Monday, December 21, 2009

Top 10 Phrases And Words Todd Friel Uses That Are Not Found In The Bible

Top 10 Phrases And Words Todd Friel Uses That Are Not Found In The Bible:

A Satire Of Todd Friel's Ten Reasons To Not Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

10. Total Depravity---the concept yes but no exact reference.

9. Original Sin---the concept yes but no exact reference.

8. Trinity---the concept yes but no exact reference.

7. Hell---though sheol-the grave, gehenna-Valley of Hinnom a garbage dump in Jerusalem, etc. are.

6. True and false converts

5. John MacArthur---obviously not.

4. Charles Spurgeon---obvious as well.

3. inerrancy---nope.

2. Protestantism---nada.

1. Absolute Truth---nope---this is a neo-Platonic dualistic and Gnostic concept of Modernism.

Bonus points: driving to church on Sunday, the rapture, Way Of The Master and Wretched radio, toilets are also not in the bible but peeing on walls is:
Pastor Steven Anderson (Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe, Arizona) sermonizes on the phrase "him that pisseth against the wall" in I Kings 14:10. The phrase is also found in I Sam 25:22, 25:34; I Kings 16:11, 21:21; and II Kings 9:8

If the duty of the Christian is not to follow Christ but live by the bible---we should make sure we get these key Salvation-effecting points right.

Brannon Howse And Co. Mad At US Army

Why you may ask---because they don't believe in the Rapture and Premillennial Dispensationalist heresy:
A U.S. Army Major has written a long report on how Christians that believe in the rapture (a word and concept not found in the bible), the defense of Israel *(Zionist bigotry), absolute truth (neo-Platonic dualism), the infallible account of the words of God (modernism), the dislike for the United Nations, and the opposition to global-governance (conspiracy theories) are having a negative impact on public-policy, the driving the U.S. further from the U.N., undermining the U.N. and will likely push U.S. policy in the wrong direction for years. This report has been posted on the website of the School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Army Command and General Staff College. This report is very troubling on many fronts. It is wrong for the military to use tax-payer money to distribute a report that attacks Christians. It is offensive and dangerous that the military is distributing and teaching this worldview to officers going through this particular military school. This is further proof that the military is increasingly being politicized at the upper leadership level. Please listen to this program and forward it to all your friends.
What blatant defense of Gnostic drivel.

Here is another article about those "evil" servicemen:
EMERGENCY: US Army View of PreMillennialism
Strategic Implications of American Millennialism

Alert b John McTernan

Dated: May 22, 2008

By Major Brian L. Stuckert, U.S. Army

School of Advanced Military Studies

United States Army Command and General Staff College

Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027

Name of Responsible Person: Stefan Banach, COL, US Army

Telephone Number: (913) 758-3300

This is the document for your reading: Strategic Implications of American Millennialism

This is an emergency that we all must act on and right now. I was sent this article by a follower of the blog and want to thank him.
This posting is an United States Army report about the literal believers of the Bible and how they affect American foreign policy. It is the most dangerous document to believers that I have ever read in my entire life. (Fundamentalist writings especially arrogant Fundamentalist Calvinist apologetics is more dangerous to believers than anything non-Fundamentalists write).

You must stop what you are doing and read this entire document ASAP. The first two-thirds is historical and for the most part is accurate. It is technical and can be slow reading. As an historian, there are issues to be made but for the most part it is accurate. (How nice of you).

The last third is an interpretation of Bible belief on world events. This report blames all the world evils on believers! World peace would break out if it were not for Bible believers in America. The trouble with Israel is because pre-Millennial believers support Israel. (Imagine that---world peace would be semi-achievable if it weren't for war-mongering Imperialist Christians and Zionist bigots who support some of God's children while outcasting and denying the other).

This report is so outrageous (actually it's more outrageous to believe in a manmade 19th century philosophy---Premillennial Dispensationalism, rapture teaching, etc). that I called and spoke Colonel Stefan Banack who is the Director, School of Advanced Military Studies and responsible for this study (I listed his telephone number above and recommend that you call him.) He acknowledged the study and DEFENDED it! The conversation was extremely heated between us, and he hid behind the freedom of speech to produce it. He refused to let me write an article to refute this attack on Bible believers.

He refused to tell me what this study was used for and who within the military was sent copies. I believe that it represents an official military view of Bible believers as Col Banack said there was no study or article refuting this one. This is directly from a Hard Left reprobate mind set. (Ha laughable---theocrats are the

THIS MUST BE CHALLENGED ON ALL LEVELS. I am contacting all the influential people that I know within our circles to sound the alarm. I am going to contact my elected officials to have this report refuted and stricken.

I am not exaggerating that after reading this report you will see that the next step for us is concentration camps to stop our evil influence on society and the world.

What I did was quote some of the most egregious statements for your immediate reading to see how dangerous this report is. Please forward this to everyone you know and encourage them to act. This is a stronghold of the Hard Left Reprobate in the military that must be challenged and rooted out.

One last thing, I told Col Banack that he would NEVER allow such a report to be written about Islam. He remained silent and never responded.
The quotes follow:

"The U.S. millennial proclivity for an unqualified military defense of Israel will continue to be a potential flashpoint of great import. Both the United States and Israel believe that Iran poses a credible existential to the state of Israel – especially if it is able to develop or procure a nuclear warhead. The Iranian Shahab-III missile system has to range to deliver a warhead to Israel. Ayatollah Khomeini declared the elimination of Israel to be a religious duty and current Iranian president Ahmadinejad cites him frequently when making similar statements. Because of the pre-millennial worldview, the U.S. will continue to adopt an adversarial approach to any country perceived as at odds with Israel. Since these conflicts are seen as deterministic and inevitable, there is little incentive to employ diplomacy or any other instrument of power other than the military in these situations." Page 51

"While many Americans can readily see how pre-millennialism influences U.S. policy toward Israel and the Middle East, the effect of this philosophy on our dealings throughout the rest of the world may not be as recognizable. Pre-millennialism will drive the U.S. further from the U.N. in the near future since many pre-millennialists have to come to view that body as a platform for the Anti-Christ. The U.N. and Arab countries are not the only millennial enemies. Viewed through the pre-millennialist paradigmatic lens, military interventions in the Middle East, such as the invasion of Iraq, provide strategic depth for the defense of Israel against the 'army from the East,' or China, and Gog and Magog, represented by Russia. American pre-millennialists will also feel increasingly threatened by the E.U. in coming years. Our self-imposed isolation, today referred to as unilateralism, and bold uses of military power are a thoroughly logical operational stance to contribute to the defense of Israel. In the United States Congress, H.Rept. 110-060, dated March 20, 2007, to accompany H.R. 1591 (Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for FY2007) states, "The fight in Iraq is also critical to the future of Israel." Page 52

"Pre-millennial interpretations of biblical prophecy that predict the emergence of a one-world government led by an anti-Christ causes distrust and even antagonism toward organizations like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the European Union, NAFTA and OPEC. Reflecting on her time as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Madeleine Albright notes that many of her efforts were frustrated because the U.N. was widely perceived as playing the "villain's role" as the architect of world government by many American Christians. Albright goes on to explain that she constantly found herself "on the defensive" and, as a functionary within the U.N., was perceived by many as "quite literally – the devil's advocate." The Christian right constantly works to undermine the U.N. One particularly noteworthy example was a videotape produced by Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum titled Global Governance: The Quiet War Against American Independence, which prominently featured future Attorney General John Ashcroft denouncing the U.N." Page 53

"Due to the influence of pre-millennialism, there is great distrust of Russia on the part of the U.S. The belief in a deterministic view of near-term events that make Russian military aggression inevitable understandably obviates any incentive for cooperation or partnership. This has contributed to a persistent distance and suspicion that permeates the relationship between the two powers. Because of this, it will prove difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. relationship with Russia to evolve into one of constructive cooperation." Page 54

"The U.S. will continue efforts to expand NATO and Partnership for Peace programs, but will pointedly exclude Russia. Pre-millennialism will likely push U.S. defense policy in the wrong direction for years to come ...

Beyond unnecessary defense expenditures, the lack of cooperation and partnership has far-reaching policy implications for the U.S. and the rest of the world. We will miss out on countless opportunities for meaningful cooperation between two major world powers that could contribute greatly to the resolution of problems on a global scale. For the United States, a declining agenda with Russia will sooner or later result in overextension of US resources and global disaster. Much good could result in the area of nuclear proliferation and intelligence sharing." Page 55

"Pessimism and paranoia are two possible results of pre-millennial influence. This can lead to inaccurate assessments on the part of military leaders and planners ...

Based on what we know about the effect millennialism has on our thinking, we may incorporate additional considerations into policy formulation and evaluation to assist ourselves in the identification of defects, diminished objectivity or unwarranted biases. As a result of millenarian influences on our culture, most Americans think as absolutists. A proclivity for clear differentiations between good, evil, right, and wrong do not always serve us well in foreign relations or security policy. Policy makers must strive to honestly confront their own cognitive filters and the prejudices associated with various international organizations and actors vis-à-vis pre-millennialism. We must come to more fully understand the background of our thinking about the U.N., the E.U., the World Trade Organization, Russia, China and Israel. We must ask similar questions about natural events such as earthquakes or disease. An ability to consider these potential influences upon our thinking may greatly enhance objectivity." Page 60

"The inevitability of millennial peace through redemptive violence and an exceptional role for America have been and continue to be powerful themes running throughout the security and foreign policies of the U.S. Official U.S. government policy expresses these themes in a number of ways from the National seal that reads Novus Ordo Seclorum – the New Order for the Ages – or the nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile known as the Peacekeeper. Whether Americans seek to subdue the continent to realize their Manifest Destiny, conquer the Soviet Evil Empire or rid the world of Saddam Hussein, millennialism imparts an unusual degree of certainty and fortitude in the face of difficult situations. Judis points out that, for the same reasons, millennialism is usually "at odds with the empirical method that goes into appraising reality, based on a determination of means and ends." As demonstrated by American history, millennialism has predisposed us toward stark absolutes, overly simplified dichotomies and a preference for revolutionary or cataclysmic change as opposed to gradual processes. In other words, American strategists tend to rely too much on broad generalizations, often incorrectly cast in terms of 'good' and 'evil,' and seek the fastest resolution to any conflict rather than the most thoughtful or patient one. Page 61

My comments on all the outright lies about millennialism.

We did not start one war to advance our beliefs.(Sure you did: all the Protestant wars). We did not start the Civil War or the Spanish-American War. America was dragged into WW l by the Germans. There was NO war cry in America by Bible believers. We did not start WW ll. It was the cowardly Europeans (you mean all those theocratic Romans 13 Calvinists) who failed to stand up to Hitler that allowed the war. Japan attacked America to advance its imperialistic goals. We were not threatening Japan. (Actually we did with all of our Imperialistic advances in the Pacific).

We had nothing to do with the Cold War as it was Communistic Russia and China that wanted world control. We had nothing to do with Nazism (bull---most Nazis were good Romans 13 spouting Bible-Believing Fundamentalist theocratic Calvinists---who were comprised of Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. It was theologically liberal Calvinists and non-Calvinists that denied bible literalism and biblical inerrancy like Barth and Bonnhoeffer that were opposed to Hitler and Nazism) and Communism which resulted in the death of over 100 million people.
Iraq and Iran are the products of Islam (actually, they are the products of various factors). They are the aggressors and not America led by Bible believing Christians. Iran wants to obtain nuclear weapons to destroy Israel and establish an Islamic caliphate from Morocco to India.

Israel is NOT the source of Islamic terrorism. Israel has nothing to do with Islamic Pakistan fighting with India. It has nothing to do with Muslims slaughtering all the people in the Sudan. It has nothing to do with the Muslims killing the Christians in Nigeria and Indonesia. It has nothing to do with all the terror in Somalia. It has nothing to do with the Muslim terrorists in the Philippines. It had nothing to do with Iraq starting the Gulf War.

Islam at its core is a violent religion that is now playing out on the world stage. The Muslim's fighting with Israel fits a pattern throughout the world. (Luka 19:27 But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them, bring them hither and kill them before me.

27 πλὴν τοὺς ἐχθρούς μου τούτους τοὺς μὴ θελήσαντάς με βασιλεῦσαι ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ἀγάγετε ὧδε καὶ κατασφάξατε αὐτοὺς ἔμπροσθέν μου. “A new heresy has been discovered,” he said. “We must stamp out this burst of hell-fire before it spreads over the surface of the earth…. Freedom of conscience is a doctrine of the devil…. Better to have a tyrant, however cruel, than permit everyone to do what he pleases.”

—John Calvin.

“Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt.”

—John Calvin. Yep there certainly isn't any violence from bibliolaters).

Right now the world's big problems are both the Hard Left reprobates who are in charge of all Western nations including the United States and the Muslims who follow Islam. (No all the world's problem is humanity and sin which only a Christ-centered life not a bibliolatrous and theocratic centered life can alleviate). The problem is not Bible believing Christians. We are the solution to this sin cursed world, that will only be cured at the glorious Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Interesting Archaeological Find

First Jesus-Era House Uncovered in Nazareth

NAZARETH, Israel (Dec. 21) -- Days before Christmas, archaeologists on Monday unveiled what they said were the remains of the first dwelling in Nazareth that can be dated back to the time of Jesus -- a find that could shed new light on what the hamlet was like during the period the New Testament says Jesus lived there as a boy.

Read the rest: Here.

Harry Emerson Fosdick On Christmas

“He (Jesus) is the light of the world, and he is the light of joy. This is your best gift at Christmas. He has come to save the world, and he has come to save you. This is why in the darkness of fear, the light of joy still smiles on us. It is a joy which casts out all fear.”

Karl Barth On Christmas

Karl Barth on the wonder of Christmas:
The wonder of Christmas is described in the article of the Apostles' Creed: "Qui conceptus est de spiritu sancto, natus ex Maria virgine"; "who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary." Or, according to the formula of the Nicene Creed which is recited every Sunday, and on many other days, in the Roman Catholic mass and at least on Christmas and on other high festivals in the German Evangelical Church: "Et incarnatus est de spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine et homo factus est"; "and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man." What does this mean?

It certainly means God's presence in our world, His presence as man among men and therefore God's revelation to men. It means man's reconciliation with God. That this happened and still happens, is the substance of the Christmas message. God is the "He" of whom the Creed speaks. In Him is present not only light but the Light, the eternal Light, not only help, but the perfect,
ultimate Helper Himself, not only power, but the Lord of all powers, not only love but the Lover in whom all love is founded, who excels all love and who is so infinitely lovable because He is wholly Love, even if no one responds.

This God is conceived where we all are conceived. He is born of Mary. She who conceived and bore Him, plays our part in the wonder of Christmas, for it concerns us. God has come to us. "Disguised in our flesh and blood, is the eternal good."

In the name of the Messianic King whom Israel expected, the Church has rediscovered the name of "the eternal good' in which she believes and which she confesses. The name is "Immanuel," God with us. ( Is. VII.14).

Even described in such general terms Christmas can only be understood as a wonder. That there is this Love of which Paul can say that it never ends, is not a known fact nor some general truth symbolically represented in the Christmas message but also recognisable elsewhere. Can it really be true: God in our world, God in our world? The facts cry out against it, for they speak of God's remoteness from the world and the world's remoteness from God. It needs a confession of faith to recognise reconciliation as truth, a confession whose strength and weakness lies in the fact that it appeals only to revelation and that it can be made and received only by faith. The Creed of the Christian Church is this confession. It appeals only to revelation, it is made only by faith, it demands and expects nothing but faith when it calls the Love which
never fails, an event, saying: "Et incarnatus est."

Martin Luther, Right On Predestination

Martin Luther and Predestination:

At the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals gathering this past April, a noted Reformed theologian presented a paper on "grace alone." He defined "grace alone," not by the cross of Jesus Christ, but by the doctrine of predestination or election. In the course of his presentation, he attempted to demonstrate that Martin Luther was a participant in the historic Protestant predestination debate. In my estimation he failed to accurately present Luther’s position.

Luther’s approach to predestination, which I happen to believe is the best approach, can be summarized by three points:

1) In dealing with the issue of election or predestination, Luther understood the impasse at which one arrives by retaining the total depravity of man, universal grace, and God’s election of individuals, but he never tried to harmonize the teachings. He feared that he would be forced to make concessions that would violate biblical truth.

Luther believed that divine election was the cause of our salvation. The doctrine was for the comfort of the believer. He wrote: "The human doctrine of free will and of our spiritual powers is futile. The matter (salvation) does not depend on our will but on God’s will and election."* Since salvation is totally of God’s doing, the doctrine of election comforts those who believe. We can say, "I belong to God! I have been chosen by God. I am one of his sheep!"

While accepting divine election, Luther refused to embrace the logical conclusions that led to an atonement limited to the elect and irresistible grace. He retained universal grace and man’s power to resist and reject the Gospel. For Luther, it was a mystery. Concerning investigating the doctrine he wrote: "we are not allowed to investigate, and even though you were to investigate much, yet you would never find out."

Luther believed that Christians are eternally secure, but in Christ. After admonishing his readers to continue to look to the cross of Christ, he wrote:

For if you concern yourself with this alone and believe that it has happened for your sake, you will certainly be preserved in this faith.... Look for yourself in Christ alone. . . . Then you will find yourself eternally in him.

2) The doctrine of predestination was not central in Luther’s theology. The substance of sola gratia or "grace alone" was not in the doctrine of election but in the cross of Jesus Christ. He believed that one should follow the systematic presentation of Scripture, especially as illustrated in the Book of Romans. He writes:

In chapters nine, ten, and eleven (of Romans) the apostle teaches about the eternal predestination of God.... Follow the order of this Epistle: first be concerned about Christ and the Gospel, in order to recognize your sin and his grace; then fight against your sins.... Adam must first be quite dead before a man is able to bear this subject and to drink this strong wine. Watch that you do not drink wine while you are still an infant. Every doctrine has its limit, time, and age.

Later Lutheran theologians varied in their positioning of the doctrine of election in their systematic presentation of Biblical doctrine. Francis Pieper, for example, in his three-volume Christian Dogmatics, presented the doctrine of election at the very end of his work, immediately before his section on the end of the age.

3) Luther believed that any debate, discussion, or argument over the doctrine of election should be avoided. He wrote:

A dispute about predestination should be avoided entirely... I forget everything about Christ and God when I come upon these thoughts and actually get to the point to imagining that God is a rogue. We must stay in the word, in which God is revealed to us and salvation is offered, if we believe him. But in thinking about predestination, we forget God . . However, in Christ are hid all the treasures (Col. 2:3); outside him all are locked up. Therefore, we should simply refuse to argue about election.

Such a disputation is so very displeasing to God that he has instituted Baptism, the spoken Word, and the Lord’s Supper to counteract the temptation to engage in it. In these, let us persist and constantly say, I am baptized I believe in Jesus. I care nothing about the disputation concerning predestination.

Martin Luther did not know of the confusion and contentions that would later exist among Christians and the major heresies such as Universalism and the rebirth of Pelagianism that would arise as the result of the debates over the doctrine of predestination. If he had known, he most certainly would have reminded us of his words: "For this you should know: All such suggestions and disputes about predestination are surely of the devil."

Perhaps the great Reformer John Calvin, if he had been able to see all the contentions that would arise in reaction to his position on predestination, might have stopped where Luther stopped and allowed a mystery to be just that - a mystery!

*All Luther quotes are taken from What Luther Says by Ewald Plass under the heading "Election."

Russell King On Christ And Christmas

Mainstream Baptist: How to put Christ back in Christmas:
*When we insist that others join in our customs, use the words we like to use and participate in our celebration, we are violating the life and lessons of Jesus and ripping Christ from the heart of Christmas. When we force non-Christians to utter the name of Christ when they do not believe in Him, we are making mockery of the Christ in Christmas. When we take offense when others celebrate the season in ways that are meaningful to them, and are different from our ways -- especially when we pretend that respecting others' celebrations constitutes a "war on Christmas" -- we are ignoring the spirit of Christ. When we insist that our government join in our religious celebration, we are acting exactly like those who opposed Christ. When we insist that the tax dollars of non-Christians be used to celebrate our Christian holiday, we are ignoring Christ's teaching (Matthew 22:21) and tearing Him out of Christmas. When we put more emphasis on the word "Christ" than on the message of Christ, we are making a mockery of Christmas and the one whose birth we celebrate (we don't do salvation by syllables). When we make a fuss over "Xmas," we show that we don't know much about our own religion's history: In Greek, the letter Χ (chi), is the first letter of Christ, and it, or the similar Roman letter X, has been used as an abbreviation for Christ since the mid-16th century. Xmas has been used for Christmas, by Christians, for centuries.

Christmas: A Matter Of Conscience

The religious aspects of Xmas have certainly changed over the years. Xmas used to be viewed as sinful & something unholy by most Americans. Nativity scenes even 150 years ago -- would get you thrown in jail & kicked out of the church. Today, things are much different ... well, maybe not in some parts of the nation. Say anything about separation of church & state & ... whew.

No matter how one worships or chooses not to worship, it is entirely a matter of conscience & conviction, a right protected by the Constitution. Yet, we would be greatly amiss to say that our nation has always celebrated Xmas. That is false. Xmas celebration is a relatively new phenomenon, only having been around for roughly 110 years or so, & even then with many different meanings than what we ascribe today.
For some more info on Xmas traditions & their history, here's another link.


North Carolina's Constitution Anti-Separation Of Church And State

Weird stuff all around:
No faith, no service?

I was surprised to learn that the North Carolina Constitution has a provision that disallows persons who don't believe in God from public service. The issue came to light after Cecil Bothwell, who describes himself as a "post-theist," was elected to the Asheville City Council, creating a stir among some conservatives and making national headlines.

Bothwell is a long-time environmentalist, resident, and author. He has been a syndicated coumnist, wrote a best-selling guidebook to Asheville, and in 2007 published a biography of evangelist Billy Graham, who lives in nearby Black Mountain. Bothwell belongs to the Unitarian Universalist Church, which is home to many folks who are skeptical about God's existence but still value spirituality, fellowship, and social justice. That's not enough to satisfy critics, including Mark Creech, who leads the North Carolina-based Christian Action League. I appreciate Mark, especially with regard to his opposition to alcohol and the lottery, but I have to disagree with him on this one.

It's true -- and a bit mind-boggling -- that the N.C. Constitution seems to think belief in God is an essential characteristic for all office holders. You can look it up:
Article Six, Section 8 says
The following persons shall be disqualified for office:
First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.
Second, with respect to any office that is filled by election by the people, any person who is not qualified to vote in an election for that office.
Third, any person who has been adjudged guilty of treason or any other felony against this State or the United States, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of a felony in another state that also would be a felony if it had been committed in this State, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of corruption or malpractice in any office, or any person who has been removed by impeachment from any office, and who has not been restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law.

It's interesting to note that atheists are disqualified even before would-be candidates who aren't qualified to vote or who have committed treason or other felonies.

Dr. Cartledge goes on to state:
Relying heavily on David Barton's The Myth of Separation, which argues against church-state separation, Creech holds that "the founders" intended only that there should be no denominational test (Anglican, Presbyterian, etc.), assuming that all potential office holders would be Christian. In addition, he suggests (with the late D. James Kennedy) that those who don't believe in God have no external basis for life-affirming values and thus have no business serving the public.
Read the full article here: Baptists Today Blogs: No faith, no service? Mark Creech's arguments are typical theocratic nonsense.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas: A Time For Social Justice

Justice or Tzedakah literally charity is found 28 times alone in the Old Testament. Poverty or raysh and ptocheia literally beggary appear 15 times in the bible. Poor or ebyown literally beggars and ptochos literally a beggar appear 205 times in the bible. The English word hell appears 0 times in the bible. A word for gay marriage or the concept of gay marriage appear 0 times in the bible. A word for abortion appears 0 times in the bible. So lets tally up those references---there are 0 references to Fundamentalists' pet issues but there are 248 references in all to social justice issues---so you make the call. Christmas is definitely a good time to think about social justice though social justice should be pursued year round.

Suzanne's Bookshelf: Universalism in Luke 2:14

Suzanne's Bookshelf: Universalism in Luke 2:14

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wilmington News

First Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, NC's partnership with a Chinese church goes strong 100 years later:
You can't buy a 110-year relationship.For three members of First Presbyterian Church, working on that relationship with Jiangyin Church, its Chinese sister church, meant traveling to Jiangsu Province in October.

The group – Alex Munroe, Walter Conser and the Rev. Ernie Thompson – attended the dedication of the new Jiangyin Pastoral Training Center there, a venture the Wilmington church partially funded.

The center is one of the first projects of its kind to open in China using foreign funding, Thompson said.

Several high-ranking Chinese officials, including the undersecretary of the state administration for religious affairs, attended the opening.

“The government is having a stronger sense that the church is good for the overall good of society,” he said. “The Chinese government supports these partnerships with only three requirements – that the work be open, that the work be legal, and that the foreign churches treat the Chinese church as equals.”

A mission's legacy

The story of how the churches got to this cooperative point started in 1895 when First Presbyterian sent missionary Rev. George Worth to establish the Jiangyin Mission Station. (Jiang­yin is 200 miles west of Shanghai on the Yangtze River.) Until Worth left the country during the Cultural Revolution in the 1950s, he and his family founded a hospital, schools and nursing schools. After that, the churches lost touch, until Munroe visited Jiangyin in 2005 and found the original mission had grown to 14 government-recognized Christian churches in the province.But these churches had a problem. There weren't enough pastors to handle the needs of each growing parish – most megachurch-size – and new churches couldn't open without leadership. The Jiangyin Church, for instance, has four two-hour services each Sunday, all with the same pastor.

Pastors from the Jiangyin church and Chinese officials traveled to the United States to visit First Presbyterian for the first time during Tropical Storm Hanna in September 2008.

Since, the two congregations have been working together to establish the training center. Though not a divinity school, the training center will educate lay leaders to preach, direct choirs and provide continuing education for the ordained pastors in the province. It will accommodate 90 students at a time. In addition to the center, First Presbyterian also sent money to re-vamp the Jiangyin Bible School library – donating about $100,000 to both projects.

One of the marvels of the center's development was the government's support, agreeing to donate the building to the center for free.

(Read on: Here).

Time Warner Cable to announce new charity effort

From staff reports

Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 8:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 8:13 p.m.
Time Warner Cable launches a new philanthropic effort at 3 p.m. Thursday on Wilmington's riverfront.

Called Connect A Million Minds, it will introduce youth to opportunities and resources to develop skills they need to succeed, the company said.

Time Warner Cable said it is making a 5-year, $100 million commitment in cash and in-kind support companywide, with $11 million of that going to North Carolina, according to spokeswoman Melissa Buscher.

Read more: Here.

John Armstrong Muses On Gerard Manley Hopkins

What Hopkins was able to accomplish is rare, whether in a poet or any other Christian writer. He used sacramental language to celebrate the particularities of grace in nature. His voice, writes one student of his work, “was perfectly pitched at praise.” In the last few years of his life Hopkins wrote what are called his eight “Terrible Sonnets.” Here his authentic voice no longer uses indirect speech. He addresses God without formality and writes “O thou my friend.” There is a deep cry for help and comfort in these poems. He even asks for mercy rather directly and asks it of God alone. These poems have a disturbing quality but they are moving because they become so personal without falling into despair at all. They are sonnets of “desolation.” St. Ignatius saw this as a predictable part of the spiritual journey and Hopkins experienced both “the darkness of the soul” and the sense of relief that followed.

Hopkins best friend believed the disciplines of the Jesuits did not help him to gain peace and joy but Margaret R. Ellsberg writes: “Not everyone personally experiences God’s will, but Hopkins did, through discipline, intelligence, and no doubt grace. This plaintive sonnet (his final one before he died) is a monument to the personal integration of that experience with suffering.”

At the end of Hopkins’ terribly difficult life it seems poetry became a sacrament of flesh, word and spirit “charged by their interpenetration with each other. When his resistance broke, Hopkins’ highest gift was released” (Ellsberg).

What Hopkins teaches me is that sacramental language and poetic language share certain common tasks. The holy and the divine manifests itself in concrete created things through sacraments. Poetry, by using symbolism and metaphor condenses an unseen reality into human words. For Hopkins poetic words address, reveal and praise God and thereby become sacramental words because of the reality in them.

Read Full Post Here: Gerard Manley Hopkins: How Poetry Can Express Nature and Incarnation Sacramentally.