Friday, January 30, 2015

January 30: “We Don’t Have Forever,” by Dr. Francis Schaeffer (198

by archivist
This day, January 30, marks the birth of Francis August Schaeffer, in 1912.
schaeffer02Dr. Schaeffer began his ministry with the Bible Presbyterian Church, was later a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, and when that denomination was received into the PCA, spent his final few years, from 1982 until his death in 1984, affiliated with the PCA. Dr. Schaeffer was the featured speaker at the 1980 "Consultation on Presbyterian Alternatives" sponsored by the Presbyterian Church in America. His counsel, excerpted here from the full transcript of his Pittsburgh messages, was heard by participants from several Presbyterian communionsAdmittedly another long post today, but please save it to read tomorrow if you don't have time today.

"We Don't Have Forever."

Two biblical principles must be practiced simultaneously, at each step of the way, if we are to be really Bible-believing Christians.  One is the principle of the practice of the purity of the visible church.  The other is the principle of an observable love among all true Christians.
Those of us who left the old Presbyterian Church USA (the "Northern" Church) 44 years ago made mistakes which marked the movement for years to come.  The second principle often was not practiced. In particular we often failed to manifest an observable love for the fellow believers who stayed in that denomination when others of us left.
Things were said which are very difficult to forget even more than 40 years later.  The periodicals of those who left tended to spend more time attacking the real Christians who stayed in the old denomination than in dealing with the liberals.  Those who came out at times refused to pray with those who had not come out.  Many who left totally broke off all forms of fellowship with true brothers in Christ who did not come out.
What was destroyed was Christ's command to love each other.  And what was left was often a turning inward, a self-righteousness, a hardness, and, too often, a feeling that withdrawal had made those who came out so right that anything they did could be excused.
Further, having learned these bad habits, they later treated each other badly when the new groups had minor differences among themselves.
We cannot stress both of the principles simultaneously in the flesh.  Sometimes we stress purity without love.  Or we can stress love without purity.  In order to stress both simultaneously we must look moment to moment to the work of Christ and to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Without this, a stress on purity becomes hard, proud, and legalistic.  Without this, a stress on love becomes compromise. Spirituality begins to have real meaning in our lives as we begin to exhibit (and the emphasis here is on exhibit, not just talk) simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God.  Without our exhibition of both, our marvelous God and Lord is not set forth.  Rather, a caricature is set forth and He is dishonored.
We paid a terrible price for what happened in those early days.  As some of you now come out of your denominations, please do learn from our mistakes.  Each pastor, each congregation must be led by the Holy Spirit.  If some disappoint you, do not turn bitter.
One of the joys of my life occurred at the Lausanne Congress (the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland). Some men from the newly formed Presbyterian Church in America asked me to attend a meeting they and others had called there. When I arrived I found that it was made up of Southern men who had just left the Presbyterian Church US to form the PCA and some Christians who were still in the PCUS. Someone from each side spoke. Both said to me that the meeting was possible because of my voice and especially my little book, The Church Before the Watching World (published by InterVarsity Press). I must say I could have wept, and perhaps I did. It is possible for us to do better than we would naturally do. It is not possible if we ignore the fleshly dangers and fail to look to our living Lord for his strength and grace.
Those of us who left our old denomination in the Thirties had another great problem, as I see it. It was confusion over where to place the basic chasm which marks off who we are. Does that chasm mark us as those who are building Bible-believing churches and that on this side of the chasm we hold the distinctives of being Presbyterian and Reformed? Or is the primary chasm that we are Presbyterian and Reformed and that we are divided from all who are not? The answer makes a great deal of difference.
When we go to a town to start a church, are we going there with the primary motivation to build a church which is loyal to Presbyterians and the Reformed faith, or are we going there to build a church which will preach the Gospel which historic, Bible-believing Christianity holds, and then on this side of that chasm teach that which we believe is true to the Bible in regard to church government and doctrine? The difference makes a difference to our mentality, to our motivation, and to the breadth of our outreach. I must say, to me one view is catholic, biblical and gives good promise of success; the other is introverted and self-limiting, yes, and sectarian. I spoke of a good promise of success. I mean on two levels: First in church growth and a healthy outlook among those we reach; second, in providing leadership in the whole church of Christ.
We alone do not face this problem of putting the chasm at the wrong place, of course. A too zealous mentality on the Lutheran view of the sacraments is the same. A too sectarian mentality in regard to the mode of baptism is another. The zeal of the Plymouth Brethren for an unpaid ministry is often the same. No, it is not just our problem. But it is our problem. To put the chasm in the wrong place is to fail to fulfill our calling, and I am convinced that when we do so we displease our Lord.
Those who remain in the old-line churches have their own set of problems. In contrast to the problem of hardness to which those who withdraw are prone, those who remain are likely to develop a general latitudinarianism. One who accepts ecclesiastical latitudinarianism easily steps into a cooperative latitudinarianism which can become a doctrinal latitudinarianism and especially a letdown on a clear view of Scripture.
This is what happened in certain segments of what I would call the evangelical establishment. Out of the evangelical latitudinarianism of the Thirties and Forties grew the letdown in regard to the Scripture in certain areas of the evangelical structure in the Seventies. Large sections of evangelicalism today put all they can into acting as though it makes no real difference as to whether we hold the historic view of Scripture or the existential view. The existential methodology says that the Bible is authoritative when it teaches "religious'' things but not when it touches that which is historic, scientific, or such things as the male/female relationship.
Not all who have stayed in the liberal denominations have done this, by any means, but it is hard to escape.  I don't see how those who have chosen to stay in (no matter what occurs) can escape a latitudinarian mentality which will struggle to paper over the differences on Scripture in order to keep an external veneer of unity.  That veneer in fact obscures a real lack of unity on the crucial point of Scripture.  And when the doctrinal latitudinarianism sets in we can be sure from all of church history and from observation in our own period of church history that in just a generation or two the line between evangelical and liberal will be lost.
This is already observable in that the liberals largely have shifted to the existential methodology and have expressed great approval that the "moderate evangelicals" have done so.  The trend will surely continue.  Unless we see the new liberalism with its existential methodology as a whole, and reject it as a whole, we will, to the extent to which we tolerate it, be confused in our thinking.  Failure to reject it will also involve us in the general relativism of our day and compromising in our actions.
The second major problem of those who stay in the liberally controlled denominations is the natural tendency to constantly move back the line at which the final stand will be taken.  For example, can you imagine Clarence Macartney, Donald Grey Barnhouse or T. Roland Phillips being in a denomination in which the battle line was the ordination of women?  Can you imagine these great evangelical preachers of the Twenties and Thirties (who stayed in the Presbyterian Church USA) now being in a denomination which refuses to ordain a young man whose only fault was that while he said he would not preach against the ordination of women yet he would not say he had changed his mind that it was unbiblical? Can you imagine that these leaders of the conservative cause in an earlier era would have considered it a victory to have stalled the ordination of practicing homosexuals and practicing lesbians?  What do you think Macartney, Barnhouse, and Phillips would have said about these recent developments?  Such a situation in their denomination would never have been in their minds as in the realm of conceivable.
The line does move back.  In what presbytery of the Northern Presbyterian Church can you bring an ordained man under biblical discipline for holding false views of doctrine and expect him to be disciplined?
Beware of false victories.  Even if a conservative man is elected moderator of the general assembly (as Macartney was in 1924), it would amount to absolutely nothing.  Despite the jubilation among conservatives at Macartney's election, the bureaucracy simply rolled on, and not too many years later conservative leader J. Gresham Machen could be unfrocked.  Nelson Bell was elected moderator of the Southern Church later (in 1972), and nothing changed.  The power centers of the bureaucracy and the liberally-controlled seminaries were unmoved.
There are always those who say, "don't break up our ranks ... wait a while longer ... wait for this ... wait for that." It is always wait.  Never act. But 40 years is a long time to wait when things are always and consistently getting worse.  And (with my present health problem) I tell you soberly, we do not have forever to take that courageous and costly stand for Christ that we sometimes talk about. We do not have forever for that. We hear many coaxing words, but watch for the power structure to strike out when it is threatened. If the liberals' power is really in danger or if they fear the loss of property, watch out!
What of the future? We live in a day that is fast-moving.  The United States is moving at great speed toward totally humanistic orientation in society and state.  Do you think this will leave our own little projects, our own church, and our own lives untouched?  Don't be silly. The warnings are on every side. When a San Francisco Orthodox Presbyterian congregation can be dragged into court for breaking the law of discrimination because it dismissed an avowed, practicing homosexual as an organist, can we be so blind as to not hear all the warning bells go off?  When by a ruling of a federal court the will of Congress can be overturned concerning the limitation on the willful killing of unborn children, should not the warning bells go off as to the kind of pressures ahead of us?
Who supports these things?  The liberal denominations do, publicly, formally, and financially.  And it puts into a vise those of us who stand for biblical morality, let alone doctrine.  Beyond the denominations, it is their councils of churches that support not only these things but also terrorist groups. They give moral support and money.  Should we support this by our denominational affiliation? We may seem isolated from the results for a time but that is only because we are too blind to see.
I don't think we have a lot of time.  The hour is very late, but I don't think it is too late in this country. This is not a day of retreat and despair.  In America it is still possible to turn things around.  But we don't have forever.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


-Niamey Boukoki II: The church rented 2 tents and 200 chairs for the service on Sunday. The government provided two policemen for security. It was amazing--with many remembering the church's humble beginnings 30 years ago when only a mud hut existed on the property. Worship was without electronic or any other kind of music instruments--just like when the EERN started at its begining. The pastor preached and church ended in joy. 

-Niamey Harobanda: The church was not burnt but the demonstrators brought all the musical instruments and other materiels in the building to the outside and burned them. So there were some iron banches left but they are not suffisant for worship. Children had to sit on mats but the church had a very good service, although without any music. They reported that the police came for a while but they left before the end of the service, as there were no threat at all. 
-Zinder : The members swept the burnt sanctuary and borrowed 40 chairs from the EERN Primary school for the service. They had a wonderful worship without music too. The Police were at the gate to provide security. 
-Mirriah : The pastor came back to his damaged house (attacked by the mobs). The family swept it and then brought back the church benches that their muslim friend had helped them to hide before the arrival of the crowd on the 16th. The atmosphere was described as somber since people still seemed to be traumatised. One policeman was sent there to provide security. 
-Magaria : They reported having the best service they have ever had (It was quite joyful though there was no music). There weren't any security provided by officials. In a nearby village where Christians were so afraid last week that they fled when the EERN President's car approached them, we received an amazing report: even those who had previously stopped attending the church services came last sunday and many Muslims attended too. This area is known as the most extremist in the country.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nigeria - latest from Voice of the Persecuted

Voice of the Persecute By Michael Ireland, Senior Reporter, ASSIST News Service
(ANS-TRENTON, MI, Jan.27, 2015) -- Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) reports that Boko Haram recently released a new video threatening all of Northeast Africa. 
In a blog posting at VOP says several threats were made against, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad. 
Chuck Refsland, VOP Advocate/News Analyst, Voice of the Persecuted, writes: “Threats made by the leader showcasing their huge array of weapons, and trumpeting their pride in how far they have come ‘from machetes and sticks’ to now, trumpeting that they would rule. Their recent violence in Niger inciting protests against a cartoon have sent significant shockwaves through the Christian Communities. Image after image of Christians continuing to worship in darkness show a contrast to the fear that this murderous group is attempting to instill in the world. But the reality is that while the world remains silent, the Black flag of Islam is controlling large swath’s of land. Larger than the world can imagine.” 
nigerian christiansCiting a report from Abuja by Agenzia Fides news outlet, Refsland writes: “Boko Haram tried to enter Maiduguri twice last weekend: the first time on Friday 23 and the second yesterday, Sunday, 25 January,” says to Agenzia Fides His Exc. Mgr. Oliver Dashe Doeme, Bishop Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, in northern Nigeria where the Boko Haram fighters tried to enter after having taken possession of other cities in the north-east of the Country. 
“The guerrillas of Bolo Haram were rejected by the military and the civilian militia that defend the city. The fights were very intense. Boko Haram has lost several men. At the moment the situation in Maiduguri appears calm,” says to Fides Mgr. Doeme, who states that he is in Damaturu (Yobe State capital, whose territory falls within the diocese presided over by the Bishop) on a pastoral visit, although his collaborators keep him constantly updated on the situation in Maiduguri. 
“We find ourselves in a very dangerous and difficult moment” continues the Bishop. “We risk seeing Boko Haram conquer the entire north-east before the end of the election, unless foreign troops intervene,” said Mgr. Doeme, referring to the presidential elections to be held in mid-February and to the coordination of the military actions of neighboring Countries against Boko Haram, after the latest raids of Nigerian extremists in Cameroon and the conquest of the base of the international force of Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad (see Fides 01/09/2015). 
“The situation is very complex and the first victims are innocent civilians,” concluded the Bishop of Maiduguri who implies the existence of some “saboteurs” and accomplices within the Nigerian army, who favor the advance of Boko Haram for political reasons. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 01/26/2015) 
Refsland says that a recent report by CNN gained a lot of criticism for portraying the government’s lack of concern, care and support of the military. He writes: “They spoke with soldiers and wives of soldiers, and their report shows soldiers having to buy their own uniforms, equipment and health care. Widows of soldiers are ignored, with the government refusing to hear their pleas.” 
Click here to watch the video from CNN. 
“It’s eye opening. We also were skeptical, so we sent it to someone on the ground there,” writes Refsland, adding: “And sadly they confirmed this was true, saying there are many women in the same situation. Their husbands missing or killed, and the government refusing to open their cases. Many women and children abandoned from a government their husbands swore to defend. Many innocents on the run from Boko Haram finding little comfort. One critic of the above said that the media here in America wouldn’t dare to call out our military in that manner, but yet we have. We have repeatedly called out our government for the way our veterans and their families are treated.” 
boko haram sattelite vertRefsland writes that Boko Haram has devastated large areas of land, “Right under the noses of the African Government and military.” 
He asks: Just how much territory do they control? “It’s been said that Boko Haram alone controls land the size of Belgium. How could this happen? How could the world allow this cancer to spread? They seem to have underestimated the super highway that has been constructed right under their noses. By uniting with ISIS, Al-shabob, Al-queda, Hezbollah, Hamas, (the) Taliban and Iran they have created this super highway of terror that reaches from Iran to the coast of Africa. They are receiving funding and weapons with their own network of alliances that rival NATO. That’s not hyperbole or an understatement.”  
While previewing one video for truth, Refsland said Voice of the Persecuted was told that one way for the Boko Haram to obtain weapons was to attack military bases where they receive intelligence from their connections in the military. “Until the world realizes the scope of the magnitude of what is happening these groups will thrive. Again, their weapons, their intelligence, their support rivals that of NATO. They have created this mammoth network all across the Middle East and Africa. Look at Yemen how quickly the government fell.” 
Despite all the violence, Christianity continues to grow in Nigeria, Refsland stated. “The numbers of Christians in Nigeria has grown from 21.4% in 1953 to 49.3% in 2010. Their faith is strengthened in the face of tribulation. What is heartbreaking is the numbers of displaced. Refugee camps are growing.” 
World Watch Monitor quotes a Nigerian Cleric in a story titled: What ISIS has done in Iraq, Boko Haram is doing in Nigeria.
World Watch Monitor also tells of the plight and anger of Christians at the Government’s inability to care for or protect them.
refugee camp nigeriaHe cites World Watch Monitor which reports the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria for the North Central Zone, Daniel Kadzai, said Christians in the north have lost confidence in the government’s ability to deal with the crisis. 
“The Federal Government has toyed with the lives and limbs of the Christians in Northern Nigeria for political gains. There is no explanation the government can give as to why the Federal troops will run away from the towns prior to the attack on such towns by Boko Haram without putting up any resistance, if the government does not have a hand in the whole genocide on Northern Christians as is being speculated in the local and foreign media,’’ Kadzai said. 
According to the Voice of the Persecuted weblog, citing World Watch Monitor, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), based mainly in the northern part of the country, is the worst affected by the insurgency. Information released during the protest shows that the church has suffered heavy losses and damages over the 5 years of Boko Haram insurgency. Over 8,000 of their members have been killed, while more than 700,000, mostly women and Children have been displaced and now scattered in places like Jos, Abuja, Kaduna and Yola. Some 270 churches have been razed completely by the insurgents. Nigeria is ranked fourth on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) for 2013, issued by the Institute for Economics and Peace. According to the index, more than 80 per cent of the lives lost to terrorists occurred in five countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. The institute says Boko Haram is one of the four most-active militant organizations along with the Islamic State (otherwise known as ISIS), the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Refsland concludes: “So you begin to see the magnitude of what is transpiring in Nigeria. Why are the cries of the innocents unheeded? We would like to know the answer to that. Although recent attacks are ever stronger, the condemnation from world leaders and the UN are not. No aid, no help, and nothing to stop the rampage. Pray for Nigeria.”
Photo One: Nigerian Christians express thewir anger (Courtesy World Watch Monitor).
Photo Two: Boko Haram's expanding reach (Photo from CNN screenshot).
Photo Three: The United Nations refugee camp in northern Cameroon (Courtesy Workld Watch Monitor).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 21: Francis Makemie and Freedom of Speech

by Dr. David W. Hall.
Rev. Francis Makemie on Trial before Lord CornburyOne illustration of how religion and politics were interwoven, especially the religion and politics of strongly Scottish Calvinist sentiment, can be seen from the experience of Ulster Presbyterian missionary Francis Makemie (b. 1658). Makemie had been reared on tales of the Scottish rebellion that adopted the Solemn League and Covenant, and he was educated at the University of Glasgow one generation after Samuel Rutherford.  Commissioned by the Presbytery of Laggan, a fiercely Calvinistic stronghold, the first Presbyterian minister on the North American continent landed on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay in 1683. Over time, he earned a reputation as a threat to the Anglicans in the area, and he was reported to the Bishop of London (who never had authority over Makemie) to be a pillar of the Presbyterian sect. His work was commended by Puritan giant Cotton Mather, and his correspondence with Increase Mather indicates considerable commonality of purpose among early American Calvinists. Cotton Mather would later recommend a Catechism composed by Makemie for his New England churches.
Makemie organized at least seven Presbyterian churches committed to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Scottish ecclesiastical order between 1683-1705. In between the organizing of churches along Scottish models—the Scottish League and Covenant seemed to be blossoming in America, perhaps more than in its native Scotland—Makemie served as a pastor in Barbados from 1696 to 1698. He also sheltered persecuted Irish Calvinist ministers from 1683-1688. Following the Glorious Revolution in 1688 the need for shelter in America diminished, and some of these religious refugees returned to Ireland and Scotland. Makemie, however, remained in America, found a wife, and continued organizing Presbyterian congregations throughout Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. In a 1699 letter, Makemie still spoke reverentially of Geneva as a Calvinist center.
Ministers from the Church of England protested Makemie’s church planting, caricaturing his ministry as subversive and nonconformist. Eventually the Sheriff of Long Island at the behest of the British Governor of New York, Lord Cornbury arrested Makemie and another Presbyterian colleague, John Hampton, for preaching without a license by. On January 21, 1707, the warrant for their arrest charged them with spreading “their Pernicious Doctrine and Principles” in Long Island without “having obtained My License for so doing, which is directly contrary to the known laws of England.”
Cornbury’s oppressiveness was well known from several earlier cases, and Makemie realized that if freedom of religion were not granted in one colony, America would never have the kind of free expression needed. He may have viewed New York as a mission for religious freedom; en route to Boston from New Jersey, he could have simply avoided Cornbury’s territory. In what would become one of the earliest tests of freedom of speech in America, this Irish Calvinist was indicted by an Anglican authority (also exposing an early establishment of religion in New York) and held for two days prior to trial.
Makemie appeared before Cornbury (who called the missionary “a Disturber of Governments”) in the council chamber at Fort Anne, New York, on the afternoon of January 23, 1707. Lord Cornbury (Edward Hyde) charged: “How dare you take upon you to preach in my Government without my License”! Makemie answered that Parliament had granted liberty to preach in 1688 under William and Mary. Cornbury contended that such laws did not extend to the American colonies. Makemie answered that the act of Parliament was not restricted to Great Britain alone, but applied to all her territories; Makemie also produced certificates from courts in Virginia and Maryland that had already recognized his work. When Cornbury argued that ‘all politics is local,’ including rights and penalties, Makemie reminded him and his attorneys that the Act of Toleration was applicable in Scotland, Wales, Barbados, Virginia, and Maryland, and that without express restriction it was also applicable in all “her Majesties Dominions”—unless, of course, New York was not considered under her dominion.
Notwithstanding, Cornbury did not want Makemie or other “Strolling” preachers in his territory. Makemie further argued that strolling Quakers were permitted religious liberty in the colonies, which brought Cornbury’s equal-opportunity-oppressor rejoinder: “I have troubled some of them, and will trouble them more.” When Cornbury revived his charge that Makemie was spreading “pernicious doctrines,” the Ulster missionary answered that the Westminster Confession of Faith was very similar to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England and challenged “all the Clergy of York to show us any false or pernicious doctrines therein.” Makemie even stated his willingness to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles should that satisfy the Governor.
Earlier Makemie had applied to the Governor to preach in a Dutch Reformed Church in New York and had been denied permission. His speaking in a private home gave rise to the charge of preaching unlawfully. Cornbury reiterated that Makemie was preaching without license, charging him to post bond for his good behavior and to promise not to preach again without licence. Although he disputed any charges against his behavior, Makemie consented to post bond for his good behavior (knowing there were no provable charges), but he refused to post bond to keep silence, promising in Lutheresque words that “if invited and desired by any people, we neither can, nor dare” refuse to preach. Like Luther, Makemie could do no other.
Cornbury then ruled, “Then you must go to Gaol?” Makemie’s answer is instructive.
[I]t will be unaccountable to England, to hear, that Jews, who openly blaspheme the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and disown the whole Christian religion; Quakers who disown the Fundamental Doctrines of the Church of England and both Sacraments; Lutherans, and all others, are tolerated in Your Lordships Government; and only we, who have complied, and who are still ready to comply with the Act of Toleration, and are nearest to, and likest the Church of England of any Dissenters, should be hindered, and that only the Government of New-York and the Jersies. This will appear strange indeed.
Cornbury responded that Makemie would have to blame the Queen, to which the defendant answered that he did not blame her Majesty, for she did not limit his speech or free religious expression. At last, Lord Cornbury relented and signed a release for the prisoners, charging both Makemie and John Hampton, however, with court costs. Before leaving, Makemie requested that the Governor’s attorneys produce the law that delimited the Act of Toleration from application in any particular American colony. The attorney for Cornbury produced a copy, and when Makemie offered to pay the attorney for a copy of the specific paragraph that limited the Act of Parliament, the attorney declined and the proceedings came to a close.
MakemieStatueIn a parting shot, Lord Cornbury confessed to Makemie, “You Sir, Know Law.” Makemie was later acquitted,  and free speech and free expression of religion, apart from government’s approval, took a stride forward in the New World. Makemie pioneered religious liberty at great risk, and all who enjoy religious freedom remain in debt to this Scots-Irish son of Calvin.
Upon hearing of Makemie’s eventual (though delayed) release, the esteemed Cotton Mather wrote to his colleague the Rev. Samuel Penhallow on July 8, 1707: “That Brave man, Mr. Makemie, has after a famous trial at N. York, bravely triumphed over the Act of Uniformity, and the other poenal laws for the Church of England, without permitting the matter to come so far as to pleading the act of toleration. He has compelled an acknowledgement that lawes aforesaid, are but local ones and have nothing to do with the Plantations. The Non-Conformist Religion and interest is . . . likely to prevail mightily in the Southern Colonies. I send you two or three of Mr. Makemie’s books to be dispersed. . . .”
In another blow for religious freedom, the next year a Somerset County, Maryland, court approved the certification for a Protestant Dissenter church to be established. By a narrow 3-2 vote of the court, Makemie secured liberty for Presbyterian churches under “an act of parliament made the first year of King William and Queen Mary establishing the liberty of Protestant Dissenters.”
Makemie was also instrumental in laying the groundwork for an Irish priest, William Tennent, to immigrate to America. Tennent would later establish the “Log College,” and one of its students, the Rev. Samuel Finley, started the West Nottingham Academy in 1741. These schools, much like Calvin’s Academy in Geneva, became the proving grounds of the American republic. From this one Academy came founders of four colleges, two U. S. representatives, one senator, two members of the Continental Congress, and two signatories of the Declaration of Independence (Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton).  Samuel Finley went on to become president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) in 1761.
This developing American Calvinism, far from the modern caricature as a narrow or severe sect, was a boost to personal freedom and civil discourse in its heyday. The first American Presbyterian pastor helped entrench the right to free expression and free worship by appealing to the principles of the Glorious Revolution. A tidal wave of Calvinistic thinking came to America through immigrants like Makemie and continued to radiate outward.
Images :
1. The trial of Francis Makemie
2. Commemorative statue of Francis Makemie

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Presbyterians in Southwest Virginia Declare Independence from England?

January 20 by davidtmyers

In September of 1774, the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to protest some British laws which were deemed to be injurious to the people of the American colonies. One of them had been to deem all territory north of the Ohio River to Quebec, a Roman Catholic province. With that protestation, these early risings of independence sent petitions to their British rulers, urging at the same time that the people of the colonies take action by boycotting certain British goods. All over the colonies, committees came together to discuss their collective responses to this call.
On January 20, 1775, a group of people representing southwest Virginia, met in the town of Abington, Virginia. A committee was formed, made up primarily of Presbyterians in two churches pastored by Charles Cummings. Their names deserve to be mentioned, as they were the key Presbyterian laymen of that area. They were, along with their rank, Colonel William Christian, Colonel William Preston, Captain Stephen Trigg, Major Arthur Campbell, John Montgomery, James McGavock. William Campbell, Thomas Madison, Daniel Smith, William Russell, Evan Shelby, and William Edmundson.
After discussion together, they as a body sent an address to the Second Continental Congress, soon to meet, which included the following words:
“We by no means desire to shake off our duty or allegiance to our lawful sovereign, but on the contrary, shall ever glory in being the loyal subjects of a Protestant prince descended from such illustrious progenitors, so long as we can enjoy the free exercise of our religion as Protestants and our liberties and properties as British subjects. But if no pacific measures shall be proposed or adopted by Great Britain, and our enemies will attempt to dragoon us out of those inestimable privileges which we are entitled to as subjects, and to reduce us to slavery, we declare that we are deliberately and resolutely determined never to surrender them to any power upon earth, but at the expense of our lives.”
Here was no wild-eyed statement of revolution, but rather a carefully formulated statement of subjection to lawful authority, as long as the latter did not seek to take away the rights and privileges of its citizens, and thereby make them little more than slaves. It was thought that the wording of this declaration was essentially that of Presbyterian pastor Charles Cummings.
They were sent to the Second Continental Congress as the spirit of southwest Virginia with regards to the important issues of liberty and justice for all.
Words to Live By: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (ESV);
I hardly think this sounds like a declaration of independence myself. - GJW

Grace among flames - testimony from Zinder, Niger.

This happened last Friday when the Muslims finished their prayer at the mosque.

"A 73-year-old pastor was sitting in his living room when a mob broke in to vandalize, pillage, and then set fire to his house. Surrounded by flames, he and his family nearly suffocated but were saved when Muslim neighbors saw the smoke and ran to help them. In his church, only the metal roof remained. The fire had melted ceiling fans and turned the wooden ceiling into charcoal. Nothing remained of his pulpit. In his home, his children’s notebooks were in ashes, and only the iron frame of their beds was still standing. The pastor stated, “I have forgiven everything because those who burned my house did not know what they did.”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

#Je Suis Charlie versus #Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

How to stop the war between Secularism and Islam


The satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' has not just offended Muslims deeply, it has drawn very distasteful cartoons of Jesus and the Christian faith as well. Therefore, as practicing Christians we feel the hurt and pain our Muslim friends are going through.

The opposing movements are known as 
Their goal is to identify with those who suffer and to uphold their beliefs. Both sides have made good arguments but seem to have missed what is most important. It can be summarized as: 
 #JeSuisJ├ęsusAussi1  (#I am Jesus as well). Practicing Christians identify with the teachings of Jesus Christ who came to set people free. However, the New Testament, known as ‘Injeel’, does not define freedom as to be offensive to others but to speak the truth in love to them.2
Where do we go from here?

A peaceful and respectful dialogue concentrating on facts rather than feelings alone is hereby proposed. The following questions addressed to Muslims are not meant to hurt them but are asked to gain a better understanding: 

· Is it true that Surah 33:56-61 commands the slaughter of those who offend the prophet of Islam? (See also Surah 5:32-34, 9:61-66)3

· Was Ka`b bin al-Ashraf really murdered at the command of the prophet of Islam for opposing him with words mainly? (See Bukhari Vol.5, Book 59, Nr. 369)4

· Did the prophet allow the killing of Asma Bint Marwan who opposed him by writing poems once he was in a position of power? (Sirat Rasul Allah, by Ibn Ishaq, A. Guilaume's translation "The Life of Muhammad" pages 675, 676,5 see also Bukhari Vol.4, Nr. 3044)

· Uqba bin Abu Muayt too harassed and mocked the prophet of Islam in Mecca and wrote derogatory verses about him. Is it true that he was killed for it by the order of the prophet? (Bukhari, Vol. 4, Nr. 2934; Muslim, Vol. 3, Nr. 4422, 4424, Ibn Ishaq, p. 308 / 458)

· Was one of Abdullah bin Katal’s two daughters who sang satirical verses about the prophet killed as a punishment? (Bukhari Vol. 4, Nr. 3044; Ibn Ishaq, pp. 550-51 / 819)

·      Does Sharia law according to the Sunni Shafi School of fiqh demand killing of unbelievers who mention something impermissible about the Prophet as one option? ("Reliance of the Traveler: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law", Naqib al—Misri, d. 1368, rev. ed., trans. Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Beltsville, Maryland: Amana, 1994, p. 609, o11.10(1)—(5))

· Does Sharia law according to the Sunni Malik School of fiqh demand killing of  unbelievers who mention something impermissible about the Prophet, except they embrace Islam? (Abu Dawud's hadith collection, transl. by Ahmad Hasan  Vol. 3, notes 3799, 3800)

· Is it true that various mainstream Sunni Islamic Scholars have confirmed that those who insult the prophet of Islam need to be killed? (Arabic Fatwa 44469 given 1968 on, Fatwa 22809 given on, fatwa given 21.4.2005 on

· Do we need to conclude from these sources that, while Jesus forgave his enemies and asked his followers to do the same, the prophet of Islam did the opposite once he was in  a position of power? 

Scholars present different answers to these questions. Therefore, the reader is encouraged to form their own opinion by looking up the Islamic sources in context and by applying the laws of logic.6

Logic relating to Muslim sources by itself is limited in that it can only locate a possible problem but it cannot tell the solution. When tough questions are asked about whom to marry, the existence of God, the meaning of life, what happens after death and which religion is right, if any, one cannot avoid having to believe something. 

The faith one chooses to adopt should not just be the result of beliefs held by one's family or society. Instead it ought to be examined and answer the following questions:   
                                                                                                                                                                                       -Does my faith give the best overall explanation for the important issues of life? 

-Is it based on reasons that are exhaustive and account for all the data held to be relevant?  
                                                                                                                                                                                            -Is it internally consistent and also with all the other matters held to be true?   
                                                                                                                                                                                            -Does it provide a more coherent picture of the world, ourselves and others than any alternative? 

Christians believe that their faith provides the best explanation for the following issues:  
                                                                                                                                                                                        The identity of Christ 

The historical authenticity of the Gospels

The foundation for morality

The possibility of miracles and the actuality of the resurrection of Jesus being at least one miracle    
                                                                                                                                                                                         The experience of Christian believers

  The reader is encouraged to find out whether there is a better explanation for these phenomenon. 

The following sources will help: - download the app: 'Reasonable faith'- 

On the reliability of the Injeel (New Testament) 

'Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All?' by James W. Sire 

For questions or more information please contact: 

1Ephesians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, 10:23 
2 For retweets of this trend visit @FreeTruths
4 sahih-
6 Logic must be in keeping with the laws of 
   identity, (X=X), non contradiction and the 
   excluded middle (it must be either, or) 

© @FreeTruths 2015 - The copying of this 
    leaflet is encouraged provided it is done so in 
    its entirety. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Does a Literal Reading of the Qur’an Generate Terrorism?

Peter Cotterell is former Principal of the London School of Theology and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. An expert in Islamic studies, Cotterell is the author of nineteen books, including Islam in Context (with Peter Riddell) and the forthcoming One God.
Islam’s Four Authorities
There are verses of the Qur’an which support fighting against non-Muslims, and there are verses of the Qur’an which encourage a peaceful approach to non-Muslims.1 In answering the question of the role of the Qur’an in promoting violence, it is clear that Muslim terrorists both can and do refer to the Qur’an as their authority.
Islam is based on four authorities, not on the Qur’an alone. There is firstly, and uniquely, the Qur’an. But the interpretation of the Qur’an must take into account the second member of the quadrilateral, Abrogation—the power of a later verse to cancel out, or abrogate, an earlier verse. Thirdly, there are the Traditions (Hadith), mostly-unreliable memories of what Muhammad said and did. Fourthly, there is Shari’a Law, a comprehensive code of civil and criminal law, constructed partly from the Qur’an but mostly from the Traditions.
The Principle of Abrogation
The chapters of the Qur’an fall into two groups: those coming from the time when Muhammad was in Mecca, and those coming from the time when he was in Medina. It is confusing for the reader that when the various chapters were brought together to form the Qur’an, the general principle was followed that the longer chapters would come first, the shorter chapters last. But this happens to be exactly the reverse of their chronological order. So, with the exception of Sura 1, if a chapter has a low number and comes early in the Qur’an, then it is actually a late chapter.
Most of the chapters (suras) of the Qur’an are composite; this is most obvious in the chronologically later chapters. For example Sura 2 has 286 verses, and Yusuf Ali, in his translation of the Qur’an, breaks it up into 40 sections. To interpret such a chapter correctly it is necessary to know when each section was written. Then the later verses may be used to cancel out any conflicting earlier verses. The problem is that we often do not know when each section was written.
The so-called “Sword Verse” (Sura 9 verse 5) comes from the later, Medinan period of Muhammad’s life, and says “fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them.” Yusuf Ali dates this verse to A.D. 631, only one year before the death of Muhammad. Muslim scholars such as ibn Salama and ibn al-Ataiqi say that this one verse abrogates some 124 earlier verses, many of which counseled patience and peace.
The Question of the Qur’an’s Responsibility for Current Islamic Violence
Verses of the Qur’an are certainly used by the violent element in Islam to justify their actions, but it would be wrong to say that those verses are responsible for the violence. The fact is that many Muslims both submit themselves to the authority of the Qur’an and seek to live peaceful lives.
However, in their violent assault in the name of Islam on the Western world in general and on the USA in particular, the Muslim extremists could not hope to claim to be acting on behalf of Islam unless they could point to the Qur’an (and to the life of Muhammad) as their authority. They may connect their violence to the existence and policies of Israel; to the presence of non-Muslims in Muslim majority countries; to the growth of trans-national trading companies; to Western involvement in the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq; to a desire to end the asserted immorality of the West; or to any combination of these factors. But whatever reason might be given, the authority of the Qur’an for such violence is absolutely essential to the terrorists.
A further factor which appears to motivate Muslim extremists is the existence of a number of Traditions which give extravagant promises of a life of bliss in the hereafter for the Muslim martyr. Sura 3 verse 169 does assert that those who had but recently died in fighting against the Meccans were not “dead” but alive, and enjoying the unspecified blessings of Paradise. It does seem that this assertion, clarified in the Traditions, has encouraged suicide bombers. But again it is not clear that the longing for Paradise is the reason for suicide attacks, but it has certainly been a factor in the thinking of the bombers and their handlers.
Also, when Muhammad himself led the attack on the Christian community at Tabuk, on the Gulf of Aqaba, he urged every Muslim to join in the struggle.2 Sura 9 verse 41 commands, “Go forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of Allah.” Those who could fight were to fight, and those who were too aged or weak to fight should support the fighters. But this verse is regularly lifted out of its context in seventh-century Arabia and applied to suicide bombings in the twenty-first century.
A Possible Solution
It does seem to many who study Islam that some way must be found of removing the apparent support of the Qur’an for violence. There are at least two ways of doing this. The first is to “contextualize” such passages as the “sword verse,” to distinguish the context within which the verse was given (in which he was violently threatened by the Meccans) from the context faced by Islam today, wherein it enjoys freedom of expression, even in the West. (In contrast, Christianity lacks this freedom in Muslim countries.) In the contemporary setting, the “sword” need not be steel, but might be understood as the Qur’an itself, or as argument, or as the example of a peaceful Muslim lifestyle.
A more radical approach has been suggested (oddly enough, by Colonel Gaddafi of Libya, amongst others): the recognition that Shari’a Law and Tradition (Hadith) are both long past the time of Muhammad and should not be seen as eternally authoritative. Then it is suggested that the Qur’an itself is readily divisible into two parts, the Meccan part and the Medinan part. It is argued that the Meccan part contains Muhammad’s ethical and theological teaching, before he had felt the sting of rejection, while the Medinan part is concerned with the many problems associated with organizing Medinan society and reacting against the specific threats of the Meccans. So the idea is to keep the Medinan suras as a valuable historical record, but draw authority from the earlier, peaceable, Meccan section alone. It must be admitted that this bold proposal has so far proved too radical for most Muslims to consider seriously. But perhaps the worldwide spectacle of terrorism in the name of Islam will nudge more Muslims to consider this new approach to interpreting the Qur’an.3
See Part II of this series, "Muhammad, From Prophet to Warrior."