other hand, devotees of Baal indeed worship, but they worship a false God.
First let’s compare the two other faiths with Christianity to see if:
a) the have the same god and
b) if they have the same worship:
Not The Same God
1.Christians worship a Trinity, one God in three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Muslims and Jews refuse the idea of the Trinity and just worship “one Almighty God”.
2.Christians worship Jesus Christ as Son of God, Lord and Savior. Neither Jews nor Muslims do this. They do not worship Jesus. Therefore, their god is a different deity. (More on this later).
3.Christians worship a God whose primary attribute is love and who calls us to forsake revenge and to love our enemies and to forgive the sins of others. Jews and Muslims worship a god whose primary attribute is power, honor and purity and who does not call upon them to love their enemies or forgive the sins of others and where punitive revenge is a religious duty.
4.Christians worship a God who became incarnate in human flesh and who died for their sins on the Cross. This idea is considered blasphemy (shirk) in Islam and is denied in Judaism. In both religions their god remains in Heaven. Christianity has a down-to-earth God.
Not The Same Worship
Wheaton Collage professor speaking5.Christians worship in spirit and truth and not in any particular sacred location (John 4:4) while Judaism and Islam have sacred cities such as Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina.
6.Christians worship according to the Spirit and not according to the letter, we have died to the Law. Judaism and Islam place literal obedience to written religious laws at the very center of their religions.
7.Christian worship is free from the rule of the elemental principles of religion such as New Moons, Sabbaths, matters of food and drink, and categories clean and unclean. Judaism and Islam in their worship place a great deal of emphasis on new moons, Sabbaths, halal or kosher food, and categories of clean and unclean.
8.Christian worship consist of people who are already saved, and who already possess eternal life going from glory to glory through beholding the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:16-18). For Christians worship is not a means to salvation but rather a celebration of a salvation that is already secure. Worship in Judaism and Islam is necessary for salvation, which is partly attained via worship. Neither Jews nor Muslims worship by being transformed by beholding the face of Christ. To repeat, Christian worship is AFTER salvation, while Jewish and Islamic worship is PRIOR TO or PART OF salvation. Thus it is NOT the same worship!
The Jesus Issue
The following article says that the answer is a plain “no” because he who denies the Son does not have the Father:
1 John 2:22-24 ESV Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. (23) No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. (24) Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
If you deny the Son then you do not have the Father, so then obviously you are NOT worshiping the Father (even if you think you are). Now the God of Judaism is the same God as the God of Christianity but the Jews of the current era do not “have the Father”, so they are not truly worshiping the Father, because worship of the Father requires glorifying the Son.
God sent Jesus and He alone is the way to salvation and He alone is the way to eternal life:
1 John 5:9-13 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. (10) Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. (11) And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
Now if you refuse to believe in Jesus, then you are refusing the testimony of God and telling the Holy Spirit that He is a liar. Since the Holy Spirit is God you are “making God a liar”.
What is the Holy Spirit’s message? This testimony is: that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. And it is nowhere else except in the Son. That logically leads to the apostle John’s statement that: Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Since both Judaism and Islam deny the Son, they do not have life. On top of which they are refusing the testimony of God and thus calling God a liar. Now you simply cannot be worshiping “the same God” if you are also calling Him a liar!
Photo captions: 1) The cross and the crescent. 2) Larycia Hawkins addresses the media over her controversial comments. 3) John Edmiston.
johned academicAbout the writer: John Edmiston is the CEO of Cybermissions, which is an Internet mission’s agency. John has also taught Master's level courses in digital ministry at various seminaries. He lives in Carson, CA with his wife Minda. His e-mail address is: digitalopportunities@gmail.com  
** You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net).

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Thursday, January 07, 2016

NIGERIA news


At least 14 people were killed and several others injured in an attack on Kimba village in Borno State by Boko Haram gunmen on Christmas Day. They opened fire on villagers and torched their homes. In the days that followed the violence continued to escalate. On 27 and 28 December more than 90 people were killed and 80 injured in multiple Boko Haram attacks around the Borno State capital Maiduguri and in Madagali in Adamawa State, and a suicide and gun attack on a Borno village on 6 January claimed 14 lives. Please pray for the defeat of Boko Haram and for peace to return to north east Nigeria.


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Saturday, January 02, 2016

Books read in January 2016

1. Christian Pipe-Smoking: An Introduction to Holy Incense by Uri Brito and Joffre Swait

A small booklet in praise of the present unfashionable habit of pipe smoking.
I do not think it will encourage anyone to start puffing but it will give pleasure and some good quotes for afficionadoes.

2.Realm Divided: A Year in the Life of Plantagenet England by Dan Jones 

One knew of 1215 as the year of Magna Carta but Dan Jones shows how important a year this was in English history and its relations with France and the Papacy. Jones divides his chapters between the big events history in 1215 and the social history of the period. It makes for real understanding of the times. I would like to read more history written after this excellent pattern.

3. Frost: That Was The Life That Was: The Authorised Biography by Neil Hegarty

A fascinating story of the man who went from a Methodist manse to become the foremost TV interviewer of his age. He enjoyed a loving, stable home with his parents and two elder sisters with whom he cotinued to be close. He went from grammar school to Cambridge on a scholarship. At university he was more interested in the theatrical and journalism than in his English degree. Narrowly escaping being sent down he barely scraped through to graduate but in The Footlights club he was most diligent and ambitious hoping for a future in entertainment. We are told he was resented by public schooled undergraduates but no specific examples of this snobbery are given. After university, still in his twenties, Frost has a meteoric career in TV starting with That Was The Week That Was. As a teenager, this was for me essential late Saturday night viewing. It broke the mould of TV respecting the establishment. From there Frost's TV career on both sides of the Atlantic is chronicled. He had intimate relationships with several women and a short first marriage before he met the love of his life and entered into a stable marriage producing three sons.  There is recounted his interviewing tachnicue and many of the people he interviewed, most famously the Nixon interviews after Nixon's resignation from President. One aspect of Frost's story I found of particular interest was how far he moved from his modest Methodist upbringing.. He became a lover of fine food, wine and cigars and a friend of royalty. Formal Christian observance disappeared yet his wife said he prayed every night. His background enabled him to converse well with Billy Graham and to put Blair on the spot as to what Christian observance he shared with George W Bush.  Overall we read of an able man in his field and one who was respected and loved by family and friends.

4. Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson

Bryson is a favourite author and there he gives us a reference work on English usage. I do not think this is a book one is likely to read cover to cover but one to dip into when needed. It seems fairly comprehensive but I spotted one omission. There is nothing on full and the false comparative fuller.

5. Truth for All Time by John Calvin 

Calvin wrote the French original when he was a twenty something year old asylum seeker in Geneva. He tells the reader how to become a Christian and expounds the creed, ten commandments and the Lord's prayer as well as outlining the Christian's duty to pastors and rulers. A fine summary of basic Christian truths.

6. Girl From The South by Joanna Trollope

I have read a number of Trollope's novels. They have all been about middle class English families with some measure of dysfunctionality and divorce. This novel is different. It is set in London and Charleston, USA. The latter concerns an old established local family. In London it is a number of thirty something singles not able to commit to marriage. I did not find the characters to be attractive. All seem too self centred. The different culture of the southern USA is well described.

7. No Mortal Thing by Gerald Seymour

I have read all of Seymour's thrillers and count him a master of the genre but he has slipped up here. I found the main plot totally unrealistic That an English banker should pursue a young Italian criminal to his home in southern Italy. His family has no attractive features killing a kidnapped child and despatching adults who incur their wrath via acid bath or being fed to pigs. I will not spoil the story except to say the final twist is the most unrealistic part.

8. Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope

A London couple whose adult children have left home are faced with the unexpected return of their progeny and also a young actor as lodger.. The relationships of the younger generation do not  seem to include marriage. The parents are in a happy marriage but their mother's sister is separated from a rogue of a husband. All in all the young adults are not a recommendation for cohabitation outside of marriage.

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